Congrats to PSV and Feyenoord

Lots of developments again in Dutch football! Apologies for the late post again, just busy busy busy, but also lots of football to follow…

Can I say a big thank you first, to all of you contributing to this blog? I wish to thank all of you for keeping the discussion alive and lively but I also want to thank all the ones who have donated to the blog, to help me keep it in the air!! You know who you are (always seem to be the same ones by the way) and it’s very much appreciated… Very much!!

PSV and Phillip Cocu

I need to start with my least favorite team of the Top 3 in The Netherlands. I hardly ever do posts on PSV, but they deserve one now. They snatched up the title again and they were impressive this season. Not in terms of the beautiful game, but definitely in terms of winning games!

I am not a fan of PSV, but I am a big fan of Phillip Cocu. And it’s his title more than anything.

They lost a couple of key players (Guardado, Willems, Moreno, Propper and later on Locadia) and they started the season terribly, with the exit in Europe. But PSV kept their cool and allowed Cocu to fix it. And he did. He switched the system up, with a change in the midfield set-up (Guardado was the lone holding mid, now PSV has two midfielder sitting in the holding role) and allowed his mercurial forwards Lozano and Bergwijn to do the job. Typical for a title winning team, the main striker Luuk de Jong re-discovered his mojo and was again important to the team.

Key players this season: Jeroen Zoet, Marco van Ginkel, Lozano, Bergwijn, Arias and De Jong, with a good supporting role for Hendrix.

Mark van Bommel on Phillip Cocu: “We shared a lot, Phillip and I. We played together at PSV and Oranje and we both played at Barcelona. I also did my apprentice training job with Phillip and I am totally impressed. As a player, you can learn from training set ups and from coaching decisions taken by your coach, and I have worked with some of the best of course. But you’re never in the room when the staff actually makes the decisions and how they come to these. In my apprentice role, I got that opportunity and I learned a lot from Cocu.”

Van Bommel on Cocu’s style. “We all know how he was as a player. He’s the thinking man’s guy isn’t he? Always smart, always in control and as a coach he’s also very analytical. He is more patient and controlled than me, but the key thing is: he’s always himself. Never impulsive, never in panic mode.”

Cocu has picked up his coaching career like he did his playing career: step by step. He started as a creative left winger at AZ, moved to Vitesse and at PSV was transformed into a leading midfielder. A big move to Barca was the result, where he played for 7 seasons, even earning the captain’s band. As a coach, he started as an assistant at Oranje and as youth coach with PSV.

Frank de Boer is probably Phillip’s best mate. The both of them worked together as assistants with Van Marwijk’s Oranje, in South Africa 2010. De Boer: “As a player, I was more vocal I think. And as a coach, I guess that hasn’t changed. Phillip is more the observer. But we think the exact same way about football and make no mistake: Phillip is a tough guy. He has the image of being “nice” but he’s a winner. As a player, he could hack you to the grass with a smile on his face. And as a coach, he’s no softie either. And he is strong in his confidence. I believe he has a broad football vision about how clubs should be run and he will go a long way, I’m sure.”

In five years with PSV, Cocu won 3 titles. No mean feat. His start wasn’t too great and in his first season he asked Hiddink to mentor him. Some people felt it was a sign of weakness. Now we know, it’s a sign of strength. He is stoic, can handle pressure really well and doesn’t get upset when the position on the table is not in sync with his expectations. He simply analyses the situation and deals with it.

De Boer: “Cocu has seen it all. He’s played World Cups, he played in full stadiums in Spain, he doesn’t get all nervous when things turn south. Like Gio van Bronckhorst and myself, we might have been inexperienced as coaches, but we’re independent and have all been through all the ups and downs. And we hate losing.”

PSV has had criticism for the lack of quality and entertainment. The midfield lacks the creativity of – say  – Ajax and AZ. Still, De Boer thinks Cocu gets the maximum out of his team. “You need to be realistic. If you don’t have the creative lads, you need to set up your team in such a way that the ones who are creative can get on the ball. Look at Liverpool, their most creative players are the forwards. So their midfield plays in service of those up front. It’s the same with PSV.”

PSV takes the second spot this season in terms of chances created, way in front of the much praised AZ team. Last season, when Feyenoord won the title, PSV had 64 attempts on goal more than the champs.

Cocu has ways to make sure his approach stays fresh, by introducing new approaches and keeping the squad fresh. Recently, young players like Paal, Schwaab and Bergwijn made their mark and several youngsters (Lammers, Mauro) are brought in to lighten things up, with Cocu working with mental coaches and yoga practices to shake things up.

The use-by-date of Cocu hasn’t been reached it seems, but the ambitious coach might look at making a move this summer. His successor is being groomed for the big job. Former team mate Mark van Bommel seems to be the man.

Feyenoord and AZ: Gio vs John van de Brom

The Dutch Cup Final was supposed to be an interesting affair. AZ Alkmaar received most compliments this season for the quality of their football and the rise of several young players (Til, Koopmeiners, Stengs) and the terrific progress of Weghorst and Jahanbaksh (Iran’s Salah). But, compliments are not trophies. And AZ failed to win against a top 3 team for yonks. In this cup final, many were convinced, AZ would play Feyenoord of the pitch. AZ’s form and confidence were sky-high while Feyenoord struggled to the finish line, this season. Sure, injuries, new players and a tough CL group will not have helped, but finishing 4th in the Eredivisie means Feyenoord’s season was a disappointment.

And what happened? Well, the game disappointed. Tough to watch. And this time the fault lies with AZ. Feyenoord doesn’t swing this season, but knows how to play big games and has players (Van Persie, Vilhena, El Ahmadi, Jorgensen) who can rise above their average based on their grit and pure class. AZ however, started the game already 0-1 behind. Coach Van de Brom decided to abandon his winning tactics and swagger by going 5-3-2. Mercurial signing Idrissi (developed at Feyenoord) was left out of the team and Ricardo van Rhijn was brought in as the 5th defender. AZ was scared. Cautious. And decided to adapt to the – this season – weaker Stadium club. AZ never controlled the game, allowed Feyenoord the initiative, and Feyenoord scored first. When the 2-0 was on the board (Van Persie super goal), Van de Brom decided to go back to 4-3-3. Too little too late. Van de Brom confirmed why he’s not top coach material and AZ left the pitch with a 3-0 defeat. Another Cup Final gone for AZ. And with Weghorst, Jahanbaksh and potentially more players leaving this summer, it seems AZ needs to rebuild again.

Elsewhere, Memphis Depay is making the headlines in his new striker role in the 4-4-2 of Lyon, while Van Dijk and Wijnaldum might be on their way to the CL Finals and Cillesen dazzled with a pre-assist in the Spanish cup final for Barca.

Slowly the new Oranje can be seen developing, with De Ligt, De Vrij and Van Dijk more and more established as European top defenders. Throw in full backs like Hateboer, Karsdorp, Tete, Van Aanholt and Willems, and forwards like Memphis, Berghuis/wijn, and Promes and a midfield with Van de Beek, Frenkie de Jong, Wijnaldum and Blind and our future is looking better and better. And partly, thanks to Van de Brom too… With prospects like Til, Stengs and Koopmeiners knocking on Koeman’s door as well.


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  1. I would like to see Cocu become something like Simeone. Very few coaches have master minded the 4-4-2 formation and though Cocu is more traditional, still with performances like few years back when PSV reached the quarters in CL would be stepping stone in the right direction for him especially at european stage. On the other hand hopefully he doesnt follow what FDB was doing. As mentioned with the depatures, the odds were against them but they still came out on top. CL qualification awaits them and hopefully their new argentine kid will be top notch. Also if Lammers, Malen Gakpo and obispo can make that next step it will be very intresting next season. Lastly hope they can hold van ginkel and lozano for another season.

    1. I dont get it.they lost 4-1.scored a penalty and you are saying he is too good. On the other hand if he really goes on to blossom late, Depay and him could be colossal.

  2. So Jong Ajax win the eerste Divisie which means fortuna and sittard qualify automatically to eredivisie. NEC will have to come through the playoffs and it could well be a long road again for them. If they dont qualify, it will be big setback for kadioglu and others who should be playing in eredivisie by all means.

  3. Hi Jan,

    I agree that failure to beat top threes this year lies partially on van den Brom. His timid approach to fight our mediocre top threes put AZ in disadvantage far from the start of the game. I always say fish stinks from the head. If a coach per se is afraid of another team, his subordinates will do so. Overall, I am very happy with this season. VdB was able to develop very nice team. At the beginning of the season when all attacks were supposed to be built around C. Stengs and he got injured, vdB was able to bring right people at right positions and influence positively this season. With respect to coming season, I am quite positive that Alireza will be sold. A lot depends on how he will do at World Cup. Alireza was not very convincing this season while playing against R. Haps. So, how he is going to do against stronger defenders at WC-2018, I do not know. Not very sure about Weghorst. I think not very many clubs will be interested in him. I also think AZ will not need to be rebuilt too much. If Calvin is ready by the beginning of the season, he will replace Alireza. In Europe, AZ will make a group stage. Not sure whether they will go further, but we will see.

    When it comes to our so called top three, Feyenoord will not even reach the group stage of the Europa League. It is weak and poor team with mediocre coach. I am very convinced that Feyennord did not win AZ in the Cup final, AZ lost the game as they played so uncharacteristically badly. Whereas Ajax and PSV will fail to qualify to CL group stage. However, they, particularly, PSV will make EL group stage and might well go further.

    I am sorry for my sarcastic remarks about our “top” threes but I am still very angry after their embarrassing 2017-2018 European performance.

    1. With the current defense I dont think AZ could have threaten the top three. injuries aside still I think they need to reinforce their backline. when you have Van Rhijn playing as CB, there has to be something wrong and Rob Vlaar by all means has worn out due to persistent injuries. even on their bench they hardly have any decent backup.

      1. As a team AZ defended not bad this year. They way how VdB has built his team, which is constant pressure from the midfield represented by fast running Til and Midtsjo, takes load of work from defense. Unlike last year, AZ central defenders do not need to penetrate deep into opponent side leaving big gaps. If you look at the table AZ conceeded 38, Feyenoord 37, PSV 39, and Ajax 32. However, when midfield do not do well their job then all pressure goes on defenders and mistakes become costly. I agree AZ defense is not very good but it is not worse than “top3”’s. With respect to van Overeem, he is technically better than Til but his work rate is much lower than the latter. Til’s the only strength is his ability to run non -stop. If AZ do not sell Alireza, Adam will not fit into the system. However, if they sell him, they can switch 4-4-2 system with Adam as a playmaker. He will be great at that role. Compared to last year, AZ have made a great progress and I strongly believe this is not going to be one epizode. AZ will become a unique Dutch team that will make a difference in Europe. For that they need more ambitious coach. VdB is a good coach but he did what he could. Now it is time to change. I would bring again Verbeek. I have a lot of respect to that guy. After Co Adriaance, AZ played decent European football under Veebeek. Even with LvG they did not show that courage in Europe. AZ have very good talents in its disposal, now they need ambitious coach who would train and motivate those boys so they would not be afraid of playing against big European clubs not speaking of our “top3s” ( funny to call them like that).

    2. I agree with some of your words. Van de Brom is good with players but he seems to lack courage. I noticed many times that he loses his cool after games. Whining and complaining or panicking even. He is not good under pressure and the comments he made about the ref some weeks back, you can’t say these things. In England he would have been banned for 15 games!

      He will probably be a tremendous assistant coach for a bigger club but nothing more.

      Don’t be too criticial on Gio and Feyenoord :-). They almost got a draw against Man City, they beat Napoli, they beat Man United last season and they kicked AZ’s ass three times this season, so….

      AZ does have tremendous players. Idrissi will be sensational, as will Stengs be. Alireza will leave for sure, probably Lazio or something like that. What an awesome player he is! And a lovely guy too.

      Weghorst will go to Leeds or something.

      1. I would also say here if Feyenoord would have not hit by the injury crisis which they had towards the middle of the season they would have in the mix with PSV and Ajax.I cant remember which game it was but they had to slot Tapia at CB. I think this is one reason why there is no pressure on GVB from the hierarchy dispate so many transfers at the starting of the season.

      2. With respect to VdB saying things towards referee. Honestly, he had said less than it is necessary. Blom should be banned for his entire life from serving as referee. In Eredivisie there are a lot of bad referees but Blom is leading that list. BTW one of the reasons why our “top3” can not play in Europe anymore is bad referees in the Netherlands. They can not get last minute penalties or “sudden” red cards for the opponent teams in Europe. It is not a secret that “top3” in the NT get help from referees when it is necessary.

  4. I wish Adam Maher is brought back to AZ. It was rightly written in “Adam Maher from the to talent to relegant, it is a deadly sin”. BTW, Cocu was partially guilty for the demise of A. Maher. Adam had never fit into his system.

    1. I thought Joris Van Overeem was doing good until Til jumped onto the scene. Van Overeem has been one of the most underrated midfielders in eredivisie.Im thinking there will be a big clash AZ end up bring maher back. also Marko Vejinovic is also injured and depending on whether he stays or goes back to feyenoord, the midfield will really get crowded.

  5. One guy I have been really impressed this season in eredivisie has to be Juninho Bacuna. Groningen to have injected quiet a few of their own youngsters and Bacuna has been one of them.he could be perfect partner for Frenkie in 2 man holding mid with attacking also in mind.still 20, he has all the qualities of a overall midfielder.

  6. Memphis depay is almost single handedly carrying his team to a champions league spot. If he doesn’t receive an offer from real Madrid or Barcelona soon I’ll be surprised

    1. Let him play CL first, maybe then it would be viable to say what you are saying. On the other hand I cant see Barcelona coming for him. Coutinho, Messi, Suarez, Dembele, where will he play. Madrid same story , Im sure he will clash with ronaldo like he did with RVP.

      1. Depay seems to be class above of Ligue 1 and if he really wants to move to a big team again he will need to prove at CL level. Also jus like at PSV , I dont think there is any other player who is above him at thee moment at Lyon and this one reason why he is making headlines.fair enough but he needs prove himself more when playing around players having higher ceiling than him. Lyon vs PSG , Lyon vs Atalanta, lyon vs Everton. If you finds these games, try to watch it. You will see what im saying.

        1. to be fair, that games were played when he was still being deployed as winger. and he progressed a lot in the 2nd half of the season. let’s see his development in next season.

          1. I recall him playing very well he scored against Everton and got motm and was subbed on in the last few minutes vs PSG and scored a screamer that won the game for lyon

          2. the game vs PSG, he came on as an impact when PSG were reduced to ten men. Alves got red carded and Mbappe went off injured early in the game. My bad on Everton, they were medicore under koeman.

            all and all he needs to to be playing against quality teams or quality defenders to prove critics wrong and start claiming he is ready for Barcelona or Madrid.

    2. He better stays whete he is at least for now. When he matures, may be it will time for him to move for the higher echelone. Otherwise, MU story will repeat itself.

      1. Exactly.

        For sure he may go and play somewhere else in a higher team , but it will be another gamble for sure.

        At an age of 25, he needs regular games and with the champions league (hopefully), i’m sure he will turn even more mature in the next coming year

    3. Liking Depay is a goodthing….but i would be surprised if Barca or Real comes for him…that is noexistant now.
      For me Depay terribly failed in MAnu even after getting 29 chances in first year was due to his lack of speed as winger…he was clueless against fast athletic defenders of PL…He cannot suceed as awinger at top level.
      thast he proved already.

      Then Thank God that he is halfstriker/Striker now…where medicocre players(Dost) scores goals by the hardwork of teammates…and they chokes when it really matters…
      Depay arrival as striker with Babel was an oaisis in desert for me…Depay goal vs protugal was brilliant…He has already proved that as a striker he is 1000 times ahead of static useless strikers..
      Depay must continue there like David Villa of spain..Depay can be huge sucess as halfstriker/shadow striker…
      i hope he stays as striker,where he can be king ..if he moves to barca or Real and he might go again on wings and it will be again same story like MAnu…

  7. its such a disgrace to see how pathetic refs are when it comes to officiating Real Madrid. games. clear foul on lewandoski by Ramos but no penalty and before last week vs Juventus, they get benefit of doubt after 50-50 changelle by benatia on vazquez.should jus award the final to them.

  8. Was checking out some videos of Philippe Sandler and its a no suprise why city have scouted him and folked out so much for him. Dont think he will be subject to their starting 11 any time soon but will defintely get loaned out to a better club which might be in his best intrest. I think he very much similar to van dijk, operating from that left side but naturally a right footed and can feature on either side comfortably.Pierie and him could be the back up for van dijk going into future with De ligt on the right.

    1. Liverpool really missed Ox today and the Roma were dictating the midfield. should be worry for klopp going into the final.Madrid biggest strength has been their midfield who have been consistent through out and I think this is where the game will be decided. if liverpool will wait on salah and Mane to catch madrid off guard, it aint gona happen.

  9. Kluivert is only 18 y.o. Is he a player with great potential? Definetely! Is he ready for such a big club like MU? Definetely NO. Why does not he and his pussy-wipped father understand that this move to MU will be a huge set back for him?! If I understood correctly, his mother decides where her son needs to go for big money. When woman makes a decision in the family, expect a disaster.

    1. Time have changed.dont think staying back in eredivisie and without CL will good for him either. Its that point in time where only he knows how good he is and whether he is ready to take it to the next level.

      1. Many young Dutch players think they are super stars but end up warming benches and remaining underdeveloped. If he is that good why not to help Ajax to go through CL qualifications and make a difference at that level and after that dream of moving to higher leagues. I really doubt that 18 y.o. boy is mature enough to self-reflect. The only thing that they dreams of fueled y their parents efforts bis big money. That is it.

    2. AZ…Forever i understand your point and agree with that….only thing i disagree that Patricks involvement in that.Justin is another individual of 18 years..Patrick cannot stop him….so why to drag patrick in it???
      Most of the dutc talents doesnt have good attitude and evryone failed abroad…
      But klassen had good attitude still he failed coz he was mediocre player..
      Wijnaldum should be an icon Both He and memphis left to PL after winning eredivise..Memphis chose to work with dutch coach hence he assured playing time,but still he failed as he didnt had the pace for the winger…
      Wijnaldum went strength to stregth…He should be role model to dutch player,humble and grounded player,doesnt have ego like kevin strootman…
      Now he is going to play CL…i feel he will win it…

  10. Very nice quote from “XXXX is the ultimate example that football is mainly about attitude and mentality and then only about talent.” Coming back to our youth: I do not think I am aware of any talented young Dutch player whose attitude and mentality is at right level. That is the main problem of entire Dutch football.

    1. Alot will depends on the deptures at the end of this season for Ajax. I dont think he alone can push Ajax through in the qalification for CL. But as I said earlier if you weigh it from both side, its about the best option and which one is in his best intrest.if Ajax dont pull through in qualifications. It will just be another vaccation for him in eredivisie next season and his development could be at stake but on the other hand under mou it also a big question mark whether he will get first team minutes frequently.

      I also really doubt Man United will come for him. Neymar and Bale are both expected to depart their respective clubs and im sure mou will be tempted to bring either to the club.

  11. I personally don’t think players should move abroad until they have become too good for the Eredivisie. It doesn’t make sense to still be getting to the level and now having to fight for a spot in the squad. Kluivert should stay at Ajax, score 20 goals next year and prove that he had nothing more to learn from this league before he moves. Huntelaar had 2 30+ goal seasons before going, Sneijder got like 20goals and 20 assists in 1 season.

    I understand Kluivert is exceptional for his age, but among the league he’s not even a Top 10 player.

    1. 100% agree.

      How many Dutch young talent had been destroyed by Jose Mourinho?

      Van Ginkel – (wasted more than a few years)

      Nathan Ake – I don’t think he was ever used?

      Daley Blind – He is not one of those young player , and perhaps one of the dutch players which got the most chances under Jose

      Tahith Chong – Even all Manutd fans are calling for him to let him start, Jose still ignores

      still a lot of young dutch names, which i have forgotten already

          1. He is clear cut about playing experienced-players only…he is showman cares only about results,neither he helps to develop a player nor his team play good football…
            I want this enemy of football to leave such a great club..
            Even this voted poor lad wont get time…

          2. When you are coaching a big team and there is always pressure on you. You have to either have the best and play the best or if not you will jus be like Arsene Wenger. What a tragic ending for the old man.why is daley blind not playing, simply because young brings more to the game than him apart from jus crossing. Alot of critics including some of man united legends were blowing whistle at Mou for not giving martial and Radford less game time. Look what happened vs West Brom. They lost and both were slammed for luckluster performance.

            At the end of the day, results are crucial and if it is not in your favour, the knife is always gone be on your neck.

  12. Our lads 17,18,19,20,21 look very promising

    -Redan, Boadu, Vente, Malen, Toure, Chong, Kluivert, Schuurs, Pierie, Malacia, Drongelen, Juste, Diks, de Beek, Til, de Ligt, Bergwijn, Bazoer, Ramselaar, Mesah, Raidewal, Stengs, de Jong, Riedewald, Kadioglu, Castillo, Rodney, Dilrosun,Bacuna, van Bergen

    Hopefully they can help us recovery our reign like the way of Brazil’s

  13. Of all the dutch talents Yan has mentioned above, only van Ginkel was execptional but injuries jus hampered his stay at chelsea.

    Again when it comes to chasing the title, it all about having the best team on the field who can achieve the will always be hard to experiment in order to get results. This is what I call survial and the best surviving. Look at mancity. Pellegrini vs Pep. If You wanna wanna win the titles you need to have quality and top players and thats what Pep did. Major Overhaul and and they have raced away to the title.

  14. Is it jus me or others think it as well. Black dutch players are doing better than white guys. No offense here.m jus judging from their performace and better ceiling.Redan,chong, boadu,stengs, toure, dilrosun,fernandes, etc.

  15. Good news for AZ as Myron boadu is fit and could feature for AZ in the final round to close the season off. He featured for the u19s fews weeks ago and had a goal and assist. Has been decleared fit for final selection.

  16. Mitchell bakker is another talent to look out for especially with the LB spot still up for grabs in NT. I never realized he is just 18 and already looks pro at u21 level. Has being training with Ajax first team for most of the season. Erick pieters type of defender, but a upgrade of him, who loves going forward.hopefully with the depature of Dijks and viegrever, bakker will be backup for Tagliafico next season.sinkgraven is better off in the MF.

  17. Myron has made his first minutes for AZ after injury and Alireza became Eredivisie top scorer! What a great way to finish the season!

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