Guus Hiddink’s Oranje nightmare

He was widely considered one of the best coaches the NT ever had.  Not only that, he was internationally considered one of the go-to guys if you needed something extraordinary from the team.

His popularity in some countries (South Korea, Australia) eclipsed that of one Johan Cruyff.

Liked by literally everyone, Guus Hiddink thought two years of cruising with the Oranje cracks and then mentoring Danny Blind in the role would be a perfect end of a wonderful 40 year long career, before retiring.

But no. It turned out to be a disaster!

And the much adored fatherly coach was suddenly confronted with hateful and threatening tweets… all new to him.

And it still doesn’t sit well with him. That one strange conversation on the Nice Airport. Oranje had just won their Latvia match, 2-0 and were preparing for a nice break. Guus was on a holiday in the South of France, and Bert van Oostveen called to ask if he could drop in quickly for a meeting.

His Finest Hour?

Hiddink wasn’t aware that the KNVB director was keen to replace Hiddink way earlier in the process. After four international games, actually. Three were lost, the last of the four was away versus Iceland. When questioned about the results, Van Oostveen said he was keen to evaluate the results soon. Words that reached Johan Cruyff in his home in Barcelona, who quipped: “Why does a top coach like Hiddink have to evaluate with Van Oostveen? What does he know about football? Is Guus going to have to explain to a guy who knows Jack S**t about football? That is useless!”

But the evaluation would come anyway. The plan was to move Danny Blind one level up and get Hiddink to be a hands-off mentor to Danny. But somehow, Van Oostveen restrained himself and allowed Guus the steering wheel.

Lets take a step back. Oranje had just won bronze at the WC2014 under Van Gaal. Hiddink is announced and the KNVB claims that yes, we are happy with the results, but… we want to go back to Dutch Style Football. Hiddink at the same time expresses his concerns about the future: “I said it internally and in the media, we were going towards tough times. It was clear that bronze was amazing, but if you analyse the games you could see we had some strokes of fortune. And with some key players getting older and older, well… we would need to rebuild.”

Blind: “This is how big a loser you are!” Hiddink: “Oh yeah? Well, this is how big a loser you are!”

Hiddink has an interesting clause in his agreement with the KNVB: no matter how well he will do, in 2016, his contract ends and Danny Blind’s starts. A structure that worked for Joachim Low, but which garnered criticism from …yes… JC again. “It’s strange. We live in a high performance world. No one knows how Danny Blind and Oranje will be in two years time. No one knows which other coaches might be available. The KNVB says this worked so well for Germany. And I say: so what?”

Hiddink is trying different approaches. He started out with his favorite 4-3-3 as the KNVB instructed him to do but in the first match away versus the Italians (friendly), Hiddink quickly realises that it is not working too well. Holland loses 0-2, with 10 men after a Martins Indi red card. When Blind reports back that the Czechs will play 5-3-2 in our first qualification match for the Euros, Hiddink switches back to the system Van Gaal used in Brazil. Onze three days earlier, he said: “I refuse to use three defenders opposite one striker in qualification games!”.

Oranje loses again v Iceland. It’s 2-0 at half time and something needs  to happen. It’s not Guus who takes the word in the break to pick us his players, but Danny Blind. This is not strange, as Hiddink did say before the campaign that he would allow Danny Blind way more space than a usual assistant would get.

In those first months, Hiddink doesn’t come across as the self confident cosmopolitan we all know and love. He seems introverted, distracted, almost insecure. The players seem to notice this as well.

But in the new year, he starts to resemble his own self again. The problems were physical of nature, so we learn later. He had a massive knee operation and the after effects were severe (pain, limited movement) and his medication for this didn’t help matters. At the moment, he plays golf, tennis and even football again.

In 2015, Guus is optimistic. His knee is better, Oranje beat Latvia 6-0 and Oranje gets 4 points in total vs Turkey and Latvia (away). Oranje’s chances to get the Euro ticket are increasing. Van Oostveen is quick to comment in the media that the players needed a more loose approach, after the straight-jacket mentality of Louis van Gaal. The overall impression is that the players are more mature and autonomous now. But in the period between drill masters Van Gaal and Ronald Koeman, the discipline and motivation were not at the right level.

Wesley Sneijder looking back: “I was regularly annoyed with the ease with which players cancelled international games, for nothing. Then they had an ache in their pinky, or in their little toe and they’d declined the invite. Some players have simply stabbed Hiddink and Blind in the back. I won’t name names but they will know themselves who they are. I say: pick the players who really want to play for Oranje, even if they are so-called lesser talents.”

Hiddink now: “I can only agree. I missed the real intensity and focus with some. I was regularly angry after a bad performance, mainly because of the ease with which players processed these performances. I am ok with losing a game, but I want to see blood on your shin and sweat on your brow and snot on your shirt. And I will shield players from criticism forever. But I didn’t think they all went the distance.”

Mentor Hiddink with protege Phillip Cocu

But Oranje didn’t have the quality, apart from stalwarts Van Persie, Robben and Sneijder, in particular at the back.

Internally, Hiddink is asking for patience. He will be moulding a fighting and winning football machine, but he needs some time. And that velvet football we want, well, that will need to wait until our younger talents can join in with the game. Lets just qualify first.

But two weeks after Oranje’s Latvia win, Van Oostveen flies to Nice for a meeting. And Guus Hiddink is surprised when Van Oostveen comes into the meeting with none other than team manager Hans Jorritsma. The man who works under Hiddink. Who is supposed to be the former South Korea’s coach consiglieri. It’s not the chair of the board of directors. But the the man Guus himself recruited for the team manager’s job. The meeting is brief. And after Hiddink’s sacking, different stories emerge.

Van Oostveen at Blind’s annoucement: “We took this decision in mutual understanding. We went to discuss the future, but we ended up coming back having decided to split ways. This was a surprise for all and not an easy decision by us and the Hiddink.”

Guus Hiddink had a different story: “They didn’t come to discuss. They came with an order. They basically dumped me. Van Oostveen said I wouldn’t be on the bench come September. I was thoroughly disappointed. In 15 minutes, I was standing outside again.”

Judas Jorritsma all the way on the right.

And the former Chelsea and Real Madrid coach had big plans. When he was signed, the plan was to have him at the KNVB for multiple years. Yes, two years as NT manager and then moving into a consultants role to assist with the long term planning, focusing on the youth teams.

Hiddink now: “I need to look in the mirror as well. I was quite narcy, during this period. Yes, my knee was a cause of that, but my strained relationship with the KNVB management was also a factor. And I should not have let that impact my way of working. But I did.”

Hiddink with newcomers Cherry and Ziyech

Since that fatal meeting in Nice, Van Oostveen and Jorritsma have left through the rear exit. Blind also failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup (he was let go and Dick Advocaat had to finish that qualifications campaign). Too late for Hiddink and too late for Hakim Ziyech too. He was selected by Hiddink for the a trainingscamp to prep for Lativa. The Twente talent was excited and cancelled his holiday for the match, but he had to leave the camp after a day and a half due to an ankle injury. A month later, Guus is going home (Guus ga naar huus, etc).

The success coach would continue his world tour with jobs at Chelsea, China and Curacao, but the Oranje scar of 215 will never really heal.

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  1. This was an unfortunate chain of events. I was thinking if Ziyech chose us, we would not miss WC and Euro. If we did not miss Ziyech and Gosen, we could have come to last Euro with this formation and would be serious contender:

    Danjuma – Depay – Berghuis
    FDJ Wijnaldum
    Gosen De Ligt De Vrij Dumfries

  2. Gosens was great for the Germans this past Euros. Didn’t even know he got rejected by Oranje. But that’s just another Karsdorp, Ziyech etc same old story.

    Hiddink is a legend and has proven himself over and over again in the highest stage of football. It’s just unfortunate that he had to end his career with Oranje in such fashion. But I blame him less than the incompetents that made the appointment in the first place.

    Hiddink was well past it and should never have been considered for that role. I mean what other big nation recycle coaches like we do. Same old same old keeping up with the theme of never truly moving forward.

    1. He wasn’t rejected. The Dutch federation spoke with him and chased him but so did Germany and he is born in Germany and played most of his early football there, before he played in The Netherlands. He dreamed of being a Mannschaft player so nothing we could do there.

  3. Hiddink was a nightmare for me… We had 3 qualification spot, 2 direct and 1 play off for Euro 2016..He bottled it with Martina indi and co… We could only blame hiddink. And Blind for that… 1998 i think he was unlucky to miss Numan and Bogarde… That lead is to penalty if not he might have won that wc with such super complete team… Anyways he was horrendous second time, may be failed to cop with modern football…

      1. Hiddink screwed us EC 2016…even with 3 spots ,he failed,with teams like Cezc,turkey,iceland we got 4th place…ha ha…incomparable failure….
        !998 He was unlucky that He lost Numan and bogarde..Which forced him to play Cocu as defender…We went on to shootout…and we lost….
        2014 on wards he failed to understand modern football and cost us deeply..

      2. I don’t know. He seems to think coaches win games. He needs to be told players make mistakes and players score goals. I don’t think anyone back then faulted Hiddink for his player selections….

  4. The declining of players like Huntelaar, sneijder, RVP was a shortfall for Hiddink and then came the individials mistakes of Janmaat and BMI which again pegged the team back.

    It was also forcast that transistion back to 4-3-3 wouldnt be smooth especially in the back line and thats what happened.

    The first half of the qualifications was somewhat ok. Hiddink played both huntelaar and RVP together and they scored overall 20 goals and considered 15 which itself showed how leaky the backline was. Also when hiddink left NT was third on 7 points with Iceland 11 and Czech on 10 points so it was within reach.

    When blind came on the suspense became horror. I also remember how Danny escaped all the criticism with the excuses that taking over in the middle of the qualification was not easy but he was incompetent eitherway and the curtin did fell on in 2018.

    1. Both halves of the campaign were identical. We picked up 6 points against the two minnow teams, but in the first half we stole that point against Turkey, and I do mean stole. The only thing Guus had going for him was games in hand, which Danny never got.

      1. does it really matter when Danny failed again leading to 2018 world cup qualifiers. hiddink approach was way better to that of Danny. he wanted to the build the team around both Huntelaar and Van Persie which did work in terms of goals but they were also conceding at the back with mistake prone Bruma and BMI. Van Dijk had just being called up after moving to Southampton and was still new to the team. danny inherited the the same leaky backline and the changed the tatic to suit what he wanted. LuuK De Jong over huntelaar was one of his many mediocrity.

    2. @wilson who asked hiddink to selecet Martina indi????He was hiding under the protection of Nijel,Vlaar and Devrij at WC…LVG had to take him off at half time Vs arjentina semifinal…He was on the way to recekless fouls…
      Even With out RVP,hunter,Vaart We should have surpassed and avergae turkey,iceland and cez at EC2016…THE FACT;-HIDDINK AND DANNY made us look like amatures with their coaching and seleection..

        1. Why are you acting like u r not getting it??.. Hiddink went with BMI.. He got screwd.. Nobody asked or forced Hidsink to select him.. CB works in combination… If one CB is bad it affects the whole defense… Poor Virgil van dijk too sucked like us fans.. He was playing excellent for Celtic that time.. It should have been virgil-de vrij combo with Nijel destroyer….

          1. Van persie screwed up, janmaat screwed up, BMI screwed up, De Vrij screwed up. Yes you are true it was hiddinks fault.

  5. Any coach who has been at it at the top level for almost 35 years is bound to have some glitches in his record. On balance, though, Hiddink had a superb career. At the club level, he won the European Cup with PSV; in a later stint with PSV, multiple Eredivisie titles and had them consistently punching above their weight in the CL; took over Chelsea mid-season in a bad patch and turned them around to win the FA Cup in 2009. At the International level, turned the disaster of the ’96 Euro’s into the wonderful ’98 team; terrific results with underdogs in Russia, Australia and South Korea. Good player manager, but his strategy and tactics were superb at times. I’m thinking of South Korea’s WC play, PSV’s CL performances, and, sadly the Russia-Netherlands match in 2008—I know that Oranje was playing with a heavy heart that day, and that Robben failed an injury test just before the game gumming up the strategy to drop VDV back a line, but he exploited the Dutch weaknesses with constant pressure on Engelaar and NDJ in the midfield, and the relentless attacking by the Russian fullbacks. His career warrants respect, commendation and admiration. It shouldn’t be overshadowed by one bad turn with what, in retrospect, was a Dutch team lacking the talent of its immediate predecessors.

    In other news, just saw this on “Football Oranje”:

    According to BILD, Brian Brobbey is on his way back to Ajax.

    He has informed his RB Leipzig teammates of the move.

    1. Yes, Ajax needs a #2 striker and with Haller playing the Africa Cup, Ajax needs him pronto.

      Brobbey went to LEipzig and a day later the coach who signed him is out. He needs playing time and Ajax really rates him.

  6. @Jan

    Re: He wasn’t rejected. The Dutch federation spoke with him and chased him but so did Germany and he is born in Germany and played most of his early football there, before he played in The Netherlands

    Gosens was not called up even ONCE by Zeist. Several articles in Football Oranje supports this and how he was open for any approach.

    We can stay hung up on semantics about him being rejected (or not) or we can come to a realization that this dilly-dallying and warped judgment of talent is symptomatic and endemic of an organization that’s failing on so many levels.

    Gosens was there for the taking. Like Ziyech, Karsdorp, and many others, all we have to show for it is excuses.

    1. Agree. There was a long period that he was not called up by Germany. He was playing in Serie A and we did not have any reliable left back, but there was no intention to call him up. I hope this process is in the past now and Van Gaal show that he is more open to call up new players.

  7. Bakker, Malacia and Maatssen are way forward and like I have been saying all along, the jury or what ever you wanna call them simply are susceptible to thinking out of the box and the idea to competitive changes.

  8. In last week match Feynoord VS Ajax…Malacia locked Antony,antony could not do anything against malacia…Antony is on par with current elite footballers when comes to speed,trickery..Another Guy was Lutshreal geetruida..he was stunning against Ajax…He can play LB,LCB,RCB,..Very goood on ball,hard tackle,Tactically aware and astute…would be a great option…Untill unless that self goal from senesi Feynoord defense looked rock solid..Geertuida is serious LB who is 1000 miles ahead of Winjdal…

  9. Hiddink was a nightmare but FDB was more than nightnmare..if LVG did help us….We would not have made qualification…LVG will step down after WC2022…i hope he lifts however he is selecting players with holes in games…koopmeiners is not trustworsthy defensive DM..De roon is limited player..Danjuma works so less hence we are less potent with him…We need a DM with lungs,heart, skills and brain….We dont have that..Apart form Frenkie,Gravenberch,Klassen we need to find 3 midfeilders…
    Gini is not playing regular,He cannot play 7 games on consistant base…He is poor in late games…

  10. The stars are slowly lining up for the NT and there is no doubt the next coach has to be either Peter Bosz or Ten Hag. The KNVB should do everything in its capacity to make sure either one comes on board when Van gaal steps down after world cup. Its time for young coaches to step up on to the big stage and this is the best time for either who are well famililar with the up and coming players and others who are presently in the current NT. Ten hag might object to the idea given he could embark on a bigger project with top and wealthy clubs in europe but Bosz surely would favour the move which would stand better than the current one at Lyon. Bosz will also have just 6 months remaining of his 2 year contract after the world cup. In between if Lyon do part ways and decide to sack Bosz, even better.

    Again my projection for 2024 look at current situation in the forwards and how its ingniting with Gakpo,Danjuma,Lang Malen,Bergwijn. Add to this list Brobbery,Piroe and Zirkzee in another 2 seasons or so, it will become like Bee Hive and bees buzzing around it. This is what you want to see.

    Backline same. Frimpong, Ki Jana,Rensch,Bakker,maatsen,Malacia,

    The dutch ligue 1 contingent,you can defintely expect to have a break through there, Matusiwa, Botman and simons particularly.

    I dont see how with this group of players they cant win the WC and offcourse with the likes of Frenkie,De Ligt,Dumfires,Memphis,Ake still around.

  11. Yes it would be nice if they can bring in Ten Hag or Bosz after LVG leaves.

    But then again the crystal ball might be retrieved. Time for KNVB to showcase their other worldly football dimension knowledge. Assistant Blind anyone?

      1. I feel like Gio van Bronkhorst is going to be with the NT before Ten Hag. Ten Hag is going to move to a big club next, and then hopefully continue his success and stay with big clubs.

        I see GvB doing an okay job at Rangers and then when the NT job opens he’ll throw his name in the hat and because of his background, get the job. Not saying he should, but it would be my gut instinct to think he gets it.

    1. I think Rosario will give competition to the midfield. He has played 18 games for Nice so far this season. Kluivert is too early, his main problem is that he can’t stay injury free. Even at Leipzig, he had some games that I thought he will break into the first team and then he got injured. Same at Nice, he was playing well at the beginning of the season, then he got injured and he just came back recently.

    1. He said midfield is stronger than midfield in 2014, which is what it is. With all respect to the midfield in 2014, i remember Sneijder was near his retirement, Wijnaldum just started and was not as good as now. I don’t remember the third midfield, is that De Jong? If so, he was also near retirement.

      None of the forwards are near the level of RVP and Robben. Those two can change the game on their own and he can build his game around them. For the current forward, Danjuma, Malen and Bergwijn could reach that level but they are still far behind. I think Depay and Berghuis are at the age that they will not grow further. Lang and Gakpo are too early to tell.

  12. Van gaal is determined to use 1343 or 13412 rather than Current 1433…That means De ligt also starts…i think we the players for 433…We will struggle for goals with 343 or 3412..

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