My oh my… what a summer (winter for me)… Apologies for not posting much in this time. There was not that much to share I suppose and I have been going through some changes with my business and circumstances so had to focus a bit more elsewhere.
Thanks for sticking with me guys!! We’ll see the start of the season soon and lots and lots of cool things to focus on!!
But sadly, we won’t be seeing Ajax in the Champions League :-(. What a disaster… What can I say… I think Ajax is the fifth club in a row from Holland now to qualify for the CL through pre-season qualifications. We simply can’t do it. Austrian, Portuguese and Czech clubs are stronger. Pffff…. This time around, I feel Frank de Boer needs to look in the mirror, long and hard. He has experience (and class) in Lasse Schone and defensive grit with ex international John Heitinga but he decided not to play them. Ajax made a mockery of their first leg vs Wien. They led 0-2 and could have been 0-4 by the break. But Ajax allowed the home team to get back into the game. And in the Arena in Amsterdam, De Boer’s youngsters made defensive mistake after defensive mistake. Naive, unprofessional and lackluster… And these were the good points. Poor Sinkgraven was the butt of Cillesen anger while goal scorer Gudelj “forget” to act one minute after equalising to stop Rapid from scoring their winner. What a drama!
De Boer accepted his responsibility but simply avoided the question “why not play some experienced players in these European games????” by commenting “I made that call and I can’t start complaining about that now…”. No… not complaining! But the nation deserves an explanation. What were you thinking??
Ajax now has to play for Europa League qualification and a PSV sans Depay and Wijnaldum will have to defend our honour.
Hours after the game, this pic went around on Facebook. Rotterdam cafes offering full replays of the Ajax game… Dark sinister humour….
Here is the blackboard enticing Rotterdam based fans to come and “celebrate” reruns of Ajax – Rapid Wien on the big screen…
On the home front, Vitesse had a touch night against Southamption. Pelle and Tadic (both Dutch roots) played strong with Clasie ruling midfield and Stekelenburg being shot stopper. Koeman’s side will do well in the EPL this season and he is now also making a play for Virgil van Dijk (Celtic, ex Groningen).
Feyenoord had a quiet preparation, with too many losing prep games, but Gio van Bronckhorst knows that the games (losses and victories) don’t count in preparation. With Dirk Kuyt, former Ajax defender Jan-Arie van Heijden and (former?) international Eljero Elia one can expect some fireworks in De Kuip.
We can expect some lightning in the Eredivisie anyway, in terms of excitement, with new PSV signing Lestienne as Depay’s replacement. The Belgian forward looks remarkable with his Neymar style hair do and even groomed eyebrows and gold football earring… This player will sit nicely in a series of players who will keep the pundits busy, like Kazim Richards, Ole Toivonen and Marko Pantelic before him. Players you love to hate.
Another headstrong Dutch player decided to play in The Netherlands, Michiel Kramer will sign for Feyenoord. We did lose Depay, Wijnaldum, Clasie but we gained Kuyt, Heitinga and Elia so still a lot of expectations. PSV did well on the transfer market with aforementioned Lestienne, Davy Propper from Vitesse and Uruguayan talent Gaston Pereiro.
The talk in Eindhoven will be about forming a new success team and Champions League football while the talk in Amsterdam will be about changing course. It seems Johan Cruyff will come down from his mountain in Barcelona to fix things, even at the expense of Frank de Boer if he has to….
Ajax had one advantage last season: they played so dull than only Jesper Cillesen (and Kishna) were interesting for foreign clubs. Kishna has left (and joins the likes of De Vrij, Braafheid and Hoed in Roma) while Cillesen for now remains in De Arena. Ajax will most likely perform better this season with Sinkgraven settling in, Gudelj as engine in the midfield and Heitinga enforcing the bank four. The return of Mitch Dijks is a good move and Ajax and Feyenoord will most likely battle for the title with PSV (again). Vitesse is a dark horse after so many good players leaving the club, although Peter Bosz has proven to be a good coach and Chelsea seems happy to offload more good talents towards Arnhem. AZ lost good players (Gudelj, Berghuis) but has a strong foundation and a very good coach in Van den Brom and will most likely find its feet…
In the big European leagues it will be fascinating to watch Dost, Huntelaar and Robben in Germany, while I personally will keep an eye on Van der Vaart in Spain. The three Bundesliga lads will definitely be able to play a role for Oranje. Whether Rafael is still Oranje material remains to be seen. The Turkish competition will increasingly ask our attention. Sneijder at Gala and Van Persie at Fener while Ryan Babel is also making steps up in Turkey.
Van der Wiel might leave Paris, but Rekik joined Marseille and wants to win the title. Unclear where Van der Wiel will end up. In Italy we have a contingent of players at Lazio and destroyer Nigel de Jong remains at AC Milan. With van Wolfswinkel and Martins Indi we have some reason to follow the Portuguese competition but the key for me will be the EPL… Depay, Blind and Van Gaal in Manchester, Koeman, Clasie and hopefully Van Dijk in Southampton and a number of exciting names in Stoke City… Erik Pieters is joined by Ibi Afellay and Marco van Ginkel while Nathan Ake is also still on the look out for a good club to be loaned out to… Dick Advocaat and Lens at Sunderland. And we have a nice Dutch contingent in Newcastle of course, what with Siem de Jong, Krul, Anita, Wijnaldum and Janmaat… Btw, the infamous Number 7 jersey ( George Best, Eric Cantona, David Beckham, CRonaldo) will find the shoulders of one Memphis Depay now Di Maria has signed for Paris SG.
Lots of good football to look forward for sure!
The changes at Oranje make me smile too. With all due respect for Guus, it was time to make way for Danny Blind. Van Oostveen is as culpable as Hiddink in all this. Everyone in Holland knows Guus and Louis are not really good friends and have a totally different way of working. Van Gaal’s way worked really well in the WC2014 and Danny Blind is a Van Gaal adept… So why pick a coach whose style is totally the opposite and give him an assistant who has Van Gaal’s DNA and is supposed to follow in Hiddink’s shoes… Ridiculous. Danny now has his staff for the remainder of the qualifications with San Marco joining in. I would love to see Jan Wouters joining in as well but that is another matter.
The Oranje staff will be focused on winning every remaining game in the Euro qualifications of course, but the draw of the World Cup 2018 is upon us and the Dutch are happy to be in another Group of Death for the qualifications. Oh, how we love those…. Oranje needs to play France, Sweden, Bulgaria, Belarus and Luxembourg….
Danny Blind responded in typical style: “It’s a good draw. Exciting. But tough. You do wish to avoid the two big nations in the second tier (France and Italy) but what can you do? Only the number 1 of the group will qualify and it will most likely go between us and France. But don’t rule out outsider Sweden. Which probably was the toughest nation from the third tier and Bulgaria is the best of tier 4 in my view. So we got it tough. We don’t have time to dilly dally.” Blind represented Oranje at the draw in St Petersburg instead of Hiddink. “It doesn’t feel strange to be here. By now, I’m used to it. We dealt with it and we need to move ahead. The task ahead is not easy but we will focus on qualifying for the Euros and we’ll think about France and Sweden later… But these are the sort of matches you play for, so it is all good.”