If you start writing a post but don’t have time to finish it you can punished! The prelim squad becomes definite, new players come and existing players get injured…
Never a dull moment. Please accept some “old” news in this post but I will make it current as I write (and you read) along….
Coach Danny Blind gave his prelim squad and happy to see he went for the usual suspects and gave Davey Propper the highly deserved nod.
The PSV midfielder is one of the revelations of this season and reminds me of elegant classy midfielders like Phillip Cocu and Kevin Strootman. More technician than breaker but always on the move, and never to lazy to throw in a tackle or two. Like Bazoer of Ajax, it seems time slows down when he has the ball and he shows great composure.
Davey Propper, elegance and class
Also good to see Jetro Willems back in the selection. The PSV man was out for a while but has demonstrated his form and class in the matches he played for PSV since. What a left foot! Timo Letschert is one of the key players of FC Utrecht, which is aiming for a #3 or 4 spot in the Eredivisie under coach Erik “Pep” Ten Hag. The former Twente player worked as a coach for smaller clubs and worked as assistant for Pep Guardiola at Bayern. His style of coaching and training is similar to Pep’s and it is starting to work wonder for the Domstad club. Ayouteb and Ramselaar are also players close to Oranje, while Nassar Barazite is showing his class on a weekly basis after been in the jungle for years since leaaving Arsenal. French striker Haller will also be on the short list of many a big European club, with his goal scoring antics.
AZ Alkmaar is also impressing with Ron Vlaar strong in their defence and one Vincent Janssen scoring like there is no tomorrow. Two years ago, Feyenoord sent him away. Via the Jupiler league, Janssen came to AZ and after a slow start he made his way into the squad. In the last months, he can’t stop scoring. He’s not the quickest, not the tallest, doesn’t have a Marco van Basten style technique but he’s a killer in the box. Left, right, head, distance, tap ins, he can do it all. But make no mistake, Janssen is not the only striker to make it big after starting in the Jupiler League. Huntelaar, Van Nistelrooy, Hasselbaink, Pierre van Hooijdonk and Bas Dost all made the same journey.
Vincent Janssen, 20 goals in the league
Then there is Mitchell Dijks. The Ajax left back. Tall, strong but also fast and with a gifted left foot. If Willems has the best cross of the Eredivisie, Dijks comes second. Sent away by Ajax and making his way back to the forefront via Willem II. Ajax signed him again, something they hardly ever do and he is a consistent threat on the left flank, with a good early cross, but despite his body shape also has the speed to dash past defenders.
And there is more to come. Danny Blind is confronted with disappointing turns by his usual suspects. Arjen Robben is still going strong at top level, but Sneijder’s Galatasaray is disappointing this season, Van Persie is struggling at Fener, Huntelaar lost sharpness and speed, Nigel de Jong is off to LA, while Van der Vaart doesn’t even play anymore. Ron Vlaar is another 30+ player who is making his way back to full fitness at AZ.
So Blind is looking at a number of players to come in. Kevin Strootman is fit and needs to play games. Promes is still doing well in Russia, but other names pop up on the list and have seen either Blind or Van Basten visiting them in the past months. Bazoer and Propper are no-brainers, but others are knocking on the door.
25 year old Patrick van Aanholt went to Chelsea at a young age and via several loan spells, one of which at Vitesse, the left back is now a firm fan favorite at Sunderland. The relegation candidate might struggle in the EPL but not as a result of Van Aanholt’s exploits. He scored 5 goals (of which two were consideren own goals) and had 5 assists, which is the highest combination for a defender in the EPL. Strong in attack, lively, fast and a gifted left foot. Defensively vulnerable, but that applies to all our full backs, incl Janmaat and Willems.
21 year old Nathan Ake is a favorite at Watford, which is placed above Chelsea in the EPL standings, the club that owns Ake. He can play left back, center back and defensive mid and has been exceptional going forward and even scoring goals for Watford. He looks like Gullit but plays like Edgar Davids. He himself hopes and believes he will return to Chelsea and be offered a shot at a spot in the squad.
Riechedly Bazoer is considered one of Holland’s biggest talents. Ex PSV defender turned midfielder under De Boer. Composed, great vision, all round qualities and a good distance strike. Napoli and Wolfsburg have been brushed off by Bazoer but Chelsea has started talks. The Utrecht born player has his hopes set on Barca. No lack of ambition… We all hope he stays at Ajax for another two seasons at least.
Bazoer in his first game for Oranje, hamstring problems. Robben is an expert on the topic
29 year old Ryan Donk was part of Foppe de Haan’s successful Young Oranje almost 10 years back. The AZ defender made his way to Belgium where he was hot and cold but his good season last year got him a transfer to Galatasaray. He plays a lot but hasn’t been able to stop the rot in Turkey. Still, with his length and experience, he could be a candidate still.
23 year old Marco van Ginkel had a tough three years, since leaving Vitesse for Chelsea. Ajax offered more than Chelsea but Vitesse didn’t want to see him go to a competitor in Holland. Poor Van Ginkel got injured at Chelsea and since played for AC Milan, also injury stricken, and had a spell at Stoke City where he couldn’t get in the team. The dynamic midfielder seems to soft for defensive mid in England and not good enough for offensive mid, but in Holland, at PSV, he already demonstrated his worth with goals, passes and tackles.
22 year old Wesley Hoedt only played 28 games in AZ Alkmaar when Lazio decided to offer him a deal. Against the advice given, he went. No one expected him to make a big impact any time soon but partly due to De Vrij’s injury, Hoedt started to get games and is now playing like an experienced defender in the land that invented defending.
So the definitive group got announced and pretty soon after a number of players had to give their thanks… Daryl Janmaat got injured, Ron Vlaar got injured, Propper got injured. Locadia and Erik Pieters won’t be available either, so Ibi Afellay is back as is Patrick van Aanholt and Feyenoord back Rick Karsdorp made his debut into the squad. Arjen Robben was already off the list, so Danny Blind will have to go for a team without the danger man upfront and with heaps of players missing out.
Despite all this: Robin van Persie is still not part of the plans.
Blind “I haven’t written Robin off, but he needs games and he needs fitness. He knows this. He is exceptional when he is fit and I would love him to get back to his full form, but he knows he’s having a tough season.”
Asked about the significance of these games for Oranje: “Listen, we need to start winning again. For us, this is the start for our WC campaign. Simple as that. Two tough opponents and it’s good to see where we stand. The fans need something back now, from us. And it gives me options to use a different system and to see if some younger players will step up.”
Timo Letschert is one of the new names. The Utrecht defender was developed at Ajax where he failed to make it into the senior team. He wanted playing time and moved to Groningen, after which he signed for FC Utrecht. Under Erik “Pep” Ten Hag he has been impressive. Blind: “Timo is a modern defender. He has it all. Length, power, speed, balls and he can even score. Good to have him.”
Oranje will have a good series of games in the coming months. France and England now of course and later on we play Poland, Ireland and Austria in May and June. Blind will also go on a training trip to Portugal with the team after the season ends.
In September 2016, we’ll play our first WC qualification game vs Sweden.
Blind: “We might not have a group of world class players at the moment, but it is always about the team. We have a good enough team to compete and I still believe we should be able to qualify for the World Cup, even if it won’t be easy.”
He is keen to go back to 5-3-2 but only to regain composure and confidence. “I don’t want to be pinned down on systems. 5-3-2 can work with the players we have, as we have demonstrated. Both Memphis and Robben fit in that system, as does Sneijder and we have flying wing backs like Willems and Janmaat so it does fit. Once we gain more consistency I still want to be able to switch to 4-3-3 but the system is not sacred for me.”
Asked about Robben’s importance: “Arjen is still world class. He’s important for Bayern, that says enough. But we still have players with that unpredictable character and loads of talent. Memphis, Quincy Promes are two of those players. We have an exciting young striker in Janssen and ourmidfield is actually quite promising, with Propper, Wijnaldum, Clasie, Klaassen and Bazoer. We can’t rely on one player, we need to focus on the team performance. PSV demonstrated this vs Atletico Madrid and there are many examples like this.”
Wesley Sneijder (32) is adamant to keep on going. He wants to play the WC2018: “I would be so proud to somehow be involved in a young team that will win the cup one day. And I would be able to say I played my tiny part in that. We have good young talents coming through and I enjoy my role as the old player, hahaha.” And on top of that, Sneijder is keen to take the record of most capped Dutchie from goalie Van der Sar. Currently, Wes is number two, with 12 matches to go.
I believe the coach will start with 5-3-2 vs France and hopefully 4-3-3 vs England.
I think the 5-3-2 vs France should be:
Veltman Bruma Blind Van Dijk Willems
Klaassen Wijnaldum Sneijder
Veltman is playing really well as right back, with Bruma making big steps at PSV. Blind and Van Dijk are no brainers and Willems isn’t 100% fit but needs games, so why not use him. We need Klaassen and Wijnaldum in midfield as they form an aerial threat, without a real striker.
Against England, you want to play 4-3-3 to keep their full backs in check and they’ll play with four at the back so I’d go:
Veltman Bruma Van Dijk Blind
Bazoer Afellay Sneijder
Promes Huntelaar Memphis
Or something like that?
Anf for the fans, the German media found this old clip of a teenager Arjen Robben at FC Groningen, where he played in the youth academy. It’s in Dutch, with German subs. But it basically says: “Hi, I’m Arjen Robben and I’m going to teach you a cool trick.”