The Dutch Oranje fans are still partly in shock after the two dreadful losses in September vs Iceland and Turkey. And while the Dutch top talents from the Eredivisie are experiencing that life abroad is a bit more difficult than expected (Wijnaldum, Memphis, Van Ginkel, Afellay), the usual suspects in Holland are debating how to clean up the Oranje Act. And Pronto too!
With only two more games to go and without the steering wheel tightly in our grasp, the analysts seem to agree on two things. Firstly, it doesn’t make sense to replace Danny Blind now. The poor coach surely made some mistakes in his first two games (overrating our quality, mainly) but can’t be blamed for the sorry state the team was and is in, after the dramatic campaign post-World Cup 2014.
Changing the coach now will not have a lot of impact. We simply have to deal with the facts at hand: our current ‘Dutch School” tactics won’t work and we do not have the quality we need.
With the two key games at hand now, the debate whether we will still be able to make it to the top or not can wait till after the games! For now, the focus is on the games vs Kazachstan and the Czech and our voodoo powers to block Turkey from winning two games. Although…it has to be said…. Turkey drawing one and winning one won’t cut it either… Turkey will actually have to lose one at least… While we win two.
Anyway…. Danny Blind is trying to change the tyres of the vehicle while driving it… He has Marco van Basten as his super critical assistant and Ruud van Nistelrooy in support to work with him on the training ground.
Blind has made some errors in selecting the right squad for his first games and probably also some tactictal mistakes but that is all in hindsight of course. At least he had an idea. Sadly, it failed… (I’m talking about using Promes instead of Huntelaar in the last match, for instance).
JC usually wants his teams to play well and attractive. For the coming Oranje games, the old master doesn’t care. He wants results.
But anyway. Blind will have to work with what we have. The key is to use the best players we have and use them in a system that gives us the best options to win.
I don’t need to see “Total Football” or creativity in the coming matches. I want to see a team that will give 100% to win the game.
In the Arsenal – Man United game, we all saw what it means if players really have the desire. True, Arsenal oozes quality as well but Leicester City is playing like this with 9 average players and two top forwards and they’re in the top 5 in the EPL.
Blind will need to find the right words to get him team to give it all!
Selecting the right players is one thing, but prepping them to go out and win is something else.
One of the big talking points in Holland is Ziyech’s decision to play for Morocco instead of Oranje. The Twente playmaker played for every Oranje rep team in the youth system and was even invited in the prelim squad earlier this campaign by Hiddink but as he never got a minute in the Orange, he is still able to switch loyalties. And his heart made him decide to go for Morocco. According to many (Johan Derksen, Willem van Hanegem) he could have been saved for Oranje if we simply went out and talked to him to explain his future in the Dutch team. Ziyech being the ideal replacement for Wes Sneijder….
El Ghazi, the prolific Ajax winger, decided to go for the Dutch. The youngster is on the hitlist of many EPL clubs now, as he is the top scorer in the Eredivisie and he actually went to speak to Cristiano Ronaldo for advice. The Portuguese super star suggested that with Oranje he’d have more growth and more chance on silverware. The Moroccan player was immediately picked for the Oranje squad by Blind.
Rick Karsdorp, playmaker made right full back at Feyenoord, missed the cut after being selected in the prelim squad and quite remarkably (not for us!) Narsingh was dropped as well. The experienced PSV winger admitted in an interview, quite maturely, that he indeed played shocking in his recent Oranje games and understood Blind’s decision.
Arjen Robben and Luuk de Jong won’t be present either, due to injuries and Joel Veltman lost his spot to Virgil van Dijk, who impresses at Southampton.
Bruno Martins Indi and Greg van der Wiel both took the grunt for the bad results of the last two Oranje games but aren’t in the squad due to suspensions. It’s anyone’s guess whether Blind would have picked them if they weren’t. Janmaat makes his way back into the squad, as does Karim Rekik.
With Quincy Promes out due to injury, Eljero Elia who has revigourated his career at Feyenoord, is back in the squad to fill in. The sensational talent-who-once-was missed a couple of years in his development due to some bad career choices and lifestyle choices and after failing at Bremen and Juventus and Southampton seems to have the right motivation and quality to impress in the Eredivisie. Elia played his last Oranje game in 2012.
Elia is back!
Another setback for Oranje came in after the Ajax – PSV game. Davey Klaassen, usually a starter, suffered a light concussion against PSV and can’t make it for Kazachstan. He might join the squad for the last match, but Blind called up another Ajaz midfielder, Riechedly Bazoer, in my view one of our biggest talents.
As per usual, there was a little media rift created in the run up to the Oranje games. In a press conference, Phillip Cocu was asked if Danny Blind ever spoke to Cocu about his players, for instance about Narsingh. Cocu responded prickly with: “Blind never calls me. I haven’t spoken to him at all.” The media quickly moved out to Ajax in Amsterdam to quote Frank de Boer saying this: “Danny calls me a lot. We discuss his choices, he asks me about certain players. He asked me if I thought if El Ghazi was ready for Oranje and I said: yes, pick him!” Asked what he thought Blind would do if De Boer would have said “No, he is not ready yet”, De Boer said: “Well…usually Blind listens well to what I say…”
Danny Blind responded to this favouritism by explaining that he has rung Cocu three times and three times the PSV coach didn’t pick up. “I guess my number is not in his address book so he might have ignored the calls.” Gio van Bronckhorst was called once by Blind, when the prelim squad was made public. “Danny can always call me to discuss players.” the relaxed Feyenoord coach quipped.
At this point, Blind and Cocu have spoken and in between Cocu’s words you can make out what went on. “I spoke to Danny now. He left a message for me and I called back. That is what I do. If I don’t recognise a number, but they leave a clear message, I will return the call. So lets not make this into a big thing. The players need to focus on the game. Whether Blind does or doesn’t call me is all the same to me. But it was good that we cleared the air.”
Last news from the Oranje camp: Daryl Janmaat didn’t return to Holland without a blemish. The Newcastle right back had a knock on his knee in the Man City game and might not be 100% fit for the Kazachstan game. Kenneth Tete is a potential replacement for him.
Yesterday Blind and Gio discussed Elia who was called up to replace Promes.
Elia, normally always quite eloquent and extraverted, was in shock when his coach told him he was to go to Noordwijk to join the Oranje squad. “I don’t know what to say. I have almost squandered my career and I know I can only blame myself. I want to atone and play well and work hard. I know I am on the way back and I know I have the quality still to make a difference. But this is unexpected. I didn’t think it would go this fast. I still have a lot of growth in me.”
All in all, Blind comes across positive and buoyant but he is a coach in distress of course. Arjen Robben, Strootman, Willems, Vlaar, Clasie, De Vrij injured, Van Persie warming the bench more than he’d like to, Klaassen and Promes injured, Luuk de Jong injured, Ziyech decided to play for Morocco and now Janmaat not 100% fit either…
Virgil van Dijk finally gets recognition…
We could play a strong team of injured players, utilising Vermeer or Stekelenburg in goal, playing Willems, Vlaar, Martins Indi and Van der Wiel at the back. Strootman, Klaassen and Clasie in the middle of the park and Robben, De Jong and Promes upfront. Not bad…
Danny Blind: “We can find all sorts of excuses for sure, but we won’t. We simply need to play two good teams and win. With the players we have. Period. We are playing on astro in Kazachstan and we will travel a couple of days early to get used to the pitch. But from what I know, the ball will roll nicely, it is flat and evened out so we will be able to play our football. No excuses. Winning two games and then simply wait for the Czechs to do their job….”
Btw, wanted to share this with you: