I had this post on future Oranje players getting ready to go and decided to start with some Player Ratings for y’all, as I am seeing so many Anti Blind comments…. I simply have to respond to that.
Thanks to all for joining in and I am totally ok with discussions and differences of opinions. That is all fine.
But some of you (Wilson being one, Tiju being another) simply keep harping on against – usually – one player. Like a hate campaign. As if that player can’t do anything right. Wilson has it with Daley, Tiju had it with Dirk. I think both had it with Memphis.
We can all safely say that Dirk Kuyt is a Dutch icon. Memphis’ stats are through the roof and Daley is the connaisseur’s player.
Yes, Daley made a defensive error this weekend vs Heerenveen (and they scored) but he also had an array of superb passes. Any coach will take the defensive weakness, as no defender is 100% tight. Look at De Ligt at Juve. Or this weekend Pique allowing two goals at Barca. Just score one more up front, guys!
Again, I am fine with people pointing out the negatives, but I believe it becomes a witch hunt when:
- they can’t add anything positive, but just keep on repeating the same old stuff… Wilson on Blind’s defensive weaknesses and Tiju did this with Kuyt’s lack of technique (both are wrong, by the way… Blind is a tremendous defender, but simply slow… Kuyt had magnificent match technique, but he wasn’t a circus artist, like Vanenburg or Davids)
- irrelevant things are brought into the discussion (like Danny Blind protecting son Daley)
- disrespectful arguments are used (“Sonny Boy” which points to the Danny – Daley family link)
Every player has negatives, apart from a couple world class players we have… That – for me – applies to Virgil and Frenkie. All other Oranje players do have some weaknesses… Memphis, Gini, De Ligt, Blind…all of them.
Coaches tend to pick the team which is able to 1)strengthen each other strengths and 2) compensate each others weaknesses… This is probably why all Dutch NT coaches pick Blind. His weaknesses can be compensated, while his strengths are really needed.
Frank de Boer, Louis van Gaal, Guus Hiddink, Ronald Koeman, Erik Ten Hag… what connects these coaches? Answer: They all rate Daley Blind really high.
Why? Because of his speed and his goals!
Just kidding. They rate Daley really high because of his 1) ability to read the game, 2) his exquisite passing range, 3) his thrifty possession, 4) his positioning.
Erik Ten Hag: “Daley Blind is my extension on the pitch. He sees what needs to happen first and gets the message across to the other players.”
Dusan Tadic (Ajax #9): “I love Daley Blind behind me. He is our Beckenbauer.”
Blind’s last season at Ajax (centre back) is considered to be one of the key performers for the Amsterdam club. By analysts, football commentators, supporters, ex-players and by coaches. The only two people who don’t seem to see this are Wilson and Tiju. Apparently. But who knows? They might have way better insights in football than Van Gaal, Ten Hag and Koeman….
Complaining about Blind’s lack of speed is like complaining about Overmars’ lack of header goals. Or complaining about Bergkamp not stopping any penalties. Or complaining about Dumfries not being able to dribble past 3 opponents. Or complaining about Memphis weak sliding tackles.
We should be grateful to have Blind in our squad, like the coaches are all grateful and most of the Oranje fans are. I’m fine with people not “liking” a certain player… I’m personally not a big fan of Strootman, but I am a huge Oranje fan and I support the lads and the coaches and I would never vomit all this negativity about players without any real substance.
So, lets have a look at our squad.
Maybe not world class (like Neuer, De Gea or Ellison) but definitely a top notch goalie. Good enough for Oranje. And with Vermeer, Krul, Bizot and Zoet all at the right age and a couple of youngster making their name (Bijlow, Scherpen, Kelle Roos) we should be ok for shot stoppers.
World class versatile player. Master in reading the game and positioning. Great passing and distribution. He sent Memphis away for a corner and delivered it on Van Dijk’s head, leading up to the 1-2.
Virgil Van Dijk
Needs no further kudos. World Class with capital letters. Will win the Ballon D’Or. Strong. Tall. Quick. Composed. Leader. Concrete. Tower. Goal threat in the opponent box.
Matthijs De Ligt
On his way to become Virgil Mark II. Only 19 years old. Courageous. Tall and strong and quicker than you think. Great build up pass. Needs to develop tactically and in terms of positioning. Looked great at Ajax thanks to mentor Blind (something he’ll miss at Juve).
Still in development. Late bloomer. Strong body, quick, athletic, tall and good header. Still lacks smooth technique and is probably the weak spot in the current team. Alternatives Veltman and Tete lack the forward thrust Denzel offers. Karsdorp is probably a better option on all counts, bar the header capabilities.
Frenkie de Jong
The brains in midfield. Oozes class. Velvet touches, great dribbles and that winner mentality allowing him to win balls back. Explosive speed. Tremendous vision and courage.
Marten de Roon
Strongholder in midfield. More destroyer than creator. Has had great moments and has had terrible moments. Passing and technique are average. Work rate and tackling is top notch. A water bearer in the team. Good to have in the squad but we should have a player on his spot who can do it all (like Davids, Cocu or Van Bommel before him).
Marathon Man. Strong in possession. Fierce without the ball. Amazing mentality and wonderful technique. Works and sacrifices himself without a problem. Needs a cooler head in the box and should score more. Does need too many chances for a goal. Could use a bit more vision to aid the team in the build up, Frenkie-style. When on fire, good for 1,5 player.
Jack-of-all-Trades. Good runner with and without the ball. Can score goals. Can assist. Can play alsmost everywhere on the pitch and never complaining when moved from left winger to right winger to right full back. Positive mentality and unpredictable. He is the first to have to worry for his spot with Bergwijn and Malen on the up and up.
World class potential, suffering a bit from ego and overconfidence. Can work magic if all goes his way and can be agitatingly annoying when things don’t work out. Sensational right foot. Confident. Cheeky. Wonderful vision and superb ball skills. Strong body as well.
The Come Back Kid. Had a great spell in his younger days, with his speed, his hip-shot and opportunistic playing style. Came back from the cold and is more a team player now. Covering the left flank, tracking back, supporting players with dummy runs and scoring important goals. Tremendous work rate and the wise old mentor in the squad. Might lose his spot in the starting eleven but Koeman will probably keep on selecting him due to his off-pitch qualities in the group.
A light version of Frenkie de Jong. Has similar ball capabilities, has tremendous vision as well and great in the build up. Should score more (like Frenkie!) and lacks Frenkie’s explosiveness and speed. Should be player at a better club as he will definitely play better in a stronger team. Quiet achiever and in my view a better player to start with than De Roon.
The perfect 12th man. Can slot into midfield, central defence or left back. Perfect mentality, focused, more than average ball skills, strong header of the ball and great team player. Won’t get into the team as long as De Ligt and Van Dijk are ahead of him but a great utility player to have.
Brings something fresh and new. Very quick, with and without ball. The ability, smarts and willingess to make dummy runs and keep the opponent busy. Cold as ice in the box and has eye for the team mate in a better position.
All round attacker. Quick, good ball skills, dribbling ability and knows how to score a goal. Used as a winger, striker and #10 at PSV, and still looking for his best position. Might be the ideal stand-in for Memphis, or he might push Promes out of the team.
Patrick van Aanholt
Highly athletic full back, covering the whole flank. Defensively vulnerable but strong going forward and the ability to score. Has a canon of a left foot but tactically naive.
Versatile player, able to play right back, left back and centre back. Lacks length for the centre back role but still a strong header of the ball. Overall a good player, without any real apparent strengths. Focused and mentally strong. Lacks speed and won’t cover the whole flank. Tough in the personal duels.
Luuk de Jong
Wonderful header of the ball. Courageous and a real leader. Can score goals, but lacks speed and technical skills in the smaller spaces. Useful as pinch hitter, not as a starter. Beats Weghorst in the pinch hitter category. Good in hold up play too.
Stefan de Vrij
No nonsense defender. Fully focussed and mentally strong. Good build up pass and great header of the ball. Not the quickest but also not the slowest. Lacks the “Virgil” charisma but could well be a starter in the Oranje eleven. Keeps head above water as a defender, in the Land of Defenders.
Again, multi functional player. Can play in all positions in midfield and left full back or wing back. Will warm the bench (like Ake) without complaining. Will always earn his Heineken. Amazing energy and work ethic. Good left foot and tremendous drive. Sometimes over does things with his abundant energy and tends to run with the ball too much. Perfect team player.
Top technical skills, wonderful vision and winner mentality. Lacks speed and wants the ball in his feet. Has a wand of a left foot and tremendous goal scoring and assisting abilities as a result. Lacks body and power at times and loses his temper easily. Still looking to find his ideal spot in the team. Not an out and out winger, but also not a real midfielder. Ideal #10 in a 4-3-3 with two holding mids. Probably never headed a ball in his life.
Prodigal son. Wonderful speed and almost perfectly two footed. Can play left and right up front. Needs to play more consistently and decision making needs to improve (quite normal for a young player). Still a lot to develop but unpredictable and has great confidence and composure. This needs to be his season with Roma.
At times a pitiful picture. Was considered the natural successor to Mark van Bommel and even given the captains armband at some point but two massive knee injuries took the sharpness away and Strootman without the legs to do what Strootman does best is not a good Strootman anymore. Lost his starting spot and might lose his spot in the squad once Van de Beek and players like Rosario or Eijting, Ihattaren and/or Stengs make their way into the squad. With De Roon, De Jong and Propper in the midfield, Strootman will not much longer be needed… Koeman does hail his attitude and leadership off the pitch and will probably not write him off until after the EC2020.
Are there players out there that should be in the squad in place of some player above?
I don’t think so. Wout Weghorst, some say. He would be used as pinch hitter, I don’t think Koeman will pick a team that would suit his “normal” game. And for pinch hitting tasks, I agree with Koeman: Luuk de Jong is better.
Obviously, I am not in favour of taking Daley Blind out. Within months, I do expect Stengs to take Berghuis position soon, while Van de Beek will push Strootman out, I think.
But it takes more than a list of names… It’s up to Koeman to pick the players that form the best team, not necessarily the eleven best players. And to concoct a tactics that works with the players, and offers us the best chance to win, while playing attractive football.
Future Stars of Oranje
We were so spoilt for choice in the past. We had Ruud Geels, Dick van Dijk, Johan Cruyff, Cor van der Gijp and other going for the striker role in the 70s. Or we had Van Basten, Boskamp, Kieft, Gilhaus in the 80, Makaay, Kluivert, Van Hooijdonk, Hasselbaink, Van Nistelrooy in the 90s and the likes of Huntelaar, Van Persie, Kuyt, Robben and more in the 00’s… Where are the world class strikers of today? Weghorst, Dost, Luuk de Jong? Nah… not world class.
Vincent Janssen? Nope. But we do see some amazing talent coming up, able to take some pressure of golden wonder boy Memphis Depay (just look at his stats).
Donyell Malen PSV (20 years old)
The obvious choice, after his amazing run in his first two matches for Oranje and the 5 goals he scored last weekend! Boom! Developed at Ajax, made his way to Arsenal and returned to Holland (PSV) to get some playing time. His key quality: skill in confined spaces, speed and the willingness (!) to keep on making the dummy runs!
Cody Gakpo PSV (20 years old)
Blessed with a right foot like David Beckham. Long legs, good stride. Amazing vision and a cool head. Like with Robben, you know he cuts back to his fave foot but he’ll keep on doing it and he’ll get away with it. Very elegant player, who could well go the same route as Phillip Cocu (from left winger to strong holder in midfield
and ending up as skipper at Barca).
Myron Boadu AZ Alkmaar (18 years old)
Lightning quick player at AZ. returning from tough injury, but scoring easily again. Nose for the right spot and cool as ice in the box. Still missed easy chances so needs to work on his decision making. Very likeable chap too. Down to Earth. The real deal, this one!
Mitchell van Bergen Heerenveen (19 years old)
Was 16 years old when making his debut for Vitesse, the youngest player ever (for Vitesse). He ended up warming the bench and made a move to Heerenveen where he is a starter and he plays for Young Oranje. Compared to Robben when he broke through but his key strength is his speed. Mitch is one of the quickest players you’ll see, capable of scoring and providing the assist.
Calvin Stengs – AZ Alkmaar (20 years old)
A highly playful winger, a one-of-a-kind player whose perfect position needs to be found, as Stengs can play central striker (and score), play winger and provide and play midfielder and make the play. Very gifted, great vision, athletic and effective. Missed the Young AZ experience due to a terrible injury keeping him out a full season. Everything is effortless with Stengs and it’s only a matter of time or he’ll claim the right winger role in Oranje, like Ziyech plays that role for Ajax.
Mo Ihattaren PSV (17 years old)
Not a real forward, but an offensive midfielder / playmaker but for me, the most impressive talent since…well…Frenkie de Jong. Ihattaren’s name presented itself already some years ago when he impressed in Oranje under 15 and his reputation keeps on building. Once you have watched him play 45 minutes, you can see what a potential world class player he is. He is young, but he reads the game, plays without fear, has the physique of a 24 year old and has everything to end up at Real Madrid or Man City within 2 years and be a force at those clubs to be reckoned with. The only issues with him: 1) keeping him healthy, 2) keeping him grounded and 3) making sure he will pick Oranje to play for, as Morocco is very keen to enlist his services.
The next pack is on its way….
And there is more coming, in the group just below the lads described above. We know the names: Tahith Chong (19) at ManU. Joshua Zirkzee at Bayern (18), Daishawn Redan (18) at Hertha. Brian Brobbey (17, Ajax) and Naoufal Bannis (17, Feyenoord) impress as well and are on the verge of making more minutes in the first teams.