I have to profusely apologise yet again!
I have been away, and very busy with cool stuff…and I have been dropping the ball a bit.
New posts are in the making, but I wanted to start with this series of looking back to our previous World Cup campaigns. Just to freshen things up before we actually head off to Brazil.
Hope you don’t mind me doing this now. And soon more current posts.
The 1982 World Cup qualifier post is not in the trash, I’m still working on getting some awesome footage.
Keep it up my friends, and please don’t keep on overlooking the donate button, hahahahaha….
Nees was always polite when people accidentally bumped into him…
Here we go for 1974 then… I do surrender my age with this one .
But, most of us will remember prolific scoring Johnny Rep, snake-man Rensenbrink, Neeskens and the blood on his shirt against the Butchers from Brazil (sorry Felipe ), the awesome Cruyff goals, the swimming pool incident and the finals against West Germany. We lost. In case you forgot.
But not a lot of people remember the run up to the WC. In fact, Holland shouldn’t have qualified. Belgium was in our qualifications group and they needed a win against Oranje to oust us. And the match ended 0-0. Holland qualified. But…Belgium scored a goal and that goal was disallowed. Although no one knew why. The ref ruled off side, but the replays showed he was wrong… Close call, that one…
JC in typical style…
In the prep for the WC, Frantisec Fardronc (?) was Oranje’s manager with Jan Zwartkruis as his assistant. In those days, Oranje wasn’t the hot. We never achieved anything before 1974 but with Feyenoord and Ajax ruling Europe and the world (Feyenoord won the European Cup and the World Cup in 1970, Ajax repeated that European feat thrice (71, 72, 73) so the players figured we might have a bit of a chance on that WC.
Looking back, the likes of Van Hanegem and Krol admitted never to have thought we would be contenders for the title. The KNVB feared Fardronc wouldn’t able to lead the team to success and they quickly signed Barca coach Rinus Michels as a supervisor (that was the term). He quickly realized Oranje was in trouble defensively. Killers Rinus Israel and Theo “The Tank” Laseroms were both injured, and so was Ajax defender Hulshoff. Michels tried out different things in the warm ups but wasn’t happy with the results.
Note: Israel and Laseroms were credited with the innovative “drifting” of center striker Johan Cruyff. The two Feyenoord defenders were tough as nails and mean as alley cats. Whenever JC played Feyenoord (with Ajax and later Barca) he didn’t have the guts to play upfront and stayed away from the two fearless defenders, leaving space for others (Nees, Rep) to move in to the center striker position. That worked so well, that JC promoted this tactics to standard MO.
In those days, Ajax and Feyenoord ruled Oranje. PSV cracks Jan van Beveren (Holland’s best goalie ever (debatable, I know)) and playmaker Willy van der Kuylen for instance, had trouble getting into the hierarchy at Oranje and pulled out. Feyenoord midfielders Van Hanegem and Jansen – both very smart players – recognized JC’s sublime genius and were happy to play second fiddle to Jopie.
She was there in 1974. And she hasn’t changed a bit… Good girl…
With the PSV contingent out, Michels still had his defensive issues to take care of. After several experiments, apparently Cruyff whispered in Michels’ ear: try Arie Haan as central defender. Haan, a young Ajax midfielder, was a great passer and more importantly, had wonderful lungs. He was teamed up with young and ruthless Feyenoord defender Rijsbergen. Cruyff wasn’t stupid. By attempting to dominate the game, he knew that using Haan as center back would result in an extra midfielder when in possession, allowing Neeskens to make his penetration runs into the box. With Suurbier on the overlap on the right, Rep could afford to leave the right wing to come to the center up front and thus Rep became the goal scorer, with Cruyff in a free role….anywhere on the pitch.
But, the space between defense and the goalie would be huge and any deep ball over our defense would prove to be dangerous. No problems. Michels selected burgeoning FC Amsterdam goalie Jan Jongbloed. Jongbloed was a spectacular goalie with great reflexes but more importantly, Jan was fast and was a good passer. In this way, Michels added an extra sweeper to the team, Jongbloed would rule the space behind Haan.
All this was not so much strategy, it was born out of necessity and by coincidence.
The rest is history. Arie Haan would develop to become The Dutch Player with most Prizes ™ until one Seedorf started to collect cups. Wim Rijsbergen moved from Feyenoord to New York Cosmos where he’d play with Garrincha, Pele and Beckenbauer. Rob Rensenbrink was one of Holland’s first players to football himself to financial independence and John Rep became a rock star. Sort of.
Clockwork Orange was born. JC would grow into the Best Player Ever (most Brazilians or Argentinians don’t think so, by the way) and Rinus Michels felt it necessary to call his pupil Cruyff an amateur coach and psychopath in later days. But that’s another story…