Tag: Bazoer

Is Oranje good enough…?

In the past weeks, we saw some negativity posted here about the team which prompted me to respond. There were so many things said, that I felt a counter-post was warranted. I mean, Wilson and Tiju tend to vent their frustration with certain players and coaches here, but Jean Venette took it to a whole other level.

In general terms: you don’t need a team of world class players to win trophies!

For every France 2018 or Spain 2012, there is a Greece 2004 or a Leicester City 2016.

You need the best team to win trophies! And a bit of luck. I could end this post right here. Point made.

But, below I will quote Venette (and others) and respond:

“Jan is gonna write his opinion tomorrow and trying to convince folks that this team is good. HAHAHA”

I don’t do this. I am usually trying to explain why a coach does what does and why I think it might work. You can say a lot about our coaches from the past, but they all have a good pedigree and considered to be experts in their fields. We did have inexperienced coaches, but I am not 100% sure you can blame Van Basten for our exit in 2008 or Rijkaard for the dreadful misses v Italy in 2000…

What I do do, and what I do believe in: as a fan you need to support your team. You can be critical of your coach (I am), but the players deserve support. Yelling from the stands “Wijndal, you suck, you don’t deserve to be in this team!” is not my type of supporting.

And lets face it: how often did this group of followers here criticised players… Van Bommel, Nigel de Jong, Dirk Kuyt, Daley Blind… Every player less than Cruyff, Van Basten, Bergkamp or Sneijder gets insults, at times (on this blog).

“This Dutch team isn’t going anywhere. The team is suck….. Berghuis is suck and again he is a starter. LOL Most of these players as sucks.”

I don’t know why I would respond to this. Sounds like a spoiled kid criticising his dinner ( “this meatball sucks, this spinach sucks, I don’t want to eat this!”). The team doesn’t suck. This team (with Virgil) beat France, Germany, England and drew Italy away. So…

I think people in Lyon don’t think Memphis sucks. People like Pocchetino and Klopp don’t think Wijnaldum sucks. Apparently, Frenkie de Jong is the highest valued player in Spain now. So no, we don’t suck.

“You have a bunch of players in this squad that are bench players in their clubs or went abroad and could not perform.”

Someone remembers a certain Marco van Basten, in 1988? He didn’t play. He was not considered first team material by Michels.

The reason that Donny van de Beek doesn’t play at Man United is not hard to fathom (if you follow football, you’d know).

“You have to admit that this generation is suck except for a very few.”

We all know that Spain and England and France are stronger in terms of individual quality and options on every position. That is sadly the fate of The Netherlands. Small country. Less options. England has 5 top right backs, we only have 1 (in my opinion: Karsdorp). This is true. But having said that: how often did England win a big trophy in recent decades?

If you understand football, you know it’s not about the individual players. How many big trophies did C Ronaldo win with his country? Only the last Euros. When he was 33 years old. How many World Cups did Leo Messi win again?

Belgium has been playing several tournaments now with a top notch team with “world class players”. How many trophies exactly?

We have two of the top defenders of the Serie A. We have a true class act in Daley Blind. Frenkie de Jong is top notch. Wijnaldum is a world class player, anyone who begs to differ is not paying attention. He won heaps of trophies at Liverpool, played practically everything, scored key goals in the Champions League and at 30 could sign at PSG, Barca, Bayern or stay at Liverpool.

For me, Liverpool is World Class. So any Liverpool Legend must also be world class.

We have Memphis as top attacker and players like Gravenberch, Timber, Malen, Gakpo will surely follow suit. We don’t need a team of super stars. Those teams never win trophies. We need players like Klaassen and Weghorst who will put in a shift and help support the stars.

“Any tactical decision wouldn’t make any difference.”

Tell this to the German coach who won the Euros in 2004. Tactics are there to allow the players to play at their best level. Did you see the tactical change Koeman made at Barca? And the impact his shift to three-at-the-back made?

“If Berghuis was good enough he wouldn’t be in the Eredivisie by now.”

Why wouldn’t a player be able to decide to stay in Holland? Danny Blind never left Holland. He is considered one of the greatest liberos. How well have some players done when moving abroad (your own observation). So some move abroad and get criticism if they don’t break into a big team right away (Bergwijn, Van de Beek, Kluivert). Others stay in Holland and shine every week and then they get criticised for that?? That is not fair. Berghuis made a transfer to Watford. He decided to return to Holland and play weekly. He was offered a massive pay-check at Feyenoord and decided he wanted to be a big fish in a little pond. But don’t worry, there were more than enough suiters for Berghuis and he’ll make a move, for sure.

I compare him with Ziyech. Elegant technicians, with a tremendous left foot and great vision. But Ziyech is wasted in the high octane style of Tuchel (sadly) and Berghuis was wasted at Watford. I think we should be grateful that Berghuis stayed in Holland.

“For me I think we have to accept the fact that we have failed to produced talented players that we use to and figure out where and how we fell short and look into the future.”

You are behind the times. This process started in 2016 already (actually, after 2012’s debacle) and since, we have started to produce a lot of great talents… De Ligt, Gravenberch, Stengs, Malacia, Lang, Timber, Rensch, Ihattaren, Gakpo, Bijlow, all these names are coming through now and some hav established themselves (De Ligt, Gravenberch, Bijlow), others are on their way after suffering some setbacks (Gakpo, Lang, Malacia) and others struggle a bit with that last step up (Stengs, Ihattaren, Boadu)… The future is quite bright. Wijndal has indeed not progressed enough, I agree with that, but that is normal with young players. That last step is huge.

I pointed out that in The Netherlands (and I was there before the 74 World Cup and the Euros 1988) and before most tournaments, the overall attitude is shifting between “what the F are we going to do there” to “we’ll win this”. And everytime we believe we’ll win it, we go home disappointed (1990, 1996, 2002, 2012) and everytime we believe we have nothing to win, we do exceptionally well (1974, 1978, 2014).

Before the World Cup 1974, the expectations were truly low. We had qualified as a result of a referee blunder (Belgium had an onsite goal ruled out!) and we were missing all our central defenders.

In 1978, we didn’t have Cruyff and Van Hanegem.

And back then, players like Haan, Rijsbergen, Jansen, Jongbloed were not considered World Class.

And like with the criticism poured over Bergwijn, Van de Beek and co: Rep, Jansen, Suurbier, Rijsbergen and others did not have a glorious career abroad. Wim Jansen played in Japan and the US and returned to the Eredivisie, for instance. Rijsbergen made a name for himself at New York Cosmos but that was never taken as a serious team.

Wim Suurbier, party animal

In 1978, we had Poortvliet, Wildschut, Van Kraay, Nanninga, Brands…definitely not world class players.

In 2014, we played with a back 5 of all Eredivisie players. Except for Vlaar, who was playing relegation football with Villa.

In 1988, we had elegant and skilled players galore ( Van ‘t Schip, Vanenburg, Mario Been, Frans van Rooy) but Michels opted for a balanced squad with hard working players (Erwin Koeman, Suvrijn, Bosman, Wim Koevermans, Sjaak Troost) as he understood that these players would not upset the apple cart if they wouldn’t play.

But Van Basten was considered not match fit and Vanenburg was forced to play in service of the team, while 37 year old Muhren was brought in to add some experience and intelligence to the team.

And were we really brilliant? We lost our first game. We won vs England, but with luck.

So why would we now suddenly need 11 world class players??

In 1998, we had a very strong squad. Didn’t win. In 2002, we had one of the best coaches of Dutch history and amazing players. Didn’t even qualify.

“The world will not be talking about these players in 30 years time. Wijnaldum isn’t no Iniesta, nor a Donadoni, Enzo Scifo, Franchescholi, not even an Edgar Davids.”

I think you are wrong. Wijnaldum is on his way to play 100+ caps for Oranje. If you manage that, you will be considered a legend, whether you like it or not :-). He’s been exceptional at Liverpool, much loved there and respected and with a full trophy cabinet.

Memphis is a very colourful player. His foundation work, his clothing line, his funny hats and outfits, and mark my words, he still has his best years in front of him.

Daley Blind will go into history as one of the most gifted left footers we ever had. Frenkie de Jong will become one of our best ever midfielders. I think that in itself is already something to be happy about.

The thing is too: players are considered TOP after winning a big trophy. So, should Holland manage what Greece did in 2004, players like Weghorst and Klaassen and Dumfries will be considered “European top” suddenly.

I think we all have subjective opinions about coaches and players, and we need to accept that there is no such thing as “the truth”. Vincent Janssen is now somewhere in Mexico. Off the radar for most. If he would have picked another club than Spurs, who knows, right? He played 62 games for Monterrey, and scored/assisted 23 times. Which is one goal/assist every third game. Those are way better stats than Luuk de Jong. Janssen could have been on the radar if he would have chosen to play for Gladbach or Mainz or Club Brugge.

Frank de Boer is considered “a loser” but I think that is truly extremely harsh. Sure, his communications is not every enticing. It’s monotonous, he drawls a bit and has a lot of uhs and ohs and ahs… It’s like Emery when he was with Arsenal. He came across as a joker. But despite that, Emery is definitely a top coach, with trophies to prove this. De Boer won the Dutch title 4 times in a row. That is not bad, considering he coached Ajax in a period where they struggled.

He went to Inter, because they wanted to change from a negative, catenaccio style to a more dominant attacking style. The player revolted and the Inter board lost their spine. It took 3 coaches since De Boer and the appointment of Conte to change this. And guess what: Conte is out already, because according to him, the Inter board is constraining him too much.

Same story at Palace: the owners wanted a continental style football. De Boer could have had results in his first four matches but bad luck resulted in a ridiculous loss late in the (fourth) game, which meant the Palace owners shat the bed and chucked him out. They got Yoy Hodgson in and he went back to typical counter football. De Boer was sacrificed to appease the fans and some senior players.

His Atlanta gig can not be seen as a failure. He was there for a good spell and won trophies. What more did they expect?

I remember constant criticism on our teams and players. In 2010, Bert van Marwijk was considered a cautious coach. Our defenders were considered mediocre (Mathijsen, Ooijer, Heitinga). Before the tournament, our two friendlies were considered shambolic. In 2014, no one had any confidence in what Van Gaal was doing. And the story goes on and on.

As for the development of players, look at the 2016 squad and lets look at some names of exciting players who played for Oranje then:

Karsdorp – got seriously injured and missed two whole seasons

Fosu-Mensah – never was able to deliver on that wonderful promise

Hoedt – had a great spell at Lazio but had to re-invent himself after his Southampton move

Jetro Willems – got seriously injured and is now on the prowl for a new club

Bazoer – lost the plot and is now rebuilding his career

Davy Propper – got injured this season and struggled to get back into Brighton, after a solid spell there

Bart Ramselaar – never cut it at PSV, is now back at Utrecht

Van Ginkel – dramatic series of injuries, might return next season (PSV)

Vilhena – great move to Krasnodar where he is one of the key guys, but off the radar a bit

Obviously, Hakim Ziyech should have been on this list too, but his heart decided differently.

As a European football nation expressed in terms of population, we are 8th on the list. Poland and Romania have more people than us. But in terms of football ranking, they are way below us. The top 6 are: England, Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Poland.

It is logical that these countries have more talent to pick from than we do.

Only Portugal is way below us in terms of population, while being able to beat us regularly. All other nations below us (Belgium excepted at the moment) should be considered nations we can beat.

In conclusion:

We don’t need 11 world class players to win a trophy. We don’t need to play well in the pre-season friendlies. Even worse, we don’t even have to play great games in a tournament to win it.

Lets get some comments in on this topic (with respect please).

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Serious questions for Dutch football

In a world that has increasingly become more and more convoluted, with heated debates between Conspiracy theorist and Complicity theorists, democrats and republicans, blacks vs white, Jose vs Pep and as a result the world become harder to understand…

The same applies to our world: the world of football.

What is happening with Liverpool and Van Dijk? What is going on with Man United? Why doesn’t Van de Beek play?

Or in the Dutch competition. Why would Berghuis consider a move to the US? Why is Ajax bringing Klaassen back? At the expense of Noa Lang? Why did the KNVB pick Frank de Boer, not Ten Cate? How did AZ give another big lead away? 0-4 to 4-4 in a spectacular game vs Sparta. Why is Schmidt at PSV trying to break Ihattaren?

These last transfer days are always annoying, hectic and filled with opportunistic knee-jerk deals. Rekik to Seville? Interesting. Lang to Club Brugge? Might actually be good if he gets playing time. Wesley Hoedt back to Lazio? Good!! At the same time, I expected Danjuma to make a move and Tim Krul too for that matter.

No matter. The games can really start now.

Ronald Koeman is impressing at Barca (or is it the 17 year old Ansu Fati??), who had some critical words for Frenkie, after their last Liga match.

Excited to see Koopmeiners with Oranje, I think the 22 year old could be a strong contender for the pivot spot next to Frenkie de Jong. Marten de Roon gets flustered when he has to take the playmaker role, should Frenkie be marked, something Koopmeiners won’t be suffering. Davy Propper still being injured, I would love to see Teun play in the next friendly.

Also interested to see how Sean Klaiber will fair at Ajax. I do rate him, he’s a hardworking atacking right back with a nose for goals and assists. And a pleasant guy too.

There is some debate in Holland re: Ihattaren and his selection for Oranje. A player who doesn’t play usually isn’t invited, unless he had a strong position in the Oranje hierarchy and has earned that spot (Strootman?).

My opinion is that, it was wise to keep Mo engaged. He’s a young raw talent, who happens to be the victim of Roger Schmidt’s alpha male “I am the boss” approach. As if the German decided from the start to pick on the club’s talisman and hope for the future, just to make a point. As Willem van Hanegem said: “if you have a talent like Ihattaren, the last thing you want is to hire a coach who wants him to play in a straight-jacket”.

I’m off the same opinion, of course (Willem and I hardly ever disagree) and I believe the kid needs playing time, he needs coaching, he needs guidance. He doesn’t need public humiliations. And by keeping him with Oranje, De Boer might win his heart really quickly and give him the positive vibes he probably needs.

It does seem he might have slight injury, actually and it remains to be seen whether PSV will release him.

OK newsflash! Both Bergwijn and Ihattaren are out due to injuries. Calvin Stengs is called up as replacement.

Frank de Boer as a team manager for the NT might be a good thing. He has a number of plusses: he had a stellar career as a player, he was brought up with the Ajax DNA ( = Oranje DNA), he is Dutch, he can work with young talents. The negatives: his coaching career is a bit up and down. He did well in Holland, and he didn’t do well outside of Holland. This means he might actually fair well with Oranje and Dutch players, who share his direct mentality.

Another negative, is that like his master Louis van Gaal, De Boer might be tempted to get players in the squad with an Ajax background: Klaassen, Bakker, Al Ghazi (kidding), ….

At the same time: I wouldn’t put it past Frank to sacrifice Babel and Strootman which is probably needed. Both are past their prime and we do have better options today ( Malen, Gakpo, Berghuis, Danjuma for Babel and Joey Veerman, Koopmeiners, Gravenbergh, Rosario, Bazoer for Strootman).

Speaking of Bazoer. He played CB in the PSV youth. He didn’t want to and coveted a place in midfield, so he went to Ajax. Now at Vitesse, he is centre back again and he was amazing in the game last weekend, with two exquisite long passes for two amazing goals. Top performance by him.

The next couple of days, we will focus on the NT, with matches against Mexico( friendly), Bosnia Herzegovina and Italy on the roster.

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Peter Bosz: Let me entertain you!

Ok, that was Robbie Williams, not Peter Bosz. But the Ajax coach does have this as leading mantra in his football philosophy: “I want to entertain the fans. I want to hear the oohs and aaahs rolling from the Arena stands.”

Bosz made a name for himself as a defensive midfielder and captain in the title winning Feyenoord team of 1993 under Willem van Hanegem. He started his career at Vitesse but was loaned to AGOVV amateur club before moving to play for Toulon in France. The Rotterdam stadium club signed him and Bosz was a tough as nails but also tactically astute midfielder, with 8 caps for Oranje. He’d move to Japan after his Feyenoord days and played for Rostock in the Bundesliga. Bosz was part of the Oranje squad for the Euros1992.


The 1992-1993 Feyenoord champs, with – standing from left to right: Gaston Taument, Arnold Scholten, Josef Kiprich, John Metgod, Ed de Goey, – sitting, Peter Bosz, John de Wolf, Ruud Heus, Rob Witschge, Regi Blinker and Henk Fraser

Bosz started his coaching career with AGOVV – the team of his home town – and coached De Graafschap and Heracles Almelo, with whom he won the title (and promotion) in the Jupiler league. He got the technical director job at Feyenoord and was responsible for the signing of a couple of senior players like Roy Makaay, Denny Landzaat and Gio van Bronckhorst. He left the club in protest of the sacking of coach Gert-Jan Verbeek who clashed with the older players.

After that, he returned to coach, first at Heracles again, then Vitesse and a short stint at Maccabi Tel Aviv (managed by Jordi Cruyff). The latter raved about Bosz’ coaching capabilities and the similarities in vision with icons like (dad) Johan Cruyff and Willem van Hanegem.

jor joh peter

Jordi Cruyff, Johan and Peter Bosz in Tel Aviv

When Frank de Boer left Ajax, Bosz was the ideal and logical candidate to replace him.

When visiting Bosz in his sanctuary, the walls are “paved” with flip over slides and big diagrams. “This is where I watch the games back and make notes,” he says. “I make notes every minute, everything that happens. Good situations, mistakes, decisions taken. And in the bus home, after away games, I write it out. It’s the best way for me to work with the players. Taking situations they were in and using it as fast as possible to get them to process changes.”

So when did the tone in the notes start to change?

PB: “I remember that moment vividly. Mid September, the National Cup match vs Willem II. I used some players who needed a chance, players who hadn’t played a lot. I gave them a chance and I was enjoying myself on the bench. This was when I read back my analysis and was surprised to see many things just clicked.”

By coincidence?

“It was quite a journey for us, a quest. We had our vision alright, we want to play attacking, dominant and attractive. But over a long series of games, we weren’t getting to the right level. Every day we were talking about, I was scratching my head. We were trying to get the right players on the right position and in that cup tie, it was there!”

Did you ever have doubts that you’d make it work?

“Oh there were times when I thought: can I do it? And it took some time. To form the midfield, which is key to how we want to play. Would we use two holding mids, or just one? Or one deep lying controlling mid? And we had some more positions where it didn’t flow. I missed something and we were continuously trying things out, combining different types of players, looking for the ideal team.”


And Lasse Schone became the missing link in the team?

“I saw him play that match and thought: that is it! See, he started this season as attacking midfielder and in the past he’d played shadow striker, winger too. I didn’t know he had a controlling mid in him. But he actually told me at some stage: “Coach, I can play there!”. So we tried it at training and it worked. So I used him vs Willem II. It worked and now he is the key player. This is the #6 role and I have very specific wishes for that player. I don’t call it the defensive midfielder but controlling midfielder. I want a player with vision, quick feet and who can pass the ball in an offensive way, forward. And he needs to be available to get the ball always. That is tough. Someone like Guardiola, or Fabregas. I wasn’t that player, I was the defensive midfielder. If they’d pass me the ball with a man behind me, I didn’t know what to do so I’d played the ball straight back. But Lasse gets the ball and turns around and moves forward. Those qualities are essential to our game.”

As a result, first Bazoer and then Gudelj were the victims.

“Those are always hard choices to make. And some players don’t deal with it well. Take El Ghazi and Gudelj. That cannot be accepted. Although they were too different cases. I can understand players who don’t play are disappointed. Sure. But it matters that the players do understand that they hold the key themselves. I have discussed their failings many times, with them. And they weren’t satisfied with their own performances. And yes, when I try others and suddenly it clicks, it is hard for them. And I did not have a reason to suddenly change the team again.”

And then they get motivational issues…

“I was surprised. A player who says “I can’t motivate myself to sit on the bench!” No one I know in coaching land, including Hennie Spijkerman who’s been doing this for 35 years, has ever heard this from any player ever. My first response was: unacceptable! What could I do? What kind of signal would I give the others? I can’t have players saying “call me when I play, otherwise I’m not interested”.

bosz bench players

Unhappy bench warmers: Bazoer, Tete and Riedewald at the back. Nouri can still smile…

What was driving Gudelj?

“Listen, he’s a good kid and a fine player and I worked well with him. If he was a irritating SOB it would have made sense. We actually gave him a chance to revisit his stance. When he came back from international duties with Serbia, but in that meeting he was adamant. And I told him: think about the media, think about how the outside world will view you… But this was it. He would not budge.”

The media suggested you made hard promises to Gudelj, Tete, Bazoer….

“That is a lie. I can’t. I’m the coach, I can’t promise player A or B something? I heard those rumours too and I asked Gudelj in a conversation, with witnesses, and he was clear: “I worked well with you, it has nothing to do with you. I simply can’t motivate myself for a bench role. I am better than the rest, I think I need to play”. I like his thinking, but he needs to show me on the pitch, not with a stance like this. But every player, Tete, Riedewald, they all have a different story…”

Riedewald played well as central defender and defensive mid, we felt?

“And he did. I agree! It was a tough decision to bench him. I did not have much criticism on him. At home vs PAOK for the Champions League qualification he played ever so well. But his bad luck is that he didn’t play when it clicked.”

bosz ghazi

Bosz and El Ghazi had a falling out. The right winger is now at Lille

But you did say he was the only #6 in your squad in the media. That didn’t help.

“But it was true at the time. Jairo played ever so well. And he’s still young, he will develop and I do recognise his potential. But Lasse is simply a better option today. It was a comment I made about Jairo and it got all the headlines and it was repeated time and time again. And I get that. If I could use him as center back I think it would have had less impact. But Viergever and Sanchez have a solid partnership. Viergever is one of the few players who is vocal on the pitch. He coaches, he directs, he corrects. He is a good organiser. Most people don’t see this. But that is why he is quite unique. Sanchez doesn’t speak our language, so Viergever’s contributions are even more important. I discussed all of this with Jairo and he found it very hard and again, I get that. He’s a tremendous talent, but, you know, once he gets over this, he’ll be an even better player. His time will come.”


Peter Bosz, #6 of Oranje in 1992

Riechedly Bazoer was the Oranje #6 and there was talk of a Barcelona bid. Now he’s gone.

“Bazoer is a wonderful player, but not the ideal #6 for me. In our system, you need to be very disciplined tactically. Bazoer had trouble with the balance and I think it was his age. He’s very young and exuberant. Like Feyenoord’s Vilhena, a bit. He has tremendous potential but on his position you need to pass the ball, not bring it like a mailman. He runs too much, he does too much. So you need to compensate his style by putting an extra midfielder in. It didn’t flow. It’s a shame, coz he is has real potential. I think he had a transfer in mind anyway, there was talk that he was keen to go to Barca or any other big team. He reminds me a bit of Seedorf. I call them old souls. Wise before their age. And Wolfsburg gave him a solid perspective. For me, I would have loved to have had him at Ajax longer, but sometimes it’s the player that wants to go.”

And is Tete that much worse than Veltman??

“I don’t want to go into detail. Kenny knows he had a mediocre start this season. They told me when I came: Kenny is a slow starter. That might be the case. I actually gave him quite some opportunities at the start of the season because of that. But we got to the point where we wanted to use alternatives and with Joel and the other changes, it started to flow. So I’m not changing it now. But he’s doing it well. He’s working hard, he’s positive and he takes his chances when he does play. It’s only a matter of time for him.”

The media enjoyed all of this and became very pro-active in discussing the changes. You have only 3 starters of Frank de Boer’s team in your team!

bosz frank db

“We needed change, we wanted to be on the front foot more and we dealt with it. There will be lots of opinions about my choices, I’m sure. Everything you do at a club like Ajax is put under the microscope. I hardly watch those football talk shows and I try not read all these stories. It’s noise for me. The essential bits, people will tell me anyway.”

The criticism on Youness and Traore?

“I see the players daily. I can see what they are able to do and how they work. I call all that media stuff shortsighted. They judge players on 7 minutes highlights. Whether it’s Sinkgraven or Tete or Viergever or Traore. Man, if I would listen to all of that I would go insane.”

What do you think of the criticism that you block the development of the Academy players?

“I am brought in as outsider, with the aim to play attractive football AND get results. I will field the best team to do this. That is my job. I will treat all players equal, whether developed here or not. Whether young or older. On loan or signed for a big fee. I can’t make decisions based on where a player is developed! And some players who are developed here are killing it! Klaassen, Justin Kluivert, Dolberg… When I came here they said about Dolberg: “Here is a youth player. Maybe have a look?” And he’s our starting striker now. Mathijs de Ligt. Only 17 years old. We used him a bit, but expected a bit of a downfall, like many youngsters have, but he doesn’t have it. He’s the perfect example of a player developed here and given a chance.”

bosz mourinho

“And Jose, this is how big your ego is, man!”

Playing like you want to play, this starts with communication and guidance, I guess?

“Yes, a few things are essential. What players do you have and how can you gel them into a team, the best team? Midfield is key for me. This is the metronome if you want. And then it’s the understanding in the player about the way we want to play and what his tasks are, because the Ajax way and my way of playing demands concentration. And it all starts when we don’t have the ball. High press and forechecking by all players on the pitch. With tactical cameras you can see exactly the movements of players. Which players push up as well and which players drop down or lose concentration i.e. their man? And playing attractive and dominant football is step 2, after you manage to do this right. Most Ajax players can do a lot with the ball, but the thing is….you mostly do not have the ball. What do you do then, as a player, or line or team?”

Recognisable football is also a term you use?

“It is important to develop what we call automatisms… Patterns, if you like. We are dealing with conscious and subconscious developments in players. When I do video analysis with them, it’s concsious. They know what I am talking about, think about it, talk about it. But we also have practices where I don’t want them to think or talk or know about anything, I want them to subconsciously make the right decision, like intuition… And develop patterns. So we train different match formats. 3 v 3 or 4 v 4 or 9 v 9 but always with three free players who can be used for a one touch bounce. This will develop patterns both ways (for the teams and for the bouncing players) that I can see in matches too, and we’re making progress.”

bosz mourinho dick

“But then, this is the seize of your dick!”

And there is the infamous 5 seconds rule, isn’t this a bit of a hype?

“Maybe for outsiders, but what can I do about that. It’s a key foundation for our way of playing. See, when you defend, the pitch needs to be small, when you attack you want the pitch big. It usually takes 5 seconds for the opponent to regain position as a team, when they take the ball. This is why we want it within 5 seconds back. It’s easier. You eliminate their threat. And when we play versus a counter team, the 5 second rule is really important. Recently, we played Standard Luik for the Europa League and the execution was good.”

And in the meantime you are building a bigger squad…

“Well no, I don’t want a bigger squad. We will have players leaving. I want more balance. I have a lot of midfielders but I had only one real left back in Dijks. Now with Daley Sinkgraven I have another option, a different option. I only had one left winger so this winter we had to make some moves and we got Justin Kluivert moving up from the youth team. Mathijs de Ligt is playing his games. I want every player in the squad to have a chance to play, I don’t need 30 players. It won’t work. There will always be disappointed players and they can affect more than you know.”

bosz coaching

Ajax does play more attractive now then under De Boer. And the European adventure is going on as well.

“We have done well so far in Europe. I believe it should be doable, for a Dutch club to reach far, but not every year and maybe not so much in the Champions League. That league is determined by money. I’m sure a Dutch club with the right draw can reach beyond the group stage but at quarter final level, you will compete with clubs who spend 5 times more than Dutch clubs, at least. So yes, one or two surprising wins are possible, but the finals will be very hard. Europa League is different. We won vs Kopenhagen, a very decent club. If we get a lucky draw, semi finals is doable. And then anything can happen. But this doesn’t mean a thing re: the past. I don’t want to say anything negative about Frank de Boer as he doesn’t deserve it. Every season is different and he has achieved the impossible here, almost. I do like results, but I really want to be able to entertain. I want the fans in the stadium to yell ooh and aah a lot of times. Spectacle, speed. And it takes time to gel a team. We sadly lost too many points in the first half of the competition where Gio van Bronckhorst had his season last year in which he had to find the solutions. They’re very solid and hard to beat all season. We took more time. But I’m happy with the development of the squad. Onana, Sanchez, Dolberg, Lasse Schone and also the youngsters, like De Ligt, Kluivert, Van de Beek… We can be very proud of our Academy and good things will come.”

How far are you from your goal?

“I re-watched our home game vs Standard Luik. And I saw a remarkable low number of situations where I frowned, situations we did wrong. We are making good steps. But we need to keep on working and developing, we’re certainly not there yet. We have an urge to be perfect and we’re not there. We’re on course, but not there yet.”

bosz gio

Old friends, gunning for the title



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Oranje without Robben; Feyenoord ends winning streak

Danny Blind keeps on doing his job as per usual amidst the drama and shenanigans at the KNVB.

The man highly criticised might end up being the only consistent factor at the moment in the national team realm. The KNVB board gone, no general manager, team manager Jorritsma off side, no big name assistants…but Danny can’t be bothered.

Fred Grim is his new assistant. The second assistant might not even be needed, as most big nations only have 1 assistant and some more specialised technical staff members. Keepers trainer Frans Hoek takes care of most set pieces and defensive organisation anyway, so Danny might have to make do with Grim. Former goalie (like Hoek and like Hans van Breukelen, and in Holland we have saying about goalies….). But highly rated as a coach. Took care of young Ajax and worked for the Federation, and Blind and him go way back. Van Basten is now officially out and working at FIFA.

Basten airport


The definitely squad was announced and no real surprises there. Arjen Robben, who only had two sub turns in Bayern 1, is not selected. Blind: “Arjen is very keen to come and we would love to have him of course, but it is just too early. He is always too eager and we need to make sure we do the right thing for him and his club. Should Arjen get a starting spot this weekend, things might change. We might talk to Bayern and Arjen to check how he will progress.”

kuyt persie

Former Fener star Kuyt congratulating current Fener sub Van Persie

Stefan de Vrij is back after a year of revalidation. He played vs Turkey in September 2015 and was subbed at half time. The knee injury was severe. But he’s back in the starting line up and even saw Antonio Conte make a play for him for Chelsea. But Lazio Roma wants 50 mio euros for the former Feyenoord man and Conte is now aiming elsewhere.

Van Aanholt isn’t selected either but Feyenoord backs Karsdorp and Kongolo are. Tete, Riedewald and Bazoer drop down to Young Oranje. As Hendrix and Ramselaar both don’t play regularly, Blind decided to go with Clasie. The Saints midfielder doesn’t play regularly either, but does have more experience and does play at a higher stage than the two PSV youngsters.

promes boos

Narsingh and Dost are in good shape these last weeks while Steven Berghuis seems to be inconsistent still.

Quincy Promes is part of the squad and Danny Blind had to defend his selection: “Promes was last season’s top goal scorer for Spartak. I see him play every week, the full 90 minutes and I know how good he is? I don’t think the criticasters watch him play every week. They base their opinion on his games for Oranje. We don’t always see the level he can play at in Oranje, that is true, but it will come I’m sure. He is a star in Russia and I select him for his performance at club level, first and foremost.”

Ron Vlaar is still not 100% fit. He copped another knock on his calf and won’t be joining the Orange Lions.

Let’s hope Ancelotti picks Robben for the starting line up this weekend and lets hope Robben scores four goals, clears two off his line and has 3 assists.

robben back

Dutch club football took a bit of a hit this week, with a narrow win by Ajax over Standard Luik (without Ziyech though) while AZ Alkmaar was taken to the cleaners by Zenit in Russia. Feyenoord wasn’t even a shadow of the football and winning machine they were vs Fener and were handed a defeat by Advocaat’s men. Ironically, former Fener star Kuyt lost the ball clumsily to Jeremain Lens who played a key role in the game. Three touches later, Feyenoord was 1-0 down and never came back from that. Lens should have played in Van Persie later in the game but the Sunderland loanie went for glory and fluffed his lines. PSV defended sloppily versus Rostov and got two cheap goals against them. Again, PSV missing a spot kick.

propper pen

Propper’s gifted right foot missing a spot kick. Next!

Ajax got the full 6 points in the EL but Bosz still has a lot of work to do. It’s still not clear how he wants to play. Dolberg as the main striker? Schone as defensive mid or Riedewald or Gudelj/Bazoer? Sinkgraven the key left full back now? What’s happening with Tete? Ziyech on the right flank or in midfield? The young Dolberg definitely is the real deal but he’s only 18 years old? Is it going to quickly with him? And what are the chances of Nouri getting more games?

Quick responses here on some stuff I read in the comments section of the blog.

Vincent Janssen and the risk of him being Soldado #2….

I don’t see it. Kane had trouble getting off his mark in his first and second season. Took him till match 7 or 8 if I am not mistaken. Janssen is a totally different striker than Kane and it needs some adjusting. He has two assists and one goal in official matches for Spurs so not too shabby. I think there might be a risk of him being Kuyt #2…

tete co

Tete, Bazoer and Riedewald not playing…

Fosu-Mensah playing as CB….

Playing CB at top level requires more than being a good defender. You need to read the game, play well with your partner, no when to move up or back, organise and communicate. Bailly for me is a risk – he’s a bit wild at times – and the partnership issue is underrated. Smalling and Blind work well together. This makes their pairing more valuable than the sum of the individuals involved. David Luiz at Chelsea doesn’t work well with Terry or Cahill and it shows. It’s best for Tim if he gets game time as a full back.Bookmark and Share

Oranje getting ready for World Cup 2018!

The first two games in the Eredivisie are behind us and the EPL has commenced while the more Southern nations will start their competitions shortly.

Too early to tell where we are, but that is international football these days. Some teams have been playing CL qualification games already and the national teams are gearing up to start their World Cup qualification games.

First, a friendly. And then Sweden awaits. Sans Zlatan of course.

Rafael van der Vaart of the Netherlands, center, is challenged by Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ola Toivonen, and Pontus Wernbloom of Sweden during their Euro 2012 Group E qualifying soccer match at ArenA stadium in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Tuesday Oct. 12, 2010. The Dutch won the match with a 4-1 score. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
Rafael van der Vaart, center, is challenged by Zlatan Ibrahimovic

The transfer window is still open and as long as that’s the case, all is still in flux. What’s going to happen with Janmaat? Memphis? Siem de Jong? To name a few. And Sneijder? Van Persie, how are these guys doing?

It is very positive to see some moves made by the young and up & coming. Vincent Janssen impressing on his EPL debut, almost scoring even. If not for man of the match Stelelenburg. Wijnaldum had a good second half versus Arsenal and an assist. But at the same time, no minutes for Clasie and an annoying hamstring injury for De Roon…

The news from the Eredivisie is not too depressing though. Feyenoord started well, with Vilhena, Elia and Berghuis impressing, while young left back Woudenberg presents himself as a potential mainstay for the club from Rotterdam.

Davy Propper is still making steps and might well be too good for Holland very soon. The move of Ramselaar to PSV is a good one, of course just like Siem de Jong reuniting with brother Luuk will make the Dutch competition more interesting.

de roon injured

De Roon injured in his first EPL match

At Ajax, Riedewald is back at full fitness and playing well, while Klaassen and Bazoer can be seen as surefire Dutch internationals. Even Daley Sinkgraven, hugely talented but underwhelming in his first period at Ajax made the headlines.

As it stands, against Sweden – not too difficult one might say – I think we should be able to get the result we need, even without Sneijder and Robben.

I won’t go into systems so much, but if we actually want to play to our strengths, I think we need to field Promes and Janssen up front. Elia might have been a sure bet but he’s out with a shoulder injury, while Memphis is most likely not match fit (and lacking form).

Both Janssen and Promes like to drift and Promes should play from the right, as you right back options (Tete, Veltman) are not the natural channel runners. Dijks is an option of course but he hasn’t really played a string of games at his new club so this game might be a tad too early for him.

elia finger

Elia, here with his broken finger, out with shoulder injury

In midfield, Strootman is a fixed starter on the left, with Bazoer sitting deep in the holding role. I’d play Propper on the right with Wijnaldum in the #10 position behind Janssen. Their link up play should be enough for us to transform the 4-4-2 into a 3-4-3.

As I would field Willems any day, he can use the open left flank for his rushes forward. Bruma, Bazoer (as holding mid) and Tete can cover defense while center back Blind can move into midfield Danny-style to support the build up play. Bruma and Tete and Willems have the speed to cover the space behind us and with players like Blind, Bazoer, Propper and Strootman our passing capabilities should be more than enough. I have faith in Janssen and Wijnaldum and Promes to be on the receiving end of those balls, to put a couple away. That’s how I would do it. 3-0 win over Sweden. Thank you. Next.

I do believe there will be a place for Sneijder and most certainly Robben in the team, given that they do become fit. Robben for Promes of course. Sneijder might have to get used to a bench role, with a more prominent part for him in games where we will have to sit a bit deeper and play more compact. His legs won’t allow him to play in our new modern style but versus France or strong opponents at the WC2018, he might still have a role to play.

riedewald ajax

Impressive center back Riedewald

Huntelaar, for me, is a good option on the bench (if he can handle it).

Vilhena is a good understudy for Strootman. Good duellng power, great legs and magic in that left foot. Klaassen can play in the Wijnaldum role, Ramselaar can play in the Bazoer role (as can Clasie of course) and Berghuis can also sub Propper in midfield or Promes on the flank.

Not bad. De Vrij will make his comeback at some stage and even Vlaar will be in the picture with me. As is Van Dijk and even Feyenoord’s Van Beek and Ajax’ Riedewald.

propper scores

Propper, only scoring beauties

With players like Hendrix, Karsdorp, De Roon, El Ghazi, Sinkgraven, Kongolo, Toornstra, Van Ginkel in the mix, the future looks bright, even if we don’t seem to have world class players right now. But like I said before: many people didn’t see it in Strootman, in Nigel de Jong or even Robben when they were younger… Time will tell.

Leicester and Atletico Madrid have shown us that you don’t need a team full of big name players. Spain disappointed at the Euros and so did England. While Wales won hearts and they basically had three great players, with 8 mediocre ones. But they had a team! As did Leicester City. Vardy, Mahrez and Kante being top notch, the rest all decent but not special.


Ramselaar off to PSV (with club legend Willy van der Kuylen)

I can see Robben, Propper, Strootman and Blind as our big name players, with the rest simply doing their job. And who knows, the likes of Memphis and Berghuis might still end up becoming world class. Stranger things have happened. Vardy demonstrated that one is never too old to make it to the big stage.

In terms of goal keepers, we’re still spoiled. Cillesen (on his way to Barca?), Stekelenburg, Vermeer (now injured), Zoet and Krul (still injured) are top goalies. Hahn of Feyenoord is on his way too.

There is no reason to get depressed.

GOTHENBURG, SWEDEN - JULY 30: Jan Olde Riekerink, head coach of Galatasaray and Wesley Sneijder of Galatasaray during the pre-season Friendly between Manchester United and Galatasaray at Ullevi on July 30, 2016 in Gothenburg, Sweden. (Photo by Nils Petter Nilsson/Ombrello via Getty Images)
Jan Olde Riekerink, head coach of Galatasaray and Wesley Sneijder of Galatasaray 

What did get me depressed though, was the treason of Dick Advocaat. Who now wants to be called Dirk (when abroad) as he realises Dick is not a nice name to have. But his recent actions prove to me he is actually DICK. What was he thinking? He has a habit of abandoning teams he’s committed to, for a bigger pay-check. Dick is all about the money. Ask the Australian federation, the Belgium Federation and Sunderland. And now Oranje.

Three months ago, he told Blind he was ready to serve Dutch football and he wanted to get out of the limelight. He was presented to the media, he did his thing, the players loved to have him on board and guess what: the first club from some second rate football nation – where human rights are even less valuable than Dick’s signature under a contract – wiggles a bag of euros and The Dick runs to the exit. Shame on DICK!

Danny Blind and Marco van Basten do need a third coach to complement them. Someone with energy, with passion, warmth and experience.

Dick dick

Rene Meulensteen would have been a top option, but he decided to sign for a club (he was available three months ago). I would not know any other option to be honest….

Danny Blind responded hurt and annoyed when asked about Advo’s antics and KNVB technical director Hans van Breukelen was gobsmacked.

Anyway, the team managers have picked a decent prelim squad. The names you’d expect.

BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - AUGUST 14: Daley Blind of Manchester United in action during the Premier League match between AFC Bournemouth and Manchester United at Vitality Stadium on August 14, 2016 in Bournemouth, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Daley Blind of Manchester United in action during the Premier League match between AFC Bournemouth and Manchester United 

I just hope that prior to September 1, we’ll see some movement in the transfers still. I particularly would like to see Daryl Janmaat make a move, while Bruno Martins Indi has also been put into a blind alley at Porto. Not that I believe we’ll need BMI in the future.

Good to see we keep on producing talent. Up to Danny and Marco to make them all play nicely as a team.

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Oranje finds anschluss with Europe elite vs Austria

Dear friends, I hope you forgive me the pun re: Austria. I am so used to go make word jokes with our opponents… Austria was a tough one, so I had to dig deep. I do believe WW2 is now far enough behind us for this to be acceptable, yes?

But, joking aside, I do think we have done well. We beat Wales and England, away. We drew Ireland while playing sub par and we beat Poland and Austria. And sure, Austria is not Germany and Poland is not Spain but decent teams. And we didn’t do too badly. Considering…

And there is lots to consider… We lost our head coach after differences of opinion with KNVB management. We lost key players like Vlaar, Strootman, Robben and Van Persie. We had top talents like Memphis, Willems, El Ghazi underperform for different reasons. And we took a mental blow from not qualifying for the Euros.

Danny Blind was facing a storm. Ziyech didn’t join, more injuries, a system that didn’t seem to work, individual players messing up in key games… a tough road.


But he stuck to his guns (system and approach) and gave youngsters a chance and he made the brave decision to have Advocaat join the coaching staff.

And I guess it worked. The Ireland game was sub par. Lack of pace, lack of desire, no forward passing, no risk takers.. Against Poland, we did alright and against Austria we got our swagger back.

We were lucky though. The Berghuis cross was deflected. Janssen mistimed his header, it could have gone anyway. Austria missed a sitter (Janko) and could have had a penalty (Bazoer on Alaba)… but overall, we played well. And we even could have scored 3 more. A lucky deflection of a Promes shot on the post, Janssen missing an open chance, Promes missing an open opportunity, Van Ginkel heading the ball away from an open goal… Opportunities galore one might say.

And even though we didn’t play great, there were many a positive light to be seen.

zoet aus

Goalie Jeroen Zoet showed composure and kept us in the game at some stage with some good saves. Kenny Tete had a tough start against Arnautovic, like any full back, but fought himself back into the game. I thought he played excellent and was also a threat going forward (more so than Veltman, but less so than Janmaat). Bruma and Van Dijk both had their little moments of complacency and their build up play can still improve but they do play with confidence and both players, with their length, have a physical presence that can’t be denied. Van Aanholt, was decent in defending, although he was caught out a couple of times, as he seems to “bite” too quick and allows wingers to trick him with their movements. Going forward, he was excellent though. He was a constant mover on the flank, although the passing speed of Oranje was still not quick enough for me and Van Aanholt was overlooked too often, in my book. Obviously, he started the move that led to the 2-0 and deserves kudos for his game.



Our midfield needs improvement, although they did step up. Kevin Strootman started rusty but played himself in the game. Great vision and passing and solid in duels. Strootman doesn’t do “friendly games”. If this is a player who was out for 2 years, I am very positive about his future and impact. Rock solid and the only way is up. Bazoer had good and not so good moments. Easy on the eye, agile in his movement, courageous and technically very skilled. But switches off too often. Had two or three occasions where a man drifted away and his passing could be more adventurous at times. His link up with Berghuis was not great. He also should make more runs into the box for me. He plays too much as a controller, like Strootman. But, he’s young. And I have very high hopes for him.

janssen aus


Wijnaldum was the big disappointed for me. He plays in the #10 role and needs to be much more dominant. His link up play with Janssen was simply non existent and it feels like it is too crowded for him in that spot. He plays well in a 4-4-2 or on the flank in a 4-3-3. The central role… I don’t know. Sure, his goal was fine. His run to the area where De Jong would lay off was great and well timed and his left and right foot can produce something special. But we need more from him in that spot. We’ll see Sneijder there vs Sweden for sure (if he’s fit). Upfront, Promes was a busy bee. Constant threat, constantly moving. His touch needs to improve and he lacks composure in Oranje, although in Moscow he can’t stop scoring. He’s positive though and seems to come across as a good lad. Janssen was special for me. His movement, his spirit, his hold up play, his smart passing and link up play… Excellent. If he keeps on working and not take himself too seriously with all the transfer rumours, he could end up being the real thing. Berghuis is a talent but needs to improve still. He is a smart player, re: movement but his touch is sometimes not there and he tends to be pushed off the ball too easily. But he has something special. A real street football player. Reminds me of Steve McManaman but with a better left foot.


Luuk de Jong impressed me as well. Great hold up play and good awareness. Van Ginkel did alright, but missed a sitter. Vilhena and Veltman couldn’t really make an impact, altough Vilhena has great energy and work rate. He’ll probably do well IF he makes the right decision re: his next step.


All in all, a good performance. A sloppy start, a lucky goal, some haphazard defending but also some great passages of play, with Strootman key in midfield and Promes and Janssen a constant threat. Well done!

We now need two things… We need the likes of Janssen, Vilhena, Berghuis, Janmaat and Memphis to to settle in their new situations next season. Wherever they go or decide to stay. And we need Sneijder, Robben, Clasie and Blind back. I still believe in a midfield with Sneijder, Bazoer, Clasie and Strootman, with Robben playing from the right and Sneijder false left winger (with Willems behind him) and Janssen upfront. Against weaker opponents, we could field two out and out wingers. Tete or Janmaat as right back and Willems or Van Aanholt as left back (I prefer Willems).

training aus

If Van Persie is fit, I’d use him in the squad as well. With Vlaar and Berghuis, Promes, Memphis, Propper, Van Ginkel and L. de Jong to complete the bench. I can imagine Blind will play son Daley as holding mid in place of Clasie if we need two strong center backs. Or Blind with Van Dijk/Bruma at the back and aforementioned Clasie as holding mid. Length can be key, and for this Blind has options.

I get excited with the prospect of Sneijder and Janssen in the team. With Janssen’s movement, Sneijder will find him. And Robben there too, they will be hard to defend. Playing Clasie will allow Strootman to go box to box which I think is his best position. I think it’s a shame to have a player with his dynamics, body and length to sit before defence.



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Oranje stunned by French, stuns English…

What a week we had!

We lost the greatest Dutchman of the last 100 years. The most famous Dutchman, actually. Step into any taxi on the planet and when the driver realises you’re from Holland, he’ll say some version of Cruyff’s name. “Croeff!” Or “Croif”. Or YohanKruf”. But they all talk about the number 14… When he passed away last week, the Oranje players were stunned. Some of them knew him, all of them were influenced, directly or indirectly by him. Team manager Danny Blind and assistant coach Marco van Basten owe their careers to him and both are heavily influenced by his thinking.

A day later, Danny Blind did what the media, the fans and probably the players and the Federation expected him to do. Change the playing system from 4-3-3 to 5-3-2 ( 3-4-3). Cruyff turned around in his grave, if he wasn’t still above the ground. On the day Oranje faces France in the future Cruyff Arena, in Johan’s city of birth, Blind reverted to a more defensive playing style.

blind france

And to add insult to injury. the French scored in the 13th minute, making the 1 minute tribute applause for JC sounds ironic.

Shifting to 5-3-2 was a mistake.

We can safely assume that we have learned that lesson. But, I hear you say…. Louis van Gaal managed it quite well at the WC2014!!!

Yes he did. After weeks of straightjacket practice. With Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie on top. And with luck.

Spain could have been 2-0 up at half time. Australia could have beaten us. The penalty vs Mexico was a 50/50 and another ref might not have given it… We weren’t short of luck. In the losers final we played a totally deflated Brazil…

This time around: Blind didn’t have 3 weeks to practice, he had 2 days. And he didn’t have Robben.

Playing 5-3-2 without Robben or a player of his calibre is ridiculous. Who is making the difference up front? Promes? Not yet… Luuk de Jong? Never!

afellay france

When Oranje shifted to 4-3-3 we got more control. More clarity. More width. Depay played horrendous, yes. But he kept Evra at bay and he assisted both goals. I’d be happy if I was Blind.

And I know, France could have led by 0-5 at half time. They missed opportunities but you could also say we defended well. Cillesen stopped a certain goal and Bruma in particular played a good game.

But Veltman is not a 5-3-2 wing back. He did everything wrong, while Clasie in midfield was outnumbered by all these darting French midfielders who played a 4-5-1, really.

They do have talent to burn, the frogs and I do believe they’re a level up from us at the moment. But to come back to 2-2 was not a bad effort. Sad that their #14 got the winner…. And sad Sneijder had to leave the pitch. Daley Blind succeeds him now as skipper. The only player from the Spain victory in 2014 to start in the England match…

danny daley

And the goals fell cheap… The free kick was a very soft one to be awarded to the French. Klaassen didn’t do much wrong. Cillesen got tricked and moved to the left, while the ball came to his right. His corner. And he couldn’t even come close. The corner kick resulting in the second goal was badly defended. The second ball was hardly challenged by Promes and Veltman lost Giroud out of his sight: 0-2.

Memphis was partly responsible for the 1-2. He got fouled and his inswinger was scored via De Jong’s arm. But he got a big push in his back and if that wouldn’t have happened, he probably would have headed the ball in. I’m not a huge De Jong fan, but I can see him score from that cross. The second goal was good vision by Memphis and a nice finish by Afellay, who was unmarked. France’ winner should never have been scored, in the dying minutes of the game, but heck…. France deserved the win!

So, Blind decided to fix it for the England game. Back to 4-3-3. With Depay and Promes sticking to their position and with a better football player leading the line. Vincent Janssen played a Kuyt style game. Running, working, being annoying, using his body and with a very cool head indeed!

Blind skipper

In the 6th minute, we deserved a penalty (Veltman played great this time around and was clipped by Rose). England didn’t have shot on goal until the 25th minute. By then we had 3 attempts on goal already. Depay didn’t dazzle yet again, but he played with more discipline and if one of the throughpasses into space would have been better, he could have been in on goal two times at least.

But the key was Blind’s game plan (4-5-1 without the ball, 4-3-3 with) and the way midfield pushed forward. Sacrificing Bazoer to hassle Barkley worked really well too.

England had more of the ball, but Holland was in control. One moment of lack of focus got England their goal. Narsingh allowed Rose to get away, Stones pass reached him, Bazoer got pulled away from the center of the pitch and Lallana had time and space. Depay forgot to track back to cover Walker and Bruma was too late to block Vardy’s run. Good goal. Bad defending.

Otherwise, Oranje’s defence looked solid with Daley Blind playing as a real captain, and Bruma putting his body on the line. Willems still doesn’t look fresh but he needs time after 6 months on the sideline while Veltman played like a man.

cruyff wembley

Wijnaldum was the only one looking out of sorts. He has a form issue, like Depay, but they’re both so talented, that will come good.

Janssen was key in our attack. He pushed Stones back who slipped and he could have done better in finishing, but the cross was on and Narsigh hit Rose’ hand. The Spurs defender sort of slapped at it and the penalty was justified, in my view. We should have had one earlier as well. While the England players protested you could see Janssen going for the ball. Blind would later admit either Janssen or Promes were the penalty takers. Promes was out already, so Janssen took it and buried the ball high in the roof of the goal. His body check on a loose ball vs Jagielka kept Oranje in possession and Janssen had all the composure to find an unmarked orange jersey. Not an easy finish for Narsingh but he did very well.

With 14 players missing (Robben and Sneijder obvious losses but the lack of Vlaar, De Vrij and Strootman is also key) I am not pessimistic about our future at all.

janssen pingel

We have good goalies (Cillesen was at fault with France’ first goal), good center backs, and with Tete, Janmaat on the right and Pieters and Van Aanholt and even Ake on the left, our defence looks alright.

I rate Bazoer very high and I think Propper will make big steps as well. Afellay and Clasie are useful and Van Ginkel might still work his way up too. If Strootman reaches his old level, we will be spoiled with choices for midfield. We also have Fer, Klaassen, Hendrix, Wijnaldum… Not too shabby. Upfront, Robben will remain key. I can even see us play with a false #9.

I personally don’t see it in Locadia and De Jong. Fine for top of Eredivisie, but lacking technical ability and handling speed in big matches. Luuk de Jong was painful to watch vs Atletico and France and Klaas Jan Huntelaar and Bas Dost to me are better players to use as pinch hitters.

Vincent Janssen needs more time. He’s just broken through and he will need to prove himself a bit more. But he did demonstrate work rate, a cool head and a fighting mentality. He could be our next Dirk Kuyt.

janssen career


Vincent Janssen’s career in pics. Youth of Feyenoord, move to second tier Almere City and back to the top via AZ….

I would play a 4-5-1 with Robben in a free role on top. Depay left, Promes on the right and a midfield with Bazoer, Strootman (fingers crossed) and Propper or Wijnaldum or Klaassen. If Strootman isn’t available, Clasie can play in that role. And don’t rule Sneijder out! Afellay is a good utility player. He gave Oranje some oomph when he came on in the second half vs France. He can play anywhere in midfield.

Willems would always play in my team, and on the right I’d play Tete if the opponent has a strong left winger or Janmaat if the opponent doesn’t.

Blind is proving to be a strong CB and at his side you simply pick the man in form. Vlaar, Bruma, De Vrij, Van Dijk…whoever….

This summer, I hope Blind will take his squad on a trip to work on 5-3-2. Provided Vlaar, Janmaat and Robben are fit, this system can work well against tough opponents.

As for Danny Blind, a coach is as good as his material. Poor Danny is not responsible for the fact we don’t have strong world beaters at the moment. I don’t think Koeman or De Boer would do much better than Blind. He’s a good communicator and I think he has a good football vision.

oranje eng scoort

After the France game: “Playing 5-3-2 means you have to work more. It’s hard. We only had 2 days to practice and we didn’t perform a couple of essential tasks. That was clear. It was not good enough. But, that is what a practice game is for. I was asked if it wouldn’t have been a good tribute to Cruyff if we’d played 4-3-3….  I think we can play this, and I want to be able to play more systems. But, against a top team like France, we did come back into the game. That final winner should never have been scored of course.”

Blind, after the England game: “I am positively surprised. You don’t expect to beat England at Wembley with 14 players absent. We beat them with Cruyff, with Jan Peters, with Koeman and Van Vossen and once with Robben in form. Now we needed to rely on Janssen and Zoet. Very pleased about, although… we won’t get any points with this game and it will still be a long long summer….”

Blind Eng

The WC 2018 campaign won’t be easy. But France will be vulnerable, as they always are in qualification games. They’ll probably do very well at the Euros, most teams get a dip after a bit tournament (duh!!). Sweden will not be too hard for us. They’re good but beatable. We’ll probably finish second in the group, maybe even first. Mark my words.

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