Tag: Bert van Marwijk

Dutch NT Managers – pt 2

And as the KNVB is closing in on a deal with a certain Louis van Gaal for his third stint as NT manager, the time seems right to focus on Part 2 of Dutch NT Managers… 

And on we go, into the era that most of us you will remember more vividly…

European Championships 2000 – Frank Rijkaard

The tournament was in our own country (and Belgium) and as a result, we needn’t play any qualification games. Only friendlies, with the 5-5 vs Belgium a truly fun one (with an outstanding Davids). The Euros themselves were fine. We grew into the tournament. We got lucky vs the Czechs but demonstrated our great form later on in the tournament. Playing Italy in the semi finals was something to look out for. The team in form got Italy a red card early in the game and with the tremendous domination we had, it seemed only a matter of time, before…. but no. We missed all the chances, including two penalties and also went on to miss more of those in the shoot out. A crying Rijkaard was seen sitting in the bus after the tournament. He immediately resigned from his duties and disappeared to Spain via Sparta Rotterdam.

Frank may not have won anything as a coach with Oranje, but the dynamics in the group were great and we did play some exciting football. Once can only imagine what would have happened if he stayed on…

World Cup 2002 – Louis van Gaal

It wasn’t easy for Louis, to pick up the disappointed and somewhat ageing squad after the Euro2000 debacle, also with heaps of injuries and absent players, but the experienced coach should have done better. He failed to qualify with a top notch squad and really overplayed his hand in the Portugal away game, where he ruined our chances. The press antics of the man are a disgrace too, with his pathos and drama and crocodile tears. He’d go back to Barca and would eventually leave there with a lot of commedia dell’ arte as well. 

Based on this tournament alone, Louis would be the worst NT coach ever.

Euros 2004 – Dick Advocaat

Someone felt it was best to pick an experienced coach to pick up the team and work with it towards the Euros in Portugal in 2004. As we did have older players retiring and a bunch of new kids (Sneijder, Robben) getting into the limelight, an innovative and young coach would have made more sense.

There was a lot of push back in the media: why pick another former NT? Why not a younger coach? Dick reluctantly took the job and immediately picked Willem van Hanegem, his good friend, as assistant coach. The idea was to use the highly popular legend to deflect criticism away from Advocaat, who is famously suspicious of criticasters and media.

We ended up going with an impressive squad: Sar, Stam, Cocu, Davids, Kluivert, Van Nistelrooy, Van der Vaart, Makaay, Sneijder, Overmars, Robben, to name a few. And Paul Bosvelt, yes.

Advocaat didn’t want to use too many new talents. Robben (returning from injury, of course) and Sneijder were benchwarmers. Van der Meyde and Zenden, to name two lesser players, started. We ended up losing the semis against the host country Portugal. That didn’t hurt that much. We had just beaten the Swedes on penalties (finally!!) which was great, but the main damage was done in our second group match vs the Czechs.

The story is famous by now. We drew against the Germans and the second match vs the Czechs, we had a recovered young Robben on fire. He was unstoppable by the opponent. But Advocaat decided to stop him. He took Robben off after an hour of play, at 2-1. The Dutch, incl Robben, were dumbfounded. A controlling mid (Bosvelt) for an attacker in fine form. 30 minutes later, Oranje had lost the match. Everyone wondered why Dick made that change.

Advocaat decided to let Van Hanegem do the press conference, fearful as Dickie was for criticism. When Van Hanegem was asked about the change, he also expressed bewilderment as to why Advocaat would have done it. Asked what Willem would do next time Dick attempts to do something like this, Willem responded: “I will knock him unconscious!”.

That caused a rift between Dick and Willem and a rift between players (who all favoured Willem) and Dick. The game vs Latvia was won and because Germany beat the Czechs, Holland went through. The loss against Portugal was not necessary but on the day, it was justified. The biggest talking point was and still is: Robben’s substitution.

Dick again demonstrated to be less “Dutch” in his coaching than his players or assistant. Lack of courage, lack of tactical insights. He will never really do something overly stupid (like Van Gaal did in the 2002 campaign vs Portugal) but he will also never dazzle. This can be seen even today, as he currently is Feyenoord’s coach.

World Cup 2006 – Marco van Basten / John van ‘t Schip

When another experienced coach disappointed, the KNVB this time did go to see Cruyff for advice. By then, JC had retired and suffered a heart attack before, so he wasn’t going to pick up the baton. But he did have some advice. Like he presented Rijkaard as a candidate to the Barca board, he now opted to have his other protegees (Van Basten/Van ‘t Schip) to take the job at the KNVB. Quite interesting, as both never coached a first time at that stage. Van ‘t Schip and Van Basten, in that order, were head and assistant coach at Young Ajax, and were impressing there. So JC decided that these two could manage Oranje. Based on San Marco’s name and image, it was decided that the roles would be reversed: Marco was to be head coach and Johnny was going to assist him.

Initially, the duo impressed. We won the qualification (12 matches), only dropping four points. We drew vs Macedonia in the last game, when we were already qualified and we drew against them early on away from home too.

The player selection was typical Van Basten: he basically didn’t select Clarence Seedorf because “he didn’t like him”. That was not the official reason of course, but Marco did mention many times – with a wink – that Clarence was “too much work”.

The Group stages went well. Bolstered by youngsters like Robben, Sneijder and Van Persie, the NT won their first two games vs Serbia and Ivory Coast, leaving the final game in the group of Death as a non-decider: losing or winning vs Argentina, it didn’t really matter. We ended up drawing which meant we finished second. And suddenly we realised it did matter: now we had to face angstgegner Portugal! And we got ousted after what was called the Worst Game Ever in a World Cup! Refereer Ivanov (retired after this game) couldn’t handle the battle of Nuremberg and ended up showing 16 yellow cards and four red ones! Overall, the opinion was that 1) shenanigans in the Dutch squad between Van Nistelrooy/Van Bommel and the coaches had brought an edge to the Dutch players and 2) the referee made some early mistakes which allowed for this game to explode even further. Boulahrouz had an early kick onto C Ronaldo’s knee and should have been red-carded immediately. The ref didn’t pick up on it and his yellow fuelled the anger of the Portuguese. Portugal won 1-0, while Cocu and Kuyt had huge opportunities to score, but missed. The rift between Ruud van Nistelrooy, Mark van Bommel and Van Basten overshadowed most of this World Cup for us, and we were tarred and feathered by the international media.

Van Basten did come up with some positives, besides the afore mentioned clashes. His relationship with Van Persie, Van der Vaart, Sneijder, Robben and other young talents was very good and during the qualification matches for the Euros 2008, he patched things up with Van Nistelrooy (not with Van Bommel though). The qualification matches didn’t go that smooth this time and we placed second after Romania, having lost points versus Belarus, Bulgaria and Romania…

We ended up in another Group of Death, with France, Italy and Romania. The latter was stronger than us in the qualifications, while France and Italy were the recent World Cup finalists. We tend to do well under pressure.

We impressed with stunning wins over Italy and France, with the usual suspects delivering big time (Robben, Van Persie, Sneijder, Kuyt, Van Nistelrooy). Van Basten played a compact, fast counter attacking game with the speed, guile and technical skills as main weapons.

Khalid Boulahrouz played an interesting part, this Euros. He wasn’t part of the pre-prelim squad. But while Maduro, Emanuelson, Jaliens and Koevermans were axed from the pre-lim squad (and Seedorf decided not want to be selected), Van Basten did select Boulahrouz in his pre-lim squad. He would be the last player to be dropped from the group. However, when Ryan Babel got injured and had to miss the Euros, Van Basten didn’t call another attacker but picked Boulahrouz again.

His wife, pregnant in her sixth month, would deliver a still born baby, only a couple of days before the quarter finals vs Guus Hiddink’s Russia. The bond between the players (Boulah was close to Van der Sar, to Van Nistelrooy, Van der Vaart and others) was hurt, as the players spent hours with Khalid at the hospital and were in mourning. The game against Russia was a heavy-legged affair. Oranje lost its spark and the shrewd Hiddink was able to bamboozle Holland with his tactics. We lost in strange circumstances, as the ref decided to red card a Russian player for a foul, but he decided to cancel the red card and allow the player on the pitch. After 1-1 in normal time, the Russians were fitter than the Dutch in the extra time and beat us: 1-3.

Van Basten / Van’t Schip gave us memorable games. Some of them for good reasons ( WC 2006 vs Serbia, and Ivory Coast, all group games in the Euros) and some of them for bad reasons (Portugal 2006, Russia 2008). But overall, the experience was good. Van Basten decided he wasn’t a head coach, many years later. He blamed the pressure and media stuff. Part of the problem was Marco’s lack of man-management skills. He could act and communicate as a cynical player does, calling out players who make mistakes publically. His relationship with Van Bommel never really recuperated (as it did with Van Nistelrooy).

World Cup 2010 – Bert van Marwijk

Van Bommel’s future in Oranje suddenly looked positive when his father in law Bert van Marwijk was the shoe in for the NT coach job.

Van Marwijk had impressed as coach of Fortuna Sittard, a lowly club usually at the lower ranks of pro football but with the likes of Bert at the helm and young talents like Wilfred Bouma, Kevin Hofland and in particular Mark van Bommel, they did ever so well. Bert was a talented left winger whose career got stalled due to a terrible knee injury. He made his way from the local amateurs, to Fortuna, than Feyenoord at a certain point the Dutch NT. Bert is a no nonsense manager. He loves creative football but he absolutely adores winning. He further perfected Van Basten’s 4-2-3-1 and with Nigel de Jong and Mark van Bommel as partners in the engine room, Oranje did lose some magic but they gained grit. And after a record breaking qualification series with some amazing football, Oranje went to the World Cup in South Africa. That generation was at its peak but for some reason, the tournament started for Oranje with some figthing games more than actual creative, dazzling play. The Denmark game was a typical example of how we had to battle for results and somehow we forgot to play good football but turned into a street fighting team, almost. Rafael van de Vaart and Eljero Elia were subbed for gritty players like Kuyt and De Jong, but hey…we kept on winning. The low point being the finals vs Spain. We never got into our groove and disgusted the world with our aggro play, symbolised by Nigel’s flying kick on Xabi’s chest. Yes, it was an accident, but it looked terrible. Robben could have turned it into a victory story though, but Casillas’ toe had other plans.

Bert won silver with Oranje which puts him right next Michels and Happel.

Euros 2012 – Bert van Marwijk

This tournament ended up being a footnote in our history. Van Marwijk declined several offers from clubs to move on with Oranje with the aim to win this trophy. Gio van Bronckhorst retired after the World Cup and Mark van Bommel got the armband (he was skipper at Bayern at the time as well). The qualifications were a dream again, with wins over San Marino, Finland, Moldavia, Hungary and Sweden. We did lose the last qualification game but that was without any consequence. The home game vs Sweden (4-1) is considered one of the best matches Oranje played under Van Marwijk. 

That team had Rafa van der Vaart as one of the holding mids, a spot he should have had at the World Cup and at the Euros. Afellay was also impressing in these qualification matches as was Erik Pieters as left back. Some other names used by Van Marwijk: Hedwiges Maduro, Vernon Anita, Emanuelson, Stijn Schaars and Edson Braafheid.

We won that qualification tournament easily. But at the Euros, we came crashing down. The reasons were quite simple. Both Van der Vaart and Huntelaar felt they belonged in the team. Huntelaar had scored 12 in the series and Van der Vaart was amazing as holding mid. But at the Euros, Bert went back to his trusted engine rooms with two defending mids, while the more talented Van Persie was giving the #9 role. 

Erik Pieters got injured before the tournament and Van Marwijk opted to take the 17 year old Jetro Willems. The young PSV player who joined the club from Sparta only a year before would become the youngest player ever at a Euros. Vlaar played for the injured Mathijsen and Huntelaar and Van der Vaart started on the bench vs Denmark.

The crazy thing: we played Denmark off the pitch, but we didn’t score. RvP specifically seemed to have the boxes still around his boots and when the Danes scored, we couldn’t turn it around. 

For the second game, Bert started with the same eleven but had to sub his captain in favour for Rafael van de Vaart who couldn’t hide his disgust for being left out again. Same as Hunter. The rifts were becoming clearer, the second match was lost as well, vs Germany and we have one more game in which we could salvage our tournament. Both Van der Vaart and Huntelaar started and it was the former part Spanish, part Dutch midfielder man who scored the first goal, but C Ronaldo on fire turned the game around. Holland went home, with zero points on the tally. Forgettable.

Bert didn’t manage this team well enough, overall. After the World Cup, the team needed something different. But how, what and when is a different matter.

Bert deserves a statue in the Zeist statue park of Oranje, he got us silver, but he was also responsible for one of the worst Euros we ever played…

World Cup 2014 – Louis van Gaal

After Bert, in 2012, a number of players were slowly losing their spot in the team. Louis van Gaal got the job as a more disciplinarian was needed, the KNVB felt. Louis introduced some new players, such as Martins Indi, Luciano Narsingh, Jeremain Lens, Ruben Schaken all along the players who did remain, such as Sneijder, Van der Vaart, Robben and Van Persie.

Louis coached us through the qualifications without a worry. One draw, the rest wins. With Robin van Persie as top scorer in the qualifications, with Rafa van der Vaart and Jeremain Lens as runners up. Daryl Janmaat, Stefan de Vrij, Jonathan de Guzman and Stijn Schaars were other names that made their way into the squad.

After a friendly, Louis realises that the traditional 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 wouldn’t work with the issues we were facing. Robben, Sneijder, Van der Vaart and Van Persie were still super key, but lacked the legs to play a modern game of football in a swelty Brazil. Our back line was futhermore quite inexperienced and had a certain Daley Blind as key build up man, but as well know, Daley also lacks speed.

So Van Gaal introduced the 5-3-2. The Dutch purists, still recovering from Van Marwijk’s “anti-football” in South Africa, got their panties in a knot but Louis used the pre-World Cup period to perfect the 5-3-2. Overall, it wasn’t always successful but beating Spain the opening game 1-5 resulted in the silencing of the criticasters.

Not without luck (Australia, Mexico), Oranje sailed through the tournament and Van Gaal further made name for himself with the smart goal keeper change in the Costa Rica match, when penalties needed to decide the winner. Krul came on for Cillesen, not because Krul was a recognised penalty killer so much (Krul has more reach than Cillesen) but as a psychological move. The Costa Ricans immediately thought that Krul was brought in as a cert to stop penalties and guess what: he did stop two, and Oranje went on to play Argentina in the semis.

Van Gaal ended up bringing the bronze back to Holland, after a good win over hosts Brazil but the 5-3-2 criticism did prompt the KNVB to bring a more fatherly coach back who was instructed to bring the Dutch school back in to play.

Louis didn’t qualify for the 2002 World Cup, which was a huge embarrassment. But he did win us the bronze medal, so he’s now on even keel with… the other 15 million NT managers in Holland. He will need to win something now, in order to top this list!

Euros 2016  / World Cup 2018 – Guus Hiddink / Danny Blind / Dick Advocaat

Well, this must well be the worst period in Oranje’s existence. Worse than the drought in the early 80s and the miss of 2002… Because those misses were all related to lack of quality, motivation and emotional intelligence of the players and coaching staff. Back then, the KNVB was a hands-off kinda admin office. But after the bronze medal in Brazil and the tremendous criticism on Oranje’s playing style by icons like Van Hanegem and Cruyff, the KNVB decided to step in firmly with some strong directives! 

The KNCB Ceo was on top of the world and made some “technical” decisions he should have left for others to make: 1. Guus Hiddink was to return to the NT because “the players needed a soft touch, after dictatorial Louis”, 2. Danny Blind would be his assistant and his replacement after Hiddink would retire, 3. the NT was told to return to 4-3-3 and 4. the KNVB would install a technical director and work on a strategy moving forward (the “Winners of Tomorrow” report).

Well, we are six years later, that KNVB Ceo has been promoted away to some vague job somewhere. Hiddink was fired, just like Blind after him. TD Hans van Breukelen was tarred and feathered after his abysmal handling of the selection of the coach to follow Blind and the Dutch missed two major tournaments.

Yes, we lacked quality maybe in that post WC 2014 period, but I still believe that even with a younger squad with Janssen, Blind, Wijnaldum, Dost, Strootman and De Vrij we should have qualified for both the Euros 2016 and the 2018 World Cup.

The World Cup Blues set in, right after the successes in Brazil which cost us points in the first qualification games. The injury woes and aging of Robben, Sneijder and Van Persie didn’t help. Strootman’s post injury form was pretty bad and some of the decisions made by both Blind (De Ligt v Bulgaria) and Advocaat ( Sneijder and Van Persie vs France) were atrocious. As was the decision by the ref in the Sweden away game, to cancel Dost’s header, which would have seen us go to the World Cup 2018. A horrific time.

Guus’ wonderful 1998 campaign got tainted by this. Danny Blind was already a question mark as he does have limited head coaching experience and resorting back to Advocaat was also a debacle as everyone knows Dick doesn’t deal well with stress and is a defensive coach. 

Nations League 2017 and Euros 2020 – Ronald Koeman

Koeman did something that should have pushed him straight to the top of our list. He brought swagger back. He relocated the Dutch back to the private forests of Zeist in stead of the beach promenade in Noordwijk. He tested the 5-3-2 and abandoned it swiftly and most importantly, he let the team win games again. Sure, the entrance on the big stage of Frenkie de Jong did a lot for the team as his confidence and skill pushed the Dutch forward, as did the leadership of Van Dijk. We almost won a trophy (Nations League) and qualified without too much issues for the Euros. Well done Ronald.

And then he decided to jump another train. He left PSV for the Valencia train (and that train crashed) and he did the same now for Barcelona. Do we sympathise with him? I guess we do. But surely, if he won the Euros with Oranje, Barca would still have been an option for him. But him running to the exit a mere 9 months before the Euros has tainted his name (for me) and Koeman will not make it to the top spot. 

Euros 2020 – Frank de Boer

He cut a sad figure. Imagine, you’re a winner. You won a lot as a player. You were a leader. A warrior. Gifted with a magical left and a strong header of the ball. You played for Ajax, Barcelona, Oranje… You are a legend. Then you become the Ajax head coach. And in tough times you win the domestic title 4 times, almost 5 times… 

You go to a big Italian club. And you fail. Then you got to the EPL. And you fail again. And sure, he was lured in with the request to bring “Ajax style continental football” to those clubs, but he wasn’t able to persevere. It took Inter three coaches before they got it. Atlanta was a better choice for him, at least he won trophies and stayed long enough to unpack a fresh pair of socks. His return to Oranje was not a good one. He was not candidate #1 (he was #5 or so). He was also told to be “like Koeman” and he was told that he had to work with the existing backroom staff. Louis van Gaal would have declined.

He decided to place all his chips on zero (meaning: 5-3-2) and go down in flames or up in a blaze of glory. After a series of guffahs and mistakes (Cillesen, Donny’s statistics, El Ghazi’s sms message) and underwhelming friendlies, Oranje did manage to win the group games and end up as group leader. The road to the semis seemed relatively easy for the Dutch, but they tripped dramatically in the first knock-out game against a sturdy and tough Czech Republic. Did we lose that match as a result of wrong tactics, or the wrong players? I don’t think so. We lost due to lack of quality, lack of execution of the tactics, sluggish players and personal misses/mistakes. But the overall picture was clear: Frank failed to ignite this Dutch team. He failed to imbed that new playing style and didn’t find the solution in the squad he needed. The role of Memphis, his striking partner, the use of the left wing back, the choice of goal keeper… too many questions. Before the KNVB was able to do a proper evaluation with De Boer, he resigned.


Well, it seems every coach we had has either failed or has succeeded AND failed. 

Hiddink, Advocaat, Michels, Van Marwijk…they all had glorious days, followed or preceded by debacle. Yes, Michels won us a trophy and a World Cup silver medal and a Euros bronze medal (?) but he also stopped us from getting Cruyff as national coach – twice- and he was responsible for the atrocious 1990 World Cup. So no, Michels is not my all time best NT Coach.

Frank Rijkaard is the man. He coached Holland to what seemed to be a sure fire Trophy in 2000, only to be outfoxed by….. Frank de Boer (missing two spot kicks).

The football under his leadership was pretty good fun and open and deserving of applause and kudos. Frank is my main man!

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Mark van Bommel retires…

Old soldiers never die, they just fade away. Well, Mark van Bommel took his curtain call in the only way fitting for the midfield warrior. Sent off with a red card. Jokingly, he predicted this before the game, says PSV winger Dries Mertens. “I tried to convince him to stay but he said he wanted to retire like Zidane.” (Jan: who played his last game and like Van Bommel was red-carded).

The 36 year old PSV skipper realises he could have gone on for another season. “But I wanted to keep the lead in my farewell. Didn’t want to push on one season too many. The fans made it hard enough but this is how it is. And this red card is probably symbolical for my season.”
The midfielder started his pro career at Fortuna Sittard in 1992. At 16 years old he made his debut and made his move to PSV 7 years later. Van Bommel was always seen as a huge talent. A highly dynamic midfielder, with the passing skills of a playmaker and the physical strength of a destroyer. In his Fortuna days, he scored many a goal penetrating into the opponent’s box.

Van Bommel was partly responsible for the positive surge of Fortuna and the championship in the First Division.
At Fortuna, he played under his future father in law Bert van Marwijk before he made the big move to PSV, in 1999. He won 6 titles at PSV before he made his way to Barcelona. He won the title and the Champions League under Frank Rijkaard but left after one season for Bayern Munich.

“My time at Barcelona was great. I enjoyed Spain as a country and competition but I couldn’t settle in that rotation philosophy. Rijkaard told me he didn’t see me as the starter in the strongest, ideal eleven. I knew I would play enough games anyway, but I need to be important for a team. When Bayern went out their way to sign me, I decided to go.”
Van Bommel played for Munich from 2006 till the winter of 2011. The midfielder became the undisputed leader at Bayern and won two Bundesliga titles and played the CL finals in 2010. He lost, under Van Gaal, against Sneijder’s Inter Milan.

The relationship between Van Gaal and Van Bommel deteroriated and the Bayern skipper decided to move on. At AC Milan, he also won the national title and was able to make himself important for the rossoneri. He became very popular there and could sign a new deal in 2012 but decided to keep his promise to PSV. He returned to Eindhoven to win the title again and break the Ajax hegemony.

But despite the presence of coach Advocaat, players like Strootman, Mertens, Lens and Wijnaldum, Van Bommel wasn’t able to win more than the Johan Cruyff schaal this season. Ajax beat PSV for the title and AZ beat PSV in the national cup final.

Van Bommel: “I played 21 seasons pro football. My family and my friends have suffered from this. All this time, my program and my needs were most important. I was hardly ever home. Always in training camp or traveling and minding my food intake and getting enough rest. It must have been very hard on them. It’s time for me to give back.”

Mark van Bommel will be remembered as one of Holland’s strongest midfielders. He did collect a lot of cards in his career, but he needs to be remembered for his important passing, his blocks and tackles and his thumping pressure play in midfield. In his career, he also scored a number of beautiful and important goals.
His international career was not all one big success story. It was quite clear from the outset that Bommel would one day wear the orange. He made his debut in 2000 under Louis van Gaal but missed the 2002 tournament as Holland didn’t qualify and missed the 2004 EC in Portugal due to injury.

When Marco van Basten took the job in 2004, Van Bommel looked forward to working with his former idol (Van Basten’s poster adorned Mark’s room as a kid) but the two did not get along too well. In a WC qualification game against Romania, won by Holland, van Bommel didn’t execute his tactical role too well (according to Van Basten) and he overlooked the midfielder for a series of qualification games. Van Bommel had the reputation to “let his man get away from him…”.

In the semi finals Champions League in 2005, AC Milan beat PSV thanks to a late Ambrosini goal, who sneaked away from Van Bommel. This further cemented Mark’s bad rep at this aspect of his game.

Despite this, he did get the invite to play at the World Cup 2006 and was yellow- carded in the infamous Battle of Nuremburg, against Portugal. Van Bommel was overlooked again in the first EC qualification games and when he was called up for the Bulgaria game, he stated – with Van Nistelrooy – that he didn’t want to play under Van Basten anymore.
Rumour has it that Johan Cruyff had something to do with Van Bommel’s position in Oranje. Sometime in 2004, Cruyff was in the tv studio with Van Bommel to analyse Oranje under Dick Advocaat. Cruyff was criticising Advocaat’s 4-4-2 system. The master is not used to having people disagree with him, but Van Bommel immediately stated to not agree with Cruyff and that many teams have played great football with the 4-4-2 system. He even mentioned AC Milan in the 1980s, who famously destroyed JC’s Barcelona in the European Cup.
Cruyff, allegedly, exploded after the tv program, stating he would not return for any tv program, if he had to share the screen with that football player. Apparently, Cruyff influenced Van Basten, just like people believe JC was the reason why Mark was not at Barcelona longer than one season.
Other added to that rift, that Van Basten wasn’t equipped to deal with the more mature Oranje players. Van Nistelrooy and Van der Sar were two other players who would open their mouths at tactical talks and make it hard for Van Basten. With regards to the Romania game, in which Van Bommel ruined it for himself, the players now say that Van Bommel asked out loud what he was supposed to do if his Romanian opponent drifted away. Van Basten said: “You can push up, I want Dirk Kuyt to pick up your man.”

But after the game, Van Basten blamed Van Bommel and something snapped…

Van Nistelrooy decided to return for the EC2008. Van Bommel made his comeback in Oranje under his father in law Van Marwijk and had a series of great games under him. Van Bommel’s highlight in Oranje was the finals against Spain, at the World Cup 2010.

Sadly for him, it was Van Bommel (with Nigel de Jong) who got the blame for the mess in midfield during the 2012 EC debacle, although the whole team dynamic was a mess, but it simply looked as if Van Bommel/De Jong simply couldn’t manage the space anymore. Optical illusion for sure.

After coming out of the dressing room for the last time, this season, he said “the beautiful memories are the ones that last…” Only to add: “Don’t forget, I had 20 minutes extra to think up this comment.”
Van Bommel is happy to have made the choice to return to his club. “PSV is in my blood and I made this deal with the supporters and I wanted to stick to it. Now, I will start my trainer course and will start my career at PSV. We haven’t decided exactly what I will be doing. But I’ll find something. 

Mark’s farewell game is already planed. On July 19, he will have former colleagues like Ribery, Ibrahimovic, Robben, Thomas Muller, Badstuber and Schweinsteiger in his farewell team, most likely to play against either PSV or a group of Dutch internationals. Van Bommel said these players will all come, unless they have a game planned, of course. Duty always before pleasure…
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Research: Oranje fitness below par; Bert responds

Oranje went to Poland and the Ukraine as favorites. Maybe not The Favorites… But surely as potential winners. With names like Van Persie, Van Bommel, Heitinga, Stekelenburg, Sneijder, Robben, Afellay, Huntelaar… What could go wrong? The lads won silver in 2010, so….

But it went horribly wrong. And I still have the images in my head. Of Heitinga tracking back when Sneijder yelled him to push up. Of Stekelenburg going to ground before Gomes had pulled the trigger. Of Van Persie hitting air instead of the ball, of Robben shouting at Van Marwijk, of Van der Wiel having a sook…

We fell hard on our face.

There was an evaluation after the tournament. To establish whether the players and the federation should move forward with Bert. But the evaluation became less relevant when the most successful coach in Oranje’s history decided to resign.

Now, almost 6 months after the – repressed – Euros, KNVB manager Bert van Oostveen states in the VI magazine that the “players didn’t appear to be fit”. He claims that tests have shown that the elaborate flights from Poland to the Ukraine (to play the matches) has taken its toll on the players.

They lacked fitness.

Bert van Oostveen with the fittest of them all…

And Bert decided to share that news, which is seen as a horrible kick in the nuts by former coach Van Marwijk who reponded as if bitten by a snake.

“What? Did he say that? Bullocks! We were not the only ones with this program. One of the finalists did the same as us. We constantly checked fitness levels and as far as I am aware, the players were fit.”

Van Marwijk is getting ready to make a return to coaching, expressed his disappointment with this sudden announcement.

“Why would you bring this news suddenly? I had daily contact with Van Oostveen during the campaign. During our valuation, this never came up. It basically never came up. This is the first time I hear about. Is that strange, or what? It does feel like a back stab, but I won’t let this ruin my christmas.”

In all honesty, many on this blog felt the team looked slow and lacklustre but to come out with this news after 6 months is very suspect. If the KNVB is serious about fitness tests, they should find a lab that can process results a bit quicker.

In the meantime, AZ coach Gertjan Verbeek has supported Van Marwijk publically.

“The KNVB has recently published new rules of conduct to the coaches. We are not allowed to be emotional with our responses to what is happening. We need to be respectful to the referees etc etc. Great! And in the month this is published, the chairman attacks Sparta coach Michel Vonk and the general manager stabs Bert van Marwijk in the back. Don’t the rules apply to them??”

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Arjen Robben motivated to the T

Arjen Robben is injured. This is not news. And it will also not be the last time. But Robben is feeling good. He seems to be on top of things. The time of weird and unexplainable injuries is behind him. Robben is happy, in Munich and in the Dutch team.

He is happy to look back at his weird year behind him.

“I am often wondering which was the hardest blow: the missed penalty against Dortmund, the missed penalty in the CL finals or the drama that was our EK campaign. I took a number of blows full on the chin and they all hit home. It took quite some time to get over all this, but once the pre-season in Munich started I sort of had put it all in its place. Time to look ahead.”

Robben worked with Van Gaal at Bayern Munich and he worked with the coach in the beginning of his career when he was in Young Oranje. “Van Gaal is probably always the same Van Gaal. He is who he is. He has this distinct style. As a kid, I was super impressed with him. Now, it’s almost normal, but he definitely is one of the best ever.”

Robben thinks back at those days and realises he is now quickly becoming one of the old hands in Oranje. “Haha, yes.. I’m in Oranje nine seasons… That probably makes me a veteran, haha. It’s fun. When I was young, I was totally focused on me, me, me. When you are in the mid twenties, you become more aware of team tactics and now I guess I am seen as a potential leader. I am totally cool with that. All the players of my age are happy to be mentoring the young lads. It’s important that we do, as we are all the same team.”

Was the shift from the typical Bert van Marwijk squad to the refreshed group a big one?

“Well, it was a bit . But no problem really. It’s normal that with new lads, the so-called automatisms are gone and you need to communicate more but what can you say? All the youngsters have done really well in the first games and I think we are in great shape with these players.”

During the EC you had a fall out with Van Marwijk and you even yelled at him? Was the bottom reached?

“Huh? No… That story, that I yelled “Shut up!” to him? That is fabricated… He was instructing me to track back and I was yelling something back at him… But certainly not shut up… I had a good relationship with Bert. I wanted to perform with him, get results. But in sports, you sometime lose your head. He shouted at me, I shout back…it happens all the time. At the end of the game, it’s all forgotten. But the media wanted to have a go at this one. But the lipreaders had it all wrong.”

It’s interesting how the youngsters easily fit in while the more experienced players like Van der Vaart, Sneijder, De Jong and Kuyt seem to struggle to keep up? Van der Vaart injured, Sneijder not playing, you are injured now… Only Van Persie is killing it week in week out…

“Yes and Robin used to be the one who never had a full season free of injuries… I think if you look at someone’s career you will find periods where his body doesn’t cope and periods where you can do everything. Sneijder had a killer year in 2010…. But we will come back… Don’t worry. I love playing with Wesley behind me, of course. His passing, his vision… I have never seen anyone better.”

Do you see disadvantages in Van Gaal’s wish to play with only one defensive midfielder?

“Theoretically, you could become more exposed, but you don’t have to. I don’t believe in those “systems discussions”. We need to make sure that the right type of players play. If we can use a penetration midfielder with good lungs, that player can assist the defensive mid and he can assist the strikers. Someone like Strootman, or Fer or that new kid Van Ginkel.”

At the Euro, the space the team left in midfield was outrageous. And was the death for the team. No midfielder was able to cover that. How can you remedy that?

“Well, our intentions do not change with our system. We still want to play dominant, press up the park and play high paced. We can not allow that space like that appears. If it does, we are not executing it correctly. And we need to work on this.Compact play is key! We need to learn from the mistakes and make sure everyone understands what is required. And we now have to focus on regaining respect. From fans and media and from opponents.”

What was the most important lesson of the EK?

“I wish we could stop looking back. I think it looked worse than it was. If we would have scored three of the many goal opportunities we got against Denmark, the whole tournament would have been different. Football is a game of little details. A ball just a bit more to the right and it’s 1-0 for us. Etc etc… We had chances against Germany to make it 2-2 and we even started with 1-0 against Portugal. But it wasn’t to be.”

Arjen and wife Bernadien

Greg van der Wiel made some negative comments about the team spirit?

“He did so right after the Portugal game. That is something he shouldn’t have done. I won’t comment or react. I will keep my comments for internally. Our meeting right after the Euros with Van Gaal was good. We could say what we wanted. And it is supposed to be like that. You should be able to have a go at the coach or team members behind closed doors. As long as it’s not going against the groups process.”

Did you have specific method to let the disappointments slide off you?

“It was not the best summer holiday ever. But…it was a long one, thanks to our early exit of the EC, haha. But seriously, kids are the best distraction. When I look back on this in 10 years time, when I’ve retired, I’m sure I will hit myself in the head… We shouldn’t have let this EC go like this. All of us. The quality we have… This can never happen again!”

Arjen Robben and Kate Perry

It was a hefty season for you and when you played with Oranje against your club your own fans booed you? How hard was that for you?

“That was ok. That is how it works with fans. On my first practice day, the fans were warm and fine. I really enjoyed the support from Bayern’s management. It’s a warm club. And listen, no one really wanted that game. Everyone was a bit awkward about it.”

In Munich you play on the right, in Oranje suddenly you are back to the left wing. Surprised?

“I didn’t see it coming but it’s not a shock for me. Or a big deal. I can use my best leg for crossing and passing… Louis wants me to keep the field wide so I won’t be in a position to shoot on goal that often. I think it will work out fine. I’m sure I can keep changing position as Robin likes to drift a bit too. Variance is important and with our squad I’m sure we can keep surprising opponents.”

People think the right wing is not working out anymore as opponents tend to prepare well for your signature moves?

“I think that is not the case. Everyone knows what Rooney does… Or Van Persie, Messi or C Ronaldo. And still they do it. Because they are in form. I simply wasn’t good enough last year. I didn’t bring my normal level. I don’t think it is the position I’m in. The year before, every second ball I shot on goal was a goal. The last season, I couldn’t score from the spot. That was not the “fault” of my position. But simply me. The first season’s half was a drama. I had that horrible groin injury. It took me months to come back. But at the start of the EC I was topfit. But simply missed the super form. I was close, but not good enough. The ball on the post, against Denmark being a typical example of a couple of percentage points “off”….”

Arjen and Bastian Schweinsteiger (Pig-climber?)

And the reason being….?

“Simply not free in my head. I was working on getting fit and dealing with the injuries. I had stuff happening at Bayern… Some board members criticising me for being too egotistical. I started to think too much on the pitch. Allowed that stuff to get into my head. My strength is playing purely on intuition. Once I desert that, I become less threatening, less unique, more predictable…”

What have your learned from that period?

“I have talked about it with people close to me. I need to go back to my foundations. My fundamentals. I need to do what I’m good at. Playing with pleasure and it might sound weird, but I need to become more egotistical. Make my actions. Go for it. I still haven’t reached my top. There is still much upswing in me… I want to be the best I can be. That is still ahead of me.”

Robben being rolled up as a ball has become a funny image in many Photoshop attempts.

Here are a couple:

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Bert van Marwijk's career in 5 matches

A bit of a shocker: the Queen yawning when presented with the Dutch squad in 2010

Bert van Marwijk coached us to the WC finals in 2010. And now he’s gone… Never before did Oranje perform as well as under Bert van Marwijk. We’ll say goodbye using five historic games…

Holland – Brazil 2-1, July 2, 2010
Quarter finals of the World Cup. Holland hadn’t really shown up on many radars. Winning against Denmark and Japan is not really something “remarkable”. The Brazil game was a crazy game. Brazil was bossing Holland aound in the first half. In the second half, Oranje gets back into the game, based on mental strength. Nigel de Jong: “We outplayed them on passion and through a couple of little smart things.” Holland is a strong collective and demonstrates a winning mentality. This game is seen as the high point with Bert as big inspiration and motivator. After this game, Bert says: “There is a big difference between someone saying that he wants it, or someone actually demonstrating that he wants it. A big difference between belief and real belief!”. Bert helped the players believe in it. In 35 minutes, Oranje did everything right. Even good football returned. And playing to your strength. And having confidence. And be ballsy. After this game, Oranje was unbeaten for 24 games. A record! And the world looked up… Oranje? Again?

Holland-Spain 0-1, WC-finals, 11 July 2010
32 years after the last World Cup final Holland is at the highest level again. A tremendous performance by Van Marwijk and the team. Arjen Robben had the winner on his shoe in the 61-st minute and could have written history for the Dutch, but he didn’t. Oranje was prone to dirty play and Spain was a tad better. Holland capitulated in the 116th minute. After the hangover, pride and surprise reigned and Amsterdam filled up with a million fans. Bert van Marwijk entered the realm of Great Coaches (move over Rinus, Ernst and Guus….).

Nederland-San Marino 11-0, 2 september 2011
In September 2011, Holland takes the number one spot for national teams in the FIFA ranking for the first time ever. Despite the lost World Cup finals, Holland is the best team of the world. This honorary title is being celebrated with an 11-0 win over San Marino and Holland is the leader of its qualification group. This could well be the high point of the Van Marwijk era. The papers call it the “appetite of a insatiable team….”

Germany – Holland 3-0, 15 November 2011
Two months later, it’s all different. Some Dutch internationals are having issues. They are injured or benched or out of form. The EC qualification is no problemo, but the Clockwork Orange is starting to choke. First a loss against Sweden, than this friendly against Germany. It’s a horrible game. The national papers call it the “worst game under Van Marwijk. No passion, no quality, no discipline. No nothing, really.” There were some players absent, but the level of the Dutch defence was “shocking”. And the national papers start to focus in on the age of some players: Kuyt, Mathijsen, Van Bommel… They are all well above 30 and aren’t getting better. And apart from Strootman and Afellay, Van Marwijk failed to find new blood for his team.

Holland-Germany 1-2, EC 2012, 13 June 2012
The Denmark defeat at the EC could still be regarded as a freak loss. Two years before, Denmark didn’t get into the game, and Holland had an easy victory. Now, Denmark scored and Holland simply couldn’t convert any of the chances. The deception came against Germany. Holland had a good 10 minutes but lost stamina quickly. The Germans made the Dutch defence look like amateurs and Gomez didn’t even cheer after his second goal. The ultimate humiliation was the comments by the Germans to “do their duty to give Holland a lifeline”. The national papers: “Holland lacked chemistry, strikers, defence and midfield. The team went down under stress and impotence.” Van Marwijk’s magic was over. And it was practically the same team that reached the World Cup finals. Was this Euro performance a disaster? Or was Holland’s performance in South Africa a rarity?

We will find the answers in the coming months and years…

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Van Bommel talks!

Mark van Bommel has officially not yet resigned from Oranje. Not officially, but the most decorated active international ( not counting Seedorf in other words) did say after the Euros that “others should pick up the mantle”… The 35 years old returns to PSV this season and his only aim internationally now is to win the Europa League.

“Yes, it has come that far now. I remember crying in 2010, after the Spain final… It all came out. I didn’t have that this time around. It was more a numbness, I guess. Anger, despair, flabbergasted… But it’s over. I think I have maybe two good seasons left in me and I will give those to PSV.”

It does seem you have tendency to cry suddenly?

“Oh you mean the press conference at Milan? Well, the weird thing is, I have felt so at home there in such a short timeframe. I only played there 1,5 season and everyone at the club was asking me to stay. They even offered me a better deal for another season. When I finally told the people I wouldn’t stay, most of the cried. The laundry ladies, the physios… And when the press officer shed a tear at my press conference, I couldn’t keep it dry either, hahaha… It’s just so emotional you know….”

There were tears amongst the fans too, after the Euros…

“Sure… I know… It was a very bad experience, for us too… Really…I don’t know…unexpected…”

Some people, analysts, say they could see this coming. And they believe Bert van Marwijk – your father in law – saw it coming too?

“No, I don’t believe that. Ridiculous. This team reached the finals two years ago and we have an awesome qualifications again. We only lost our last game against Sweden in the second half as a result of personal mistakes. People who now say they saw it are not straight. I don’t think Bert saw it. I do believe he was concerned for our last line of defense, with Gregory injured, Pieters injured and Mathijsen not 100% fit. Obviously Robben had fitness issues in the start of the season, Sneijder, Afellay, so it’s quite normal that a coach has questionmarks… But we were honest to God pretty confident going into the tournament…”

Too confident? Complacent?

“In hindsight? Maybe… But I don’t think so… Most players came out of a good season. Robin, Klaas Jan, Rafael, myself… Ibi was fit again, Gregory had his games. Johnny Heitinga was man of the season… We had reasons to feel strong. Robben had a tough season but he’s strong and we counted on him taking revenge with Oranje, you know. But that complacency might have been there in the Denmark game. When we were 1-0 down, it did feel as if we all thought “we will turn this around”… We were playing well, creating opportunities. I never expected us not to score… When we had our half time talk, we knew we had 45 minutes to score two and with Huntelaar and Rafael coming on later, we felt we were going to. It was really weird that game…”

What went wrong?

“I think the answer is not that hard. If you look at the game, you see two faces of Oranje. In the first 20 minutes, we push forward, we play our game, we create opportunities and are confident. We pressed as a unit. But somehow we lost that “tightness” and while our forwards pressed high, our defence tracked back… The gap in midfield for Nigel and myself was getting too big. And there was no way we could change it around.”

Why did that happen?

“I am guessing, but I think Johnny was getting a bit concerned with Vlaar and Willems – new lads – close to him and maybe he senses Gregory not being in top form…. There was no cohesion… But we did create opportunities so I thought – like the rest – that we would turn it around… And suddenly, the game was over… That game, we simply should have won it. Even that hand ball was not seen by the ref… pfff… It was not brilliant, but it wasn’t that bad.”

And suddenly you had to play all finals to even get close to winning it.

“Yes and that sort of broke our confidence I guess. We got all that criticism and the lads at the back felt the pressure and Robin got all those questions about him not scoring… It didn’t work for us. I think we made the right decision to stick to our gameplan against Germany. We again started well, with a couple of good opportunities… ”

You could have been the Dutch Pirlo if Robin would have scored that ball alone facing Neuer…

“Well, that’s football. I could have been the man with that pass but I ended up the loser. And yes, I let Schweinsteiger get away, but we made these mistakes as a team. Sneijder let his man go, Willems lost his, Mathijsen made the wrong decision and Gomez did everything right. Bang. Another smack in the face. And that 2-0 was not helping either…”

Again, it felt like a 2-2 was possible.

“Of course. You know people like Van Persie, Robben and Hunter only need so much to score a goal. It takes seconds. We had a number of good plays in the second half and Germany really didn’t play that good. But it wasn’t to be.

And the criticism became stronger. Van Basten and Gullit were ruthless.

“And why? As if we enjoyed it? They know what it’s like. They had that 1990 World Cup. Why would they be so cynical. And they never explained what they thought we should do. It was only “Oh this was sooo bad…” Well, we know that! They were both great players and I didn’t expect this sort of attack.”

But it wasn’t good…

“It wasn’t but in both games, Denmark and Germany, we could have had a much better result. There was no team playing great the whole tournament. Spain played a tremendous finals, but their other games weren’t that good. We lacked luck, we didn’t have “it” at the right time. We deserved more against Denmark and we could have had a second goal against Germany. I accepted the criticism on the first goal Germany scored. But I was not ok with the people saying I didn’t have the legs anymore. That is simply unfair. If I would have played 4 or 5 games bad in a row, sure. Then I would say myself: maybe time to step down. But I played well against England in the friendly, I didn’t do too shabby against the other teams in the friendlies.”

Was it hard to hear from your father in law that you were benched for the Portugal game?

“That father in law thing…that hasn’t come up in four years but when I’m benched people suddenly call the coach “my father in law”… No, it was not hard. It was good for the team. I’m not here for me, but for the team and if it’s good for the result that I sit on the bench, I will. The team needed something and I wasn’t playing great against Germany. I totally accepted that. And again, despite Portugal’s dominance: we were close. Vlaar had an amazing opportunity and Rafael hit the post. We were very unlucky.”

And then it was over…

“Yes. With all the crap that goes with it. Suddenly all sorts of talking heads knew exactly what went on. I don’t know where they got it from, seriously. The vibe in a group is always good when you win and always shite when you lose. That is a given. We don’t have a bad group. We’re all professionals. We talk about stuff and we accept that we are not all the same. We don’t need to be friends. What Robben yelled at Bert or what Huntelaar did in the hotel is all stuff that is part of top sport. In the heat of the moment, things are said. Big deal. We had stuff going on in South Africa too! But, I guess the Dutch people needed to vent their disappointment. I get that.”

But mistakes were made, correct? Willems? Afellay? The Huntelaar situation?

“Well sure, in hindsight you know everything. When Bert selected Willems, everyone though that was ok. Cool and ballsy. Willems did well in my book. Played good against Denmark, didn’t do too badly against Germany… The Portugal game, well… Playing all those offensive players put a lot of strain on the defenders, but he has speed and he was simply a better option than Schaars. Afellay played a very good warm up and seemed fit. And Huntelaar…I think he was getting frustrated and you know what, these are tough situations. If we would have won the Denmark game, everything would have been different… It just went downhill from there… Sad.”

Did Bert discuss his resignation with you?

“No, why would he? He’s strong enough to take care of himself. I expected him to stay in the job. I haven’t really spoken with him. I’m on my holidays now and I’ll return to Eindhoven soon. Looking forward to that. PSV has always been my club. I promised them in 2005 I’d return and here I am. An emotional thing for me, as they were very good for me. And since then, I played for Barcelona, Bayern Munich and AC Milan. Not bad….”
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Thank for the memories, Bert….

Bert resigned.

He saw that there is no basis to move ahead.

Despite the earlier “leaks” saying that he would give it a go and would sacrifice two key players (well, at least one world class striker), he sees now that it is not going to work.

Whether it was Bert’s wife telling him, or whether it was Bert van Oostveen or even Wesley Sneijder whispering in his ear, we will never know…

It’s sad though. The man didn’t deserve this exit.

He gave what he had. But he failed at the end….

Too bad. I will remember him fondly. But stepping away is/was the best decision.

Now I only hope they will NOT GET KOEMAN!!!Bookmark and Share

Bert will stay in the job

Mid-way through the evaluation, the final conclusion has been leaked to the media already.

Bert van Marwijk will stay. The KNVB sees a future and so does Bert.

The KNVB and Bert do see changes need to be made. Let’s assume they are alluding to tactics and staff make up and selection criteria and codes of conduct etc.

But in principle, Bert will stay on.

Your thoughts?

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My evaluation of Bert van Marwijk

The KNVB will evaluate Bert van Marwijk in the coming weeks.

We will do it now!

I believe Bert should go.

Not that he should be fired per se. I think Bert should resign. But despite everything ( weak defense, egos, blablabla) it is his job to keep it all in check and manage it. That is why it’s called team manager.

If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen!

He did well in 2010, we all say, but maybe it was the team carrying Bert to the finals, more than the other way around?

There is a number of aspects I can not pass judgement on. And I won’t. But I will mention them. The players’ fitness. What could Bert and co. have done about that? The weird 1300 km travel program for every game? Was that really necessary?

Things I can judge are:

– Squad & Team Selection
– Tactics
– Subs
– Team culture

I’d like to bring in some stuff I overheard in the post-Euros debates on Dutch telly. One fairly well positioned ex-player said that he had some off-the-record debates with Bert about Oranje and he got the impression Bert saw this implosion coming. Bert apparently lamented the fact that we had such weak defenders. Apparently, Bert felt that the Eredivisie central defenders ( incl Vlaar, De Vrij, Marcellis, Viergever, Gouweleeuw, Brouwers too) were too weak in footballing sense to support the gung-ho midfielders/forwards. The mismatch. According to this ex-player ( Rene van der Gijp), Bert was pretty desperate about this. ( “You tell me, Rene! You tell me who to pick!!”)

Can I start with Team Culture? The so-called camps and rifts? I think that is all a bit exaggerated. These camps and rifts are always there. 23 guys who are all machos and winners. You’re bound to get that. Even during the World Cup 2010 campaign I’m sure some players had issues, but we never heard. Because we were winning. Once you start losing, these things come out. Camp Sneijder Camp Schmeijder. Who cares. They are all cocky little brats. Let them sort it out. It’s of course something Bert needs to manage, if possible, but as we don’t know exactly what went on, I think it’s hard for us to judge Bert on this.

As for Squad and Team Selection, I do believe Bert is to blame for some of the grieve. Wilfred Bouma? Really?? Why? Why wasn’t Brouwers or Viergever or De Vrij ever tested? Is it really so that a 34 year old spent benchwarmer at PSV is a better option that someone like Viergever? If you haven’t tested it, how do you know?

I wanted to avoid Spain and I managed to do so…

Urby Emanuelson played left back for Ajax. Plays left back at times for AC Milan. Is experienced. Has 100+ pro games under his belt. Plays in the Serie A. Surely, he is at least as good as Willems? Don’t get me wrong: I like Willems. But an 18 year old rookie can only do so much in a team that is dysfunctional. Put Willems in Spain or Germany and he’d be great. But what do we expect from him in this Oranje. Knowing how badly out of shape we are/were, Bert should have protected him. In the Portugal game, he played horrific. Also, three top matches in 8 days is a lot for any player, let alone an 18 year old rookie…

I like Schaars a lot. Another player I like to see more of, but if you have De Jong, Van Bommel, Strootman, Afellay and Van der Vaart for the holding mid role and if Schaars himself declares left back is not his thing, why select him? Why not take another player who can play or is willing to play there? Vernon Anita for instance?

And why bring a real winger like Narsingh with many assists under his belt to the Euros and not play him? At all?

Why putting so much faith in a player ( Afellay) who hasn’t had 18 minutes of play in the last 6 months? Why play him in two games in a row? He’s not even a winger? Against Germany, a real left footed winger would have found Van Persie, but Afellay screwed up a relatively simple pass over 6 yards by playing it behind the Arsenal striker… And like Willems, everone knew Afellay would be able to play 3 games at top level in 8 days!

And any coach with Hunter and Van Persie in the squad would gladly play them both. The whole nation ( incl. Cruyff and Van Hanegem) pleaded with Bert to use them both. Put Sneijder on line back (on the holding level) and use Van Persie behind Hunter. At least try this out once! Bert never did. The only chance Huntelaar got was with Van Persie and Van der Vaart as wingers. Goodness gracious me! No wonder Hunter is pissed off! Bad management, Bert.
But if you do play Huntelaar, you need players on the flanks that will cross in. So, Robben on the left, someone else on the right. And you really want to play offensive football: Narsingh. If you are fearful of the balance ( or lack thereof): Kuyt.
And if you need legs to go from box to box, why not play Strootman instead of De Jong? Why not test these concepts?

So we’re evaluation tactics now… We played our best match in the qualifications with Van der Vaart on the holding mid spot. Why not continue on that path? Why resort back to the couple Bommel/De Jong? So many questions on line ups and tactics…

The most important one, the role of Arjen Robben. Robben in top form is in the same league as C Ronaldo. Just under the Messi league :-). He can tear you apart. But if he’s not ( the dribbles didn’t work, the left foot shots were all wasted), maybe he should play on the left wing. So he can serve up crosses. In particular when Hunter is on!

And we have all seen how the team was divided into a group tracking back and a group pushing forward. Leaving huge gaps for Danes, Germans and Portuguese players to have fun in. This is something the coach should fix. ( I think it’s something the players should fix too, but they clearly weren’t able to). And our coach wasn’t able to fix it. Too bad. Really sad. But that is a big no no of course.

We didn’t play too sexy in 2010. We wanted to fix that. But did we ever practice this? Do we actually have the back four to do so? Shouldn’t we be realistic and realise that without Xabi Alonso, Busquets, Pique, Ramos and Alba we can’t play that kind of football?

If Bert sees that Van der Wiel is not in top form, Mathijsen is not fit and inexperienced Willems is in the team, shouldn’t he be asking the lads to play sexy and attacking football?

I think Bert became the victim ( and the players too by the way) of good intentions: trying to appease the fans, trying to impress the world, trying to keep the “mates-vibe” in the squad intact….

Maybe Bert should have said: I can not play total football with this group. We are not good enough for that. We have no Krol, Rijkaard, De Boer, Stam. We will play like we did in 2010. Go for result. Win the Euros. And hopefully club coaches will develop some better defenders…

To top if off, I believe the substitution actions of Bert said enough. Bringing Vaart and Hunter changed the whole make up of the team. It affected too much. After they were on, it was chaos. Nothing was created, really. And bringing Kuyt late in the game had no function other than making sure the number 14 in the hierarchy got some minutes. Against Denmark, we needed Luuk de Jong. Against Germany and Portugal, we needed Narsingh.

In summary, I think Bert made many mistakes. And these mistakes tell me that tactically, he is limited. He only knows one system and has no ability to improvise or be flexible. He basically hoped and gambled that Oranje could repeat the 2010 trick. With lesser full backs. Non-fit Mathijsen. Rusty Van Bommel. And an unfit Afellay.

These mistakes, for me, mean that he needs to go. Let someone else have a go.

Bert deserves a statue. But he doesn’t deserve the job anymore…

So, the question arises: who now?

Is this our new ambassador??

In my book, no Ronald Koeman.

I don’t have any reason to believe Koeman is “The Man”. Why? He was great as a player but mediocre as a coach until now. He played 4-4-2 with Ajax! He got into trouble there with everyone. Including Sneijder and Van der Vaart! He left PSV for Valencia. Where he made a
mess of things. Some Valencia officials still wake up screaming “Koeman!!” when they had too much to eat that evening… He almost destroyed that club. Then he landed at AZ where they kicked him out before the season was over… There is no indication whatsoever that Mr Koeman can handle this. He has had one good season with Feyenoord. That is all!

Also, I think it’s wrong for the KNVB to approach coaches who are employed by memberclubs of the KNVB. Not done!

We need someone with:

1. Authority
2. Proven experience in getting results
3. A passion for total football, attacking football
4. Dutch nationality

In my book, Van Gaal is out. He screwed it up once. He, like Koeman, is thrown out everywhere as he’s a dick.

Van Hanegem won’t make a good team manager. He’s probably good as an assistant.

Cruyff won’t do it.

Rijkaard probably won’t do it.

So the best candidate is Co Adriaanse!

He has done tremendously well with Ajax, Willem II, AZ, Salzburg and Porto. He has authority. The players look up to him. Sneijder and Van der Vaart rate him as their best coach ever. He is great as a figure head, supporters and media respect him and most importantly, he has the balls to play attacking football. And he’s available.

End of evaluation.

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Post Match Shenanigans

Quite a blow for this new blog too!! And no player even mentions that post match! But…not too worry. Dutch football will carry on. Expect more interviews and analysis and in the coming weeks loads of stuff on Holland as we bounce back and we will keep on following all our heroes during the season. All of them. Like… eh…Willems… And…the others.

Seriously, we have columns from guest speakers, surveys, games, talent analysis and what not. In particular what not!

KNVB general manager Bert van Oostveen calls the humiliating exit of the Dutch national team “Oranje unworthy”. He didn’t want to comment on Bert van Marwijk’s future at the football association. “That wouldn’t be appropriate.”

“Zero points at a final tournament, I don’t think it ever got this bad…”, he mused. “This will be thoroughly evaluated, with all involved. Head coach, technical staff and team manager (Hans Jorritsma). And we will do so quickly as we have a first game on August 15. You can expect our communications before mid July and I will manage the evaluation myself.”

Van Oostveen didn’t want to speculate about an exit of the former Feyenoord coach. “We will also evaluate the fact we won silver on the World Cup and the fact that Van Marwijk cruised through the two qualification series with the team.”

Last December, Van Oostveen extended Van Marwijk’s deal till the WC2016. But there are evaluation points and specific clauses in the contract. Van Marwijk didn’t want to comment. “I am totally gutted now. The last thing I’m pondering is my career…”

Bert van Oostveen, Van Marwijk’s boss…

Van Oostveen did add that Oranje booked a positive result financially. “But only just. And with the team performing like this, the ticket sale will hurt.”

Gregory van der Wiel describes the tournament as a bitter disappointment. The right back had a tough night against C Ronaldo and the Portuguese star scored twice against Oranje.

Two years ago, he played the World Cup finals, now he goes home with zero points. “I wonder what happened. I didn’t play my own game. I love attacking, playing football, creating two-against-one situations. This Euros it feels like I had to defend constantly (sic).”

Van der Wiel: “No idea what went wrong. I was unmarked a lot but simply didn’t get the ball. Today I played a guy who didn’t track back. But still I couldn’t support the forwards.”

“We started good, like in the other games, and after 20 minutes it’s started to pivot. Portugal is deadly in the counter. It’s hard to pinpoint where the problems came.”

Ron Vlaar’s name suddenly popped up on the team sheet. The Feyenoord defender replaced John Heitinga.

Flop of the match vs Man of the match. Flop on the left.

The tall defender was disappointed. “We knew exactly what we needed to do. We scored early and we didn’t even know the scoreline at the other game. But we started to play more sloppy and Portugal was constantly threatening. But even when they scored, we felt we were in it. But when they scored again, it was game over.”

“We had to take risks. And with Ronaldo and Nani, they have to super assassins in their team. At a certain point we only had three defenders.”

Vlaar saw his starting berth approaching. “I felt I was close. I had some good weeks. But who cares now? I’m disappointed. I wanted to perform. Maybe sometime in the future I can look back at this and feel good about it. Certainly not today.”

Reality is harsh. These are words Arjen Robben uttered after the Portugal game. “We lost three times at the Euros. That is quite a message. We all need to look very long and hard into the mirror. We have all failed. And there were some incidents within the group but I won’t mention those. Those will stay internally.”

On the pitch, Robben could be heard yelling “Shut your mouth” to Bert van Marwijk a couple of times, when the coach instructed the winger to track back.

“Ir’s hard to explain it all. Some things are so hard to explain. Again, we started good but we didn’t keep on playing our game. And then we concede and we sort of disappear.”

Mark van Bommel didn’t want to speak on behalf of the team, only for himself. “I can’t look into their heads, but I do believe the vibe was different this time around. The situation was different too of course. Some players have a different status now…. But whatever, we can’t say a thing. It was simply bad. In particular the results.”

Robben on his knees…

The new PSV signing did defend his coach and father in law, Bert van Marwijk. “Bert is a fighter. He will land on his feet. I don’t think he deserves too much of the blame. And whatever he or the KNVB decide, that is for us to respect.”

Wesley Sneijder was open, as ever, after the game. “Do we need to fire Bert? What? Come on man! Chin up! We reached the finals with Bert two years ago and now he can’t do any good anymore? Do I see a future with him? I certainly do.”

Sneijder was part of the pre-game discussions with Bert on tactics, but admits he didn’t get his way. “Well, we needed to change certain things, I was with that. But I don’t feel too good on the left flank. I don’t get to see the ball enough and I can’t do all I want to do, but that’s what it is. I played there, did my best. You have to do what’s best for the team, right?”

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