It has been quite a disappointing week – again – for Dutch football. Not a good way to start a Dutch Football Blog. Our disappointing Euro summer was even compounded with disgraceful antics at the Olympics in Rio. Not so much athletes being drunk, or orgies at the Olympic village or coaches groping young boys… But the Dutch mission chief; first sending gymnastics gold medal candidate Yuri van Gelder home after he decided to spend a night on the town with his girlfriend and missing a training session…as if this athlete (world champion) doesn’t know what he’s doing… And then this moron sent all the “losing” athletes home prior to the closing event, on what he deemed “the loser flight”. Taking away their once in a lifetime opportunity to be part of the Olympics Closing Ceremony. People who train four years or more for their big event, who already were disappointed with missing any trophy. To put insult to injury, “our” Chief decided to punish them further by sending them home, like little kids! The Dutch sports fans are irate (as I am) and nothing is done about it of course.
We also saw money grabbing Dick Advocaat leaving the Oranje camp, for some extra euros in Turkey and when the KNVB approached Ruud Gullit to take Dick’s place in the backroom staff, he happily said “he would love to be of support to the Oranje team”. But only a couple of days later, he returned the invite to the KNVB’s technical director Hans van Breukelen, saying he was insulted with the package offered to him.
Gullit wanted to be a full blown staff member and was keen to be able to scout the Dutch players in his preparation for his job. The KNVB felt it wasn’t needed. Gullit was not required at meetings, would not get a travel budget to see games. Might have been a way to simply let him decline the job, for PR reasons (the KNVB is under a lot of pressure) and as Gullit also demanded a clause in his contract allowing him to jump ship when a better deal would come by. Not a strong thing to demand, if Dick Advocaat just used this clause to find the exit. Gullit, allegedly, also demanded to be promoted when either Danny or Marco decided to leave… Another clause Van Breukelen wouldn’t agree to. So, two days after the news got out that the former AC Milan and Oranje legend would join the team, he did not…
All in all, frowns were visible on the foreheads of many analysts in The Netherlands. Danny Blind, team manager, simply does not have a lot of experience as a club coach. He coached Ajax in total for 14 months or so. Marco van Basten had one year at Ajax and some seasons at a lower level, only to conclude that “head coach wasn’t this thing”. As an Oranje team manager, he didn’t do so badly, by the way.
So the KNVB decided to pick a seasoned, experienced coach to support Blind and Bassie. And Advocaat fits that bill. With the Dick leaving again, suddenly Ruud Gullit was seen as the perfect replacement. Say what? The last time Gullit was club coach was 10 years ago, and his work at clubs like Newcastle, Feyenoord and LA Galaxy can not be summarized as “successful”. How on Earth does that KNVB work…. Anyway, Gullit is out and now Blind and co will get their second assistant after the Greek friendly.
Hans Jorritsma, key in all organisational aspects of Oranje
On top of all that, the KNVB has decided that Hans Jorritsma will have to make way. The team manager and former hockey coach (winning gold and world titles) worked for the KNVB for 20 years. He reaches retirement age but was definitely not unwilling to stay on. Danny Blind was keen to have the man on board. “Jorritsma is one of the best organisers I know and with Russia 2018 on the horizon, his experience could be vital. I was not heard in this decision and I am not happy. I will let the federation know.”
Jorritsma has been hailed by former coaches (Van Gaal, Van Marwijk) but was allegedly “used” by the KNVB to help sack Guus Hiddink (technically, his boss), which helped Blind into the job, of course.
More to come I’m sure.
The new technical director, Hans De Breuk Van Breukelen. Lost two assistants in the process already…
In the meantime, Danny Blind has to gel together a team to play the key first qualification game vs Sweden in a week and a bit. Robben still injured, Van Persie not really in great form, De Vrij not match fit, Memphis hardly used, Eljero Elia injured and many other regulars not in great shape (Janmaat, Martins Indi, Veltman). The transfer period is still open and the likes of Bas Dost and Jasper Cillesen are with their heads and hearts involved in relocation plans, finding homes, learning languages and other logistics.
We seem to do alright with goalies of course. Stekelenburg had two great games for the Toffees in the EPL while Jeroen Zoet is doing well after his quality progression last season. CF Barcelona’s new goalie Cillessen had a pretty shitty start this season but it still a good goalie of course. Blind might decide to start with Zoet or Stekelenburg to keep the new Barca keeper out of the wind a bit.
Defensively, Van Aanholt impresses again at Sunderland. Daryl Janmaat made his move back to the EPL (Watford) and might play himself into the limelight again. Daley Blind and Van Dijk perform well, as does Ron Vlaar but the Ajax defenders have been disappointing. Willems also hasn’t reached his level of before his injury and might also be trying to make a late transfer deal.
In midfield we see similar issues with the Ajax contingent playing below par. The PSV midfielders have impressed, and so much so that Tonny Vilhena is not part of the current squad. Jorrit Hendrix joins the squad after a good start with PSV, while Propper, Wijnaldum, Sneijder and Strootman seems to be mainstays by now for Oranje. I hope.
PSV prospect Jorrit Hendrix
Up front, Huntelaar and Memphis have been dropped. New Spurs strong man Janssen will lead the line with Luuk de Jong and Bas Dost as pinch hitters and Promes, Berghuis and Narsingh vying for the winger roles.
Blind: “I spoke with Huntelaar and told him Vincent would lead the line and he agreed with me that he is not the ideal pinchhitter. I have Dost and De Jong for this and we decided to not work together at this stage. It was a pleasant conversation. Klaas-Jan was ok with it.”
The team manager also spoke with Van Persie: “He still is not in great shape. He is fit, but not match fit. Now Advocaat is his new coach he might well get more minutes. Last weekend he played 70 minutes as a starter, so who knows. I have not written him off.”
Stefan de Vrij is also not yet part of Blind’s plans: “He was out of contention for a long time. He just made his return at Lazio. I told him I need him to focus on getting rhythm back and once he has established that at Lazio, it’s a new situation.”
Memphis Depay simply hasn’t played enough. “I spoke to Memphis too. He was disappointed of course, but he only played 1 minute, I believe. I think his main concern should be to get into the 18 player squad for Mourinho. Then he will get more minutes and once he is back in regular game time, we will assess him again.”
We are all nicely focused on Oranje of course, but you will all be aware of Ajax’ failure – again! – to reach the CL group stages by beating an opponent in the qualification stages… This time, Rostov seemed to strong. I can’t remember all the other teams that blocked Ajax in reaching the millionaire’s ball, but it was teams like Salzburg or Augsburg or Prague or something like that… Not Juventus, or Chelsea. Rostov… Don’t have words for it, really.
Ajax is not Ajax anymore. They got their asses handed to them and suffered their biggest European defeat since…. 1732?
I think Frank de Boer, heavily criticised for his conservative and boring game plans despite his titles, was aware of the lack of brilliance, class and leadership in his squad. This is why Ajax played un-Ajax football in the last seasons. He covered it well. They won 4 consecutive titles in the 6 seasons he was there. And in the earlier seasons at the helm, he even had Vertonghen, Eriksen and the likes at his disposal.
With Peter Bosz as coach, Ajax wanted to play like Ajax again. Bosz seems the right coach for this job. His teams always played adventurous, ballsy and at times almost suicidal… With Hendrie Kruzen (former 1988 Oranje squad member and Euros winner) as assistant, he made an impression at Heracles, Vitesse and recently at Tel Aviv. The former Feyenoord skipper failed as technical director at Feyenoord but seems to be more at home as coach. But Ajax’ Eredivisie start is horrendous, with Feyenoord already 5 points ahead of their rivals. The CL campaign could have fixed the early pressure but with the dressing down of the Sons of Gods, the pressure is on!
Ajax assistant Hendrie Kruzen with head coach Peter Bosz
A quick analysis of Ajax tells you that 1) they lack leadership and build up qualities at the back (Viergever is not Blind, Sanchez is not De Boer, Riedewald is not (yet) Rijkaard, 2) too many similar players in midfield (Bazoer, Gudelj are not playmakers) and Klaassen is the man who needs to play the killer pass and be on the other receiving end of it, 3) forwards lack class (El Ghazi is not Finidi or Van ‘t Schip, Younes is no Overmars or Roy and the center forwards are no Van Basten or Kieft).
Ajax has close to 150 mio euros sitting in the bank account, after Milik’s and Cillessen’s departures (32 Mio + 14 Mio). That money is getting close to 3% interest without a doubt, but Berghuis is now at Feyenoord, Ziyech is still at Twente and Haps is still at AZ…
Latest news of course, is now that Ajax got done by Rostov, Mark Overmars is frantically renegotiating with FC Twente and Ziyech’s manager to get the winger/playmaker to play for Ajax. A bit late. But very much needed…
We’ll see how things will develop…