Tag: Heitinga

Happy New Oranje Year: Looking Back

It’s that time again… The Dutch will sip Advocaat ( an egg based alcoholic thick creamy beverage, eaten with whipped cream – not the Feyenoord coach) and eat oliebollen (oilballs and the word describes the product really well) all night, while reminiscing about the glorious (not so much) past 10 years…

We look back in this post, but forward in the next.

For now, a look at the past 10 years gives us a remarkable roller-coaster ride with the boys dressed in orange. We were ever so close to gold in 2010 (Iker Cassilas toe kept us from winning it!), only to disappoint in 2012. We got back on our high horse in Brazil with bronze at the World Cup there, with mindblowing games vs Spain and Brazil, to name a couple. Only to completely implode in the post WC2014 period. Our Big Four started to show their weaknesses, the dynamics and hierarchy in the team disappeared, the KNVB made a number of bad mistakes (sacking Hiddink, putting Hans van Breukelen in charge of football strategy (what?!?!), allowing Advocaat to be assistant coach and then letting him leave for a big paycheck again, letting Ziyech slip through the cracks, etc etc) and we simply didn’t have the quality in the squad we needed to qualify.

But at the end of the decade, Ronald Koeman, Virgil van Dijk, Memphis Depay and Frenkie de Jong changed the way Oranje looked, smelled, played, performed and via the Nations League and the Euro Qualifications, Oranje managed to do what the KNVB wanted them to do: let the Dutch people love and adore the Oranje team again.

Without winning a single trophy (silver at the Nations League…okay…), Koeman re-established pride in the Dutch hearts.

So far so good, the real test lies up ahead. More on that in a later post.

Lets pick the best eleven of the past decade. I picked my eleven, feel free to add yours…

The Goalie: Maarten Stekelenburg (2004- 2016)

We can’t complain about our quality in goal keepers. Cillesen is a very capable goalie (probably close to world class but not really) while Tim Krul also played a crucial role at the World Cup 2014 for us. Overall, Cillesen never really made us jump out of our seat, I don’t think, like Stekelenburg did in 2010 with that sensational save vs Kaka in 2010. Brazil is leading 1-0 and is totally ransacking us in the first half. Right before half time, the 2-0 is on its way, but Stekelenburg doesn’t want to play along and stops the effort. In the second half, Oranje plays va banque and gets the win!

Right Back: Dirk Kuyt (2004 – 2014)

He’s not a right back. I know. He was a lot of things. Striker, right winger, midfielder but in all these roles, he was never the true talent, like Sneijder, Robben or Van Persie. Van Marwijk was told by a wise old man at the WC2010 that he should play Kuyt as right back! That man was Johan Cruyff, of course. Van Gaal actually did this during the WC2014. I don’t see a typical candidate pop up for this position… Van der Wiel? Van Rhijn? Janmaat? Karsdorp? Tete?  They were all decent and useful but it would be super cool to find a spot in the best eleven of the ’10s for Kuyt. As one particular poster used to say: “Dirk always earns his Heineken!”

Right central defender: John Heitinga (2004- 2013)

I want the next decade to be Mathijs de Ligt’s but the last ten years were more for Heitinga. The former Ajax player played at 5 major tournaments for Oranje and was a real warrior at the back for us. In 2010, Heitinga was the guardian of the gate, playing close to or something beyond the line of what was allowed and what was not. He ended up being redcarded in the finals for a very slight tug on a Spanish jersey. Seven minutes later, Iniesta scored. Heitinga is now on his way to become a top coach.

Left central defender: Virgil van Dijk (2015 – now)

He went from Forgotten Virgil to Phenomenal Virgil. The captain. The role model. In 2017, the Dutch KNVB “forgot” to add Virgil’s name to the squad list. Today, no one will overlook the late bloomer. Today he is the best defender in the world. It’s no surprise we reached the finals of the Nations League with him as our skipper. When he lifts the Henri Delaynay trophee coming summer, he will also be in the best eleven of the next decade.

Left back: Giovanni van Bronckhorst ( 1996 – 2010)

Gio van Bronckhorst started as a mercurial left winger at Feyenoord, which got him a move to Glasgow. At Arsenal he moved a line back to midfield and at Barcelona he played left back, amongst world class players like Ronaldinho and Iniesta. We all know the images from the WC2010: Casilla’s toe, the header by Sneijder vs Brazil, the Stekelenburg save, the battle to get Robben fit but one of the key moments is undoubtedly the massive strike from 40 odd yards against Uruguay in the semis. Gio makes his debut when Frenkie de Jong isn’t even born. But after the farewell of Arthur Numan and Winston Bogarde, the left back spot was Gio’s.

Holding mid right: Mark van Bommel ( 2000 – 2012)

Van Bommel. You hate to play against him. You’d love to play with him. Everywhere he goes, something happens. He says what he thinks. And he could be mean and rough, and taunt players with his sour black humour. He did not fit the typical Dutch football role model. Under father in law Van Marwijk, Van Bommel had his best time. He refused to play under Van Basten and he clashed with Van Gaal but this self critical and eager professional had a glorious career playing for Fortuna, PSV, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and AC Milan.

Holding mid left: Frenkie de Jong ( 2018 – now)

One can’t escape this lad. He’s one of the new faces of our Oranje team and the driving force of why we are considered back at the top. Griezmann said he never played against a better opponent. And Griezmann played against Barca and Real Madrid many times… He is slick like an eel, he dribbles, he turns, he faints, he passes and he does it all like a dancer. No comparison with his namesake Nigel. De Jong was the playmaker pushing Oranje to new heights, like he did Ajax in the CL. No Barcelona player played as many minutes as he did this new season. We all expect him to shine again in Amsterdam this coming summer.

Attacking mid centre: Wesley Sneijder ( 2003 – 2018)

When you get a testimonial and people like Mourinho, Seedorf, Kuyt, Kluivert, Robben, Van Bommel, Van Bronckhorst, Eto’o, Davids, Cesar, Zanettti, Chivu, Milito, Cannavaro, Litmanen and more are coming, you know you were a world class player. Sneijder was the mouthy little general in midfield who played for Real Madrid and won the CL with Inter. His WC 2010 campaign on top of that CL trophy should have resulted in the Ballon d’Or for him, but hey… One of the most popular Oranje players.

Right wing: Arjen Robben ( 2003 – 2017)

Mercurial. Focused. Playful. The young Arjen Robben was a sensation at 16, a pro at 18 and playing for Mourinho’s Chelsea at 20 years old. If he wasn’t that vulnerable, he would have been mentioned in one sentence with the likes of Messi and C Ronaldo. I once calculated he lost 5 full seasons due to injuries, but when he was fit he was a complete army all by himself. Work ethics, speed, guile, dribbling skills, tremendous kicking ability and the ability to score and assist from any angle. Add to that his leadership and personality and Robben deserves to be in the top 5 of best Dutch players ever! In that list, JC, Van Hanegem and Van Basten probably will never be replaced. So there is Arjen Robben on #4 (for me).

Centre striker: Robin van Persie ( 2005 – 2017)

Van Persie was the black sheep in a family of artists. Sculpturs and painters. Mum, dad and sis. But Robin ended up being an artist as well. A genius. His volleys for Arsenal and Man United are of the highest caliber. Works of art. But the most iconic goal he scored was the flying header vs Spain. Around 7,2 million Dutch football fans were gasping for air when Daley Blind played his pass to the sprinting Van Persie. He flew like a superhero towards the ball and headed it over Casillas into the top corner. Van Persie laughed and beamed in his final days, more than ever. In his younger years, he could be difficult, moody. His top years were in England, in the footsteps of Dennis Bergkamp. An icon in the EPL and adored in the Kuip in his final season. And 50 goals in Oranje? No one does it better.

Left winger: Memphis Depay ( 2013 – now)

Back in 2014, Memphis was Van Gaal’s trump card. Whenever Oranje was stuck, the youngster was released to run amok. In 2019, he carried Oranje like he carries the lion tattoo on his back. He was the marauding, drifting, productive and at times brilliant leader of the attacking line. But socially, he also to a leading role in this young group and won the sympathy from the Dutch people. It’s such a shame that he might have to forego this Euro tournament. His knee injury will throw him back in his amazing development. But he has started his recovery with a lot of positivity. So there is hope!

Coach: Louis van Gaal ( 2012 – 2014)

Tough one. Bert van Marwijk impressed by reaching the finals in 2010. But the quality of play was disappointing. Ronald Koeman impressed by rejuvenating Oranje and pulling them from the doldrums. But Koeman hasn’t won anything yet. He might be the best coach in the coming decade. But Van Gaal probably performed best with a team consisting of top players in the autumn of their career and a couple of up and comers (Blind, Memphis, De Vrij, Wijnaldum). The 2012 campaign didn’t instill a lot of optimism in the Dutch fans for the 2014 tournament and despite the negative vibe, Van Gaal turned Oranje into a fighting machine. He chooses realisme over romantic football and gets really close to the WC finals. The old physical ed teacher getting the best out of his pupils, once again!

The bench consists of:

Jesper Cillessen, the current no. 1 and all around best goalie we have now.

Gregory van der Wiel as right back, the former Ajax man retired and was always more a business man than a player, despite adventures with PSG, Fenerbahce, Cagliari and Toronto. When he did play for Oranje, he was without question the preferred option.

Stefan de Vrij as centre back. He was a key player in Van Gaal’s World Cup campaign and has had a tremendous career in Italy where the pundits can’t believe he’s not a regular starter in Oranje.

Daley Blind, a smart and complete ball player, usable as left back, midfielder and central defender. Like wine, getting better and better as age progresses. Among first players on the team sheet for Ronald Koeman and Erik ten Hag.

Nigel de Jong, central midfielder, breaker, tackler, passer. Even in Van Gaal’s 2014 WC marauding team, Nigel played key roles as a sub.

Gini Wijnaldum, the marathon man and Jack of all Trades. Can play any position and a great team player (particularly with buddy Memphis).

Rafael van der Vaart, the gifted playmaker. Able to make something out of nothing. Beautiful left foot, great vision and guile and colourful as well.

Klaas Jan Huntelaar… Yes, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Patrick Kluivert, Marco van Basten, Robin van Persie….they will all grace the walls of young football fans with their incredible talents, whereas Klaas Jan is a more the working class striker… But what a striker. The 36 year old is still going strong for Ajax. The Hunter actually has the best stats when it comes to scoring goals. The perfect pinch hitter for this Oranje.

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Van Gaal drops bomb on news conference

Never a dull moment with Louis van Gaal. We knew it. On the way to Asia for two profitable games in the East, Louis van Gaal implied that the World Cup 2014 will be his last job as team manager Oranje.

Quite a surprising message. Is he being open and frank? Or is he playing games? And if so, with whom? The players? The KNVB? Himself? This blog?

“I started this project, because as a coach I never was able to experience a big tournament like the World Cup. Once we have done the WC2014, it’s done. It’s over. Enough is enough. I am not really team manager material anyway. I enjoy working on a daily basis with the players. Normally, I will retire after this tournament… But…you never know, if a beautiful club from the EPL would want, I might be tempted…”

During the press conference, Van Gaal was questioned about his team selection. The ever quotable Van Gaal said that he selected “the logical squad”. Huntelaar, for instance, was not invited. “I think Robin van Persie is the top dog for number 9. Klaasjan did not have a top season. And I want to see other lads at work. I want to see Ricky van Wolfswinkel play. So Klaas Jan would have had to warm the bench. Why would I do this to him? He is a regular Oranje player and I rather have him go on a nice summer holiday.”

And he went on: “No player is certain of his spot. They all have to perform. Rafael had to go back to Hamburg with an injury. Too bad for him, but I know what he can do. For lads like Toornstra and Nelom, this is a golden opportunity. Erik Pieters too, he had a lot of bad luck. But with Blind now in Israel, Pieters can show me what he has. And we all know Erik is Oranje material!”

Van Gaal admitted he broke his own rule by selecting Pieters and Nelom. Both players have not played too many games with respectively PSV and Feyenoord. “I know, I want players with rhythm, but Erik deserves this to end his season on a high. The lad had his value for us already and had some bad luck. With him and Nelom as well, I have to good options for the full back positions. With my normal defenders in Israel, I can test some things out.”

Miquel Nelom is Feyenoord’s reserve left back, behind Martins Indi. But with Martins Indi playing centrally in Oranje (and potentially leaving Feyenoord), there is a fair chance that Nelom will be Feyenoord’s starting left back next season.

“I have respect for Nelom. He seemed to be doing really well as Feyenoord starting left back and the way he handled the fact that he had to make place for Martins Indi was really good. And every time he had to come on the pitch, he played great and with discipline. This kid has the right mentality, as this is harder than when you are a starter.”

Van Gaal was less positive about Jetro Willems. “Willems is a very talented player, but he hasn’t developed this season. He might even have gone back a bit. He needs to work on his weak points.”

Van Gaal explained that the Asia trip (games vs Indonesia next week Friday and China four days later) is not just about the money. “The circumstances next summer in Brazil will be comparable to the Asia climate circumstances. I want to see how the lads cope. We do have to bring some of the big names to these games, like Van Persie and Sneijder, but most of the players if not all really like this trip. Some, like Heitinga, have roots in Indonesia and basically all of them will be in Indonesia for the first time in their lives. Players do enjoy these trips. The KNVB will also try to find ways to support football in Indonesia, so that might be a win-win for all.”

In November, Oranje will play two more friendlies. “But those will be played close to home. I refuse to travel far during the competition. And I want to play two strong opponents then, so different story.”

Later on, an interview with Wesley Sneijder. The Gala man said on his press conference that he will only travel to Brazil in the 2014 summer when he is fit. “If I am only 80 or even 90%, I will not do it. This year taught me that for me, to be of value to a team, I need to be top fit. It was horrific, my return to football at Gala. I was not fit, the coach subbed me at half time, the fans turned against me… I hate that. So I will work my ass off but when I am not fit, I will not go.”

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Happy New Year :-)

Hi all,

I’d like to wish you a very happy New Year…. And a big big thank you for being part of this blog.

It’s been a tempestuous year for the blog (relatively speaking 🙂 ). For starters, we made our move away from the Blog Gods of the Worlcup blog to go it alone.

And we created this wonderful home for all fans of the Clockwork Orange, right before the 2012 Euros and wouldn’t you know it: we had the worst Euros ever :-)….

In the last months, I had serious challenges to get a post happening every two days due to busy-ness. But I hope that will change soon.

But, 2013 looks great already.

Why? Well for starters, because we can’t be humiliated at a big tournament!


I think it will be top year, because Robin van Persie can’t stop scoring… because it’s the year of the snake and Robben earns the Rensenbrink nickname Snakeman…. because Van der Vaart will be fighting fit…..Heitinga, Stekelenburg, Vorm are well-rested…because Ronald Koeman finally does what he is good at: delivering talent…because Louis van Gaal will definitely qualify this year…Sneijder will make a move to a real football club….Elia will find his mojo…Clasie will grow a little….Fer will never look back….we have the best full back talents (Buttner, Blind, Janmaat, Martins Indi, Willems, Pieters)….

I am SURE you can come up with much more reasons… 😉

Best reason gets a cool gift!

My predictions:

RVP = Golden Boot

Feyenoord = Champ of Holland

Sneijder = Back to Real Madrid

Robben to win the Champions League

Ronald Koeman to take over from Tito next summer at Barca

Benitez to be fired, to be succeeded by Martinez, to be fired two months later, to be succeeded by Dick Advocaat to be fired in the coming summer to be replaced by Michael Laudrup….

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Sneijder looks back and into the future

Van Gaal: “Look Sneijdertje! Those tattoos! Totally wrong. That is not how you do it?! Bring me a pen! I will draw you a good tattoo…”

Wesley Sneijder looked back at the abysmal EC while his team mates almost secured the ticket for the next big tournament. Wes was looking at the Romania game on his laptop in LA – where he is being treated for his injury – and feels the need to explain – as a true skipper – what happened last summer.

He was the guiding light in a team that had lost it. Dependable Mr Everton John Heitinga seemed to be on a summer holiday, Huntelaar left Dr Jekyl at home but came as Mr Hyde while Nigel de Jong and Mark van Bommel seemed to be playing futsol. And Van Persie was practicing without goals.

“There were so many excuses brought forward….already after the Denmark game… But there are no excuses. We played a World Cup finals against the best team of the world with these lads… And now we can’t score against Denmark? With all the quality we have?”

Sneijder doesn’t believe the EC squad was “over the hill”. Are you mad? Of course not! You can see how dominant and committed players like Heitinga, Van Bommel and Van Persie were for their clubs, right? How can you say they’re over the hill? I’m only 28 years old. Rafa only 29…”

So what went wrong? “A lot… Somehow, the automatisms we developed in 2010 were gone. It hadn’t even to do with form. Jeez, players like Huntelaar, Van Persie, Heitinga, Vlaar, Van der Vaart, Willems….almost everyone came out of a strong season. Every team manager would have had saliva if they could play one of these lads… And at times, we did play well. Really well. But we could keep that going. Something happened…as if a fear-switch was flicked, and half the team tracked back while the forwards wanted to push up. And what happens to your midfield then? They drown…”

Sneijder is on a roll… “And it’s the things you do or don’t do without the ball that matter. Your positioning. Fans always look at where the ball is. They only see part of the picture. But when Van Bommel builds up, what do the full backs do? What do the center backs do? When we lose possession, who do they respond? What do the wingers do? All these things… In 2010, we immediately went for the ball when we lost possession. Even 35 year old Van Bronckhorst or Van Bommel. We pushed forward and we were at their throats. Now, we tracked back…or some of us did. So when Denmark is offered space, sure they can play…”

Against Germany, 2-1 down, the whole world saw Sneijder walk over to the side line yelling at Van Marwijk: “Let’s play 1 on 1…”

“Yes, well… I thought we had them! We started great. Allowed them to score to cheap goals. We got back into the game and I swear to God, in the last 20 minutes or so, they were spent. I thought we would equalise. I wanted Bert to support me and he did. But the team didn’t respond. But we made the same old mistakes. Well…at the end of the game, yeah….Germany outclassed us. But in the first 20 minutes, they didn’t touch the ball…”

The Dutch team got a lot of criticism in the tournament and a crying Sneijder had to be told there still was a chance if they beat Portugal. “Seriously…people criticised me for not knowing this. But I simply don’t “do” calculations when you lost. I want to win. That is all I think about. So I didn’t know this. Didn’t even want to know, I guess. So when we lost versus Germany, I thought it was all over. And when it wasn’t, I was sure we’d beat Portugal. I remember talking with the group and with the coaches in the run up to the game. Let’s be at their throats! Let’s make sure we hit first and keep them down for 90 minutes…”

Holland did score the first goal. A pent up Van der Vaart unleashed a brilliant shot but to no avail. When it was 1-0, Holland started to allow Portugal on the ball. And C Ronaldo pulled the trigger twice when Holland showed lack of confidence yet again. With a pleading, working, leading, screaming, Sneijder… On the left flank this time around, to allow Van Persie the “10” position.

“I had to drift more to the left side, but I’m ok with that. Whatever the team needs, seriously. Robin needed to play centrally, I can easily play on the left. I will always look for and find free space to operate in.”

How different this tournament ended for Sneijder, who can’t stand losing. His analysis. “In South Africa, everything clicked. Everything worked. Every little detail was there. The tactics, the atmosphere, the confidence, the fun factor, the fitness and it was all supported by the results. Everything is connected, but it starts with results. And a little luck. We had some luck in South Africa. We didn’t get any breaks in 2012…”

Holland seemed to be on a roll in the EC qualifications, however. With the Sweden game as peak, with Raf van der Vaart as holding mid… Since that game, Oranje’s performances deteriorated. Also for Sneijder in person. Inter went in free fall and Sneijder got injured. So badly that the nation worried about his fitness. The friendly against England didn’t help. A clearly unfit Sneijder asked for a substitution and could hardly walk to the byline.

“Man, I had a fever. I wasn’t well. But I wanted to play. I shouldn’t have played that game, but who doesn’t want to play Wembley? For a player like me, in Italy, there are only so many opportunities to play Wembley… And I wanted to. But running for 20 meters was a chore already. Not smart. But I was top fit when the EC started.”

And Sneijder was the only player who impressed a former top player like Diego Maradona. The rest of the team grossly disappointed. How…why?

“Pffff…we all came together differently. In 2010, we all were eager to play. Robin had a tough year with injuries. I had won everything with Inter. Hunter wanted to prove himself. Rafa same. We were all keen to play and to make ourselves inferior to the team interest. And there were no discussions about how to play. This time around, there was that debate… Two big goal scorers… Rafa had a great season with Spurs, he wanted a starting birth… This all made the start was different. The dynamics had changed. This makes its mark. One player was not himself as he came back from a long injury. Another player felt insecure as another player was hunting for his spot. Another player had domestic issues. These things all work through. The dynamics were off. Sometimes we do have these issues in a group, and normally we deal with it. We are a strong and tight group. We are one team. Still. But the issues were too big for us to deal with in that short timeframe. And the coach suffered through that too. He got so much criticism so early on already… Uncalled for… But…that is how it is.”

Sneijder and Van Marwijk had a close bond. “Well… sure. He was our manager. He led us to the finals. I supported him 1000%. He was the right man for the right time. And I want to help and support. I want to be important. So I fed him with ideas. And gave him my insights. Like Mark did, and Robin and others… And he treated us as adults. Gave us confidence. And he allowed you to come up with alternative ideas. Bert is a modern coach, just like Louis van Gaal.”

Rafael van der Vaart is less subtle. He felt Van Marwijk was too rigid. “When you are a starter, it’s cool of course… But when you are dropped, it’s tough. You sometimes don’t know what to do to get into the team.”

Sneijder: “Yes that is true. I get that. We had unrest with Kuyt, Hunter and Van der Vaart having trouble accepting that role, but you have to show it on the field. Simple. But I had to tell Klaas Jan and Rafa to cool it a bit, but Kuyt was really super professional. This guy played almost everything the last years. And was important for us. And suddenly, he is on the bench. That is really tough. I couldn’t say I would be so professional about it, hey….?”

Wesley being treated for his injury

Wesley Sneijder was a bit of a rebel when young(er) and playing for Ajax… “Een mannetje”, was the Amsterdam term for someone like him… But he’s grown wiser and more responsible. “I feel mature now. I think I’m starting to become more of a leader. I always had a big mouth and used it. But now I am more responsible in how I use it…. I think I’m now deserving of the band… I’d love to be the skipper for the coming period. I think I can carry it.”

At the start of the Euros, Sneijder felt that this was the last chance for this generation for a big trophy. Now, he disagrees. “Well, you say those things to motivate yourself. But clearly, most of us are still in top shape. Only Mark retired… And maybe some others will have more difficulty playing as starters…. But I think the core of this EC squad could still be important for at least two years. Lets not look past the the World Cup. The Euro squad could have gone all the way, no….should have gone all the way!! But we didn’t. And we all know Van Gaal won’t change the whole team in two years. With Van Persie, Van der Vaart, Robben, Heitinga, De Jong, myself, Stekelenburg….there still will be a core of players under 30 in 2014. We will need to demonstrate that we can still do the job. If we can’t, Van Gaal has the younger options as well.”

On the new generation. “I am totally impressed with some of these lads. I remember when I started with Oranje, I had to really work my ass off to keep up at practice. These lads, Maher, Clasie, Martins Indi… Amazing how easily they adapt. Has everything to do with the high level of the academies of Ajax, AZ, Feyenoord, Twente, PSV and even Vitesse and Sparta. Really impressive and really cool to have these lads in the squad.”

Asked about the difference between Van Marwijk and Van Gaal, Sneijder smiles. “Well…seriously…Van Gaal is a breed apart isn’t he? Van Marwijk is a very professional modern coach. Would work everywhere well… To me, he is like Benitez, like Ancelotti, , Koeman… He is a modern coach. Strong personality. Good people manager. Van Gaal is unique. So driven, so focused on details. Coaches like Hiddink and Van Marwijk expect players to take responsibility. Bert didn’t care what you ate or how much you slept… Van Gaal is totally involved with everything. I like that in him. Plus, he is a tactical wizard. So interesting to work with him. He does remind me a lot of Cruyff (funnily enough) and Mourinho. I worked with him at Ajax and knew he would be great. In a way, a nice progression after Bert van Marwijk, who taught us to that winning is important, taught us to operate as a unit. Play with grit. He instilled some “German” football in us. Now, with Van Gaal, we might add some icing on the cake.”

Beauty and the beast, Wes and Yo happy in Italy

The little big man enjoys working with youngsters too, realising he’s turning into a veteran almost. “Well, I’m close to 100 caps. That is quite something eh? And yes, I enjoy working with younger players. It’s a challenge and a responsibility. But I think we’re in good shape with all the talent.”

How did he experience the first games under Van Gaal? “Clearly, we have a newly found resilience, coupled with changes in tactics. And the new players have added something extra. Both in terms of football options as in pressure on the older players. It’s good. It seems that most of us are doing well. Robin settled in nicely with ManU, Rafa is happy in Hamburg, Kuyt is happy in Turkey, he’s scoring goals and is important there. Players need that. And I don’t worry about the youngsters. They will all get a great carreer if they keep on developing like this. And 12 out of 4 is great! We are getting used to those qualifications now, aren’t we? But it’s good. I will have to fight my way back into the team, haha…”

Sneijder suffers an injury and is ruled out for weeks. He was being treated in LA last week and expects a quicker recovery as a result. Here is a pic of Wes watching Romania – Holland on his laptop.

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Don't be fooled by all these media people

Before I begin this post: I have something new and exciting on the homepage! Exciting for me, that is hahaha. A donation option!! Yes… You can finally share the love with me ;-).

Seriously, I do incur some cost for this site and although I’m happy doing this I wouldn’t mind you would support me for the time I put into this… So, that is all I will say about it. For now. I will try and make the option a bit more sexy, but for now, it works. Wanna check? Be my guest!

Back to football!

I can imagine most of you are getting really anxious reading about all the things that will happen with Oranje.

Let me assure you: most of the stuff that you read is spat out into the open by none other than Johan Derksen.

A vulture.

This guy is the biggest commercial rat out there. He is the publisher/editor of the VI magazine, co-produces the tv program he co-hosts and he publishes football books (which he plugs constantly during the program). He makes stupid music cds around the euros and is the one to gain most commercially from the Dutch team. But whenever he can, he will slander and criticise and humiliated our players.

Take the wife of Heitinga. She is not a bad looking girl. And apparently wants to be on tv, like Sylvie. So he attacks her in a vile way for being the leak of Oranje and trying to be as good as Yolanthe and Silvie. And in a vile and meanspirited way.

Mrs Heitinga

He will never conduct himself in the right way of checking sources and stories out but is the first to throw up his rumours on telly because he wants to be first.

Last time he said “all players have a line out to their fave reporters and then they will use those reporters for their own personal interests etc etc.” A day later, he suddenly comes with all sorts of stories about all the big name players in the squad. Bar one. Wesley Sneijder. So the show’s host asks him: so now you have a player chucking a line out and using you, eh? And as Sneijder is the only player not named in his diatribe, the link must have been Sneijder. Or maybe Derksen makes it all up?

I watch the program ( I like Rene van der Gijp) but I loath Johan Derksen.

The stories simply don’t add up.

Now he said Bert doesn’t want to work with Hunter and Raf anymore. Ridiculous.

I personally don’t believe that is true. Two days ago, for instance, he said that the whole squad wanted Huntelaar out, as he behaved like a spoiled brat. Jack van Gelder, the reporter on the rival channel, checked this over the phone with Sneijder ( on holiday on Ibiza), who said: “Huntelaar? Bullshit. That is nonsense. We didn’t have a problem with Huntelaar.”

So, Derksen is trying to create mayhem, because it sells magazines.

But if it is true, it would be stupid. If Raf and Hunter were showing discontent, it had everything to do with expectations management by Van Marwijk. I don’t think these players were annoyed that they didn’t play, but that there was no clarity. Van der Vaart had demonstrated his contributions and value at the World Cup 2010 and in the qualification games. He expected to hear from the coach what the plans were, but the coach was never consistent in his communication and choices.

Van Persie and Huntelaar with an awkward embrace

If there is one thing, players despise in a coach, it is uncertainty and doubt.

Cruyff is 100% right when he said that no one on telly sees the big picture. They are all talking about Ibi being arrogant, Robin not needing to talk to the media, Robben being selfish, etc etc. But that is all symptoms!! Not the problem.

The problem is management! Clear and simple.

Codes of conduct.
Shared values.
A shared objective.
And sanctions if you don’t live by this.

If the rules says that players need to be available for interviews, then Mr Wenger and Van Persie have a choice: either you give interviews or you are out.

If the rules say that the coach needs to be clear and consistent, then Bert should not exit Urby for not being a real left back but at the same time keep Schaars for that spot.

If the rule says that benchwarmers can not come to the Euros, sorry, but Bouma and even Afellay shouldn’t be there.

Johan Cruyff: “Talk to the hand, Bert! Talk to the hand…”

If the leader does not behave in accordance to the code, the players won’t either.

So, despite my sympathy for Bert ( he won us a UEFA Cup in 2002 and got us to the World Cup finals) but he made too many mistakes to be given a second chance. I simply don’t think it will work. So, I’m protecting Bert a bit as well.

The travel arrangements ( 3 big flights before 3 big matches???) were a big blunder.

The selection criteria changes ( Bouma, Afellay, Willems, Maher, Anita, Emanuelson) were questionable.

The “chance” Vaart and Huntelaar were given was questionable.

The decision to play a non-fit Afellay and bench fit Vaart or Narsingh was questionable.

Not instructing Robben to play on the left and cross balls in was questionable.

Too many things happened (in my view) to ever enable players and coach to look each other straight in the eye.

I think Bert should say to the KNVB: “I want another chance, but I want a round table meeting with my key players. If they afterwards demonstrate a will to go forward, cool. If not, I will resign.”

And I wouldn’t invite Bouma or Narsingh per se, but the strongholders of the team: Sneijder, De Jong, Stekelenburg, Van Persie, Robben, Huntelaar, vd Vaart, etc.

And have a go. For half a day, full day, what ever.

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Player Ratings and our Future

It’s time, with some days behind us for the dust to settle, to do a proper analysis of our current squad, their performance and their future in our Oranje.

We will analyse the coach separately after this post. And then look at our future material. The prospects…

Maarten Stekelenburg
Coming out of a mediocre season it Italy, Maarten Stekelenburg played an ok tournament. He was lucky to stop a number of close efforts (most of them by sheer luck I believe) and did what you expect from a goalie. But to win a tournament, you need your goalie to stop at least that Denmark shot and the second Gomez goal too. He didn’t look too good there. In terms of coaching and defensive management: I do not get the impression he is at Van der Sar level. I believe he is a bit lacklustre in his body language. Aspects were both Vorm and Krul have impressed me more. Although I do not think that Vorm and Krul – being still young – would have faired better in that department. I do believe though, that Vorm would have stopped the Denmark goal and Krul would have stopped the 2nd Gomez one :-). But, Stekelenburg is still going to be in our World Cup squad, although not necessarily as first goalie. If rumours are correct and Vorm moves to Tottenham and Krul to Chelsea, who knows what happens.

Gregory van der Wiel
Came out of a troublesome season with Ajax. Was injured for a while (and Ricardo van Rhijn played Van der Wiel into oblivion) and didn’t return to his full form. Played a bad tournament but showed some good spells in the Portugal game. His defending and passing were under par and his crosses atrocious. Needs to really up his game or could be easily surpassed by said Van Rhijn, Feyenoord’s Kelvin Leerdam or even Ronnie Stam, if he indeed decides to come back to Holland ( PSV). Stam has the right age and playing for Wigan will most certainly have strengthened him. Van der Wiel will need to improve big time. And his post tournament interviews don’t bode well. “There is something wrong between Oranje and me. I can’t play my own game.”

Joris Mathijsen
Didn’t have a great season at Malaga. Was criticised and benched and most likely his legs can’t carry it anymore. He came into the tournament with an injury and was almost out for the whole tourney. Played a bad game against Germany. Showed some positive forward movement in the first 15 minutes of the Portugal game, but drowned with the rest of them. Doesn’t show the leadership and build up qualities we need if we want to play Total Football. Joris was a good soldier for us, but needs to retire. And I wonder if we will be mentioned in ten years from now…

John Heitinga
Did have a tremendous season at Everton. Man of the Season. Doesn’t get better at that level. Johnny won’t win CLs or even European League trophies with Everton but this was a mighty season. But playing central defender at Everton or at Oranje is a different thing. He is not expected to push forward with Everton. At Oranje, he constantly tracked back. Don’t know why, but he did. He also didn’t seem 100% fit. Did he not mention this to Bert? Johnny will be a 2014 player though, and I can even see him making one last jump to Liverpool or Tottenham.

Ron Vlaar
Ron had a big season at a small club ( relatively speaking). Being great at Feyenoord means you can tag along in Oranje. We can’t expect Vlaar to suddenly carry the team. I think he played ok. Any defender would get in trouble against a C Ronaldo on fire. And with Van der Wiel slipping up, the tall (but slow) Vlaar had trouble playing against Portugal. But he could be still valuable. He’s only 26 years old. He’s strong, good header of the ball and a good long pass. Vlaar should have put that Sneijder cross against Portugal away, allowing Oranje a chance at 2-1 to progress. You only get one of those in these types of games and a real winner, a real top player, scores it. Vlaar could be 2014 material, unless Viergever, Bruma and Gouweleeuw develop much better.

Jetro Willems
This 18 year old prospect had a big step up from playing Jupiler league with Sparta to playing Nani and Thomas Muller. I was tremendously excited to see him in the squad, but in hindsight: this only works if a lad like this can settle in a team that operates well. In a Germany or a Spain, Willems would have been great. In this nervous and torn Oranje, it was actually a sorry sight to see the lad struggling. Irresponsible of our coach. Maybe Jetro told him it was all good, maybe the lad is mentally super strong, but was this necessary. If you have Buttner, Emanuelson, Schaars, Bouma, Anita… I think the lad did well, considering… What can you expect? I also believe he has the goods to become a really exciting player. But he needs at least couple of consistent seasons. Man United apparently wants to sign him and that could work out really well, or it could ruin him… Drenthe style.

Mark van Bommel
Had a good season with AC Milan, but in a different system and in a different role. His 35 year old legs can not cope with the gaps we shown between defence and offence, but I don’t think any midfielder could. Maybe Strootman could have been the exception. But he never got the chance to show it. Bommel’s individual game wasn’t too great. He missed his men, he allowed himself to be muscled off the ball… he had great moments and he had bad moments. One also has to question his leadership, if it’s true that there are two camps. But… I can’t imagine Mark continuing in Oranje, so let’s thank him for all the great memories. He gave it what he had, I’m sure. But it’s time for new blood now.

Nigel de Jong
Had an ok season with Man City. People on telly in Holland claim he only played 12 games or so, but that is total rubbish. I watched him weekly ( or Man City) and Nigel was called on anytime City got in trouble. He is still highly valued at City and he had a good season there. He is still strong, committed, focused and playing sober. I think he was the best player we had this tournament! Which is not good news of course. But Nigel deserves to be a squad member still. For sure. He lacks dynamics ( see Strootman) but he surely plug holes and destroy. And apparently, he is a good header too, suddenly?

Rafael van der Vaart
Had an ok season with Spurs. I don’t think they did tremendously well. They should have ended number 3 for that. And Rafa is not as important and influential as Modric is. Rafa is a great player, good vision, good passing, good goal scoring etc. But he’s not a holding mid. So in a 4-2-3-1 he’s not the right man for the holding mid role. He is a playmaker. But if you have Sneijder already…? Do you play them both? And what to do with Van Persie? And on top of that, he’s not getting fitter and not younger either… He will be 31 years old in 2014. Don’t get me wrong: I’m a massive Vaart fan, but… With Maher knocking on the door, and Wijnaldum, Clasie…. If he is in great shape, he could come along. Also, Rafa does need to keep his ego in check. He always thinks he should play. This tournament, last World Cup, I agreed. In 2014, probably not…

Ibi Afellay
Came out of a horrendous injury. Hasn’t played more than 18 minutes for Barca since. Bert thought Ibi could make the difference. This tells me Bert lost faith. It’s ridiculous to think a player who isn’t sensational in the first place (he’s not Messi or Rooney or C Ronaldo) to lift us in three top games in eight days after such an injury. Ibi did well against Northern Ireland (YEA!!). And ok against Denmark. But drowned in his second game against Germany. He was also playing against type (he’s not a left winger) and Bert could have or should have used the only other real winger we have in the squad: Luciano Narsingh.
If Ibi keeps on developing, he will be a key player for us at the World Cup 2014. He played holding mid for PSV for a while and did that really well. I don’t see a winger in him.

Wesley Sneijder
Came out of a troubled season, with injuries and issues at Inter. His mentality and personality – as ever – were great. Good positive vibes. Winner mentality. Humor. And leadership. On the pitch, he was hot and cold. Great in possession, but lazy when he lost the ball. He did show his class and a fit and motivated Sneijder is definitely one of the best midfielders/players on the planet. He does need to keep his ego in check, but with Sneijder it’s relatively easy: make him important and he will carry the responsibility. He will most likely be the future skipper of Holland in 2014 and beyond. The problem with Wes, like with Robin, is that they have a protected position at their clubs. They are the guys that call the shots. They need to lose that attitude once back in Oranje.

Robin van Persie
Came out of a sensational season with Arsenal on a personal level. Staying fit all season and scoring from every angle. But his position in the Oranje hierarchy is different and his role in the team was overshadowed by Huntelaar’s position. There have also always been rumours about Van Persie’s bad relationship with buddies Sneijder/Van der Vaart, but Robin was the first to jump Rafa after he scored against Portugal. The national debate Van Persie vs Huntelaar probably didn’t help. For either of them. Van Persie played a good game vs Denmark but once in scorings position, he blocked. Bad touches, bad balance, bad decision making, too eager….etc. Van Persie carries a weight on his shoulders and bad management by Bert may have caused all this. But, with Van Persie’s skill and talent, he will most certainly make the World Cup cut. Hoping the team manager will be able to craft a winning team of all those talents.

Klaas Jan Huntelaar
Came out of a tremendous season with Schalke. Has Man United and Valencia chasing him for his signature, apparently. Started in a bad way. Was promised a fair chance as the starting striker but felt screwed by the coach. Couldn’t make an impression in all his minutes, but in his defence: he didn’t get a playable ball all this tournament. Hunter will most certainly be part of the new squad, unless Van Marwijk stays on. Then, Klaas Jan could chuck a Van Nistelrooy and retire early.

Arjen Robben
Came out of a difficult season with Bayern. Suffered injuries and let his team down at the key moments (Dortmund, Chelsea). Came into the tournament totally focused on re-establishing the brand Robben. Over-zealous. Over-eager. Too self absorbed. Playing too much for Robben. Bert needs to share the blame by persisting with Robben on the right wing. But it does seem that Robben’s injuries robbed him of his speed. And his left foot clearly was out of whack. He’s still a threat. And an in-form Robben can compete with C Ronaldo for the second-best of the world trophy. But despite all his efforts, his contributions were mediocre at best. If his body agrees, Robben will be a candidate for the 2014 World Cup.

Dirk Kuyt
Came off a disappointing season with Liverpool. Didn’t play a lot. And if he did, didn’t play too well. Is always hailed for his work ethics. But the minutes he got never enabled him to make a change. In my view, Narsingh would have been more impactful. It’s interesting to see how Dirk will fair in Turkey. He might be spent. He might not make the cut for 2014. That is what I expect. But never say die with Dirkie…

The Others
Schaars disappointed me by throwing the towel on the left back spot so quickly. He is a good midfielder and if he indeed moves to Inter, he might develop further and take Van Bommel’s position in the squad. But he’s not getting younger either and needs to compensate his lack of speed with something else.

Bouma should never have been selected in the first place. Boulah will most certainly not make it into Oranje anymore although the Cannibal might make a new career in Turkey.

Strootman is still my main man for the future. Tough, great passer, good work ethics and mentality and most importantly: dynamic and penetrating.

Luuk de Jong has a future. The striker has shown he can score, create and work for the team. Good header, smart mover. Nothing wrong with him. Will be part of WC2014 squad if he keeps developing. Will have competition from Dost, Van Wolfswinkel, Castaignos and Barazite, though….

Luciano Narsingh had the most assists in the Eredivisie. He basically made Dost the topscorer and the latter should pay 20% of his salary to him. Narsingh can further develop under De Boer if he goes to Ajax. And might develop into a fresh new Robben… Let’s hope so… He will most likely be part of the 2014 World Cup.

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Our line up??

The picture above shows the players who got the coloured vests at practice!

This is where we will follow what our Men In Black will cook up in 8 hours time!

Live. So join in ok?

In the meantime, some thoughts…

Germany will definitely win against Denmark. Reasons? 1) they can’t play half hearted. The Germans aren’t playful. They take it all very seriously. So they will go for the win. 2) They have to, as Denmark could beat Germany and progress and Portugal could beat Oranje (not really!!) and progress too….

Bert will make changes. That might mean: to his hair. Or a different jacket. Or maybe he will change his facial expression. But most likely he will change the team. But don’t expect too much. We won’t see Kuyt as full back or Narsingh on the wings. We will most likely see Robben on the right, Sneijder on the left, Van Persie behind Hunter. And Nigel and Mark as holding midfielders.

If Bert would really go out of his way (and comfort zone) he might even replace Mark for Rafael. But that is as far as it goes.

I would love to see Strootman, as I believe we need a midfielder who can go from box to box. Strootman is the only one who can do so. But I can’t see Bert benching both Nigel and Mark so a holding duo Strootman/Van der Vaart is out of the question.

The main thing is not who plays, but how they play. Will they be able to go through the pain limit? To work for each other? To track back? Then they have a fighting chance. If Wiel and Willems will stop the threats on the wings and if Robin and Hunter will do what they’ve done all season (score, duh!!), then we might end up partying like it’s 1999.

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