Tag: Janssen

Oranje better, but not good enough….

It’s a weird game, that football! France played us off the pitch with dazzling football and got 4 past us. Next, versus minions Luxembourg they can’t score any of their chances.

It probably won’t matter. As our statisticians on the blog have demonstrated: it will be a huge challenge to do what Oranje needs to do: win and win big!

But there were two typical off-pitch issues that are illustrative for the state we are in.

First of: Goal Difference:

After the France game, the highly popular (but very populist) football program Voetbal Inside broke the news that the players of Oranje were not aware of the importance of goal-difference when losing in Paris to France. With 10 mins on the clock, it was 2-0. We should have been able to keep it at 2-o. Instead we conceded two more counter goals and our goal difference difference (is this English) deteriorated, while Sweden pumped theirs up last night.

staff oranje

If this is true (the players not aware), you can see immediately what our problem is. You’d expect the ample staff at the KNVB to whisper this into Advocaat’s ear. You’d expect Advocaat to respond with: “I know!”. And you’d expect Dick to inform the players before the match: “If we can win it, we will try and win it. But if we are losing, we need to make sure the margin stays limited. Because goal difference…” and then the full Oranje squad yelling at him: “Stop talking. We KNOW!”

But apparently they didn’t. Sums up the KNVB/Oranje situation in one hit.

Secondly: assistant coach filming in dressing room and posting it online:

Right after the game, Twitter shows a video clip of the Oranje squad post-match in the dressing room. The TV journalist shows the clip to Dick, who explodes. “This shouldn’t be online! We shouldn’t have anyone with cameras in the dressing room! How is this possible?” The tv guy said: “Eh, your assistant Ruud Gullit filmed it and posted it on Twitter!”. Dick: “Really? Wow… That is not what I need. I will have a stern conversation with Gullit about this!”

Pretty silly eh?

Against Bulgaria, we should have scored 5, based on the game. And not concede one single goal.

With all the positives we can rant about here (Blind, Vilhena, Propper, De Vrij), this really puts us further back. We now have to make up for 6 goals, while Sweden has to face Luxembourg still.

We’re in a dire situation people and it’s fricking sad!

Janssen Bul

Our line up against Bulgaria was a reasonable logical one. Sneijder is deemed not fit enough. Propper has exquisite technique, is a dynamic runner with the ball, all intelligence and can score. He doesn’t / didn’t show it enough last season at PSV and with Brighton, he might never be able to. But he played a perfect game vs Bulgaria. Vilhena showed himself vs France and deserved to be in the team.

But with Janssen and Robben and Hoedt lacking rhythm, we still were vulnerable, going into the game.

Scoring in the first five minutes was exactly what the doctor ordered. And should have pushed the team for more and increased the confidence. But we didn’t create enough in the remainder of the first half.

Even worse, we seemed to be lacking in ideas. Propper had some attempts to create an attack and Blind was industrious on the left, but players like Tete, Wijnaldum, Janssen and even Robben were not able to bring any flow to their game.

I think Wijnaldum had 5 stray passes/touches in the first 20 minutes alone. Tete seemed out of sorts. His tackle timing was off, his passing was sloppy and his forward runs started properly late in the first half.wijnald bul

Part of what Janssen did was good. He works hard. Check. He is a nuisance. Check. He fights for every yard and wants to be important. Check. But he also demonstrated a total lack of rhythm. He miscued his shots on goal (with his solid left). He needed many fouls to stay in the game. He complained and whined to the ref constantly. And off-side needs to be explained properly to him. At times it felt like every time he’d get the ball, he would find a way to strike at goal, even with options around him and even if it’s from 35 meters out. A typical striker who lacks confidence and rhythm and feels he needs to prove to the world he can still play.

Oranje won, but played sluggish. Stray passes, square passes, lack of movement (again) and lack of team understanding. All logical, if you consider the selection issues Danny Blind and now Advocaat have had. But it doesn’t bode well for flowing football and the creation of opportunities.

In the second half, Arjen Robben joined the Vincent Janssen-Lets-Try-and-Score-From-Every-Angle club and he was keen to force the issues personally. He got his goal and would give a sour post match interview, criticizing the team for not working harder to create more opportunities.

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The goal Bulgaria scored from the set piece… Really?

Some positives… Promes was lively. Worked hard. Tried again and again on the flank. Seemed to have arguments with the ball at times, but probably due to trying too hard. His interplay with Janssen and Blind was pretty good though. Davy Propper impressed me again. His runs into space (two goals as a result), his first touch, this lad can really play and deserves a better team around him. Vilhena was industrious as ever. Without the ball, a key player. Lung, legs and drive. And make no mistake: he can play too. But he’s a bit young still and maybe a bit too hurried at times. But he has good technique and a thunderous long distance strike. He could well be our Kante moving forward.

Man of the Match, hands down for me, was Daley Blind. And despite his shortcomings, he will be a key player for Oranje moving forward for me. He made two goals. Like he did vs Spain at the WC2014.

The Ajax prodigal son has had a difficult start to his career. He was touted as the next big thing from an early age, coming through the Ajax Academy. Expectations were such, that when he made it into Ajax 1, the fans turned against him, as he does tend to play without any Ajax flair. No dribbles, no speed, no goals, no trickery. Just solid passing and positioning. He almost lost his spot at Ajax and was booed when Van Gaal selected him for the National Team. Up until the Spain opener in Brazil, people doubted him. After that match, he was a household name globally.

Robben Bulg

He went from strength to strength. At Man United, for 3 seasons he was one of the key players Van Gaal and Mourinho relied upon. This season, despite the question marks, he started every EPL game for the Mancunians.

At left back, the allrounder actually turned out to be Oranje’s playmaker. At. Left. Back!

His passing is forward whenever he can. Under pressure, without any time, he finds the right pass. His technique is exquisite but functional. No frills. And his left foot keeps on developing really well. Crosses, corner kicks. Mr Reliable.

What Blind does at the left, you’d want someone to do on the right (Tete? Veltman? Karsdorp?) and someone to do in the centre of the pitch. In the good old days, we have players who could pick the pass. Jansen, Van Hanegem, Cruyff, Krol, Rensenbrink, Haan in 1974. Muhren, Koeman, Vanenburg, Rijkaard, Wouters, Erwin Koeman in 1988. Davids, Seedorf, Ronald de Boer, Cocu, Frank de Boer in 1998. Sneijder, Gio van Bronckhorst, Van der Vaart, Van Bommel, Van Persie in 2010.

Going forward, whether it matters for this coming World Cup or not, I believe we need to work with a 4-1-4-1 system.

tonny bul

And I would consider Robben as the striker in some cases.

And in that system, I’d like to see a solid left back playing left back. Patrick van Aanholt, Jetro Willems or Erik Pieters. Players with body, defensive strength and good forward runs and crosses. Beats me why Pieters is constantly overlooked.

And I’d play Daley Blind in the Pirlo role. The 1 before defense. Not because of his defensive prowess, but because we need his vision and passing to come from the central position. With 4 midfielders like Klaassen/Vilhena/Wijnaldum/Fer/Van de Beek/Van Ginkel/Promes/Memphis we should have enough cocktails of running, passing, dribbling and speed.

The line up would change based on the availability and form of the players and the upcoming opponent.

But at this stage, the best build up player / playmaker we have today, is Daley Blind.

Advocaat (or his successor) will have to find a way to use the key strengths of his players to gel a system together which works best.

A last point: people seem to think that we need to play Total Football and attack like we used to “because the supporters demand this”. This is nonsense. Ask the supporters with match of the last 10 years is their favorite one and they will probably (80%+) will say: “Spain – Holland, WC 2014”. Case closed.

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Oranje and final #1

The key thing for the Oranje team after the dressing down vs France is to quickly get the egg and mud of the faces and straighten their backs! It’s a tough one. Egos were hurt, reputations damaged. We’re the laughing stock in Europe after the biggest Orange defeat since 1969!!

And the players will have felt it. The media (French, Dutch, English) were tough on our performance and with all reasons and right to do so. But, it is not a knock-out competition. We’re still in it. So analysis should wait. Blame game should wait. Dick needs to pull the lads together and get them uplifted. Sneijder said after the game, that due to the Bulgaria result vs Sweden, the mood lifted in the dressing room. A little angel helped us to stay alive.

And may I bring into memory the WC1974? No, not Cruyff’s goals. Not Van Hanegem’s playmaker’s role, Neeskens runs or Krol’s crosses. Yes, we dazzeled the world but do you remember the qualification games before the tournament? We were shite. We should not have gone! Belgium was the nation deserving to go, as Oranje scored the decider vs East Germany in clear offside position. Otherwise, we were out!

And even then, with JC, with De Kromme, the fans and media back in 1973 wondered why on Earth Oranje was even traveling to West Germany?

Same in 2014 with Van Gaal’s squad. The media was ruthless. “We were going to be humiliated and on a plane back after the three group matches!” And it took penalties vs Argentina to keep us from playing another finals.LVG

Which we would have won by the way. So you know.

So yes, it was dramatic, but surely we can beat Bulgaria and Sweden at home? The good thing is, both nations have something to play for and both will have to come to take something from the game. Belarus away might be the toughest game. Winter, bad pitch, tough opponent.

The issues we have – as analysed by all of you after the France game – are apparent. And are multi-faceted. It’s many things and we can work on some of them.

There are also aspects we simply can’t work on. When Rene van der Gijp was asked what he hoped for, he answered: “I hope a guy and girl are making love right now somewhere in Veenendaal or Tiel or Zaandam and are making a Lionel Messi for us!”

Robben Advo

The criticism on the midfield players was justified. But the reason why Strootman and Wijnaldum are so good at club level and not at NT level has nothing to do with mentality or motivation or quality. It’s about a club coach, having a firm tactical plan and gelling the team in such a way that every player’s strength is used and every weakness is balanced out.

I personally believe Dick Advocaat got the tactics wrong. I did say it before the game, I’d never go in with 4-3-3.

Janssen had no role to play in this match and he doesn’t even deserve any criticism for it. He didn’t get one playable ball.

He had no business vs France and we should have started with 2 or even 1 forward. I would always have played four midfielders vs the agile and powerful French.

But, it’s a competition and we’re still in it. Bulgaria will probably play defensively against us, so now we do need the attacking prowess of Sneijder or Robben as creator and the presence of Janssen in the box, maybe even with Dost coming in as well at some stage.

Robben dans

It seems Vilhena will take Strootman’s role and I can imagine Veltman or Tete to come on for Fosu-Mensah. The Man United loanie did ever so well vs France but had a couple of cramp attacks during the game. Veltman is better in possession and overall, Tete the better all-round player.

Wesley Hoedt didn’t have a top game either so I could even imagine more changes. An attack minded coach could use Daley Blind as centre back alongside De Vrij, but Dick Advocaat is a lot of things….not an attack minded coach.

I believe our lads will show the fans in the Johan Cruyff Arena that they are 100% focused and motivated and I can see us beat Bulgaria 3-0, with Janssen on the score-sheet alongside Robben and Sneijder.

robben 2010

Here is a To Do list of considerations for Dick Advocaat:

Try not to use players without match rhythm

Wesley Hoedt played some promising football for us against Morocco and Ivory Coast. Good passing, speed in his handling, good vision. But against France, it was clear that he simply lacks rhythm. Lacking confidence and not as light on his feet as per usual. Blind as centre back is an option but I don’t see Dick call up Erik Pieters. Martins Indi doesn’t play that often either and De Ligt, who will have rhythm, is not playing his best football at the moment. Vilhena for Strootman is a no-brainer.

Don’t let Robben get isolated on the right wing

Against France, Robben was supposed to be the go-to man, but the Bayern star got double marking and was not easily found. He was relegated to making 30 yards defensive runs and was even seen heading balls away in his own box! Pep Guardiola saw Robben as a potential playmaker and used him centrally behind the strikers. Wesley lacks rhythm, so why not use Promes and Memphis upfront with Robben as playmaker.

If we can’t break them down with football, lets use the airforce!

Pierre van Hooijdonk always says it. If you can’t break them down, pepper them with crosses. Why not? Two strikers vs Bulgaria. It seems Ajax will go forward with Dolberg and Huntelaar. Spicey detail: during the last practice session pre-France, it appeared the A team (the starters) were also beaten by the B-team who emulated France…


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Advocaat: We humiliated the French!

Dick Advocaat’s post-match press talk: “I am so proud of the team! We did exactly what we wanted and I think we really humiliated them in their own home. It was our aim to show that we are able not to concede 10 goals or more and they only managed 4 of which one was offside. I even made it harder for them to have Strootman red-carded. This would force my lads to play even more defensively and with less initiative even and still the French couldn’t get 10 past us. Great day for Holland! I also believe Robben deserves extra compliments for being able to head that ball way past the goal, if the defender wouldn’t have interfered. It is much harder to totally mishit that ball than it is to score. So yeah. Happy, proud. I think we can probably limit our defeats to Sweden and Bulgaria to 0-2. So finally, we can focus on putting artificial pitches in every Dutch stadium during the 2018 summer and get the whole country to enjoy futsal.”

RVP FRance

But seriously… I wrote the piece below while watching in disgust:


Writing this while watching the first half France – Oranje and I am in deep mourning, serious football depression and ready to make some drastic decisions.

We’re playing as if we won the first leg 5-0 and we can accept a 3-0 defeat here, and we’ll still go through.

But it’s not. And we re not. And we shouldn’t go through. We have nothing to do at that World Cup.

The options we lack to replace Robben, Sneijder and co, the lack of quality of the new generation, the lack of intensity and speed… It was a shambolic performance. Losing every second ball, every challenge, hardly any movement off the ball.

Shocking, really.

And yes, France has a top generation and strong and powerful players. Sure. But if you want to get something from them, you need to play at 110%. Intensity, desire, movement.

Robben France

There were no positives to be found. Tim Fosu-Mensah made his debut. That’s probably the only thing.

It starts with coach Advocaat of course. Why play Janssen up top? He has no rhythm or confidence, no speed and not enough dribbling skills to make a dent on his own. Janssen is good in and around the box. In the final third. Knowing France had to go for a win too, why not use Promes as the striker and Memphis in the Promes role? Or Vilhena in midfield to stop Pogba?

But apart from that, the team looked good on paper but really offered nothing on the ball. Sluggish, indecisive, clumsy. The number of stray passes by Wijnaldum, Strootman, Hoedt… A disgrace.

After seeing this game for 45 minutes, I wonder if an “Ireland away” scenario is possibe. In that game, coach Rijvers was down 2-0 and brought Van Basten in the second half to play with Gullit up front and the two got three goals to secure the win.

Maybe Ruud should put on his boots ?

Late in the first half, we had an intervention, Wijnaldum finds Sneijder, who finds Fosu-Mensah and his run and pass is misunderstood by Robben and the ball is passed to a defender of France. Typical!

Stroot rood

The only good thing is that France should have scored three goals by now and seem to be going for gallery play.

Total dominance by France. Great goal by Griezmann. 

Second half, Dick made one change, with the lethargic Sneijder out and Vilhena in. A bit more penache and tenacity from him?

I am disappointed we don’t see Memphis for Janssen.

The decision after Danny Blind’s sacking was to either build a team for post WC 2016 or give it all to go for short term result. The latter was decided, with old hand Advocaat as coach – short term focus – and Sneijder, Robben and now Van Persie as the key men to make the difference.

I think the universe decided that we’ll need to rebuild and rebuild significantly. Vilhena, Frenkie de Jong, Donny van de Beek, Haps… 

Add Promes, Memphis, Karsdorp, Kongolo and Tete and we might be able to build up again.

Dutch fans celebrate their victory against Uruguay following the 2010 World Cup semi-final soccer match at Green Point stadium in Cape Town July 6, 2010. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP)
Dutch fans celebrate their victory against Uruguay following the 2010 World Cup semi-final soccer match at Green Point stadium in Cape Town July 6, 2010. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings (SOUTH AFRICA – Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP)

Now, with Bulgaria currently leading vs Sweden, there is still a slight chance, but if we play like this vs Sweden, we won’t even get a look in.

So, with Holland on the 36th spot in the Fifa ranking and Ajax and PSV not even qualifying for the Europea League, we need to face the music.

Dick and Ruud have to. The players, the clubs and most importantly, us….the fans.

And…me….the blogger. Is this still something that makes my heart sing?

I was able to witness and comment on our World Cup finals in 2010, our attempt to reprise this in 2014.

But dealing with the Eredivisie, the demise of clubs in Europe, artificial pitches in Holland and disappointment with every national rep team, the seniors and the youngsters for that matter.

Decisions to be made….

crazy fans1

And to make things worse, I just saw Arjen Robben trying to dribble his way out of our box after a France corner…. Why not indeed?

Second half, Oranje has more energy, more movement, but sadly lacking of quality. The players constantly need an extra touch, an extra look up.

And here, another good spell of possession for Oranje, France dropping of  a bit. Strootman had the ball in midfield, no pressure on the ball and what does he do: a long high ball to Robben  who is marked. Ball gone.

But France, despite their movement and flow their final pass in the final third was poor. It should have been 4-0 by now but Holland is actually still in it.

Not really sure what annoyed me more, the game of Holland or the commentary on Sky. Constantly discussing the poor level of Holland, the in-fighting from the past, the fact that Robben and Sneijder are still in it….

And now, 60 minutes in, Kevin Strootman is screwed by Griezmann. Gets his second card for a dive by over-acting Griezmann. Red card and Oranje with 10. Nice! Why not?

So here is the symbolism: young striker Janssen replaced by 34 year old Robin van Persie. Not a good sign.

crazy fans2

Finally a decent attack by Holland, with Robin on #9, Fosu-Mensah gets two attempts to cross the ball in and twice he fails to make the right decision….

Great players make the right decision at the right time. Instinctively. We don’t see a lot of that in our team.

68th minute, first chance for Robben. Good cross from the left, Robben is free at the far post and messes it up. Wants to head it back to Robin, but should have gone for the near post (for him). Good ball Promes.

Cillesen sadly is the best man in the team, denying Pogba from 2 yards out.

But, new star Lemar gets the second goal and it was a cracker. Control, technique, just perfect goal.

Another great chance for Fosu-Mensah, on a break in the 78th minute but he mishits the ball completely…

And after an undeserved red card, why not an off side goal as well? 3-0 for France now. Sure.

And wonder boy Mbappe scores a goal as well. It’s four… – END OF RANT

crazy fans3

The best thing that happened on the night was Bulgaria’s win over Sweden. That didn’t take any help from any Dutchman, so no chance of it getting F-ed up. We are still in it. So the drama might actually be even bigger when we lose vs Bulgaria at home, due to own goals of Memphis, Van Persie and Ruud Gullit who actually will play in that match.

But fair is fair: France is outstanding. They have everything in spades. Everything we are lacking. Speed, strength, flow, technique, team work, movement, confidence, intelligence. They weren’t that good, because we were ripe for the slaughter in the first 45 minutes, but hey…

We need to simply now get past this match quickly. Get the confidence back up to beat the next three opponents and pray that we’re not the worst #2. (Which we actually are!).

For the Bulgaria match, Strootman will be out (despite the ridiculous card). I think Sneijder will play and we might see Donny van de Beek in midfield. Good mover, good passer, can score goals and tackle. Bulgaria will park a couple of yoghurt cans in the box, so we do need a player with skills in the small spaces. Janssen will get the nod again too.

A Netherlands fans waits for the begin of the Group B Euro 2012 soccer match against Portugal at Metalist stadium in Kharkiv, June 17, 2012. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko (UKRAINE - Tags: SPORT SOCCER) ORG XMIT: HPB01

Some positives, I think the back four did ok. Cillesen was outstanding. Fosu-Mensah will reach the top, Blind was pretty decent and Hoedt and De Vrij do have potential to become the duo of choice at the back.

Some negatives, I think our midfield was atrocious. Wijnaldum, Strootman… what is the matter with these cats? Sneijder shouldn’t have been used in this match or at least as false striker instead of Janssen. But even Promes, the rock star from Moscow, is not even the shadow of Lemar or Coman or Mbappe…

But! We can beat Bulgaria, Sweden and the other guys. And we might just make it to the World Cup. And we might get lucky there even! But after the WC2018, Sneijer, Robben and Van Persie will need to make way.

And we need to build a new team around the Frenkie de Jongs, the Van de Beeks, the Kluiverts, the Tete, Karsdorps, Akes, De Roons, Fosu-Mensahs and Depays of this world.

The highlights….

Watch Netherlands 4-1 France Euro Highlights 2008 13.06.2008 in Sports  |  View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com

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The 2017/18 Season is upon us: predictions!

Well people, the waiting is over. It’s all going to go ahead again.

Let’s look in the crystal ball and see what will happen.


We will suffer the least from the summer break vs France. Les Blues have talent to spare but they are rusty in their home game vs Holland. We will hit them on the attack. 1-3. We score first (Depay on a break) and when France is fighting to get back into the game, we score a second (Wijnaldum). They get back to 1-2 but in the final stages a risk-taking France concedes a penalty, converted by Janssen. Oranje is flying high and we won’t lose any qualification game after that. We’ll go to the WC2018. We’re not going to win it but we’ll get some swagger back.



Ajax is vulnerable. A young squad, an inexperienced coach and when Sanchez and Ziyech are sold, there is not enough leadership and experience to have the time fight for the title. Like with JC’s first season as coach, this will be a “development season”. The fans won’t like it but I do believe Ajax has gold with De Ligt, Kluivert, Van de Beek, De Jong and will grow to a peak performance in the coming seasons. They’ll finish 2nd.

cocu shock

PSV has lost their spirit. The new hierarchy in the dressing room takes time. Willems is not properly replaced and something seems missing in Eindhoven. They’ll have an abysmal season. They’ll finish 4th.

Feyenoord is in the winning mood. They won’t be making waves in the Champions League but the new kids gel into the squad with ease and Feyenoord wins the title again. Quite rare for that to happen. Boetius has a super season, Jorgensen wins the golden boot again and Labayad is the coming man in Feyenoord’s midfield. Feyenoord wins the title.

dirk robin

The surprise #3 in the Eredivisie will be Vitesse. With good, neat pass and move, they upset most opponents and get to rub shoulders with the Top 3. AZ and FC Utrecht are just behind, with PEC Zwolle again impressing. VVV will drop back immediately.

It will be Kluivert’s real break through year, like Hendrix will snatch a starting birth at PSV.


Man City will win the title. Man United will again disappoint. Liverpool will do well in the CL as cupfighters. Newcastle will finish mid-table. The lads in England will have a mixed season. Janssen and Klaassen will struggle to get time. Blind, Wijnaldum and Fer will do very well. As will Nathan Ake. Van Dijk will move to Liverpool and will become their rock for seasons to come. Crystal Palace under De Boer will also impress with Riedewald and Van Aanholt on the wishlist of the bigger clubs.

wijnal fer


Cillesen will get the #1 spot for Barcelona. Lens will impress in Turkey, like Promes will do in Moscow, if he doesn’t get a transfer before September 1. Karsdorp, Strootman, De Roon, De Vrij, Hoedt will keep on delivering the goods in Italy, while Robben will have one of his best seasons. Sneijder takes Nice by the horns but will finish fourth, behind PSG and Monaco. Lyon will finish third.

Dutch football will make the comeback we all hope for. We’ll have most players at mid-level European top clubs. No more Juve, Barca, Real or Chelsea but the mid-range players will form a solid team when they wear the Orange and the squad will only grow in quality with players like Van de Beek and De Jong of Ajax joining in.

Sneijder and Robben will lead the pack and young talents like Karsdorp, Memphis, Vilhena, Promes and even Kluivert will add to the recipe. It will be all good, my friends. I’m just still sad that Appie Nouri will never wear the Orange jersey….


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Sneijder, Robben and Van Dijk symbols of Oranje

While part of the attention in football land is going towards all the new signings, the Neymar transfer, Man United’s ambitions, Bayern’s poor performances and other irrelevant matters, the Dutch fans are following the non-news around a number of important players for Oranje. Sneijder, Van Persie, Janssen, Cillesen, Wijnaldum, Van Dijk…

Robin van Persie is very welcome in Rotterdam. Feyenoord would love to bring the gifted left footer back, in Dirk Kuyt style. Van Persie wouldn’t mind the role of mentor, in a Feyenoord that lost a lot of experience. Sure, they signed some exciting young talents, but with Elia, Kuyt, Karsdorp and Kongolo gone, quite some know-how left. Van Persie would be the ideal new leader of the team, in which only El Ahmadi and Brad Jones can be considered seniors. Feyenoord lost quite some goals too, with Kuyt and Elia and the low-scoring Feyenoord in the pre-season could do with some guile in the box. But Fener is keen to keep Van Persie in Turkey, and the former left winger does not have a “Kuyt-clause” enabling him to return.

Vpersie fener

Wesley Sneijder has another challenge. He is a free agent, but wants to play for LA United. Their season only starts in 2018 so Wes is looking for a good “in-between” club at level, to keep his Oranje spot secure. FC Utrecht, the team from his hometown rejected the courtship. Erik ten Hag is not keen to have a player for only half a season, let alone the wages pressure which come with Sneijder. For similar reasons, Ajax has stated it won’t need Sneijder’s services, what with the many midfield talents around. Nice might be the only club with some level that is keen to sign him on a one year deal. Sneijder is currently training privately.

With Ter Stege in Barcelona still on prolonged holidays, Cillesen has been impressing in the pre-season games for the Catalans, but when the German returns, Cillesen will most likely be relegated to the bench. Benfica is courting him to allow him playing time in the World Cup season ahead, but it’s unlikely Barca will let him go.

cillesen barca

In the meantime, Ruud Gullit is reminiscing about his career. He is not very active as yet as assistant coach. Apart from sharing his concerns re: the Oranje key players, he’s currently doing the rounds as a public speaker. The former Oranje captain, the only one to raise a trophy in the jersey, is comfortable in the spotlights. Former figure head, people magnet and eternal optimist. “I used to be known as the Black Tulip,” he quips. “Nowadays, I’m more like the Black ATM….” Referring to the alimony checks he’s paying monthly (four ex-wives). Ruud has been downsizing ever since his private issues, and even lives in a modest flat in Amsterdam. “I used to be on the top of the mountain, now I’m wandering below. And I like it. This life is better. I used to travel everywhere, but never saw a thing. I used to meet 1000s of people but never knew anyone. Now, every day I meet people, lovely, friendly, warm and interesting people and I can make a connection. I always get inspired meeting interesting people.” He’s the most iconic player we have, except for Cruyff and Van Hanegem. He was a living symbol of the 1980s. Reggae artist, anti-apartheid activist, a figure-head across the globe, the idol of a generation.

ruud 88

Van Basten loathed his fame and adoration, Gullit revels in it. In his home, he has quite some memorabilia. A small version of the European Cup, a picture with Nelson Mandela. He is all life, and loves telling anecdotes. “Did I tell you that story of Barry Hughes, at Sparta? Louis van Gaal was his captain and Van Gaal was already a semi-trainer. When they played NAC, they were behind at half time. Van Gaal was furious at half time and said to Hughes: “Coach! It’s a mess out there. You need to do something now!” And Hughes said: “You’re right son. You see it well. I’m subbing you!” And he smiles that big smile. He was always relaxed. Never a moment of stress. His team mate and room mate Carlo Ancelotti couldn’t sleep before a big match. Ruud would go to bed straight after dinner and snore the night away. “I’d say to him, Carlo! What the hell man, why stress out. We are going to play a football match tomorrow! There’s nothing better man!”

Despite the dreads, the reggae career, the friendship with Mandela and his anti apartheid stance, Ruud never felt black. He never felt to be from Suriname. “I’m from Amsterdam. I feel like someone from Amsterdam, not Suriname!” Ruud’s mum is white as can be. “I never experienced racism. I was a good player, that will have helped, yes, but even though I know racism exists, I never personally experienced it.”


Ruud’s open personality was not always his friend. He met many people who were out to “get” him. Or to take advantage of him. “I think I did deal with people who were out to screw me. But you know what? If I wasn’t who I was, I would never have met all the good people I met. I value that more than the loss I experienced by these bad people.”

Ruud has ongoing issues privately. His former Italian wife Cristina Pensa has recently put a claim in for all Ruud’s future earnings at the KNVB. Another chapter in a private life full of court cases and alimony obligations. Ruud is not happy with all that, as he wants to avoid “negative emotions”. “I was always most happy in tough times. It’s always a learning process, how do you deal with it. I am quite spiritual. I believe in fate. Not in coincidence. Complaining won’t help. I have a great life. I’m proud.”

It’s another 28 days until the key match vs France and Advocaat and Gullit still don’t know what their ideal squad will look like. Next Tuesday, the pair formally starts after summer reces, but Dick and Ruudje will have been working hard already trying to assess who will be part of that chapter. They have enjoyed watching all the pre-season games, from tournaments from the US to Hong Kong. “The clubs make it harder now. They don’t want to release their players. We will get our players on Monday before the match. Tuesday is the first real training day. Wednesday, we travel to France to play on Thursday. And on Sunday, we have Bulgaria. It’s not ideal. I know all nations suffer from this, we’re not alone, but it’s not ideal,” says Dick Advocaat.

dick hesje

Still, the team manager is not unhappy with some of his players. He saw Cillesen playing excellent against Real Madrid, while Stekelenburg at Everton also impressed. Wijnaldum picked up where he left off with Liverpool and Janssen seems sharp in the pre-season for Spurs. In Italy, De Vrij, Hoedt and Strootman play their games while Promes already found the net for Spartak. The move of Klaassen, Karsdorp and Kongolo will also please Big Dick. Kongolo started well in the Super Cup game against Paris St Germain but Rick Karsdorp is recovering from a knee operation. In Dick’s plans, a compact Oranje needs a playmaker Sneijder to release world class Arjen Robben. But Sneijder’s future is not sure, he’s not first choice at OGC Nice at the moment. And even Robben, our only star, is not fit yet and hasn’t really played a competitive game. And Robben seems key in the game plan vs France. Advocaat and Gullit saw the B-team of France play England of the pitch, recently. Coach Deschamp can field three equally strong teams with ample quality. What Holland can do against France, basically consists of the intelligence of Sneijder, the class of Robben and otherwise our mental strength and fighting mentality. Virgil van Dijk will be key in the latter aspects. But the tall defender, despite being coveted by all major EPL clubs, hasn’t played for six months now and trains individually, waiting for a transfer that might not even happen. So Sneijder, Robben and Van Dijk – key vs France – form the symbol of Oranje these days. Will they or won’t they show up?

Sneij Rob




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Oranje goes for #1

If you’d ask me who I would have wanted to win between France and Sweden, I probably would have said “Sweden”! I think this is the mindset of the winner, the champion. I don’t believe in half-baked affirmations like “Well…if France wins, then they’ll be #1 but then we beat Sweden and we can still go to the WC as the #2!”. Screw that!

I say: grab that bitch by the pussy Donald Trump style and go for the jugular.

France is getting nervous, Sweden is getting cocky, fine. We just scored double digits in goals and we have players returning to the Oranje squad in fine form (Sneijder, Robben, Promes, Memphis, Hoedt, Ake, De Vrij, Cillesen).

hoedt arjen lux

We did the business vs Luxembourg. We’re still in it to win it. And our chances of topping the group have just increased!! No gloomy faces people. We are on our way.

I think Dick and Ruud will be able to forge a compact and hard to beat team, with some glorious brilliance on top. Sometimes it’s Robben, next time it’s Promes, who knows if it will ever be Memphis again, but we will be able to rely on the sturdiness, workrate and defensive strength of Wijnaldum, Strootman, De Vrij, Blind, Cillesen to keep us safe at the back.

How sweet would it be to leave France behind us?

wes lux

Not much intelligent to say about Holland-Luxembourg. I predicted 6-0. I was disappointed. The first goal took a while, after that Luxembourg gave up. I am pleased for Wesley to score the second (I knew he would score) and I saw some solid interplay at times and some excellent moves by Hoedt and De Vrij.

We can evaluate Oranje’s performance based on 5 questions:

Was Oranje capable of attacking with creativity and variety?

The answer is yes. The game wasn’t even 15 minutes old of the fans already saw three great through balls from Sneijder  and after 2 minutes it could have been 1-0 by Robben after good interplay with Janssen. We saw De Vrij pushing up and assist Promes his goal. We saw Hoedt doing this centrally for the first goal and the pass on Robben. We saw Veltman drive up for the move which ended with Wijnaldum scoring…

promes lux

Did Oranje attack and defend like a unit?

Marc Wilmots, coach of Ivory Coast, said it succinctly. “Advocaat is capable of letting his team play like a compact unit.” This is still a point to focus on, as Luxembourg (and Ivory Coast) had opportunities to wiggle their way through, and Kevin Strootman in particular needs to adapt better to his role in Oranje.

Have there been changes in the hierarchy?

Well, no. Robben and Sneijder determine what happens. Who takes the setpiece and when to push up. In particular Robben was unstoppable in his desire to attack.

arjen dick lux

Did Memphis finally play simple and direct?

Two backheels in the first half. And both were functional. One actually resulted in Sneijder’s goal. Memphis was under the magnifying glass. Robben and Memphis had a rift after the Ivory Coast game and Gullit decided to spend extra time on the unfathomable but headstrong winger. A good first half, a little bit sloppy in the second. Promes replaced him and the best player of Russia scored as well. This might result in a fascinating duel.

vince lux

Is Vincent Janssen the right striker for Oranje?

Well, that is a 100% yes. He played an amazing game, even though he missed an early chance. He had a good rapport with Robben and is always able to be played in. He’s got eye for the movement around him and created and finished a penalty. 7 out of the 13.

nathan lux

Smart Dick, didn’t want to do a “Ziyech” and allowed Nathan Ake his official minutes

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It’s showtime! Oranje prepares….

While Amsterdam football fans are still in shock as a result of the exit of success coach Peter Bosz, Rotterdam (and elsewhere fans) focus on the big game on Friday. The qualification game vs Luxembourg, in De Kuip. Never before was a match vs the minions from Luxembourg a hotter topic than now!

Bosz leaves for Dortmund and six times the salary he bagged at Ajax. But according to Bosz, it was time to move on, as the Ajax board refused to go along with his plans to re-arrange the backroom staff. In particular icon Dennis Bergkamp and stallwarts Spijkerman and L’Ami were at loggerheads with Bosz, at times. Ajax’ board felt they should determine the organisation of the technical side of things and not a coach.

The future NT manager (mark my words) played for Hertha in the past and speaks German well. A must for Dortmund. He gets quite a talented squad to work with.

oranje dick train

Old hand and now three times NT manager Dick Advocaat, in the meantime, showed himself from his comical side at his first press conference. With Ruud Gullit at his side. Advocaat is known to be a very warm and funny guy amongst friends and he dropped his serious mask for a bit when questioned about Oranje and his future.

Asked about the results under Grim earlier this week: “I called Fred. I said it might be better if I stayed away a bit longer, hahaha.”

About his return: “I didn’t put my hand up. I was happy for the KNVB to find someone else, but no one wanted, or was able or dared… And I like a challenge, and so does Ruud, so here we are. I don’t apologise for leaving the squad earlier. I do realise people see me as an opportunist. I guess I am. I did profusely apologise to Danny. He worked hard to get me in and I have let him down. But that’s it. I also spoke with Danny when the KNVB came back to me. What we talked about? That’s between me and him. But probably was the 15th choice of the KNVB.”

dick lacht

More explanations: “I had difficulty with the role, to be honest. I thought I could be an assistant but I can’t have someone telling me when to say things or when to act. I had 4 offers already and said no to them. When Fener came, I simply lost sleep. And I knew. I have to do this.”

Advocaat doesn’t believe he owes an apology to the players. “No why? Do you think the players really care? It’s between me and Danny and the KNVB. They forgot me after 2 weeks, I’m sure. And if they do have a problem, it’s their problem. You are in or you are out.”

“Wesley Sneijder starts on Friday. No discussion. Is he’s fit, he’ll play. Why? I watched him for the whole season at Galatasaray and Wes is still the best midfielder in Turkey. What, he probably was the best player of the competition. I have no doubts about him.”

The new coach’ first decision was to give everyone an additional day off (Tuesday) and start the prep for Luxembourg on Wednesday. “I think they deserved that.” He now only has two training practices to prepare in the autumn-like Dutch spring.

dick memphis

Advocaat quickly added: “But, it’s not because I expect frills and glorious football. It’s not about that now. We need to win. That’s the only thing that counts.” Gullit chimes in: “When I was at AC Milan, we were considered a very attractive team, but with Sacchi it was all about the organisation and making sure we couldn’t lose. We didn’t play all great games, you know. And when we won the EC in 1988, we played really well versus the USSR in the first match, but we lost. In the finals we met them again and they were better. But we won! And now everyone talks about how great that team played. It wasn’t really the case.”

Dick: “And I’m not saying: play defensively. In Germany, Italy, Spain, clubs play to win and play attacking football, but from a solid organisation. They’re hard to beat. And I want that grit in Oranje. That game vs Hungary, the one that meant the end for Danny Blind… that can not ever happen again!”

dick ruud press

Against Luxembourg, it shouldn’t be too much of an issue. But against France away, in August, Dick will most likely build a 10 player compact wall, with a freewheeling Robben on top. Will Van Persie play a role again? Advocaat: “Why not? He’s still playing top level. He’s certainly not off the radar for me. In Turkey, he didn’t play all the games, but he was decisive against the big opponents. I can see a role for him but this game was too early. I wanted to work with Danny’s group now, but in the future, who knows…?”

oranje dick train2

We’ll most likely see Cillesen in goal for Oranje. I expect Memphis, Janssen and Robben up front (even though Robben missed training due to stomach issues). Sneijder, Strootman and Wijnaldum in midfield and Blind, De Vrij, Hoedt and Veltman in defence (even though De Vrij received a knock on the ankle from team mate Hoedt).

Expect a 6-0 win over Luxembourg and expect birthday and record holder Wes Sneijder to be on the score-sheet…

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Viagra for Big Dick and some for me…?

Viagra being a metaphor for some positive energy. The end of the season…only a key qualification game for us, a Champions League finals and some (Turkey) last matches on the roster. And some friendlies and testimonials.

Which means the different blog suppliers ( template, server, domain name) are sending me their invoices again.

So this annual request for some support is upon you! If you enjoy the blog and would love for it to be around longer, I would highly appreciate your contribution. If you can, of course. The donate button is on the home page ;-).


My gratitude to all of you for your support, in spirit, in postings and in dollars as well…

While you’re grabbing the last pennies from your piggybank, I will help you celebrate our win over Ivory Coast.

It has to be said: you know I dislike friendlies. But if we win a friendly 5-0, I actually take the friendly serious, all of a sudden.

And yes I know, Ivory Coast is not as strong as they used to be (but that applies to Oranje as well). And sure, what does Ivory Coast care, really? For Oranje though, it was a key game. We lost a lot of goodwill amongst the fans, we embarrassed ourselves in this WC qualification round, so much so that a Dutch football icon – Danny Blind – was ousted of the job, without any Plan B in the drawer. The joke that was (is?) the KNVB is still not finished (although we all heard the punchline, and you know what? It ain’t funny!) as former NT Manager and former assistant manager Scrooge Dick Advocaat comes back in.

holland cheers ivory

But the team is fighting hard to get some pride back. To show to the fans – and to themselves! – that they can do it. Five qualifications games to go and ideally five wins are needed to secure a ticket for Russia.

We have skills, we have some very good players and one out and out world class star. We also need some grit, some willpower and some belief, and then it will all come good.

Some of it was on display vs Ivory Coast. We scored 5, we conceded zero (great save Jesper Cillesen!!) and the fans gobbled it up. A lot went well, some didn’t go so well. Ivory Coast were able to cut straight through the centre of the park on occasions and a strong Cillesen and some fortune meant we kept a clean sheet.

We played 4-3-3 in possession and a compact 4-5-1 when we lost it, with lone wolf Janssen up top. I think we can safely say that Vincent Janssen is the Oranje #9. He is the ideal target man, always hussling, strong in possession, creating havoc and trying to find either a team mate or the target. He created the penalty for 2-0, he assisted Klaassen’s goal and scored the fifth as a real poacher in the box. Yes, he has limitations. Lacks speed, lacks the silky touch, but that can also be said of a certain Gerd Muller. Six goals in 12 internationals and a couple of assists. Not bad.

janssen robben ivory

Robben, Memphis and Promes all three look like starters. Memphis is threatening, has moments of magic and will always bind two defenders, as will Robben. Memphis didn’t play at his best, but the curler to the top corner was another example of his potential. Robben on other hand is enjoying his second (or is it third?) wind and was instrumental again, with his runs, his assist and his immaculate penalty.

Strootman played a strong game in midfield again, while Propper still seems too light for this Oranje. He’s a good player on the ball, velvet touch and good vision, but it’s all too much in one pace and he lacks a bit of venom in the challenges. He might step up still, but he probably needs to move to a higher level. Or not, and he’ll stay on the level of PSV Eindhoven (top of Eredivisie) for the rest of his career. Klaassen is a wonderful player of course, does a lot of work, smart running and positioning and always head up. His goal was a typical Klaassen goal: recognising the opportunity, busting a gut to get in the box at the exact right time. But as a number 10 I think he’s not top notch enough to replace the aging Sneijder. Promes might be the ideal player on that spot.

veltman scores ivory

Kenny Tete and Rick Karsdorp will do nicely as right backs and Joel Veltman is a good player, who fits well in the centre back role as long as the opponent doesn’t play with Andy Carrol and Peter Crouch. Daley Blind was one of the best on the pitch, yet again, with solid interventions, great positioning, good runs in the channel and it was his little solo into the box that got us the corner which resulted in the 1-0. Blind can play centre back, left back and even holding mid. He will never make you weaker, unless he’s up against fast counter-attacking teams. But he didn’t get into trouble against Ajax in the EL finals and actually didn’t get into trouble all season.

The only weak spot for me is Martins Indi. He didn’t really get into trouble but at times he looks a bit clueless and he’ll still mix up beautiful long cross passes with more short range passes that float over the byline.

Viergever, Propper, Ramselaar, Berghuis and De Roon were let go after these two friendlies. Spoilt for choice in midfield (Propper, Ramselaar, De Roon) with Ake, Toornstra, Vilhena as other options. Viergever isn’t needed either, as De Vrij and De Ligt will return to the squad. As right winger, Advocaat prefers Lens over Berghuis, a player he knows very well of course, from his Fenerbahce days.

robben dribble

We will beat Luxembourg and I do think we’ll win all the games coming up, with France as the key one. If we play as we did today (which we won’t), it will be hard. But if we can lay down a solid performance, with a fit and tenacious midfield (maybe a 4-5-1 with Promes up top, Janssen as super sub and some body and running in midfield) I don’t see why we couldn’t beat Les Blues!

Oranje does need to applaud the work of Peter Bosz (and indirectly Jonk, Bergkamp, Cruyff). It was clearly visible in the Ivory Coast game at times how Bosz’ lessons dripped into Oranje. With Tete, Veltman and Klaassen at times hunting and pressing. Wijnaldum will gladly chip in and once De Vrij and De Ligt are back, the intensity of our game could well be helped by the football style of Ajax’ success coach.

The 5-0 could easily have been 8-2. Cillesen needed to show up with saves and Janssen, Wijnaldum, Depay and Robben all had opportunities to score and there were several breaks where the killer pass didn’t eventuate.

With all the joy of the victory, Wesley Sneijder had his private party for eclipsing Van der Sar’s record. Finally! And I’m convinced he’ll play a couple more minutes/games before he retires from Oranje. Hopefully after a WC campaign in Russia. He lacks speed, he might not make it for the full 90 minutes, but on the ball he’s still killer diller.

sneijder sub

Joel Veltman played CB and scored a brace. Doesn’t happen a lot. His first was a shouldered goal, totally unmarked while his second was a tap in from a Robben cross…totally unmarked. “We didn’t play great, but we were efficient. We know African opponents, we know they’re physical and good on the ball but their organisation is lacking. We knew how to use that. I had a couple of knocks at decided to stay put in defence in the second half. And yes, I was totally unmarked on both goals, but it does help when you have Memphis and Arjen on the wings. They can find your adam’s apple with the ball. Playing centre back was a challenge to be honest. It’s been a while. But Bruno made sure I stayed in position whenever I drifted to the right, hahaha.”

Jesper Cillesen had a smile from ear to ear: “God, I needed this! It’s been a year since my last Oranje cap. It was important for me to show the coaches I’m ready. Yes, I didn’t play a lot, but I train on the very highest level and I think I improved. That last save was a top one, right? Got the ball straight on my nose. Luckily I have a big one.”

robben pen ivory

Captain Arjen Robben was critical, despite the comfortable win. “I try to look at the whole picture, not just the 5-0 win. And I think we need to improve. At times it’s not quick enough. We release the ball too slow. We need to play with more intensity to really break down the opponents in the serious games. I do think Oranje suffered the last years with all these injuries and changing starting line ups. It’s key now to keep this squad together and to keep on building.”

And so, the reign of Fred Grim ends on a high, per Tuesday coming week, Big Dick and Cool Ruud are in charge.

My friends, I’m positive! I’ve seen enough to see that we simply need to win all our games and can win all our games. A good Oranje can win four, if Oranje is great vs France, we can beat them too! Play Nathan Ake on Pogba and De Vrij on Griezman and we’re in business.



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Mature performance Oranje winning vs Morocco

A lot of talking points before the game and one of those was Wesley Sneijder’s record breaking attempt. But it was young Mathijs de Ligt who got a record in the Moroccan game, while Wes has to play one more cap to reach his pinnacle.

Johan Cruyff used to be the youngest Oranje player ever to be red-carded in the orange jersey. Johan was only 19 years old when his constant talking became to much for the ref. Young Mathijs is 17 years and 292 days old and the proud owner of this new record. If JC’s career is anything to go on, De Ligt has a bright future. His card was for pushing a player through on goal down to the ground. I saw many fouls by Moroccan players more deserving of red, but hey….

de light rood

Holland won again. Sadly, it was a friendly, but at the same time, it wasn’t friendly at all. Morocco played a rough game and Oranje passed the test really well. They dealt with it in a mature manner. They didn’t lose their head or got provoked. Some brilliance from Promes, Janssen and Memphis was enough to secure the victory: 1-2.

Quincy Promes now silenced the criticasters who say the youngster is only good in Russia. He had a great match for us earlier, scoring twice and against Morocco he was mercurial, scoring one and assisting Janssen’s goal. Janssen had a solid game too, his usual workrate and a good shimmy resulting in a powerful shot on goal. His goal was taken with aplomb. Earlier on, Memphis wiggled his way through the box to offer Quincy a solid chance to score the opener.

It was a good match. Not just because of the win, but the way our lads dealt with the circumstances and it was definitely cool to see the Under 17 talents from 2011 emerge on this top level. Back then, coached by Albert Stuivenberg, the young lions played Germany under 7 off the pitch, winning the EC finals 5-2. Jetro Willems was the first to make it to the big time (2012). Terrence Kongolo was part of the 2014 World Cup squad and Karim Rekik also made his debut in Oranje already. Now, Tonny Vilhena, Memphis Depay and Nathan Ake were present, with Utrecht midfielder Yassine Ayoub on the bench for Morocco. He decided to don the colours of his father’s country but hasn’t played for the first team of Morocco yet.

promes moro

Fred Grim, interim coach, was very pleased. “I am pleased with the win. Yes, it’s a friendly but winning is a mood we need to get into asap. And we did. I’m also happy with the performance, although our second half wasn’t as good and after the sending off we came under pressure, but that’s normal. And I think we dealt with it.”

Nice forward Belhanda in particular challenged De Ligt and Wesley Hoedt with red-worthy challenges but both players did well. Advocaat could have seen on his telly how Hoedt in particular appeared to have a strong pass while Nathan Ake and Tonny Vilhena also spat in their palms to go to work against a strong Morocco (on paper). Marten de Roon, coming on for Steven Berghuis, had a part to play as well as he set up Promes for the assist on Janssen.

ake moroc

Nathan Ake got his “hare” making his first minutes for the Big Oranje. “I hoped to get some minutes but I heard a day before I’d play. Goosebumps. Really happy. The game wasn’t so good, but we played well in the first half. And we had to go deep at times physically, but thats ok. We got the result and we can build on this. I played left back again and was really knackered. Haven’t played that position for a while but I don’t mind, I’ll play wherever the coach needs me.”

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Oranje gets Big Dick

And it needs it! In order to really have a go and reach the World Cup, we need good potency. I always felt Advocaat is a big of a dick, with his greed-oriented behaviour. He disappointed so many clubs and nations (PSV, Australia, Belgium, Sunderland, KNVB) and all for a bigger pay-check.

But, he does get things done and we do not have many highly experienced and willing coaches left in Dick’s age-category. Van Gaal isn’t interested, Van Marwijk is happy in the sandbag, Van Hanegem and Jansen not willing, Stevens not willing, Michels is dead… Time for a new generation (Ten Hag, Bosz, Cocu, Gio, De Boer) but all these guys are happy to work with players on a day by day basis.

Big Dick will join the squad later, with assistant Ruud Gullit. Until he does, Fred Grim and Frans Hoek will keep the reigns and manage Oranje past the two upcoming friendlies… Morocco first. Ivory Coast on Sunday.

grim marok

The Dutch squad is becoming complete today. Wesley Sneijder traveled late from Turkey, directly to Agadir. Grim already stated that he’ll give the 32 year old captain playing time. Wes only needs two more games to topple Van der Sar as the most capped Dutch player ever. He’ll get that record, with two friendlies on the roster. The Ivory Coast game is actually on his 33rd birthday. What an accomplishment for the little playmaker!

Jesper Cillesen came late to the camp too, as he had to play (and win) the Spanish Copa Del Rey with Barca. A look at three players who had an exciting but not necessarily good first season at greener pastures…

nathan marok

Nathan Ake – Chelsea:

“It’s fun to be part of the Dutch team for the first time. I’ve played in all Oranje rep teams as off under-15 and now it’s an honour to be part of the big Oranje. Marc Wilmots is the team manager of Ivory Coast, who called me as well. He wanted to know if I was happy to think about playing for the country where my dad is born. And I said, yes I will. But Holland is my first choice and I think Wilmots understood. I still have family in Ivory Coast, by the way, but I’ve never visited. My mum is Dutch, we’d go to Ivory Coast when I was 18 years old but I’m 22 years old now and it hasn’t happened. Should I get official playing time versus Luxembourg, the decision will be made. My parents support me fully.

This was a good and interesting year. I was loaned out to Bournemouth. I didn’t play a minute in the first months but I got my chance and took it. Coach Conte called me personally to say he wanted to get me back in the winter. I think I can now determine myself, what will happen. Next season, I will get my chance and I want to play as much as possible. I can play on several positions but my favorite spot is the left central position. But we’ll see whether Chelsea will offer me playing time… Time will tell.”

vince marok

Vincent Janssen – Spurs

“My first season at Tottenham is behind me now. I don’t think it was what I hoped for, in terms of playing time. That is quite clear I suppose. But I do notice I have grown as a player. Last year around this time we had an Oranje camp in Portugal as well, and I can feel I’m much stronger and quicker in my handling the ball. The last few months I was much more settled at Spurs but hey, we won 12 out of 13 games in the EPL and were in good form, so the coach didn’t have much reasons to give me more time. The team was doing so well. What will happen the next season? I am not sure. It’s not just me who determines this of course. The coach didn’t do a personal assessment with all the players, he basically just thanked the group. Individual talks is more a Dutch thing I suppose.

I hoped the KNVB would have gone on with Danny Blind. This is the first time in career I deal with the sacking of a coach. And I still owe a lot of gratitude to Danny Blind for his confidence. He allowed me my debut and he let me play ten international games. I spoke to him after he was let go. I haven’t spoken to Mr Advocaat yet, but i worked with him earlier, when he was assistant and he’s very present, dominant and had numerous tips for me.”


Jesper Cillesen – Barcelona

“I’m happy that I could finish the season with Barca winning a prize I actually contributed to. The cup tournament became my tournament. And I do like some more of that taste. It will be an interesting summer, you never know what to expect in the summer. Anything can happen now, with Valverde coming in as the new coach. It’s been really intense. The step from Ajax to Barcelona is quite big. On the pitch, but also off the pitch. In terms of tactics, mentally… I had times where I hit a wall.

But I have become a better goalie. I’m dealing with the best forwards on the planet. When I first started in practice, Messi would hit the target with a venom and precision I didn’t get at Ajax. In those first weeks I felt like I was in 2011, when I became part of the Dutch squad while still at NEC! But, I do stop shots by Neymar, Messi, Suarez on training. I am used to the pace now. I’m ambitious though, I want to become the #1 goalie here. Even though Ter Stegen has just renewed his contract, I’ll will go head to had with him. I feel good about it.”

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Frans Hoek (right) amazed by Martins Indi’s haircut
Daley Blind, Davy Klaassen, Jeremain Lens, Arjen Robben, Kevin Strootman, Stefan de Vrij and Gini Wijnaldum also made it later to the squad due to obligations elsewhere.

In total, Oranje has 28 in the group to prepare for the friendlies. Dick Advocaat: “We decided on a bigger group as some players will come to the training camp later due to obligations. We don’t know how fit they will be. We need to prepare for the worst and at this stage it won’t be harmful to have a bigger group with some younger, fresher players as Oranje is in transition.”

By the way, Hakim Ziyech (Ajax) will not be part of the Moroccan squad. The playmaker who could be so potent for Oranje decided to go for Morocco but the relationship between him and the French coach of Morocco is troubled. Renard first ignored the former Heerenveen talent for the Africa Cup, now Ziyech decided to sit the NT out until Renard is removed…

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New boys Jens Toornstra and Sergio Padt (goalie Groningen)

Other “Dutchies” in the Moroccan squad: King Karim El Ahmadi (Feyenoord), Nordin Amrabat (Watford), Mimoun Mahi (FC Groningen), Sofyan Amrabat and Yassin Ayoub (both with FC Utrecht).

There is one player not selected who did make some headlines. Ryan Babel (ex-Ajax, ex-Liverpool) is now 30 years old and found his second wind, winning the title in Turkey (under Big Dick’s nose!) with Besiktas. The former Oranje winger tweeted: “Disappointed that Oranje doesn’t seem to need my services”. He said later: “Somehow in Holland people think my career is over. I’ve been under the radar too much probably, but I’m back at my best now. I think I am able to support Oranje in these crucial times.”

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Ryan Babel screams “Whyyyy Dick???”

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