Ronald Koeman interview

As per our customs, we like to present a new team manager via a “Big Interview”. In this case, the manager isn’t new. The interview is still big.

Ronald Koeman, the new team manager for Oranje. Welcome…

Koeman: “I am so blessed, happy and priviliged to be the….

Yes, you can stop the cliches and the asskissing Ronald, we know your drill by now, ladidadida I am so proud, yadda yadda… is there another clause in your agreement? Will you forsake Oranje again?? Maybe when Spurs come calling?

“Oops, no. I get what you’re saying. No clause this time.”

Yes, because you were so keen to coach Oranje but you left at a key time and you left us with Frank de Boer and Louis van Gaal. Two major tournaments wasted opportunities. What do you have to say for yourself?

“Like I said, there is no clause now and I am happy and blessed and….”

Enough! What can we expect?

“Well, like I said before. I am a 4-3-3 man. I will not proceed with the LVG style of 5 at the back, whatever Louis called it. We’re going back to the system with which I had success, before I …”

Yes, shut up. How did you enjoy the World Cup?

“I think it was an exciting World Cup. The Qatar location wasn’t a success, neither was the winter time, for me at least, but we saw some exciting games. The Dutch could and should have done better, I feel, but I think everyone feels this way.”

What was the reason? Van Gaal?

“It’s tempting to say yes to that. But in all fairness, our top forwards were not in good shape. Gakpo did ok, but Memphis and Bergwijn were the go-to guys for Louis and I think he betted on the wrong horses. Overall, we didn’t have the quality we needed to have.”

How do you think you can overcome this?

“I hope I will make better decisions. But I won’t go back into the World Cup or stuff that happened before me. It’s not fair on Louis and not fair on the lads. I wasn’t there. I want to focus on the games ahead and the tournaments where I can have an impact. I do believe 4-3-3 will be a better option for us. Playing three at the back because you have top defenders is not good enough for me. I mean, we won’t play 5 strikers when we have 5 top goal scorers, would we?”

You came up with the definitive squad for these two Euro Qualification matches. It seemed the goalies and the strikers were a problem but now that is overshadowed by the loss of Frenkie de Jong. Can we cope without him?

“Of course! We will field 11 players, don’t worry. And we do not have a “second Frenkie” in the sense that Frenkie is quite unique. But even with Koopmeiners injured we have alternatives. They will play their part in a different way, but they can definitely play in that role. Wijnaldum played there, De Roon did, Berghuis even, Taylor plays in his role at Ajax and Blind played there a couple of games as well. And I have Wieffer and also Joey Veerman in the squad. Geertruida can play there even!”

Daley Blind? People will wonder why he is even in the squad?

“Really? He played 99 matches for Oranje! A player like him will always get his exit through the front door! He has been a good and loyal soldier of orange and although I did tell him that he shouldn’t count on a starting spot at LB, he can still be very important for us. He can play on 3 different spots and he brings a lot of know how and experience in the dressing room. I want to be able to give him his 100st international game, he deserves it. But whether I will keep on selecting him will hinge on his game time, moving forward.”

Ok, so no LB role for him anymore?

“No, listen when we play 4 at the back, Nathan Ake and Malacia are two excellent candidates and we have the likes of Bakker and Hartman coming through too. Daley is vulnerable defensively, that is no secret, but he can definitely play in the central midfield role, when we play with two pivots.”

Exactly what Van Basten and Gullit said in the Rondo talkshow.

“Yes but I don’t need them to tell me. Everyone knows this. But I have options. I can play De Roon if I want to build in more defensive strength. Or Berghuis, Taylor or even Wieffer if I want to play more offensive.”

Would you risk it with Wieffer in his debut match? Against France?

“Sure, why not? When you’re part of the squad, you’re part of the squad. He will have to show me, of course, during practice here, but I saw him play against Ajax, and Shaktar and those are games at a high level and he was great. I also added Veerman to the mix, we’re not in bad shape at all and Frenkie is a player who – like any player – can get injured or suspended so we need to find ways to cope.”

How bad was the news for you, that Luuk de Jong and Vincent Janssen withdrew from international football?

“Bad bad…. it was a surprise. I would never expect a player to say thanks to Oranje but hey, times change. I mean, Luuk is getting on and his body might need the rest at times. I respect that. He’s 32 and started his pro life at 17 or so? 15 years of knocks and pushes and battles. It’s a shame because he is definitely one of the best headers in the game in Europe, but like Janssen, he wouldn’t be a starter. Vincent has a young family and I think the pace of today’s game forces him to slow down. I think we demand too much of our players. All these matches, it’s nuts.”

Do we now have a strikers problem?

“Nah. I don’t think so. Gakpo plays striker for Liverpool. Memphis at Atleti. We have Danjuma who will hope that Kane moves on, we have Brobbey, Dallinga, Malen, Lang and even Simons can play there. Oh and Weghorst. I think we will manage.”

And the goalies?

“I understand there was a highly scientific approach re: the goalies. I’m a simple man and the father of a goalkeeper and I think a goalie needs to stop balls from going into the net. With Cillesen, Flekken, Bijlow and now also Verbruggen we have good goalies. Cillesen has years in him still, and the others obviously too. Noppert is top as well, but injured now and I can see more good goalies in the Eredivisie, like Olij and Vaessen. We – again – should be ok.”

There was some surprise re: Frimpong versus Geertruida and Tete?

“I can understand this, but I have a simple answer. Geertruida can play RB in a 4-3-3, he can also play central defender really well, and he can play also in the defensive mid role in midfield. Frimpong for me is more a wingback or even a right winger! He is excellent in Van Gaal’s system, so to speak. I think Geertruida is a better defender, Frimpong excellent in attack. But defenders need to be able to defend.”

Dumfries is suspended of course, for the France game. Tete was quite annoyed with the snub, he made some public comments about it. It felt like you were playing with his balls?

“I didn’t hear him say it, and he might have used this as a metaphor. I’m not impressed but I will call him after these matches and suss him out. I don’t think he has anything to complain. I got him into the squad again and I have gotten him into this prelim squad. I think Geertruida has been impressing way longer than Tete, who is only back at full form since this season. But I will call him up and see how he is.”

So Geertruida versus Mbappe? 

“Yes why not. Or Timber.”

How do you see this qualifications group?

“I think we’ll need to be at our best versus all opponents. The onus is onus is on us and France. Two nations qualify and that should be us. But you can easily get into trouble against one of the others. Maybe not Gibraltar but even that match will not be an easy one. They never are. But if we don’t qualify, I will have failed.”

Are you positive about our future? Talent development?

“I am very positive. Look at the level of the Dutch clubs these days. Sure, Feyenoord is top, Ajax is always top, PSV will be there, but now AZ and FC Twente are joining in, Sparta, NEC and RKC are performing ever so well, our overall level is going up. And there is excellent talent, all over the place. Xavi Simons, Summerville at Leeds, Struijk at Leeds, Huissen at Juventus, we have Wieffer now, I still believe in Rensch and Teze, I can see talent at Ajax and Feyenoord, like Hartman. And it’s great to see a player like Malen getting back into shape, Lang and Danjuma are still young. We develop some great central defenders too, there is Botman, Struijk, Schuurs and Micky van de Ven, Bjorn Meijer, I mean truly… The future is bright.”

And you also seem to be keen to bring Wijnaldum back?

“For me, Wijnaldum always needs to be part of Oranje, as long as he’s fit. He always delivered under me. I am not saying it was Van Gaal’s problem, as Gini could indeed have a lesser period, it happens, but I can only refer to his many goals, his partnership with Memphis, his work ethics, I mean… Gini is top class. It’s not for nothing that the Liverpool midfield struggled without him.”

How do you rate Xavi Simons?

“He is a tremendous talent. From a footballing perspective, he’s a top class and his mentality is even better. He is not here to do tricks or to make pannas, he wants to win matches. Whenever he plays, something happens. That is really good to see.”

What do you expect from France?

“I think they will play their usual compact game. They want to create space for MBappe and they won’t press high. The pitch will be small when we have the ball and we need to be neat in possession and create options for triangles. And our rest defence needs to be top notch. We will need some training sessions for this, still.”

My eleven for the France game:


Geertruida  –  Timber – Van Dijk – Ake

Marten de Roon – Daley Blind – Wijnaldum

Xavi Simons – Weghorst – Memphis

Result: 2-2 (goals Memphis and Wijnaldum and two own goals by Daley)

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A third term for Louis van Gaal

It’s official. We knew this was going to happen for weeks of course, but in typical Louis style, he took the reins of this negotiations period and stamped his authority on the matter.

He wanted the KNVB management to come to him (in Portugal) and he needed a lot of conditions signed off. His team of people, of course. Rumour has it, that should he qualify for Qatar, he’ll have a staff larger than the squad, to give you one example. But another cause of delay was the whole financial situation.

You see, Louis has gathered around 25Mio euros on his account, from all his activities as a coach. And as he lives in Portugal, officially, he is seen as a foreigner for tax purposes. Once he starts to work in Holland, for a Dutch organisation, the Dutch tax department slaps him with a bill for wealth-tax. And that could well be a bill that goes into the millions. So they needed to find a solution for this.

In the deliberations with the Dutch tax office, it was established that if Louis can cap his working days in Holland under a certain number of days (I believe it’s 80 days), this rule will not apply.

Some serious calculations resulted in good news: with all the work he needs to do for Oranje in other countries (away games in Norway, etc) and with the option to use a country like Portugal or Austria as a base for pre-tournament training camps, it will be possible for Louis to limit his days actually working/being in Holland. Pfff….

With that out of the way, Louis presented his dream team: no more place for Dwight Lodeweges (who signed as assistant coach at PEC Zwolle) and Pat Lodewijks. In come Danny Blind (Louis’ longstanding right hand man), Frans Hoek (the trusted keeper trainer) and … Henk Fraser, the current Sparta coach. The players have stressed that they preferred to have one coach on the staff who shared the cultural background of the coloured lads. Ruud Gullit was an option, Seedorf was mentioned, and many other names came by, but for good reason, the KNVB picked Henk Fraser.

Gullit and Seedorf probably didn’t want to play third fiddle anyway.

Either way, Fraser should be considered the first assistant, despite what the media tell you. Danny Blind is not so much a field trainer, Danny is simply the best analyst and scout Louis has and they have trusted relationship. A bit like Dick Advocaat and Cor Pot. There is a trust relationship, they only need half a glance. Danny and Louis go back all the way to the 1980s when they played together at Sparta.

Henk Fraser also started at Sparta and had a short spell with both Van Gaal and Blind. He was a striker, originally, but at FC Utrecht they transformed him into a defender. He reached his peak at Feyenoord where he won the title alongside John de Wolf, now assistant coach at Feyenoord.

Fraser became a sought after coach. Initially as youth coach at Feyenoord and PSV. Players like Memphis and Wijnaldum worked with him there. He would have his successes at ADO Den Haag and Vitesse, where he won the only prize Vitesse ever won: the National Cup. People expected him to move to Feyenoord as a coach, but he decided on Sparta. His first club, where one of his close friends is currently technical director, Henk van Stee.

Fraser is indeed considered to be one of the best coaches working in Holland at the moment. Very balanced guy, excellent communicator, disciplined and tough when need be and a fan of attacking and attractive, technical football.

You won’t be surprised if the KNVB has decided that should we qualify for the World Cup AND if we do ok (whatever that is), Henk will be the successor to Louis van Gaal and will be NT manager post the World Cup. I think it’s an excellent choice. Initially, Henk will combine his assistant role with his role as Sparta Head Coach.

The courting of Van Gaal resulted in some spicy news items. There is this rumour that when Koeman left Oranje, the players pleaded with the KNVB not to hire Van Gaal. The rumour has it that Virgil van Dijk, Memphis and Wijnaldum in particular didn’t want to work with him. Van Dijk has slammed an English reporter recently, who brought this item to the fore again, with a fierce “shame on you!” message on Insta.

Memphis is usually not so diplomatic. The Barca forward worked with Van Gaal at the 2014 World Cup and was signed by Louis for Man United as well. The former PSV star: “I see this as a positive step. I worked with him at Man United as he signed me on my 20st. He also took me in with Oranje for the World Cup. I have had amazing moments with him and learned a lot. When I went to Man United, I entered a new phase in my career and I had good and less good experiences with him, but that was also me, I was young and still had to learn a lot. Overall, I’m positive. I know he will have a positive impact on the squad and he can build a successful team, I’m convinced of that. This is what we need.”

Marco van Basten: “If you want to get a guy in who will get the best results, he’s probably the best option. He has proven that he can do that. The way he does it, his methods, you can question but he is an allround coach and maybe the disciplinarian that the group needs now.”

Rafa van der Vaart doesn’t think his age and the fact he was retired already are a problem. “That is not an issue, I don’t think. His age as well, he probably has many more good years in him. He is simply the best we have. The football in 2014 might not have been the best, but he does make something happen. His staff is also quite active still, with Fraser and Danny Blind, so they’ll be in good hands.”

Ex Ajax coach Aad de Mos: “It’s a law in football. After a relaxed coach, squads need a more disciplined coach. From democracy to authoritarian and then it’s logical you end up with Louis. He is a very strong tactician. No one can do what he can, in terms of analysing what he needs for a successful tournament. I saw his presentation to the KNVB back in 2014, where he predicted literally everything that would happen. That was powerful. You need international experience, having played European matches and understand the international football trends. He ticks all the boxes.

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Frankly, Oranje was Boering….

It’s tough to be a coach. Imagine, if Robben had lifted the ball an inch higher, Bert van Marwijk would have been an amazing coach! If Malen would have scored vs the Czechs, who knows… Frank might have won us the Euros. That is how tight it can be.

But… Malen didn’t score. De Ligt did handle the ball. And Frank has been lost in his own convictions.

Back in 2019, Oranje was in the finals of the Nations League. Now, we can’t get past the first knock-out round, vs a mid-tier European football nation. The only consolation: we did as well as France, Portugal and Germany. Yay!

De Boer has evaluated his own performance and has concluded: it’s not working. And if he wouldn’t have had this insight, the KNVB would have confronted him with that.

Where is the drive, the quest for attacking football, for creative solutions, the positioning play and the swagger? The ambition to have the ball, to create, to dominate? Everything what makes Oranje Oranje was melting before our eyes.

The Czechs brought their team of mid-tier players: they are with Hoffenheim, Brescia, Hellas Verona, Leverkusen and West Ham. Our team? Two Barca players. A Juve player, an Inter champ, a player of PSG, several Ajax players… So, if your players are better, in terms of level, how come your team doesn’t reflect this?

The Frank de Boer Evaluation.

The System: a Fat Minus. Sure, systems and bags of money won’t score goals, or handle the ball. But why did Frank want the 5-3-2 system so rigidly? Koeman tried it and quickly went back to the 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3. “This is more like us, how we play and this is how our players know how to play,” was what the current Barca coach said. De Boer decided to call some colleagues. Ex national team managers. He talked to Van Marwijk, to Van Gaal, Koeman and potentially also to Gullit, Rijkaard and Van Basten. His questions: What will I be confronted with? Which issues do I need to tackle? All these people felt in that conversation that De Boer had his mind set on a 5-3-2. Why? His response: it’s easier to press forward, with this system. The only benefit it had: a 5-3-2 would allow the coach to play all his top defenders. When Van Dijk is back, we can play a back line with Blind – Van Dijk – De Vrij – De Ligt – Dumfries. Not bad.

And, Memphis can have his free role. He doesn’t need to be stuck to the left flank ( 4-3-3) or be the lone striker (4-2-3-1).

However, only two players play this system week in week out: De Vrij and De Roon. And De Vrij said in an interview recently, that it took Conte 2 years (!) to work and practice with the team day in day out, to perfect the system. De Boer had 3 weeks.

At the same time, Memphis, De Ligt and Wijnaldum all three expressed their doubts after the first friendlies playing this system, but De Boer was steadfast!

The Execution: A Fat Minus. Which match did we play above average? The North Macedonia one? A match that didn’t really matter anymore. And still, the opponent scored twice (off side) and hit the post.

But while Frank De Boer told everyone that he saw improvements, game after game, the first knock-out game was an implosion felt all the way in Atlanta, London and Milan. Sure, we had some bad luck: Malen could have had a better touch. De Ligt should have cleared the ball after the first bounce. Stekelenburg dropping a ball and turn it into a corner kick. But is it just bad luck?

The Choices: a Fat Minus. Mathijs de Ligt might now be the personification of the bad decision making of Oranje. He lost control over the situation, over the ball… Allowed it to bounce twice, then he slipped and then he decided to handle the ball. Wow. It’s remarkable how vulnerable he was on his two feet. Just like it seemed other were also digging very deep. Memphis could be seen out of breath, after an hour of play, while Frenkie and Wijnaldum complained they had “heavy legs”.

De Ligt was one of the players quizzing the coach about his choice to play 5-3-2. There were more questions: why did he not use De Vrij and De Ligt in their usual roles: De Ligt right CB and De Vrij centrally, like he does at Inter? De Boer never answered that. He decided to invite Donny van de Beek into the squad, while the ex Ajax player barely had any game time. He sent Cillesen away after a positive corona test, while Spain was happy for Busquets to take some time off and wait for a negative result.

There’s more. Van de Beek got injured but De Boer decided he didn’t need a 26th player. Why? First, Ryan Babel was considered essential and right before the Euros he dropped him. He could have invited him back in, but he didn’t, just like he didn’t want to replace Luuk de Jong.

And Donyell Malen, the most dangerous attacker v the Czechs was subbed off, because “the data said he couldn’t go on.” Malen himself had other ideas about that! And by taken Malen off, he took the only penetrative threat away, giving the Czechs even more comfort in playing out the final 20 minutes of the game.

Result: a Fat Minus. It was under his management that we missed the finals for the Nations League. Ok, it wasn’t all under his spell, but still. The first qualification games for the World Cup ended up with damage, after the 4-2 beating vs the Turks. And what was the end result of the system change for the Euros?

We have not made any progress under this coach. There is no foundation for the future. Take the matches in June: Scotland, Georgia, Ukraine, Austria and North Macedonia. Even the Czechs, we haven’t played against any top nation and still we got in trouble. Oranje hardly ever shone, maybe apart from Dumfries!

Frank de Boer abandoned Koeman’s success formula, because it would give us more defensive certainty. Well… It didn’t pan out. And we will be watching Denmark – Chech Republic while the Oranje players are at Ibiza.

The worst thing: he would do it all over again! “Yes, I think the 3-5-2 is a great system for us. We were more dominant against the Czechs, we didn’t give a lot away. Until Malen’s miss and Mathijs’ hand ball, we were fine. This is not due to the system. Our wing backs did well, our midfield knows how to play this, but you need to be sharp and focused at all times.”

De Boer thinks it’s bad luck and some players lacking form. But if you can’t dominate with this system and end up with zero shots on goal against the Czechs, something is wrong.

Still, it’s too easy to blame it all on De Boer. The people who put him there also need to be evaluated. Eric Gudde, general manager of the KNVB, is on his way out, towards retirement. Nico Jan Hoogma, the technical director, will be in his role for a bit longer, one would expect.

And one of the baffling quotes he came up with today, was “We are going to look for another coach, type Koeman!”. What the F!! if you want a type like Koeman, then do all you can to get Koeman! If he’s not available, you should stop naming his name. Any coach (Zidane, Wenger, Low, Ten Hag) will think: Ah… ok. They want Koeman. That is not me.

It’s time to act, to talk to the different coaches available. Dutch, Italian or German, who cares. I’d follow Van Hanegem’s advice and I would call Zidane. Why not? National Team coach is a very nice job. You travel, you watch football and you work at a leisurely pace. And when the Euros or World Cup are there, you’re thrown into a pressure cooker. Perfect job! I’m sure many big name coaches would pick up the phone, with a chance to lead Oranje and its amazing potential of top players (Frenkie, Memphis, Malen, Gakpo, Rensch, Timber, Gravenberch, Dumfries, Wijndal, Koopmeiners, Stengs, Boadu, Simons, Ihattaren, Bijlow, Malacia, De Ligt, Van de Beek, Teze, Schuurs) to a World Cup title.

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Boycott the Qatar World Cup!

I’m terribly sorry guys… As you know, I’m a huge football fan and I would love to see our NT compete at the World Cup, and maybe win it some time, I have to say… what is going on in Qatar is disgraceful…

I watched this documentary on it and decided quite quickly afterwards, that as far as I am concerned, this whole “Slavery” World Cup can be banned, boycotted and ignored.

We see all these wonderful initiatives across the globe to end injustice. Whether race wars, gender inequality, the gap between rich and poor, it’s all basically injustice that we are battling here.

In The Netherlands, the banning of Black Pete (“Zwarte Piet” as part of the Sinterklaas celebrations) was the key topic, in other countries we saw demonstrations or riots even… One particular bad joke in Veronica Inside, made by Johan Derksen – the Godfather of football journalism in The Netherlands, was the cause for the Dutch internationals to actually boycott that particular tv program.

Which is fine. Football players can decide to ban someone, why not? I have no problem with this. What I do find difficult though, is that these same players will go and play in Qatar, knowing that human rights are non existent there, and 1000s of people died in horrific circumstances, building football temples for the privileged.

So, as a football fanatic but also humanitarian, I had to create a petition to get the KNVB / National Team to boycott this World Cup.

We haven’t even qualified for it, yet. But no matter. And I also want to push the English, Germans, Belgiums, Danes etc to do the same. It’s simply something we can not and should not condone much longer.

FIFA makes billions on the broken backs of illegal Nepalese, Indian and Pakistani workers… it’s disgusting.

Sorry guys. I will stand by my words and also boycott the World Cup with my blog. Sad but true.

I hope you will be kind to me and sign your name….


Do you agree? Leave comments below please….

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Blind leading the Blind….

Right after witnessing the dreadful result of Oranje vs Bulgaria I was livid. Pissed off. Frustrated. Flabbergasted. No Sneijder. De Ligt making mistakes, Martins Indi out of position and in the highlights reel (?!) no decent flowing attack from Oranje.

This was the first time I felt Blind failed miserably.

After the game, Blind was interviewed and he basically said.

“We all failed. I failed too. I had such a good feeling over the last months and I’m as devastated and disappointed as you are. At this stage, I cannot say what exactly went wrong. We didn’t start aggressive, we let them win the second ball and we got ourselves in a pickle in the first minute already. De Ligt made a mistake, yes, but that was early in the game. We could have turned it around. But again, we were too soft in defence and when it was 2-0 in the first 20 minutes, I knew we had a way back into the game. Unfortunately, we did get three chances but failed to take them. We all failed. I will need to do some soul searching and look in the mirror to weigh my own decisions and question where we went wrong. But this is my responsibility and I’ll take it of course.”

Some media and even players felt the coach was here already showing his lack of fight, his lack of belief. I do not agree at all. I think a coach is actually strong when he says “I need to do some self analysis and look in the mirror”. He was criticised badly months ago when he was asked what he did wrong in 2016. He basically said: ” Not much”. Then it was not good. And now he does open up to potential mistakes, its not good either…

danny lacht

Then he was asked whether he’d throw the towel. “I expect to sit on the bench for the Italy game but after that we will need to analyse this debacle. And I know how it works in football, my management might feel enough is enough. That is how it works. But I am still full of belief.”

Again, the media said that he was offering his head on a plate to be axed. And the only reason why he didn’t resign was to be able to collect the exit handshake…

I do believe Blind was responsible for the dreadful game. But not him alone, as I said before.

I also believe he has a lot to learn and some shortcomings. But… I despise the vultures (in the Dutch media mainly) who came out to seek blood and were screaming for the head of Blind.

The cowardly KNVB did what they do – kneejerk reactions – and without proper analysis, they kicked Blind out.

2016-09-01 20:39:39 EINDHOVEN - Michael van Praag (L), Gijs de Jong (2eR) en Johan Lokhorst (R) van de KNVB op de tribune voorafgaand aan de oefeninterland Nederland - Griekenland in het Philips Stadion. ANP KOEN VAN WEEL

Again, don’t get me wrong: maybe it is the best decision, but it looked like a witch hunt to me and to fire a coach one day after a loss does mean to me that 1) the knives were sharpened already and 2) the decision was made purely on emotion.

Blind has been accused of making rash decisions on player selections.

That was his prerogative, for me. Van Gaal did that. Van Basten did that. Michels did that. That should not be a reason to villify a coach.

Another comment is that he doesn’t inject passion in the players. Huh??? Is that his job? Was Van Marwijk so passionate? Rijkaard? Arsene Wenger? England coach Gareth Southgate? Carlo Ancelotti?


Is it too much to ask for well paid players to come to Oranje and find the passion themselves? Do you think Van Hanegem, Neeskens, Davids, Van Bommel needed their coach to put some venom in their veins?

Some people say Blind was inexperienced. Well, Hiddink was extremely experienced, look how he did… Dick Advocaat in 2004, very experienced…. Louis van Gaal in 2000, pretty experienced… The arguments are all “created” to justify the sacking.

We’re looking for reasons to be able to say: he needs to go, he is not good enough…

All these players after the match, telling the cameras how much they support their coach. Well, you do this on the pitch! In the 90 minutes vs Bulgaria (same level as FC Utrecht, to me). That is where you demonstrate your support.

Kevin Strootman is one of the key midfielders in the Serie A and he was not having a great day. Was that Danny Blind’s fault?

This whole episode is just another step in the Major Debacle executive produced by the KNVB….

One of the comments made by interim commercial director (!) Jean Paul Decossaux is: we should not have agreed to have Blind appointed already beforehand in case Hiddink left. That whole announcement of Hiddink as first coach and Blind as his successor was wrong.

2017-03-26 08:15:16 SOFIA - Bondscoach Danny Blind (M) en assistent Fred Grim met Jean-Paul Decossaux (R), de commercieel directeur van de KNVB een dag na de verloren WK-kwalificatiewedstrijd van het Nederlands elftal tegen Bulgarije. ANP KOEN VAN WEEL
Fred Grim, Danny Blind, Jean Paul Decossaux in Sofia

Yes Mr Decossaux that is correct. Its on you (or Bert van Oostveen).

And now it is up to Hans van Breukelen, an ex goal keeper and motivational speaker, with no – and I mean zero!! – experience in managing in football, with dodgy ties to a company of scam artists, and interim (part time!!!!!) commercial director Whatshisname to come up with a name of a new coach. And to have to instruct this new coach in what it is we want…

It is debilitating! Two clowns are in charge of the asylum. And KNVB chairman Michael van Praag (former chair of Ajax and widely recognised as a proper federation executive) has decided to re-structure the whole KNVB, which will take till January 2017. And until that time, no need appointments will be made.

So Hans and Ad Interim  will rule.

I think I would have preferred Danny Blind in the role for a bit longer…

Unless Louis van Gaal wants to step in, but I can’t see him doing that. Frank de Boer, still licking his wounds. Ronald Koeman, not interested.

Henk ten Cate might well be the only real candidate. He’s got the discipline of Van Gaal, the Ajax/Barca DNA of beautiful football, experience and he is highly rated at the KNVB. He was consulting them last year on the technical development side of things, so I can imagine he was already informed some time back to keep his KNVB tie ready and drycleaned.

LVG Blind

When a – not functioning and not complete – management team of the KNVB wants to make some major decisions, its important to assess and judge the situation properly. I cannot imagine that the KNVB has done so in the last 24 hours.

If I was in a decision making role in that management, I would have called Van Gaal, Hiddink, Van Hanegem, Advocaat and Adriaanse for some insights. And I would have invited Sneijder, Robben and Strootman for a meeting.

Based on their insights and assessment, I would have done a performance evaluation with Blind. And yes, sacking was probably the outcome, but with a clear indication of where the issues lie and how to deal with them.

And if players – certain players – sabotaged this NT manager, I would have “sacked” those players as well….

But… the KNVB felt it had two options: leave the coach for the Italy game and have 40,000 fans yell and boo at him, or relieve him now and have assistant coach Fred Grim take the reigns as interim manager. The KNVB picked the second option.

Fred Grim, a coach with only Jupiler League experience, aided by Frans Hoek, a keeper trainer.  And this chapter is just another one in a horrific Stephen King novel, which started in 2014… Van Gaal left, Hiddink was his “logical” replacement. Really? With Blind tagged on as the pre-determined successor. With the instructions to Hiddink to go for 4-3-3. Which Hiddink abandoned very soon in the campaign, prompting Bert van Oostveen (who??) to reprimande Hiddink publically. That was probably where it all went south for Guus. The management and board of the KNVB ended up in chaos. Two assistant coaches ran for the exit. Bert van Oostveen was promoted away from the bridge of the ship and his successor Gijs De Jong had to step down under pressure of the clubs who demanded transparency… What a super mess!


Danny Blind was not a bad choice. But he was the wrong man at the wrong time. With his high falluting Ajax ideals, he was confronted with mediocre quality (Janssen, Dost, Promes, Berghuis) and fading glory (Sneijder, Van Persie, Van der Vaart)..

Blind did not have the experience, the shrewdness and the charisma to withstand all the criticism the nation had on the disappointing results and performances. The start of the WC campaign (Sweden, Belarus) wasn’t that terrible. As Blind said: I was quite positive about our trajectory upwards… But one shit match and a bad decision (De Ligt) later and it’s all over.

And with empty spots in the KNVB management, a technical director whom no one takes seriously it all came down to the part time commercial director Decossaux – who is responsible for sponsoring! – to decide to let Blind go and more importantly: who the new man will be…

Like I said before: meet the new boss, he’s the same as the old boss…

So in the near future, a new coach will be working on the basis of the same visionary principles (KNVB) as Blind and will have to pick from the same player universe and will have a couple of days to get them prepared for another match….

Do we really expect magic from this new coach?

We like to point at Belgium these days. That is how we want it. A modern international coach and buckets full of tremendous talent. Well, they missed 5 major tournaments and it took them 12 years to get back to the top, going from crisis to crisis and from team manager to team manager….


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Breaking news! KNVB taken over by cult!!

My friends, I’m sorry I had to push the Van Persie top story aside so quickly. Hope you still enjoy reading that if you haven’t already. But this is too hot to ignore. The title of the post might assume an April’s Fool angle or an exaggeration? Well, it’s not April 1, and yes, it might be exaggerated but it is an astonishing development.

All you will read here has been uncovered by investigative journalists of De Telegraaf. One of the best and most influential (and largest) newspapers in the country (in particular in sports). Their main competitor (Algemeen Dagblad) is the official spokes daily for the KNVB, so this news will not really appear in that medium. Chris van Neijnatten was the sports chief editor of the AD and he is currently head press relations at the KNVB, so there you go.

Anyway… what is the story?

You know that Hans van Breukelen was appointed Technical Director of the KNVB and the boss of Danny Blind and all KNVB’s football related activities.

In the same time frame he came in, chaos happened. The Board of Directors resigned collectively (bar one), general manager Van Oostveen was side lined and his successor will not be appointed until April 2017. This leaves the KNVB in the hands of the part time (interim) manager, who is in charge of commercial / business matters.

There were dramas with team manager Hans Jorritsma and two assistants to Blind resigned. Advocaat, to chase more cash and glamour with Fener and Van Basten went after his dreamjob at FIFA, although the appointment of Van Breukelen may well have had an impact. Replacement assistant Ruud Gullit firmly declined to deal with Van Breukelen after he told Ruud some fibs.

oostveen goes

Bert van Oostveen, report author Jelle Goes, KNVB Chair Michael van Praag

You all know this.

What you don’t know (and what was uncovered this weekend) is that Hans (or De Breuk, as he is called) has been part of a Dutch sports consultancy company (BTSW – Buro for Applied Sciences) for 15 years. And the people who work there as “mental coaches” and “peak performance consultants” and “team building mentors” and “psychologists” have all seem to have found their way into the KNVB in some form or other. All on the payroll and/or consultancy roles at different levels. The Technical Manager Jelle Goes, Youth Academy manager, the coaching development manager, all sorts of jobs at the KNVB filled by people 1) no one heard of before in football and 2) all partners/working for this company. All colleagues of De Breuk, for years.

Jelle Goes is the author of the much maligned report “Winners of Tomorrow”.

Joost Leenders, mental coach of Memphis Depay, amongst others, is now the new coach of the Under 18s and is BTWS ambassador.

Frans de Kat is youth coordinator – also of BTWS) and has worked for Arsenal and claims to have firmed up an agreement with Arsenal for youth development activities.

What you also don’t know is that the website of BTSW (now taken down, apparently) boasts relationships with all sorts of artists, musicians, clubs which clearly are all made up. The likes of FC Groningen, Arsenal, rapper Ali B and other big names in entertainment and sports are used to boost the profile of this company, but all of these have now been taken down. Arsenal even published a press release saying they’re outraged their name was used. None of these people/organisations seem to want a public relationship with these pseudo psychologists (or psychos!).


Rini Stoutjesdijk

It goes even further: the founder of BTSW (Mr Stoutjesdijk, I believe) is an intense and dominant leader. An NLP (Neural Linguistic Programming) expert who operates like a sort of svengali and gets into people’s heads without them wanting this. A number of people have now come forward and claim this guy is 1) manipulative, 2) overpowering, 3) dangerous even…

Stoutjesdijk himself is the newly appointed mental coach for the Dutch women’s team….

What also came out, is that many athletes who have been “managed” by the psychos have suffered severe trauma and issues as a result of these people. And they wanted to come out. So a certain female author wrote a book about this and she actually called the company a “cult” with Stoutjesdijk as their cult leader. The victims, however, asked for their names and all the names of the people to be withheld and replaced by pseudonyms, for fear of retribution.

As a result, the book became a bit of a blank shot. Powerless. It read like fiction. And it never really made a mark. Until De Telegraaf uncovered all the real fact. The book was published (yes, was!) by a highly reputable publishing house but was taken off the market when the author was personally threatened by unknowns, with vicious threats. So the book is no longer available.

People who dealt with these psychos literally used the term brainwashing and are convinced Hans van Breukelen is actually a victim of this himself, being used by that company to get into a position of power in the KNVB to get control over sports talents in the Netherlands.


New PIM: Peter Blange

The newly appointed Performance and Innovation Manager (former Gold medallist volleyball star Peter Blange) also is linked to this BTSW group.

For people reading this and not being able to believe all this, here are some things about Hans van Breukelen you might not know:

  • Yes, he was an above average goal keeper, whose mental strength as often named as one of his strengths
  • Yes, Hans van Breukelen is considered a good man, with a good heart
  • Hans van Breukelen suffered severe depressions in his playing days
  • After losing a key game (vs Feyenoord) as a result of a major blunder by De Breuk, he self-confessed to have contemplated committing suicide
  • It’s also a fact – corroborated by ex team mates – that after a bad performance, Hans would decide himself to remove himself from group training for months, spending time alone (with a keeper trainer) as he couldn’t face working with other people out of shame
  • Hans did not do too much in football after his career but went into NLP and co-wrote two books about mental strength with….you guessed it….the CEO of that psycho company…
  • And Hans made his post-career money going around the country doing motivational speeches on leadership, most likely using it to bring clients to the consultancy firm

It might well be Hans is under the spell and firmly believes to be doing the right thing.


The infamous “polletje” incident vs Feyenoord

At a football talk show last weekend, Hans was the guest explaining to the analysts there (incl Pierre van Hooijdonk and Co Adriaanse) how he saw the future re: football development. Claiming that clubs have approached him with the question: “How can we determine if a player has the winning mentality?”. All analysts present fell off their chairs, claiming that 1) no club would ask this and 2) any youth coach not being able to see this for himself, would not be worthy of his job.

The talk show host cut De Breuk short all the time as he started rambling long stories about “assessment” and “mental guidance” and “structure” and “foundations”, asking De Breuk what was actually going to happen in terms of football development….

Where Wim Jansen (and people like Cruyff, Van Hanegem, Gullit and Van Basten) fully focus(ed) on football skills development, Van Breukelen’s only goal seems to be to push BTSW through the door!

Today, the KNVB board (the ones left) will discuss this new drama with Van Breukelen. The media in Holland are claiming there is only one option: sack Van Breukelen and kick out all the people linked to this weird company.

The company’s website was taken down yesterday.

Coming Friday, the author of De Telegraaf article will be on tv in Voetbal Inside with KNVB chairman Michael van Praag.

How interesting though, the man who is promoting the winning mindset within the KNVB might well be forced to throw the towel, as it seems that everything he touches fails and his commercial links with WTSB seems to hard to overcome, as he is clearly bringing his business buddies into the KNVB where ever he can….

I will keep you posted!

breuk accordeon

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Wim Jansen: revolutionise Dutch football! -pt 1

Quick reminder and request: please come check me out on Facebook and like me :-).

I will show my age with these words… But one of the most underrated players from the legendary WC1974 team was Wim Jansen. Defensive midfielder of Feyenoord. Robin to Van Hanegem’s Batman. And the glue that kept the Oranje 1974 team together. We had marauding Neeskens in midfield, conniving playmaker Van Hanegem and shining star JC up front. Wim Jansen kept the balance. For the young ones amongst us: see JC as Messi, Van Hanegem as Iniesta and Wim Jansen as Busquets. Very important for the team. Always diligent. Always aware. And always timing his challenges and positioning to perfection.

Another way for Wim to stand out was for being in the background and avoiding the spotlights. JC was the messiah, John Rep the face, Neeskens the gladiator and Van Hanegem the rock star. Wim Jansen was the quiet one.

wim oranje

After his long standing career at Feyenoord, Jansen played in the US (like Cruyff and Van Hanegem) and returned to Holland, to be lured to a very young and talented Ajax by Cruyff, to guide talents like Rijkaard. He was one of the first to don both jerseys and when Mr Feyenoord returned to De Kuip for an away game with Ajax, a so-called “supporter” threw an ice ball (it was winter time) on his face, damaging his eye. Jansen didn’t play that day.

He coached his beloved Feyenoord, set up the youth academy, coached Celtic with success and kept on working with youth all his life.

It’s common knowledge that Cruyff and Van Hanegem had a tremendous relationship on the pitch and deep respect for one another, but personality-wise, they were too different. Van Hanegem would call Cruyff on his BS and Cruyff felt Van Hanegem was a loose cannon. They didn’t spend much social time together. De Kromme: “Cruyff was the best ever, but I wouldn’t go to his birthday party. I wish him well but I’m not part of his coterie.”

Cruyff: “People say I was the best player, but if I played bad, I was useless for the team. Willem however, would hussle and battle and tackle if he didn’t play too well.”

Jansen and Van Hanegem were good friends. Lived in the same street in HI Ambacht (my home town, one block away from me) and shared duties at amateur club ASWH and played tennis locally. They were a tremendous team on the pitch.

willem jansen happel

The terminally ill success coach Ernst Happel, De Kromme and Wim Jansen

However, Jansen and Cruyff were best buddies. They had an understanding beyond words (on the pitch and off) and developed their football vision in conjunction. Cruyff with a focus on top level football (Ajax, Barcelona and indirectly AC Milan, Arsenal, Liverpool and Man
United) while Jansen focused on youth development.

If there is one guru in youth football today in Holland, it’s him. And if there is one guy the Dutch federation should have asked for advice to help patch up our football identity, it was him. But instead, the KNVB appointed former goalie Hans van Breukelen (who never coached in his life), who in turn went on to give out job offers to former waterpolo, volleyball and ice-skating coaches… Luckily, all of them turned the job down, under pressure from the many football pundits in Holland.

Some background on that KNVB strategy: when it was clear we were heading towards a quality gap in the post Van Marwijk days (post Van Persie/Vaart/Sneijder/Robben/Van Bommel/Van Bronckhorst) and we missed the Euro 2016 tournament, the federation decided to make plans.

breuk knvb

They decided to appoint a Technical Director (up until then, former burocrat Bert van Oostveen made the strategic technical decisions!!) and kick start a think tank of people to come up with a strategy going forward.

That, in itself, was a good idea. But the execution wasn’t that wonderful. They picked Hans van Breukelen (over people like Henk ten Cate, Rene Meulensteen, Wim Jansen, Marcel Brands, Martin van Geel, Co Adriaanse) and created think tank with 20+ people. This obviously resulted in a committee report full of cliches, but without cojones. Design by committee.

With the key objective: “Oranje to be back at the world top in 2026!”. WTF!!!

Finally, Wim Jansen – who declined to be part of that Think Tank for obvious reasons – has agreed to an interview to give us his views. It makes for compelling reading and I invite you to share your thoughts…. From the daily newspaper De Telegraaf:

“Dutch football wants to go back to the top, but the KNVB appears to have taken the wrong exit, according to Wim Jansen. He played two World Cup finals for Holland, co-developed Dutch world domination with Feyenoord and Oranje and developed the top class youth academy at Feyenoord (and indirectly: Ajax). “I don’t do this interview for me, but for the top talents we do have and who deserve the best treatment.”


He is not interested in reading the KNVB report “Winner of Tomorrow” anymore. He knows it by heart. And he doesn’t like it. The KNVB objective is to be world class again in 2026. “But you will need to act on it now, then. But the emphasis is on physical and mental development. Higher demands on our defenders. These ideas are far removed from what is needed to be the absolute top.”

“Our football culture and style have been copied for 50 years now, by other nations. They all came to Holland to see how we do things. And now, our Federation is telling us to abandon this vision. They want to change what we do without any guarantee this will work. This strategy is irresponsible.”

jansen now

Jansen Now

“Physical and mental development are not the foundation of football. They are merely in service of football. It can never be leading. If you can’t play, physical strength and mental strength will bring you nothing. Top football is done on the basis of ball skills, technique, tactics and team play. Those ingredients will make a team top. Look at Spain, Germany.. Two top nations. Are Iniesta, Xavi, Griezmann, Ozil, De Bruyne so strong physically and mentally? is that what you think of them when you think of them? Or see them play? It’s their ball control and vision.”

Wim Jansen is still honing his skills. He is never ready with learning. He is still in charge of Feyenoord’s youth academy and works with the nations top academics in the field of neuro-psychology (Professor Scherder) and mobility sciences (Professor Savelsbergh) and is working on talent development day and night.

And this is where his biggest beef sits. The KNVB does not want to make the distinction between top football and recreational football. He agrees with Johan Cruyff for years and has had hour long debates about the development of football in Holland. Years ago, both stated with conviction that clubs need to develop pro-football and the Federation should develop recreational football.

jansen jc

The KNB has changed the training foundation of youth teams by adopting the so-called Twin Games. Teams split and playing on smaller pitches or even quarter pitches. “Unacceptable,” Jansen says. “Our new plan at youth level is now playing on quarter pitches? Why? The current system (7 v 7 on half pitches, 9 v 9 from box to box or 11 v 11 on full pitches) is the best. This will give young players a sense of space. Football is a game of time and space. The smaller the space at youth level, the harder the step up. The KNVB says they make the pitch smaller to copy the old street football from way back. As if “size of the pitch” is key. Its not. Street football was all about being able to play whenever you wanted. You learn things in street football, like dealing with bad surfaces, or playing with obstacles, like sewer manholes or curbs. Or pebbles, or street cobbles being uneven. I played street football but my friends didn’t make me better. I started to become better when I played in the Feyenoord youth with bigger players on a full pitch. And playing real matches, against top teams. So you need to bring talent together as young as possible and make them train together and play against other top talents. Your individual skills can be improved on the street, like Brazilian players learn ball control on the beach and with bare feet. But the development of becoming a team player is on a real pitch, actual size. The biggest ball magicians will fail once they have to play on a real pitch, because space can be your friend or your enemy. Remember John de Bever and Arie Riedijk? They were the best futsol players in the world, at one stage. Incredible technique. But the failed to make the step up to real football.

jansen cruyff

Jansen vs Cruyff

Football on a big pitch changes the game, it’s another dimension and the big pitch is the real judge and jury for football talents. In practice, you can work on technique and handling speed, but top football is played on 7000 square meters. So take the shortest route to that. If you want to attack, the first thing a coach will say is to find the space. Make the pitch wide, so you can move into space. If you need to defend, you make the pitch smaller.”

Jansen shakes his head… “The KNVB says we need to learn to defend better… I think it’s the other way around. 80% of our attacks come to nothing. I think we need to improve there. And the sooner the better. And don’t forget: as long as you have the ball, they can’t score. And you don’t need to defend. Do you think Luis Enrique at Barca is figuring out ways to defend better?”

Wim Jansen thinks the emphasising on defensive qualities is misplaced. “Remember the last classic between Feyenoord and Ajax. Ajax is leading, 1-0. It’s only 5 minutes on the clock. The tallest defender of Ajax, Dijks, marks the Feyenoord forward on the wrong side. The result, he is half a yard late when the cross comes in. Kuyt is able to dive to the ball right across him and scores. A little mistake, with a big result. It had nothing to do with physical strength. But everything with positioning, reading the game, vision and feeling for space. At that point, the smaller Kuyt won against the big, strong Dijks.”


Jansen himself was 35 years old playing as sweeper of Ajax, next to Rijkaard. In the winter of his career, he wasn’t the tallest nor the quickest. But he was one of the smartest.

At Varkenoord, Feyenoord’s youth complex, he visits the clinics of the new talents. “These kids come play here for the first time. And what do they do? Dribble. And the first thing you notice is that their eyes are on the ball. So the first thing we teach them is to look over the ball. Trust your skills and keep your head up to see where the free man is, or where the space is, or what the opponent does. The next phase is, to let them make decisions. We give them free reign. He can pass, dribble or take on an opponent. We don’t tell them what to do. As long as they do. They need to decide themselves but they do need to learn to look for space.”

jansen rijkaard

Jansen mentoring Rijkaard

This is the exact opposite of the KNVB vision who want to see kids play on small pitches and force them to pass. “If you want to give them lots of ball touches, give them all a ball. That is what we do, partially. But the match is leading. Whether you’re 7 or 10. The match determines how good you really are and what you need to develop. And things you can’t do in a game, you start to work on in practice. It’s not like the training determines the match. It’s actually the other way around. The match determines what to train on. In reality, there’s 22 players and only one will have the ball. 21 players won’t have the ball. And they need to work on playing without the ball. Moving, finding space, positioning, this is so important.”

Every pro club in Dutch football needs to have a full youth academy. There are clubs now that don’t. Jansen: “What is our license committee doing? You shouldn’t be allowed to play pro football without a youth division. If you want to reach the top, you need to demand more from the clubs.”

marco patrick

“Why is Max Verstappen a world class F1 driver at 18 years old? Because he learned how to drive a cart and learned listen to the car from when he was 4 years old! Its not like he started driving an F1 car after getting his driving license. Max is competing in F1 now coz he started early. The ages between 6 and 18 are the years in which a talent develops into a real player. That is 12 years of development. Every day that he doesn’t learn something is a day lost. Being a pro player is a craft. A profession. And they need practice as much as possible. There is scientific proof that a kid learns best between 6 and 12 years old. You can teach players patterns very easily. And they do pick up the most from other players. I played with top players, like Cruyff, Van Hanegem, Israel, Kraay, Moulijn and boy did I learn.

People underestimate the profession of being a pro footballer. You need to have so many skills, it takes so many details. And you need to see and be able to execute it. Every time again. If it was easy, we had 1000s of Arjen Robbens, because everyone wants to be a world class player. But, we only have one. That tells you enough.

young arjen

“Today the youth teams of PSV, Feyenoord beat their opponents easily. But when they play international tournaments, they get often beaten. They learn more from their defeats than from winning. But we see less and less talents. Ajax and Feyenoord keep on winning youth academy awards but in the last two games I saw Ajax play (in the Eredivisie) I only saw four players that were developed in The Netherlands….”

Wim Jansen scores vs AC Milan, semi finals Europa Cup

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Jong Oranje failed!

I think hard and long about my post titles, and this is the one that won. Not “Lousy Italians steal victory”, not “Unlucky Jong Oranje leaves tournament with heads up high” and not “Cor Pot rested his players but it didn’t show”.

It was a horrific game to watch. I think for neutral viewers but definitely for Oranje fans.

In the first 5 minutes, we saw one yellow card and numerous referee forced stops. After 30 minutes, there were already 20 fouls. And of course a free kick on the post by Maher.

It took at least 25 minutes before we saw some flowing play (by Holland) and to be honest, that whole phase before the break was Holland’s most impressive, with good runs and plays on the left and right flank, with Wijnaldum and Van Rhijn on the one, and John and Blind on the other side.

We ended the first half with another free kick opportunity for Maher, who sadly missed the target, as the Italian goalie was frozen to the ground.

But all that didn’t result in a goal.

The second half was pretty one-sided until that one moment. The so-called attractive and attacking playing Italians played their traditional defensive game and Oranje simply was not good enough to break them down.

Only one real chance in that stage and the pull back from De Jong, beating the goalie, was 2 yards behind runner Van Ginkel. Not De Jong’s fault, in my book. It was too eagerly run by Van Ginkel. If he paced it, he would have had an easy tap in and if the ball was 2 yards in front of him he could have slid it in. Now, he forced De Jong to give a pinpoin accurate pass. Without De Jong being able to see where Van Ginkel was.

For all the rest of the effort, little to show for it. Ola John’s engine was out in the second half, Wijnaldum couldn’t get the combination going, Van Rhijn was indecisive, Maher active but unlucky, Van Ginkel made runs that weren’t rewarded and Strootman fought for all he could but never really contributed in the build up.

Pot responded with the usual, predictable changes. Depay for John was logical and the young PSV winger had some good spells. Van der Hoorn had to come on for the injured De Vrij and Fer came on late (too late for me) for Blind.

Van der Hoorn would unfortunately play a part in the Italian goal, where he clumsily “bit” in the trick and allowed the goal scorer to turn away and score.


But we didn’t lose this game because Van der Hoorn made a mistake.

We lost the game because the Italians were better, fitter and smarter.

And had more luck. One has to say. One ball on the post and a penalty shout in the first half, could have gone the other way of course.

But Holland needs to look into the mirror.

First to do so: the KNVB. If they take this tournament and this team seriously, why put Cor Pot in charge?

What is his claim to fame? How is he the youth development maestro? (See Spain, where their coaches move up through the system and “breathe” the Spanish style of football. Italy by the way, same deal).

The KNVB is the first to blame, with coach Cor Pot the second. Although I think he did what he could. He simply can’t do better than he did.

A team like this, with these prospects, a year before a World Cup deserves a coach of a different caliber. Someone like Ronald de Boer maybe? Phillip Cocu? Alphons Groenendijk? Jean Paul van Gastel? Jaap Stam? Alex Pastoor? Ron Jans? John van den Brom? John van ‘t Schip?

Someone with tactical smarts and who knows what it takes to win at the highest level.

Sure, you can say “the players had to do it and they didn’t”, but the players that were on the pitch were clearly not gelled into a swinging team.

Lets take the pace.

If you want to create chances against a defensive Italian side, you need to play with pace. High ball speed. Swift one touch / two touch passing. Simple but quick. And reach the wide players fast (so they are one on one) or play into the deepest man fast (so the midfielders can either move up or even overlap). None of this happened.

Lets take the build up patterns.

As I said before WHERE IS CLASIE? We need one player in midfield who can sit deep with defence, always available to take the ball and always ready to accelerate the game forwards. Against Germany, Russia and against Italy, none of the midfielders took that role. The reason is simple: Pot plays with three midfielders and the central one plays high. The other two mix up the tasks of box to box so one of the two came back to collect and build up, if the other went high up the park. Strootman is not bad at this, Van Ginkel is not used to it. He can do a lot but giving the killer pass is not what he is about. He even had clumsy loss of possession a number of times close to our last line of defence. This team – these central defenders – need a central midfielder who sits deep, not high. A player like Scholes, Xavi, Cabaye… A player like Clasie. Although Adam Maher can play that role too, mind you! So I missed that role (and that player). I would have played Strootman and Van Ginkel on left and right of midfield, with Van Ginkel free to make his forward runs. And I would have benched De Jong who is not that helpful against opponents like Italy and Spain. De Jong is great against lesser opponents. I would have played Adam Maher in the Messi role. The roaming center forward, making space for Wijnaldum and Van Ginkel and John.

That would be a dreamteam.

Still not convinced of Jeroen Zoet, I felt his clearances were poor and added to insecurity with Blind and Van Rhijn.

Italy won it deservedly, at the end of the day. More mature, more shrewdness. Not as bad as the Euro2000 semi finals, fortunately.

But we have learned valuable lessons this tournament.

The most valuable one: there is a LOT of work to be done. But Van Gaal is a coach who can handle that, at least.

We thank Cor Pot for all his contributions. I fear he was too lightweight for the job, but you can’t blame him for accepting the task of course.

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Bert will stay in the job

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

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

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

But in principle, Bert will stay on.

Your thoughts?

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Interview with KNVB CEO Van Oostveen

Pic: Bert van Marwijk signing till 2016, Bert van Oostveen gloats.

Before Friday July 6, we will know if Bert van Marwijk is going to remain Oranje’s team manager. Before that date, the KNVB will do an evaluation. “Bert deserves a real and honest evaluation,” says Bert van Oostveen, KNVB’s CEO.

“We will analyse this project 360 degrees.”

When Oranje leaves Krakow for the last time, Bert van Oostveen is driving on the A2 in Holland together.

That was quick?
“Well, there was nothing to do for me there anymore. The works has to be done here now. I need to brush up the splinters and get them together one more time to analyse it all.”

Is this the end of the team manager?
“What kind of question is this? That is not how it works. We always evaluate tournaments. And Bert deserves an honest and objective evaluation.”

“We will meet before we go on a holiday. I am leaving on July 6, so before that date.”

Van Oostveen was surprised by the atrocious physical condition of the Dutch team. “I want to know how it was that other teams were so much fitter than we were. I need to know as the CEO, but also as a fan? Everyone saw it? And I saw more things that surprised me. So we’ll approach this from all angles. 360 degrees. We cannot accept this scenario again ever and therefore we will scan it all. It’s not about missing chances on the pitch, but also about missing chances off the pitch.”

So what is the cost to the KNVB in total?
“Well, it is all under pressure now. We will lose our ranking position. We will be happy if we stay in the top 10!! And that means we will be less interesting as opponents. And we might lose money in ticket sales. It will be less. And we will all have to pull our weight a tad more now. We play the Turks in Amsterdam in September and we don’t want more Turkish fans than Dutch fans of course. On the other hand, our stature as vice world champs is still intact in Asia and South America, so we can probably leverage that by doing a trip in that direction.”

With the current coach?
“We’ll know soon enough!”

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