Tag: Krul

Analysis Oranje failure to qualify

Let’s look at the way we had to operate during qualifications.

And allow me to first draw your attention of the Pre-Qualification period.

1. WC 2014

Van Gaal decided to change the 4-3-3 tactics of Oranje drastically, to not get obliterated by the likes of Spain, Mexico et al at the Word Cup in Brazil. He worked diligently to get his players to get this game plan under their belt.

It didn’t work too well. Oranje’s best results came when he abandoned 5-3-2 at half time to play 4-3-3. The key thing for us though, was the quality of players like Robben, Vlaar, Sneijder and Memphis. We also got a bit lucky. Spain had a 2-0 opportunity (Silva), Australia had a massive chance to 2-3 which they missed and Oranje was given a soft penalty later in the tournament (was it Mexico?). The Costa Rica game, we couldn’t put to bed and we didn’t create much vs Argentina.


Our 3rd spot was achieved thanks to Germany’s trashing of Brazil earlier on. The home team looked dazzled and rattled and gave up after Holland’s quick goal.

Coming out of the World Cup, several players made big moves to Portugal, Italy and England. Highly disruptive in the flow of a player. And most players would focus fully on their club, once back in action for qualifications so early in the season against less attractive opponents in less attractive circumstances. It happened to us, to Spain, to Germany, Italy and Portugal too.


I do believe we were quite complacent too. We reached #3 at the World Cup and entered a qualification group that many felt was impossible not to win. This was subconsciously taken into the game. “We can play on 80% as we are Holland. No way Iceland can beat us!”. That sort of thinking. I’m sure players will deny this but I am positive this played a part too.

2. Guus Hiddink vs Louis van Gaal

After Van Gaal’s straightjacket approach, the KNVB in their glorious wisdom, decided to go totally the other way, appointing Loose Guus to manage Oranje. He also was instructed to return to 4-3-3. As a result of massive criticism from the media, fans and ex-players. In the Italy friendly, this failed and as the Czechs also play 5-3-2, Hiddink decided to go back to 5-3-2 for the first qualifications game. He couldn’t use the same team as Van Gaal used though and the team never looked like the Brazil team in execution. Danny Blind was caught between a rock and a hard place. Danny is a Van Gaal adept and uses analysis and thorough preparation, like Louis, while Guus is more a “enjoy yourselves out there” kinda coach. Body language of the two sharing the bench at times was telling…



3. Available Players

Czech Republic away

Against the Czechs, Hiddink missed key players from the World Cup. Vlaar and Robben were both missing. We played alright, created chances but failed to score more than one. And Janmaat had that atrocious back header in the last minute which cost us the draw. (Hiddink punished Janmaat immediately for this, which didn’t go down well in the squad. A faithful soldier who played well for Oranje was axed for one mistake… The players who failed to score up front were not held accountable).

Nederlands tegen Tsjechië

Kazachstan home

A must win game. And we did. Not pretty, but who cares (especially now). Afellay and Van Persie scored and Afellay had the assist on Huntelaar (Tiju, paying attention??). No Janmaat, but Van der Wiel. No Vlaar either. Robben was back, as was Lens. Martins Indi played alongside De Vrij.

Iceland away

In October, playing in Iceland… Not a lot of inspiration. But, despite conceding (WC2014 hero De Vrij giving the spot kick away) Holland had opportunities to score. But didn’t. One Arjen Robben for instance, missed a good chance. A dead ball situation (back then already…. nothing new under the sun) gave Iceland the 2-0. We tried to get back into the game but couldn’t. This game was played with most of our top guns available: Robben, Sneijder, De Jong, Hunter, Van Persie but without Vlaar still. Clasie, Klaassen and Memphis are not to blame for this loss (TIJU!!!)

ijs uit

Lithuania home

6-0 win. Huntelaar, Van Persie, Robben, Sneijder all in good form. Good goals. You will be happy to know that Clasie, Memphis, Afellay were all involved in this game. Van der Wiel played again, for Janmaat and Bruma played for Martins Indi.

Turkey home

A draw, after conceding yet again. A late Sneijder shot, deflected by Huntelaar got us the point. Memphis and Afellay played the whole match. Van der Wiel and Martins Indi in defence. Nigel de Jong, the captain in midfield according to Hiddink, got subbed and would later on be silently phased out by the same Hiddink.

turk thuis

Lithuania away

Tough but decent win away, with Wijnaldum and Narsingh scoring for Oranje. No Robben again, no Vlaar. Daley Blind in midfield. Van Persie with Huntelaar in the team. More tinkering… Janmaat coming back in the team as a sub. Van der Wiel still in starting line up.

4. Hiddink out!

With only 4 games to go (and in need of at least two if not more wins), the KNVB decides to stop working with Hiddink. The experienced coach doesn’t get on with Van Oostveen. Hans Jorritsma, team manager and as such reporting to Hiddink, plays a double agent role. The three meet to talk about their differences in Hiddink’s Spain home and the end result is Hiddink being sacked, with Daley Blind thrown in the deep to secure a Euro spot. The home game vs Iceland is next up, in September 2015. Basically, early in the new season and as per usual, some players haven’t settled in yet… Martins Indi and Van der Wiel in particular didn’t see a lot of action.

exit guus

Confidence was low at this stage. Some of our top players were struggling. Van Persie wasn’t happy. Van der Vaart disappeared. Martins Indi lost his spot. Memphis was struggling. The soul was gone from the team. The belief was gone. Guus Hiddink demonstrated this in his post match interviews, where he looked lost.

Danny Blind had to gamble.  Four games to go, four victories needed. He decided to go with players who are used to big occasions and puts Robben on a pedestal. Sadly the more experienced lads disappointed and Robben blew his engine up.

Iceland home

Arjen Robben is all pumped up as new skipper to lead Oranje to victory. In 33 minutes, all changes. The Bayern winger is too pumped up and tears a muscle. Martins Indi gets provoked by an Sighthorsson (Feyenoord vs Ajax)  and retaliates and gets red. Holland creates opportunities but lacks belief so it seems and poor Van der Wiel has an error that leads to a penalty. In this game we lost Robben and we were already without Vlaar, Van Persie and Afellay. Van der Wiel played as Afellay wasn’t available and Van Rhijn was no longer starting for Ajax. Tete was spotted as top talent but considered too early to call up. Oranje struggled in the matches with eleven players, in this game with 10 (for an hour) it simply was too much…

robben ijsland thuis

Turkey away

The pressure is on. We copped an early goal again, in a must-win game. And again Blind needed to make changes. Bruma came in, Riedewald made his debut and Robben wasn’t fit to play either. Turkey scores after a brilliant through pass. Holland’s team dynamics and pressure doesn’t work. Not much later, Narsingh gets a similar chance as Turkey and he misses… Memphis creates a tremendous chance for Klaassen who misses. Memphis finds Van Persie who offers Sneijder an amazing shooting opportunity but the Gala midfielder aims right at the goalie. Three good opps, none taken. Then Blind makes an error and Cillesen looks horrible when Turan scores the 2-0. De Vrij leaves at half time with knee injury. Memphis creates another chance for Oranje in the second half. An unmarked Wijnaldum can score with his head, but uses his shoulder. Memphis is hacked down again by Turk with yellow. Ref doesn’t care but should have given a red. Luuk de Jong misses big chance as well and late in the game, Turkey scores their third after a foul committed by Caner.

turk nl uit

Kazachstan away

A must win game for Oranje and we do. Again, lots of changes: Krul, Tete, Van Dijk, Riedewald, El Ghazi and Huntelaar are in. Artificial pitch. Holland attacks and has a good phase. Memphis and Blind combine well but the winger misses. Wijnaldum scores not much later. Sneijder scores a beauty in the second half after a wonderful passage of play. El Ghazi has a wonderful chance to 0-3 but misses.  Oranje has to win and wins, in a sometimes pretty good performance.

Czech Republic home

Zoet in goal as Cillesen and Krul are out. Riedewald, Tete, Bruma and Van Dijk are back four. Probably never had a back four consistently for two games and 1,5 years after Brazil we play with a totally different defensive line. El Ghazi for Robben again and Huntelaar instead of Van Persie again. The Czechs have qualified already, and you can tell. They play really well. But, counter attacking style. Inviting Holland in. Memphis with first opportunity, Oranje has good start. But the game is slowed down too much and Sneijder sits deeper and deeper. Van Persie is warming up as Holland needs more creativity and pace. Our defence fails twice. Incl Zoet. He didn’t look good with the 0-1 and the whole defence failed for the 0-2. Van Dijk and Zoet aren’t dealing with cross. Czech’s get red card for tackle on Memphis. Van Dijk very close to scoring. Tete is one of the few decent players. And to add insult to injury, Van Persie scores own goal. The same van Persie deserves a penalty later but is denied. Huntelaar and Van Persie get Oranje back into the game, 2-3 but we needed more but we didn’t get more.

rvp own goal

Everything that went right for us in Brazil, went wrong in this qualification campaign. Injuries, bad luck, bad decision making, loss of form. So many chances missed, so many unlucky and unlikely situations. Van Persie own goal, Sneijder missing chances, Memphis missing chances, penalties conceded but never received, etc etc… As if the Devil had a say in it.

5. Perfect Storm

Overall, we also lack quality. If quality is defined as a the total requirements to play top football. Sure, technique, they all have. They all have tactical smarts. But leadership, desire, mentality, physical presence…this is where we lacked the most.

Add it all together – wrong coach, wrong tactics, individual mistakes, key players missing, no team dynamics – and even the best football nation can lose against Iceland and Turkey.

guus balt

Something to add here, is the pretty crucial element: our lack of European top clubs. In the past, coaches were always able to draw from the key players of good performing clubs. Most teams in the 1970s and 1980s used Dutch players. When Ajax and Feyenoord ruled Europe in the early 70s, Michels used the top players from both teams in Oranje. They both played 4-3-3, no sweat. In the early 80s, the coach tried it with the AZ Alkmaar top players (Peters, Jonk, Tol, Kist, Hovenkamp) and in the mid 90s Guus Hiddink went with the Ajax talent pool. That effect slowly died out. But today you’ll find that Spain is making use of the Barca framework, which enables Spain to have a recognisable playing style, just like Germany has Bayern Munich and Italy have Juventus. England has a couple of top teams, mostly with non English lafs and hence, there is your England hangover. The Dutch have failed to impress in Europe at club level for some time, with this season a notable exception with PSV doing well in CL. For this reason, lots of people push Blind and his staff to go with the PSV skeleton for Oranje. Zoet, Bruma, Willems, Propper, Van Ginkel, to be supplemented with top players from other clubs like Sneijder. Robben, Bazoer, Van Dijk and Tete for the remaining spots. Obviously, some people believe the combination Willems, Propper, Luuk de Jong should be utilised. But this PSV core might well drift apart. Van Ginkel is still owned by Chelsea, Willems and Bruma might make a move and Luuk de Jong might lack real quality… The fact that Dutch clubs underperform in Europe will definitely have its impact on Oranje. But that is a fact of life. For now.

The good thing is, the Euros will be over and done with in 4 weeks or so. It will be history. And we will be facing Sweden without Zlatan, who will have trouble getting worked up for the qualifications so soon after the Euros. While Holland will pull a “Czech Republic”. We will want to eat the opponent and we will start our flow with a good solid win over the Swedes.



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Oranje polishes up its game with a win

The victory over Poland doesn’t get us to the Euros… It doesn’t get us three points. But it will lift the pressure of Danny Blind and his staff. It will boost confidence going forward. And it gives us all a good feeling.

Poland is not France or Germany, of course. And they are simply prepping for the Euros. But it is a good win still.

Holland played better than against Ireland. The dynamics Blind wants to see worked out better. Crisper passing, better mobility and more courageous balls forward.

Vincent Janssen showed how useful he can be when used right. Against Ireland, he moved well but was never found. Against Poland, he still moved well and was given opportunities to score a couple. He is the real deal. Played at second pro level last year for FC Almere. And seems to make the steps up without too much issues. A glorious left foot, great positioning awareness and cool as ice.

janssen berghuis

Poland didn’t play bad but failed to register some real opportunities for themselves. A slip in the back (Bruma, Tete) was the lead in to their opportunities. And a perfectly hit corner kick from Milik’s glorious left foot and Van Ginkel zoning out got them their goal.

One has to say: conceding from set pieces is a worry. Van Dijk vs Ireland not awake. Now Van Ginkel… But at least we don’t concede from open play, which is good (always focus on the good too!).

janssen poland

Steven Berghuis was a bit hot and cold but for a young player without rhythm, it wasn’t bad at all. You can see why Watford wanted him and why Blind relies on him. His type is rare. He’s fast, has a decent dribble and a tremendous left foot and vision.

We need all sorts of players. The power and brilliance of Memphis (when in form), the length and leadership of Luuk de Jong, the speed of Narsingh, the vision and passing of Berghuis, the aerial threat of Dost and hopefully soon the experience and skills of Van Persie and Sneijder. Add to that the world class talent of Robben and we can look hopeful towards the future.


Kevin Strootman looks strong and confident and it will be a matter of time before he will be his own self. Wijnaldum, Propper, Van Ginkel, Blind… all decent utility players and if we can cement our back four a bit better (Vlaar, De Vrij, Bruma, Van Dijk, Willems, Riedewald, Kongolo, Van Aanholt, Veltman, Janmaat), we should be able to sort ourselves out.

Danny Blind is keen to use this period to cement his ideal September line up. I don’t expect too many changes in the line up vs Austria. Blind: “I think Austria is the strongest of the three opponents. They had a tremendous qualifications campaign and with Janko and Arnautovic up front and a player like Alaba at the back, they could well be the surprise team this Euros.”

Keving Strootman will come in again to start, as skipper, after his 20 mins sub turn vs Poland. This might go at the expense of Van Ginkel. “I don’t want to change too much anymore. We need to start solidify a team.”

kevin aus

Dick Advocaat spent his first week with this Oranje. It is not hard to see what kind of coach he is. The perfect field trainer. Like Blind he has a whistle around his neck, like Blind, but unlike Van Basten. The first days he observed. “That is key. Take a step back and watch them do their thing. Some of them had a disappointing season, some are not 100% fit, some are worried about their future… It was a long season.” When the players do an 11 v 11 game, Dick coaches one team, San Marco the other. Marco coaches with his normal voice. Talks a lot. Dick is more quiet but when he does say something, he uses the deep and hoarse yelling voice. “Bazoer! They’re moving away from you behind you. Pay attention!” or “Bruma, if you tackle, do it for a full 100%!!”.

Dick Advocaat took over from Van Gaal in 2002. The former Man U coach wasn’t able to coach Oranje to the World Cup and Dick needed to mend things. Jeffrey Bruma: “Yes, we spoke about that. We need this to happen again. Immediately back to the big stage.” Advocaat was given the job back then on the advice of the failing Van Gaal. “Louis felt I was the right man to take the older players and get them to perform again. We needed to squeeze all out of them and I did it. Back then, people wrote that that generation was done for. Like they do now. But I will never write off any player. They usually do that themselves by not performing. If a player is good enough at 18 or 38 years old, all fine by me.”

dick marco

You sometimes need an old sly fox to come up with a tactical decision that can change things. Like Van Gaal demonstrated at the World Cup when he brought Krul for Cillesen at penalty time vs Costa Rica. Some people think Oranje should use the PSV core, as they have the dynamics in place already. Put another player for Arias, another defender for Moreno and Strootman in place of Guardado and Robben for Narsingh. Dick: “Really? So Bazoer and and Memphis and Janssen? That would be a shame.”

Dick Advocaat likes to taunt his players and the vibe in the group has changed with the former FC Den Haag icon. Van Aanholt worked with him at Sunderland. During the training game, Advocaat yells at Patrick: “Hey Van Aanholt, you’re up against Promes. Peace of cake, yes?” Danny Blind: “It is important to have someone like him in the group. I think Marco and I are more detached. We keep our distance a bit. Dick really is very open and warm with the players.” Jeffrey Bruma: “Dick is a very warm and friendly guy with great anecdotes, but watch out: he is also very direct and tough.”

memphis dick

Memphis is doing sprint training. Advocaat observes. Memphis steals a yard the first time. And the second time. And the third time. It’s not rare. Rafael van der Vaart used to do this. Willem van Hanegem and Johan Cruyff would hide in the bushes during running training to smoke a quick cigarette. Advocaat: “I see it. But I don’t say anything in the group. I walk over to Memphis after training and say “I saw you making short cuts. Fine with me. But show me in the match that you deserve it.”

Advocaat: “Normally, a group selects itself. Perform at club level, work hard during Oranje sessions and deliver. Usually, the right options present themselves. But this is a very hungry group. They love being here and we have some guys who love to laugh and we also have some odd types… I like that. There is a mix. I want them to give everything for themselves. And I leave them space to do so in their own way. But, it is quite simple: if you don’t perform, you’re out.”



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The Future of Oranje, part II

Thank you all for your kind words on the post earlier. I don’t mind football debates and everyone is entitled to their opinion. But if they back it up with unfounded stuff, I get into it. All good.

I do sense that players are judged unfairly. How often does it happen that Clasie is outplayed in Oranje’s midfield and then he gets the criticism, because he fails to intercept or keep the ball? How often do people see that maybe 1) the pass to him was bad, or 2) the players upfront didn’t press, or 3) no one made himself available…

If you saw Leiceester vs Man U, in the first 25 minutes, Man U played Leicester off the pitch. Was it because suddenly Leicester don’t know how to play? Or was it the time needed for them to find an outlet without Vardy? One player missing (a player with speed, always on the shoulder of the defence, reading for a ball over the top) and replaced by another (wanting the ball in his feet) and the whole team dynamic is gone. Drinkwater lost the ball many times as he didn’t find an outlet. Does that make Drinkwater a loser, suddenly? No. It’s the team dynamic.

vardy drinkwayter


“Ok, whenever I have the ball, this is where you’ll run and I’ll pass the ball blind in that space!”

Clasie, Van Dijk, Bruma, all the players criticised by people play really well at club level. Because the tactics stand, the players around them understand one another… Van Dijk is hailed as the best signing this season for Southampton and if I was Klopp I’d sign him immediately.

But here people say he (and Clasie) are shite… Seriously?

We are in transition with the National Team. Van Marwijk is partly to blame. Van Oostveen is partly to blame. LVG is partly to blame and Guus and Danny are partly to blame. But we also are a small football nation in terms of money, players available and number of big matches played (at club level). The reason why Ajax and PSV youngster suddenly get into the first team more easily than Feyenoord youngsters, is because these two have junior team (Ajax 2 and PSV 2) at Jupiler League level. Feyenoord, for financial reasons, can’t afford it (yet).



Current holding mid for the Saints vs the former holding mid

All is connected people.

If we would have had Strootman, Robben, Vlaar, Van Persie, Willems and De Vrij fit for the Euro qualifications, we would have qualified I think. Despite all the hits and misses we had in the games.

But we can’t – like Germany or Spain or England – replace 4 top players just like that. It happened before and it will happen again. We can’t sustain our world class level. Unless…..we qualify and take three weeks to gel a team together, like LVG did.

This is why I don’t like “ideal line ups” coz it depends on 1) fitness, 2) form and 3) strength of opponent.


If we play Ireland or Greece or Hungary with our best players available, we have to play 4-3-3 or even 3-4-3. If we have all players available but we play Germany or Italy, I’d play 3-5-3 (prefer this expression over 5-3-2 but it’s the same essentially).

So, my line up…. If everyone is fit and in form, is this for weaker opponents:


Janmaat – De Vrij/Vlaar – Blind – Fosu-Mensah

Propper  – Strootman – Sneijder

Robben – Huntelaar – Memphis

Bench: Vermeer, Cillesen, Bruma, Van Dijk, Tete, Wijnaldum, Clasie, Janssen, Promes, Willems, Bazoer


Against stronger opponents:


De Vrij/Vlaar – Blind – Van Dijk

Janmaat – Propper – Strootman – Sneijder – Willems

Robben – Memphis

With Sneijder in the hole.

Bench: Vermeer, Cillesen, Bruma, Fosu-Mensah, Tete, Wijnaldum, Clasie, Janssen, Promes, Huntelaar, Bazoer

Good clip 🙂

Obviously, this all on the condition that all players are fit and in form. If Van Persie isn’t fit, we need someone else. Etc etc…

The key to our performances is to have time to work a new team. And this is also something that makes a big difference in coaching an NT or a club.

LVG struggled with the NT role. Remember 2002? During qualifications for 2014 he was complaining too. But once he had them every day, for weeks on end, he could work his magic.

I think Danny Blind is maybe a good NT coach, like others before him (Prandelli, Low, Klinsmann) did not have tremendous club careers but are able to pick the best players and make them work together as a team in a short time frame. It takes another type of coach/manager.

I think Van Persie will be a huge question mark but Sneijder has two more years in him, I’m sure. Huntelaar might go to Ajax (if they can sell Milik post Euros for a lot of money) and he’ll score 25+ goals in the Eredivisie. When we play on the front foot, there is no better striker than him.

But when Leicester can win the title with “mediocre players” and Greece can win the Euros (2004), why would we be so depressed?

euro 2012

I hope Berghuis will make a good move this summer, either back to PSV or Ajax or go for a spot in Watford’s line up. Last weekend we saw his quality with his assist on Deeney. What a ball in!

My biggest frustration is that Ziyech didn’t pick Holland but Morocco for his future. I think it was a mistake. By the KNVB, for sure, but mainly by him.

He is a sensational player. He has everything. Mentality, leadership, confidence, speed, physical strength, vision and he can score a goal. And never shabby ones. But he has pride as well and he snubbed Oranje. He might stay in Holland and make a move for Ajax, Feyenoord or PSV. That will help any of those clubs in Europe.

If was Ranieri and would lose Mahrez, I’d sign Ziyech on the spot! Eyes closed. No medical needed. Sign here son!

ziyech oranje


This was Danny Blind’s chance to give the Twente star minutes in Oranje, but sadly Ziyech got injured and wasn’t on the bench

I rate Vilhena as well. He needs more tactical discipline but the lad’s only 19 years old. Let’s hope he picks the right club after Feyenoord. He needs to play. Week in week out.

Propper is a prodigal talent in my eyes. If you look at the clip I posted before, you see that everything he does looks easy. He scores smart goals, with vision and technique. People compare him with Van Bommel? I don’t see it. Strootman and Van Bommel, yes. Propper is more Cocu for me. Elegance, technique and vision. If he keeps developing, he wouldn’t be out of place in Barcelona.

Tete, Riedewald, Karsdorp, Tofu-Mensah, Ake…all good prospects but need to prove themselves still. Getting to the top is one thing (Drenthe, Ola John, Maher) but staying there…. Pressure, expectations, distractions, discipline….

Janssen will be able to make the top for me as well. Lots of things lacking in his game. He’s not tall, he is not fast, his right foot is a bit weak but he makes up for it because he is 1) smart, 2) explosive and always awake and 3) mentally strong. A killer.

Reminds me of one Gerd Muller. You might have heard his name before?

gerd muller

janssen vincent

I also hope Quincy Promes will make a good move this summer. He is ready for the EPL or Spain, Germany or Italy. He’s not Chelsea or Arsenal material, but if Mane leaves Southampton…. Who knows…

I’m pretty sure Danny Blind won’t be bothered by silly development strategies by the KNVB. He will try and do his job with the squad.

I’m convinced we have good enough players to play a role, always, at a tournament. We don’t need Messi or C Ronaldo. How many trophies did they win with their national teams? That’s what I mean.

With Ruud van Nistelrooy leaving Oranje this summer I do hope Danny will get an experienced coach alongside him and San Marco. Henk ten Cate? Jan Wouters? Foppe de Haan?

Next season, if PSV can keep the squad together and qualify for CL football, I do expect another step from them. I hope Cocu will get some more width in his squad. If Ajax can keep on making steps with Huntelaar and Riedewald back and maybe some better wingers, who knows…

Feyenoord will play Europa League group stage games (6 guaranteerd duels) and hopefully will get some more quality in.

I hope Ake, Berghuis, Promes, De Roon, De Vrij and others to get back to rhythm, not to forget Strootman at Roma.

Not pessimistic at all!

Our future stars in the Under 17 tournament will play for silverware with Feyenoord star Chong (on his way to Man United), Ajax’ Son of God Patrick Justin and Feyenoord goal machine Vente. I’ll keep you posted in the coming week.

Lastly, a big congrats to Erik ten Hag, the FC Utrecht coach and protege of Guardiola, who was voted the Best Coach of the Eredivisie this season, ahead of De Boer, Cocu et al for his turn around and onorthodox working methings at Utrecht.

Ten Hag has a Twente and PSV background and might well be Phillip Cocu’s successor once he departs from PSV.

ten hag prijs

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Total Football? Total Failure…. We are out!

In 1984, we missed the Euro’84 in France. Only 8 nations could make it and we had to allow Spain, who won 12-1 against Malta. It’s 2015 and again, Holland will miss a Euro tournament in France, but this time 24 nations were able to qualify. Albania did. So did Northern Ireland. Wales…Iceland… But not the Dutch.

It only emphasises the the issues we have. On all levels. Whether it is youth teams, or club teams, or individual players… The signature Dutch School is a joke. Germany and Spain stole our mojo and we struggle to beat the Czechs, Iceland and Turkey at home.

Ony 15 months ago, we beat Spain and Brazil at the World Cup. Today, we can’t win against the Czechs who were one man down….

RVP zit

The Czech game summed up the Dutch situation. Starting well, focused, heads up and with pace. Trying to use the space smartly. Good passing by Depay and Wijnaldum and after 48 seconds Anwar El Ghazi has the 1-0 on his right foot. He had 3 options: taking a touch, checking what Cech would do or passing it square to Hunter or Wijnaldum or…taking it in one hit and go for gold. He picked the third and worst option. And went straight to Petr Czech. Not much later, El Ghazi with a cross, it goes beyond all defenders and forwards but Sneijder gets a free shot on goal. He can take a touch and place it in the corner, or he can put his laces through it like he did against Mexico. But he decides to side foot it in the top corner. And shoots high over the goal.

sneijder czech

The first 15 minutes, Oranje impressed. We saw this before, in particular in the Euro 2012 games vs Denmark, Germany and Portugal. Strong starts. But no killers in the box and making sloppy mistakes, inviting the opponent into the game. Crap forward pressing and Riedewald, Depay and Van Dijk are outplayed. The Czech goal scorer does exactly what El Ghazi forgot: take a touch, head up, placing it past the goalie: 0-1.

The second goal came to soon. A throw in by the Czechs. Static situation. Tete is too soft, everyone is ball watching and Van Dijk defends like a girl in the box. Another goal, in the near corner. Jeroen Zoet not looking good, again!

Blind brings Van Persie, the saviour everyone hopes. Riedewald makes way and not long after the Czechs are shown a red card. The fans believe in it again, and a quick goal would get Oranje back into the game. With RVP chances do come and Memphis and Sneijder in particular seem to get more grip. Not strange, as Sneijder drops back with Daley Blind on left back duties and Depay not being crowded out by Sneijder.

Oostveen czech

In the second half, the game starts to get sloppy and the Czechs are gifted a freak goal. Robin van Persie, brought on to score goals, does exactly that. But in his own goal. What was he thinking….

Blind brings Dost for Van Dijk, who started well but played worse and worse as the game went on. The long hauls against the Czechs didn’t work too well. It was too hasty, too opportunistic. The Czech dedenders saw the balls coming and Huntelaar in particular could not get anything to go his way.

When you are one man up, it is better to use the space and time to find the free man. If you have players like Memphis, Sneijder, Van Persie and El Ghazi you should be able to pass the ball swiftly from foot to foot to find the free man and create the man more situation… Oranje did get opportunities though and Huntelaar got his goal, as did RVP but it was too little too late. When it was also the Turks scoring the only goal in their game instead of the Icelanders, it was crystal clear. No Euros for Holland.

RVP huilt

And looking back at this game, it was fair to say that Holland might have had the better players (on paper) but the Czechs had the better team. When in possession, Holland looks alright. Whitout the ball, it was horrendous. Panicky defending, lousy marking, no forward pressing and holes so big, you could park Van Gaal’s ego in there. I remember a situation where right midfielder Wijnaldum was the last man in defence in the left side of the box! Van Dijk and Bruma were totally played out of position (again) and it needed a superhuman effort by a midfielder to clear. There was no leadership at the back and every time the Czechs (10 men by then) moved forward they looked dangerous.

A win was definitely on the cards. If El Ghazi and Sneijder took their chances we could have led by 2-0 in 15 minutes. I think the Czechs would have given us the game. No way they would have battled themselves into the game by then. But sadly, even that would not have been enough as Turkey didn’t surrender vs Iceland and did themselves a huge favour by qualifying directly for the Euros.

RVP slipt

Guys, I’m a bit deflated and will leave it at this for now.

In a few days, I will do a proper “And now what?” post with some thorough analysis and a look towards the future.

For now, I will have a Heineken and a soft cry in the corner….

And watching the rugby. With a little video message for Memphis, Virgil, Bruno, Kenny, Robin, Anwar and the rest….

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Oranje, how bout the Czech, mate!

The Oranje team won an epic away match against the giants of Kazachstan (1-2) after suffering losses against Iceland, Turkey, the Czechs and Andorra.

Well…Andorra is probably an exaggeration. But we did lose against the other ones. And we have celebrated a much much needed victory over Borat’s brothers.

I do wish to be positive and I do believe in miracles but at the same time… Whether we qualify or not, this whole campaign was a joke cum disaster. A disgrace, really.

And I somehow fear that if we do qualify for France, the federation might forget all about it as soon as possible. “Ah, let’s quickly put that bad experience away and focus on the future”.

It is too early to lament now and this post deserves a new body text tomorrow should we not make it.

But for now, lets focus on the good things.

Coz in among all the bad, there was some good.

blind monter

It seems Danny Blind quickly learned from his initial mistakes in the Iceland and Turkey matches and did what he had to do. He focused on his tactical set up and selected players who play on that spot and who have had a string of decent games in that position. It was made somewhat easy by the fact that Van der Wiel and Martins Indi were injured. but both players shouldn’t have played vs Iceland and I think Danny got the message.

Janmaat sadly got injured and so did goalies Cillesen (warm up) and Krul (second half). Sad, for sure, but most likely also the result of the weird artificial pitch. Something to analyze and maybe something to address at UEFA level.

The 4-3-3 worked well. Of course. the Kazachs are not very good. We were expected to win by 0-4 or so, in my book, and we could have but hey…let’s take the 1-2 and work towards the Czechs.

Blind played well in center of midfield and had a killer pass for Memphis who should have scored then and there. It would have been a sensational Mancunian goal. The midfield worked well, the full backs showed they have great potential for the future and debutant El Ghazi was lively and highly involved in the 1-0.

van dijk juicht

Virgil van Dijk, although sloppy at the end with all his colleagues, showed great composure and confidence and will soon be the man to assist De Vrij in the center of midfield, should coach Blind decide not to use son Blind as CB.
Huntelaar played a tough game doe Oranje, barely having a touch in the box but these games are not about individuals and even Robin van Persie won’t lament the fact he only got 2 minutes to secure his centennial cap.

Danny Blind: “Robin wasn’t fully fit. He would have come on earlier if we were level after an hour, or trailing. But with 0-2 on the board I wanted to keep him safe and fit for the Czech game and I told him I’d give him the last minute to get his celebratory cap. But only if the situation allowed.”

Blind also swept away the rumour that Memphis and Van Persie had a bust up at practice. “Nonsense. They had a football discussion. About a pass that should or should not have been given. It happens all the time. No biggie.”

blind bert

I have to say, Danny Blind has scored some points with me. He was criticized by the media for the Cocu Phone incident. Frank de Boer said he was always contacted by Blind if the latter was keen to add a new Ajax debutant to the mix. Cocu said he was never contacted. Danny Blind: “It is a silly situation. You have to understand that I call every coach of any played I want to select for the first time. Because usually, I don’t know these lads. This is why I call Frank. About Riedewald, Tete and now El Ghazi. And I ask about their temperament, their training specofics, their mentality. I haven’t called Cocu because I am not selecting any debutants from PSV. I picked Bruma, but I don’t need to call Cocu to check how Bruma is doing. I know Bruma and I don’t need Cocu’s insights for this. This whole phone thing is a media generated thing to kick up a stink.”

Danny Blind was happy with the result. “We did what we had to do. At times we played well, at times we could have done better. The Kazachs used a lot of long hauls and physical power and at the end we were pushed back a bit. I could see the team was getting uncomfortable with it. But it was fine, we could have scored more and shouldn’t have conceded that last goal, but all in all I am ok with what we did and I now will focus on Tuesday.”


The main talking point after the game were the goal keepers injuries. Both Cillesen and Krul were injured and left Blind with no alternative to play Jeroen Zoet who will most likely start vs the Czechs.

“It seems Krul is out for a spell, maybe the full season. I don’t know what happened exactly but I won’t be surprised if it was the surface. Cillesen’s injury is less serious but he will not play Tuesday. Both Ken Vermeer and Maarten Stekelenburg are called up to complete the squad, along with Greg van der Wiel as right full back back up.”

The Turkish coach lashed out to coach Blind for sending an email with congratulations to the Czech team manager. The UEFA has since declared that it will be regarded as illegal for the Dutch to offer the Icelandic players a financial reward for beating Turkey.

holland scores

Dutch Swansea board member and sponsor John van Zweden : ” I spoke to Gilfi Siggurson the other day and he told me not to worry. He is keen to beat Turkey as Iceland really wants to win the group. This is Iceland’s first outing to the Euro tournament and they want to make sure they do all they can to have the best odds.” Siggurdson was the man who slayed the Dutch giants and he is keen to do it vs the Turks. “I will send him a text to remind him but I know how he works and thinks. They Icelandic guys won’t throw a game. They want to win everything now as a preparation for the Euros. I think Holland will make it through thanks to Gilfi.”

Arjen Robben is less confident. “I am dying a 1000 deaths watching the team on the sofa. It is so much easier playing so you can do something about it. Watching it is a drama. I am not confident. I thought the Czechs would hurt the Turks but now I am not so sure. I am really concerned. Missing the Euros would be a drama for me, for Dutch football for the fans. I would be devastated and I am pissed off my body let me down yet again.”

robben zit

Interestingly enough, Bert van Oostveen has declared he will not resign if Oranje doesn’t qualify and neither will he sack Blind. The KNVB CEO:  “I think Danny did well in very tough circumstances. I work closely with him and his luck wasn’t there vs Iceland. We lost the game as a result of some individual mistakes and I won’t sacrifice the coach for this. We signed a contract until 2018. In 2016 we have an evaluation moment. But I am impressed with his way of working and will support him. As for myself, I am obviously highly concerned and would be highly disappointed if we fail. It would be a disgrace, I agree. But I was proud to wear the silver and bronze medal and I will not run to the exit when things turn south. We are building a whole new team at the moment and despite the results, the future is bright. I will take my responsibility and keep on working and building.”

Bert also said in a recent interview that the players lack fighting mentality. The young breed is too much focused on money. “It appears to me that young players leave Holland very young, lured by big contracts. The result is, they either warm the bench at big clubs or they get to play for smaller clubs.  They should invest in themselves and get some more runs on the board before they go. We used to have players with the mentality of Wouters, Cocu, Van Bommel, De Jong… I don’t see these players anymore.”

bert oost
Some Dutch analysts already started to see the positives once we don’t qualify. It will give two things to the Dutch: 1) humility (much neeed) and 2) time to build a new team. Which is interesting, and true because if we do qualify all will be focused on getting a good result in France. Should we not qualify, we can use the time to work on a new football vision, development strategies and select new talent to take over from the Sneijders and Van Persies….

But what do Dutch analysts know, really? One of them (Rene van der Gijp) famously said this when the draw for this qualification group was known: “My my, it will be harder NOT to qualify than it will be to actually qualify…” Famous last words.

I do believe we have a chance, though.

1. The Icelandic team wants to top the group which will help them with the draw in the actual Euros.

2. Iceland ripped the Turkish defence to pieces in the first game, winning 3-0

3. Iceland’s defence is tight and strong

4. Turks will self destruct

5. Holland will run over Czech Republic like a steam train

Coz, really….can you imagine a Euros without the Orange?

I will leave the analysis of where went wrong for later. Win or lose, we will have to go there.

For now, I want some positive vibes.

I can see Blind playing the same players, with only Zoet as new addition.

Early in the first half, Sneijder scores a zinger from midfield. A low drive. Turkey gets nervous. They need to make decisions now. Will they go for the 0-0 or will they attack. The Turkish supporters want their team to attack but Iceland is luring on a counter. Memphis scores a second goal from nothing and the Czechs deflate. Turkey is playing sloppy now and the fans are getting rowdie.  Iceland is still poking and threatening and Turkey sees 5 players sit deep and 5 players pushing up. The hole in the middle is spotted by Siggurdson. In the second half, Huntelaar gets the third goal and Oranje dazzles towards the end of the game with RVP for Huntelaar, Afellay for Sneijder and Elia for Memphis. Late in the game, RVP gets a tap in on an Elia move and Holland wins 0-4.

The Turks make a mess out of it and in the 83rd minute, Iceland turns the game around and Siggurdson gets have a shooting chance and hits the ball in the near corner. Turkey loses. Holland goes to the Euro 2016 in FRANCE!

And then, I awoke….

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Oranje ready for Kazachstan!

The tension is mounting. Also in the Dutch players camp. The media love to interview the big name players before a game as some of them still have it in them to say something remarkable.

Most young players are afraid to speak their minds and copy the words of the press officer… “Yes it is an honour”. “No the coach decides and I play where he wants me to.” Etc etc

Memphis Depay today is such a big name. But the Man U winger decided to scoff the press and said “I am not talking to you guys!”. And marched on. Louis van Gaal would not accept that kind of behaviour when he was in charge of Oranje, as opposed to his predecessor Van Marwijk and successor Hiddink, who were a bit more loose with that behaviour.

Klaas Jan Huntelaar is always a good target for interviews. The former PSV talent, who had to make his way into the big league via AGOVV and Heerenveen before Ajax picked him up had a horrific spell under Blind. In the first game vs Iceland he had to make way after getting a start when BMI saw red and against Turkey Blind suddenly didn’t need him at all.


The Schalke top scorer doesn’t want to dwell too much on this. “I wasn’t happy but hey, it’s football. The coach decides. I was happy to start of course and the coach explained his tactical views after the game, the reason why he subbed me. The Turkey game was a huge disappointment of course and again, the coach had plans that didn’t include me but I love Oranje. I love playing for Oranje and whenever the coach needs me, I’ll be ready to play. I will focus fully on the future and don’t dwell on the past. It is not about me either. Oranje needs to qualify. And whether I play and score or someone else…. ”

Wesley Sneijder was the key man against Scotland in 2004 when he helped Oranje qualify for the Euros 2004 in Portugal. “That is a long time ago. I’m still here, hahahaha.” Sneijder laughs when he realises his buddies Rafa van der Vaart, John Heitinga and – currently – Arjen Robben don’t have the level of fitness or form to play for Oranje at this stage. “And I’m not done yet. I have much more in me. I am happy where I am, my wife is expecting, life in Turkey is amazing and now we will need to give it all to qualify. Bring it on!”

The cocky midfielder realises his role in Oranje has changed. “When I came into the squad I had someone like Jaap Stam having a go at me and putting me in my place. Today’s young players are a bit different, it seems. I do sense I am one of the older lads and like Stam, most likely, I feel like they kids don’t always listen to me. In my early days, the senior players played cards. Always battling over klaverjassen, and the young lads tried to get into the game. Today, they sit in their rooms and play Playstation. I think it’s childish. Not manly at all. I don’t do it, hahahaha.”


Asked about the odds of Oranje not qualifying. “I don’t want to talk about it like that. I simply cannot believe we won’t make it. But whatever the result, I do believe Blind should stay. He is perfect for this group. He deserves to get more time. With new players, old players, whatever. As long as I am part of it hahaha.” Wesley’s wife Yolanthe is at the end of her pregnancy and Sneijder said many times he will go home if the baby comes. “This is priority. I have played football for too many years and have put my family on the second spot for years. This time. I want to be there. I want to support my wife and see my baby being born. Once I am on the pitch, I will play the match but if I get the message before the game, I’m off. Sorry.”


Oranje will play the away game vs Kazachstan in Astana, the futuristic capital of the nation. In the past, a big steppe where nomadic tribes lived and lingered. Today, a new sort of Vegas or Dubai with a highly futuristic football stadium, Sneijder: “It is very science fiction. I never saw this before, and believe me, I have seen a lot of stadiums.” With the new oil and gas revenue, this former USSR state (became independent in 1991) has re-invented themselves and are ready for the big games. The Astana cycle team has done well, the Astana FC made it to the Champions League and the nation’s dreams go further.

As to be expected, the pitch in the Astana Stadium is made of artificial grass. This is a first. Oranje never ever before played a match or a friendly even, on artificial grass. Robin van Persie: “The last time I played on astro turf was when I was in the Feyenoord youth. Maybe 16 years ago?”
Wesley Sneijder played their recently with Gala in their CL match against Astana. “My muscles are still sore. It’s not good.”


Huntelaar despises fake grass. “For me, it is a reason not to go back to the Eredivisie in the future. There’s like 4 clubs now with this fake pitch. Not for me. I hate it.”

The younger generation of Oranje players, however, is used to it. Elia: “I don’t mind it. When you are fast, it is more reliable and you can pass the ball well too.”

Blind trained with a fully fit squad in the Astana Stadium and as opposed to the earlier games, where he picked Hunter without RVP for Iceland and RVP instead of Hunter against Turkey. For the Kazachstan game, we will most likely see both players leading the line.

El Ghazi will most likely start on the right. The Ajax winger is seen as show pony but realises it doesn’t all have to be brilliant. “We need to win. As simple as that. Even if it is ugly. My job is quite clear and this applies to all players. We’ll simply have to do it.”

Georghinio Wijnaldum went from heaven to hell. Picking up the bronze medal in Brazil, winning the title with PSV and as a result a big transfer to a sleeping giant in the EPL. But his team is last in the standings and his Oranje might not get to the Euros. “It’s crazy. People in England ask me all the time, what is wrong with Holland…. It’s hard, we haven’t played our best football but that flow can come back just like that. I am personally happy with where I am. The situation in England with Newcastle isn’t great but we are a young team in development and we play world class opponents all the time. The pace is amazing and they all want to attack attack… Against Man City, we started great and got in front but then Aguero has 5 amazing touches: 5 goals. And we gave the goals to them….”


The Spanish papers were all about a Dutch player who isn’t important for Oranje anymore…. Although some feel he should be part of this current squad… Dirk Kuyt. Apparently, FC Barcelona made up a short list of players they could get to the club to allow them to bring on a super sub pinch hitter. The statisticians were told to look for players with international careers, over 30 years old with good stats in scoring off the bench and who haven’t played CL football this season (and thus are eligible to play). A list of four players, among them Feyenoord’s Dirk Kuyt. The only one on the list without Liga experience though… The same Dirk Kuyt that was mentioned by an influential sports analyst in Holland as a potential call up for Oranje. Janmaat wasn’t replaced by Danny Blind and according to Sjoerd Mossou only Dirk Kuyt would make sense. He would be the talisman, he would definitely make an impact in the dressing room and he would be able to start at right back and end up playing fourth striker and scoring the all important winner in the dying seconds….


With Janmaat out and Dirk Kuyt wearing his Messi PJ’s it seems Kenneth Tete is about to make his debut in the Oranje team. The young Ajax right back has caught the eye of many Dutch experts, not just Blind and Van Basten. The 19 year old will be 20 this coming Friday and has a bright future in Orange. As opposed to youngsters like Janmaat, Van Rhijn, Van der Wiel and Willems, Tete is a real defender. Not unlike Terence Kongolo, Tete is happiest after a strong block tackle. Where Van Persie dreams of the perfect assist and Huntelaar of the perfect header, Tete is all about the perfect challenge. Tete grew up in the same streets as Narsingh and Assaidi and played street soccer with the older lads. “I had to really grow up fast and become tough as they’re all so good and quick and older as well… I was like a kamikaze pilot in the youth… running and flying and tackling. I am the product of an African dad and an Asian mum :-), My dad was Dutch champion kickboxing and I think I have his power and my mum’s agility. I always wanted to be a defender. Jaap Stam is my role model. I love it when the Ajax fans applaud an interception or a tackle. The Ajax supporters are critical but can really appreciate good defending too.”

And back to Memphis… The young winger is talking to the media, but on his terms. “We only talk about the Kazachstan game. I don’t want to talk Man United or working with Van Gaal or the EPL or the World Cup Brazil. Most football fans like the arrogance of the top player. Sneijder has it, C Ronaldo has it. The amateur kids know Memphis could be the one playing Oranje out of prison.
“Asked if he feels the pressure to be the man who changes things around, he says: “I understand this. I am one of the players that can win a game with one move. So I will have to deal with that pressure.”

bassie blind

So…people…. it’s time to give you my ideal line up. Although this time it will not be much different than Danny’s, as the injury list is bigger than I would like to see it.

I personally am not a big Cillesen fan and would always go for Krul. But Blind won’t.

So for me it will be:

Tete – Van Dijk – Riedewald
El Ghazi – Wijnaldum – Blind – Sneijder – Memphis
Huntelaar – Van Persie

I expect Holland to win 0-3 against these cats. I think Huntelaar will score the first one. Van Persie will score one and Memphis or Sneijder will score from midfield position.

Gimme your ideas!

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Turkish Delight or Drama for Oranje….

My dear friends, let me start this blog post by showing you something that will fuel your hope for the future. Dutch football is not dead. When you have players like Vincent Janssen, Nathan Ake, Bazoer and Tannane there is a future. Let’s see how far these guys can go. And I know, it was only against Young Cyprus and all that, but you can see what kind of talent we do have.


The seniors were on a mission to win four games. They lost the first, as you probably will have noticed, and now a draw against Turkey is enough to finish third… Well, I don’t believe in “a draw is enough”. There are more games to play and who tells me that Holland will win the last two? Therefore, we need to play to win!

I have watched the press conference and some of the interviews and it really is not that inspiring. “Yes we will try and win.” “Yes we want to silence the crowd”. “Yes we are full of confidence.”

Whatever. We need to see it tomorrow I suppose. The Turks aren’t that good but they definitely aren’t shabby either. They play with intent, with a sense of urgency and they can play. They might be erratic at times, or undisciplined but hey…so do we.

conf blind sneijd

We need to realise that we are not that great team (at the moment). And I am not referring to 1974 per se. We are also not that great team of 2014. Even if we almost have the same players. The team simply isn’t there.

I watched the first 30 minutes of the game again and despite what some say, Van der Wiel wasn’t the problem. Sure, he created the penalty and that was absolutely ridiculous, but the first 30 minutes, when we played 11vs11 and it was 0-0, the problem we had was created by the lack of movement by Klaassen and Wijnaldum. Our defence did not have an outlet. And when Sneijder got the ball the movement around him was absent.

Not, with Robben out, we have a mediocre team. Which is ok. We have four outstanding players. Two used to be World Class (Sneijder and Van Persie), one will be (Memphis) and one is a goal scoring machine (Huntelaar). The rest are all ok but need to play in function of these four.

press sneid

With RVP not 100% match fit, it is only predictable that Hunter will start. When Oranje is in front, expect a like for like change with RVP. If Oranje is trailing, Blind will bring RVP to play next to Hunter…

I have my personal ideas who Oranje should play but I don’t think Blind shares my ideas. I do believe he will start Van der Wiel again. He has no options. If he’d play Tete he would basically have to send Wiel home and get Janmaat in his place. Lots of loss of face.

So Van der Wiel will start, alongside De Vrij and Bruma and Blind, most likely. I imagine Blind will keep the midfield intact but add Lens on the right as a false winger. He’ll play Depay left and Hunter centrally.

I think.

I would have made many different choices. I would have had Janmaat with De Vrij and Blind as left center back (like he plays for Man United) and Pieters as left back. Blind can build up well from behind and speed up the game.



Virgil van Dijk

I would have Sneijder, Anita and Wijnaldum in midfield with Memphis and Hunter upfront and Lens as false right winger (allowing Janmaat his runs in the channel).

You’d have Blind and Memphis on the left hand side, who know each other. You’d have Janmaat, De Vrij, Wijnaldum and Anita who sort of know each other.

Klaassen for me is a left midfield player. Not a defensive mid.

Should you need more fire power you can always sub Pieters for Van Persie.

Anyway…we’ll see. It will be a nail biter.

I hope we get a sensational win but it could well be a chess game ending with 0-0 or something like that…

sneij turan.jog

We played Turkey eleven times before and won five times. We lost twice. Last game in Amsterdam was a draw with Huntelaar’s last minute equaliser.  We lost our last game against them in 1997. The infamous Seedorf penalty miss game…. The Turks have a scoring issue at the moment. They haven’t scored more than once every game for a while. Yilmaz, team mate of Wesley, is the man in form in terms of goals. With Turan their bearded leader and playmaker.

RVP is our top goalscorer with 49 goals. Huntelaar is behind him with 41 but the Schalke man is prolific in qualification games, so who knows. For superstitious people, Promes shouldn’t play today. The former Twente winger never won a game with Oranje. He lost five.

The best number 3 is qualified directly, by the way. If we have to play play offs we are most likely the best ranked “number 3” and we will have some protection and probably will get an opponent like Norway, Slovenia, Israel or Ireland.

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Horror scenario Oranje vs Iceland

Any coach will go through potential scenarios in his head, when preparing for a match. All different angles are being talked through. What happens when we concede early? What happens if it stays 0-0 for a long time? What do we do when we score very early? What will Iceland do? What if we lose a player due to a red card? What if Arjen Robben gets injured…

But I do think that even Danny Blind didn’t come up with the scenario that hit us like a hammer. “What if we lose a defender in the first half on a red card, what if we also lose Robben to injury and on top of that Iceland gets a penalty in the second half…” If Van Nistelrooy would have suggested this, Danny and Marco would have said “Shut up Ruud, you’re not funny!”

blind bassie

But this is exactly what happened. And sadly for all of us, for the supporters, the players and for Danny Blind: the choices the coach made have come to bite him in the butt. Not that he made obvious blunders, but his choices didn’t pan out. And as he is end responsible, he will have to take the blame.

It starts with the selection of the players. He took BMI and Van der Wiel along, two players who lack rhythm. Both players let the team down. Coincidence? Maybe… BMI couldn’t control himself and had to smack Sigthorsson in the neck. Not smart. While Bruno actually started relatively well… Greg van der Wiel was cocky before the game and said with a wry smile “who said you need to have a starting birth at your club to be able to play for Oranje?”. Well, Greg… You made the point. The sliding tackle in the box on a player who was going into a cul de sac was unnecessary and foolish. You simply stay on your feet and block his passage to the goal…


These are childish mistakes. Mistakes you’d expect Tete and Riedewald to make… Bind must have gone crazy but he has to look into the mirror. The loss of Robben can not be blamed on Blind… Or can it…?

Danny Blind decided to make a big thing out of the change of skipper’s band. As if the new coach wanted to make a point to the world. “I am now in charge!!”. He gave Robben the band, but had to send out a press release to emphasize the fact. Why? As a result, the Dutch media were focusing on this aspect more than necessary. It was all about the extraverted manner in which Robben led the team and was actively cheering everyone on. Robben was at the press conferences and Robben fielded questions. Blind could and should simply have said “Oh by the way, Robin is not 100% fit and since he might not play, I passed the armband on to Robben.” Done.

de vrij

But with the additional focus on Robben and the energy all this took, it might have contributed to additional stress in Robben’s body. The groin injury came out of nothing and Iron Man went back to being Man of Glass…

I was also not impressed with Blind’s changes. Iceland didn’t come to score goals. When BMI left the field, he could have decided to bring Daley more in to the left center role and have Klaassen drop back a tad to cover the left flank. Just see what would happen before you decide to sub a striker.

Subbing Huntelaar was contentious to say the least. Hunter keeps two defenders busy, just by being Huntelaar. Oranje also would have a target man to focus on and Klaas Jan can hold on to the ball, usually. Without him upfront and soon after without Robben as well, the danger would come from two players coming in from the flanks. Memphis known for his skill, Narsingh (brought on) only known for his speed. For which you need space. Which we didn’t get.

penalty ijsland

I would have kept Huntelaar on and would have instructed De Vrij, Daley and Klaassen to sort it out. I would have brought in Afellay for Robben. A player who can shoot from distance, create something with a dribble and have the ability to pass and move. More options than Narsingh offers. I would have had Wijnaldum play more controlled and used Van der Wiel as a wing back to bring the ball into the waiting Huntelaar. Afellay and Sneijder would loved to have picked up the lose ball. At that stage, it was still 0-0 and one goal would have been all we needed…

But Blind made a different decision. He chose to go for mobility and movement. Instead of long balls towards Huntelaar. After the game, he acknowledged that the Hunter option was definitely an option but he decided against it, and he didn’t regret it. “We create a number of opportunities with my game plan, sadly we couldn’t finish.” He wan’t wrong, but I think we would have had more dominance and power with KJ Huntelaar op front and a more pragmatic and opportunistic approach.

Blind baalt

Obviously, it is too easy to blame it all on Blind. His game plan could have worked but most players in Orange weren’t able to reach their usual level. De Vrij was decent, Sneijder worked hard, Memphis had his moments and Cillesen made no mistakes but too many players were bland. Wijnaldum and Klaassen in particular looked out of place while Narsingh offered not enough either…

Despite the gloom, Holland still has options. We can still finish third and play offs will be available to us to make the cut. But we do have to keep Turkey behind us, which we can realise coming Sunday. The Turks seemed to be winning but a late goal resulted in a draw for them and a lifeline for Oranje.

After the game, Blind calmly analysed what went wrong and did mention Martins Indi and Van der Wiel specifically in their foolishness. The BMI action, he called “bad” and Van der Wiel “should no better by now. You never go down in the box. Lesson #1”.


Later on he evening. Blind announced that Jeremain Lens and Virgil van Dijk will be added to the squad, which leaves for Turkey today. Martins Indi wasn’t available for comments as he avoided the media. Arjen Robben however was quite furious. “I do blame him for this. This was not smart. He let the team down. There is a lot riding on this.”

Wesley Sneijder, currently the skipper for Oranje: “It was terrible. A horror scenario indeed. But we have to pick ourselves up now. All is not lost. We simply need to work hard to get our sights on Turkey. That will be a tough game, but they have something to play for, so I do assume we will get more space to play football.”

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Dutch football, where do we stand….?

Well, time for reflection. The football-less summer is here. The one in which we can marvel at the South Americans or smirk at the women…

I had a serious bout of bloggers curse! I wrote a long piece on Hiddink and the future of Oranje and then two things happened: a computer crash wiped out half of the text and at the same time it appeared Hiddink was out and San Marco in so my whole rant was outdated and needed reworking. This put me off for a spell. Apologies. I will rehash the old post and add all the new items in it.

The odd summers are always a bore :-). I love the big tournaments and the excitement of it all. I’m sorry I couldn’t feel it for the Lionesses. Not that I don’t like Women’s football. I think its cool that the girls get a lot of attention and all that. But I can’t watch it like I watch men’s. I see so many silly mistakes. Bad touches, bad vision, defensive errors… I don’t enjoy it. I would support our women all the way to the gold obviously but watching it is frustrating. I saw highlights of most and the full match vs Japan and we are still a bit behind them, the Ozzies, the Germans and the US. Our speed in handling the ball and movement in particular. And decision making. We also allowed several dangerous headers by the little Japanese girls while we do have some tall mofos at the back. Anyway… there is always the Olympics :-).


Lots of movement on the transfer front but not a lot of real action. Maarten Stekelenburg to Southampton is good news. For him. Not sure if we need Maarten for Oranje. But Koeman will have more patience with him I suppose. He still has 5 good years in him, I think. Karim Rekik will leave PSV. The youngster is keen to move to France or Italy. I was surprised by his move as City was not unhappy with him at PSV and the new champs are playing CL next season but Rekik wants more apparently. Otherwise, no real interest as yet in Clasie, Wijnaldum or Willems.

danny guus

It appeared that the Zeist management has had question marks around Hiddink for a while now. His lack of passion, his alleged laziness, his lack of clarity and direction and the relationship between him and the technical staff and the key players apparently is fragile.

Hiddink was a great servant to Dutch football but the time came for him to leave. Danny will take over asap in the role of team manager and none other than Marco van Basten will take the role of assistant manager in the staff. San Marco and Danny have worked together in different roles (players, coach and manager) and appreciate each other’s contributions. “Marco is one of the best analists I have come across and dares to speak his mind. He is an independent thinker and very creative tactically. He is also a great and loyal guy,” said Danny Blind.


Marco could have stayed with AZ to work under Van den Brom and was doubting whether he should take the step, but working towards a Euro and World Cup tournament with the best players of the country really appealed to him. Ruud van Nistelrooy will stay on as assistant as well.

In the meantime, some exciting transfers happened…. For starters, Skipper Van Persie leaves Man United to play in Fenerbahce’s colours. The former Feyenoord man will follow in Kuyt’s footsteps, who made his way back to Feyenoord. Van Persie signed on for three years. Louis van Gaal: “I wish him well. I sent him a text message already. Robin knew what he could expect with Man United. I was clear to him about his future here. I would have loved for him to stay, but I was not giving him a starter spot, without question. He wanted to play and keep himself on the radar for Oranje. That is his choice. I wish him well.” The crowd in Turkey greeted RVP already and Dirk tweeted a nice message to his mate. “It is not hard to fall in love with this club. I am sure Robin will love playing there and I am sure the fans will love him back.”

RVP Fener

Jordy Clasie is reunited with Ronald Koeman, with whom he built up a deep relationship. Clasie cried on the pitch when Koeman said his farewell one season ago and will join Southampton on a 5 year deal. Clasie knew he wanted to work with Koeman again, but in the last week before his decision suddenly Lazio Roma other clubs started to zoom in. Feyenoord signed Swede Gustavson as another midfielder replacement for the little playmaker. “A dream come true. In my 15 years in the Feyenoord jersey I was always told I might not reach the top. Under Koeman I made my big step up and even made it to Oranje. To go and play in the Premier League is a dream come true. But I will always remain a Feyenoord man at heart.”


Another reunion in the EPL is the move of Jeremain Lens to Advocaat’s Sunderland.

And if you need another reason to cast your eye on the EPL: Georghinio Wijnaldum signed for Newcastle United where he will join Janmaat, Siem de Jong, Anita and Krul under Steve McLaren.


Leaves us with the question “What to do to improve our Dutch football?”. The analysis needed to answer this needs to focus on the question “What is wrong with it?”. And obviously, as with anything, money is a key factor. I believe Sunderland in the EPL has more money to spend per season than all the Eredivisie clubs put together. Or something like that. There is one major issue.  Which will not be resolved just like that.

But money doesn’t buy trophies. So we need to find the solution in our coach prowess, among other things. We might not have the funds to buy the same players as Sunderland or Monaco or Basel or Benfica. But we should be able to use the players we have to create a better team. This has been done many times by the Germans (1990, 1996, 1974), in 2004 by the Greek, Louis van Gaal did it in 2014 with Oranje and at club level Atletico Madrid comes to mind.


Oranje will always be able to shine, in my opinion. We do create enough talents to fill at least 22 seats with good players. If we can have a good coach who can instil a playing style that fits the players we should be able to remain amongst the best 8 teams in Europe. I think that the new bunch of players (Depay, Willems, Clasie, Klaassen, Bazoer, Chery, Zyiech, Van Beek, Vilhena, Rekik, Berghuis) have more than enough talent to rise to the occassion. Add to this a Strootman, a Janmaat, a De Vrij and a Robben and you have a decent team.

At club level I think it will be very hard to compete. But not totally undoable. Although it will take a very strong coach with an entrepreneurial club management to come up with the goods. And every 5 years I think it should be possible for an Ajax, Feyenoord or PSV to do well in the CL.


PSV had its chance this coming season. If they’d be able to cling on to Depay and Wijnaldum for one more year. The option is always there. You promise the top players you need a free exit from the club, or something like that. In return for another year to perform in the CL. The price money you can collect might be worth it… Although… Depay 35 Mio. Wijnaldum 19 Mio. It’s a lot of money…. Is it thinkable that PSV and the players would have said no to their chance to take a next step up?

Or will it be a small team like AZ with a talented young coach like Van den Brom and players like Berghuis and Muhren maybe? To perform with excellence in the Europa League?

Who knows… Your opinion please?

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Oranje can’t rely on Robben….

It’s good to be back! Thanks again, for staying true to your favorite Dutch blog :-).

Starting to feel the jibbers already for the Saturday game!! And after, we’ll take Spain as well of course!

The man who deserved at least one Ballon D’Or. The man who will be remembered as one of Holland’s finest ever. The man who took us single left-footed almost into another World Cup finals….will not be at hand to guide the Orange Lions to victory against the Turks. Robben tore a muscle in his belly and will be out for four weeks. Just fit in time to win the CL with Bayern.

robben injury

The King is injured, love live the King.

The lads need to do it themselves. Sneijder, Hunter and De Jong are the only old guard soldiers and may not both make it in, even. So it will be down to Depay, Wijnaldum, Blind, Clasie, Narsingh to do the job.

depay guus

Depay has been criticised of not showing up in big games. The Ajax game, the two Zenit games…. He did perform ok vs Feyenoord last weekend (scoring one and having a huge opportunity for the equaliser) but needs a big game to shine. I believe in this kid! He does have that specialness that Robben has.

While the Dutch sports press is still focusing on the new coach, appointed or next season, Gio van Bronckhorst, Oranje is preparing for Turkey and Spain. Gio, who started as F pupil at Feyenoord and played in the first team in two periods (start of career and end of career) is proud to be the new Feyenoord coach. His buddy and colleague assistant  coach Jan Paul van Gastel will remain as his sidekick.

Kazim Richards, Feyenoord’s striker, will be part of the Turkey squad in the Arena. The English born Turk has been having a go at the Feyenoord international Jordy Clasie for weeks and Clasie quipped: “We all know he has a big mouth and I want to beat Turkey, so I can shut him up. Don’t want him yapping at me for weeks again!”. Clasie made his debut for Oranje in a game against Turkey under Van Gaal. “That was quite special for me, but at the same time, I didn’t play well. But hey….still a big thing, making your debut for Oranje.”

training players

With the three skippers injured (RVP, Robben and Strootman) Hiddink will fall back on his last big name player Wesley Sneijder to wear the armband. Hiddink, in his typical underrated tone: “I suppose that will work out well, yes? To give the little guy the band? He’ll know what to do?” knowing well that Wes was Van Gaal’s captain of choice when he started Holland’s qualification campaign for Brazil.

Sneijder was quite happy with the armband and his rehabilitation as a key player for Oranje. “I’m now one of the older guys who is being avoided by the young guns for being a nuisance, hahahaha.” The sparkle in his eye showed his excitement. “No one needs to tell us how important this game is. It hurts to see Iceland above us in the table. We will do what we need to do. And as an older player and now skipper, I will take responsibility and chat with the lads individually in the coming days.” Sneijder was in Istanbul when the news broke that both Van Persie and Robben couldn’t play. “They cheered as if there was something to really celebrate. They think they’ll have a chance now. And seriously, they do have a chance. They can play football when they have the ball. So the trick is not to give them possession. Tactically, they tend to be less strong. We need to play our game and not allow them on the ball and simply do what we do well.” Sneijder scored against Turkey in the WC qualification game and had very modest celebrations. “Of course, out of respect for them. I enjoy playing in Turkey. They treat me with the utmost respect and some of the Turkish internationals are my team mates, so I treat them with respect too.” Sneijder has the same number of caps as Frank de Boer and will probably over take him as the most capped field player for Holland, ever. He has 112 caps, with Van der Sar 130. Is that record achievable for Sneijder. “I am not really interested in that right now, but it’s 18 games away I suppose. So if we qualify for the Euros, or WHEN we qualify it will be feasible. But lets focus on winning first and then we’ll see later how that all adds up.”


Bas Dost was one of the key targets for the photo journalists when the players entered the hotel. “Huh? And only because I scored some goals?”, said the down-to-Earth Wolfsburg front man. He said he doesn’t expect to get playing time. “I would be foolish to count on playing. Huntelaar is number one and rightfully so. And I expect the team and Klaas Jan to do really well so I don’t think they’ll need me.” The tall former Heerenveen striker downplayed his amazing run. “Listen, I scored in a number of games. That is my job. When I don’t score for some weeks, people will call me a loser and waste of space again. I keep my feet firmly on the ground.”

Hiddink trained with 24 players on the Katwijk grounds and did his best to conceal what he’ll do with the absence of Vlaar, RVP and Robben. It’s highly likely that he’ll play 4-3-3 with a definite starting spot for Sneijder left in midfield. Clasie or Blind will play centrally and most likely Wijnaldum right in midfield. Depay seems a cert, and Huntelaar impressed against Real Madrid with two goals and will most likely start too. It seems only logical for Narsingh to start in place of Robben.

At the back, Bruma might take Vlaar’s place, with De Vrij the other centre back. Blind will play left back, or Willems will if Blind plays in midfield and Van der Wiel is the most likely right back, although Janmaat is probably on par with the Paris right back.

Gimme your preferred line ups and your prediction for the game!!!


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