Tag: Ronald Koeman

Oranje’s worst game in decades

Oranje blew Austria off the pitch, as we have been doing for decades. Their last victory over us was in 1990, bwoahahahahaha losers!!! We were able to play from under their press and Malen scored our first goal in the first five minutes of the game, after a wonderful move, including the likes of Geertruida and Schouten! Koeman had prepped his team well and picked the perfect line up. Reijnders had a tap in for 2-0. Then Malen 1 on 1 against the Austrian goalie and obviously he scored! In the second half Gakpo immediately was sent away by Simons: 4-0. Depay followed up with his first of the tournament and Holland’s fifth, while Weghorst was able to score a “Van Persie” header: 6-0.

Koeman: “This team is hungry, the fight, they make the right decisions and as a technical staff we did prep them really well. I’m proud. We might be able to go all the way, you know?”.

Sorry guys, I have to redo my post.

I do not know what I saw. I watch Oranje since 1970 or so and I don’t think I have seen many games as bad as this. We played bad against Portugal in 2006, but at least we put up a fight.

Where did we go wrong? Under-estimating the opponent? Impossible. Anyone with eyes would know how Rangnick’s Austria plays. Was it too warm? Well…. Austria played in the same circumstances. Was there not much to play for for Oranje, as we were qualified already? No, because we could win the group or become 3rd or 2nd, so much to play for (apart from new contracts….).

It was a complete dressing down and the performance and lack of outlook for improvement are more sobering than the loss. Sure, finishing 3rd is not ideal but who knows… it might actually be better than 2nd. But that is all in hindsight. Losing is crap but losing this way is horrific.

We need to start at the start.

Koeman (and the players) mentioned before the game – many times – to be fully aware of what to expect from Austria.

So there is no excuse there.

Koeman’s line-up baffled me. He started with Geertruida, because Dumfries had a little issue. He could play, but why risk him. Fine. Geertruida did ever so well in previous games, in particular the game versus Canada, with Frimpong in front of him.

So you think: Frimpong will play!

But no. Donyel Malen is on the team sheet. A player who is renowned for his lack of work ethic and defending. Not a winger I would play against Austria! And have Malen and Geertruida ever played together??

And I think: don’t use Veerman. This game will be physical, our players won’t get much time on the ball and will be hassled on the ball. That is not how Veerman can play. Use Reijnders next to Schouten and put Xavi on 10. Simple.

Koeman uses Veerman as he is “the one who can play the ball over the top”. Huh? Schouten, Reijnders, Ake, De Vrij and Van Dijk cannot play these balls? Come on!! 30 mins into the game and Koeman ruined Veerman who spent time crying on the bench. ( I don’t think Davids or Robben or Van Bommel would cry. They’d kick a water bottle, a door, a linesman and go shower).

In the first 5 minutes of the game, Oranje was able to pass the ball to 3 team mates in a row only twice!!! Austria did it 42 times. Wow. This feels like Oranje versus Cyprus, but with Austria as Oranje and Oranje as Cyprus.

Our 4-1-4-1 set up got us in to trouble as well. As we ended up mainly with three midfielders ( Gakpo and Malen staying wide) and thinking that 3 midfielder would be enough. Well, with Arnautovitch dropping back and with their wingbacks joining midfield, our midfield was squeezed as a mouse by a boa constrictor. At times our 3 midfielders faced 5 opponents. And always there where it hurt: in the centre.

The first goal of Austria was a typical example. Arnautovic keeps De Vrij busy, the free man pushes up with the ball. Geertruida needs to make a decision and leaves his wing to confront the man with the ball, expecting Malen to track back to help out. Malen recognises it too late (again!) and decides to dash into the box and ends up scoring from the wingback’s cross.

In those first 5 minutes, Geertruida – right in front of Koeman!! – is gesticulating and screaming to his team mates as the Koeman tactics were wrong. Austria does it differently. No Baumgartner and with Sabitzer playing way higher up.

Schouten can’t defend the space, Veerman is lost. Geertruida constantly needs to choose and Van Dijk – our captain – is not able to fix the issue on field.

Oranje started zonal but you can’t defend the space if you constantly have less players in that zone than the opponent.

After 20 minutes, Koeman decides to go man to man on the field and instructs his players as such. But man to man means that if you lose your man once, you are in trouble.

Veerman can’t cope with the intensity and was hella untidy on the ball. Almost half of his passes didn’t end up at their destination and he fumbled possession a lot. Simons comes on for him and Reijnders goes back to the six position.

In my view, Malen should have been taken off as well.

Funnily enough, we should have been 2-1 up by them but both Reijnders and Malen miss sitters (at this level). Both miss kick the ball and in both cases I think it’s a matter of stress. Of muscle stress in the body. Both chances were easy, bread and butter opportunities. Hitting the target but seeing your attempt blocked is always a possibility, but misshitting the ball is usually a result of not being “loose”.

Koeman gives his players the hairdryer at half time, and I’m fairly sure this went both ways! The players must have psyched themselves up as early in the second half, Geertruida – now in midfield- wins the ball and launches Simons. He finds Gakpo who does a Gakpo: 1-1.

We all thought: business as usual now. But our midfield keeps on getting in trouble as we do exactly what Austria wants. We fail to play the ball through the centre, and are pushed to the flanks where they can press us easily.

Their second goal comes from their left, again. And again it’s Malen jogging back to cover his man, giving him all the time to pick a pass. Van Dijk and De Vrij leave a lot of space in between them allowing for these penetrating runs from the Austrians. And we see a series of errors. First Malen jogging back. The two central backs opening the door. Schouten defending and blocking the ball like a little girl and Gakpo needing to track back 50 meters to cover for another team mate and eventually, also Gakpo marks the player in wrong way.

We get back into the game using Plan B: Wout Weghorst. And within minutes, the simple approach works: good cross, header back, excellent ball handling (but not hands) by Memphis: 2-2.

And I foolishly thought: okay, now we’ll get them.

But, they got us. In the 83rd minute, it was Marcel Sabitzer running like a mad man with the ball, while Oranje was dreaming of another get out of jail card, it was Schouten who let his man go, De Vrij stepping up to put pressure on …. empty space and most tellingly leader and captain Van Dijk lurking two yards behind the last line of defence, thereby playing Sabitzer on. Who scored magnificently.

So both Gakpo and Schouten are guilty of letting a man go, but… it was never their man! Chaos on the pitch.

This Oranje was dressed down completely. Including the coaching staff!

After the match, the commentary of the players was dumbfounding. Sombre, cliched comments like “I wasn’t good” and “we need to do better” and “they were everywhere” and “I wasn’t sure who would pick up who”.

Captain Van Dijk didn’t get much more out than container terms and cliches

Jerdy Schouten was the only player who actually talked about football, tactics and application. All the others were quick to defend poor Joey, by saying “the coach could have subbed all of us”. Well well well…

Even Koeman had to admit: yes it was a disgrace. And he got the question: if we are kicked out of the tournament after the first knock-out game, what will this mean for your future? Koeman has a contract till 2026 (incl World Cup). Koeman made it clear he’d probably pack his bags if that was going to be the case.

All in all, in my book, Memphis was one of the better players and scored a really good goal. Gakpo had his moments. Ake was as per usual pretty good and Verbruggen can’t be faulted, but otherwise…

The most disturbing thing for me, was the lack of maturity, the lack of tactical smarts and leadership on the pitch.

Sure, Koeman didn’t pick the right players nor tactics, but when you have experienced players from City, Liverpool, Inter Milan and Atletico on the pitch, you expect leadership. It felt like Geertruida was the only player, with Schouten, who was trying to make a change really early in the game already.

Where was Van Dijk? Who can play the Van Hanegem, Van Bommel, Wes Sneijder or Frank de Boer role? Grabbing a team mate by the ears and read him the riot act? Did it come to this in our society (not just football): we look at the coach to see what needs to be done? We look at the WHO to tell us what to inject? We look at the government to find out what is appropriate and what is not?

Disgusted. In one word.

Tell me your solutions please. And not “Koeman needs to go!”. That doesn’t help now Tell me your solutions for the next games.


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Ronald Koeman brought positive news about Wout Weghorst

Ronald Koeman hopes that Wout Weghorst will be available for the duel against Greece. The striker had to be substituted in the first half against France due to an injury, but the severity of the injury appears not to be that serious.

Wout Weghorst was very important for the Dutch team in the previous match. Not only did he score the winning goal against Ireland, but he also knows what it’s like to score against the Greeks. He was one of the three scorers in the home game and also seems capable of participating in the away game.

“He just trained” said Ronald Koeman at the press conference before the crucial game against Greece in the Euro 2024 qualifiers in Germany.

“I understand that if there are no complaints from him after training today, I could count on him for tomorrow” said Ronald Koeman.

The Dutch manager declined to reveal whether the 1899 Hoffenheim striker will immediately return to the starting lineup.

“We will see that tomorrow” said Ronald Koeman.

Everyone who was available against France on Friday will also be available against Greece.

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King Kenny finds his balance

Kenneth Tete came into Ajax 1 at a young age. What is good, comes quick they say in Holland. And Ajax has the tendency of using their talented players from a young age (Cruyff, Van Basten, Bergkamp, Van der Vaart). But for any of those, there are also Riedenwalds, Bazoers and El Ghazis, who take a longer road to success (if any).

He made a name for himself as a young and un-Ajax like player: no frills, no circus skills but dogged defensive work. I remember a typical game of Tete (at Olympique Lyonnais) against Neymar of PSG. “Keep looking at the ball and take it from him.” He didn’t display the attacking prowess of his rivals (Karsdorp, Veltman, Janmaat) and was considered a top defender but lacking in the attacking department.

This season, at Fulham, he made his way back to the EPL with a debut match vs Liverpool. An assist on his striker Mitrovic displayed a Kenny Tete who had developed into a rebel rousing wingback.

And it didn’t stop there. The 27 year old had assists versus Spurs, Nottingham Forest and Southampton and is one of the first on the Fulham team sheet.

“i want to be a modern full back. I worked hard to get there. I was always the only real defender at Ajax and it gave me a status, if you like. They didn’t have many players like me, until Tagliafico came along. At Lyon, under Bosz, I was forced to add more to the attack as Bosz wants his teams to defend and attack as a unit. My move to Fulham made that even more important. In England, the game is also way more physical so I had to work even harder, both on my physical strength and on my football skills. I could have had more than four assists. I mean, you’re depending on the guy who gets the ball to score. If they would have scored, I would have had more assists.”

In this heat map, you can see how Tete indeed covers the whole flank, but also assists his central defenders where needed.

More and more forwards realise they’ll have a tough day in the office, versus Tete. He played new Chelsea signing Mudryk from the pitch. “I tell you, I never heard of this guy before. But I did hear he cost Chelsea 100 million euros. So then I thought, hmmm, he’s probably pretty good and that motivates me even more!” Mudryk didn’t get any thing going against King Kenny and remained in the dressing room at half time.

“My first big encounter against a super star was my game against Neymar. I was super nervous, but I decided: just do what you normally do but stay 100% focused and don’t start to think “oh my , I am facing Neymar”. And ever since that match, I feel secure and confident. And yes, when a guy like Mudryk gets hooked, it feels good but at the same time: at Chelsea they’ll put another top player opposite you and you have to go again. You know, Sterling or Mount or Havertz, they’re all top players.”

Tete ended the match vs Chelsea with the Man of the Match trophy.

Football players are never “safe”. Coaches want at least two players for any spot so Tete got competition from a new signing, Swiss international Mbabu. The talented defender hasn’t had a peak, so far. Tete: “I used to overthink things, you know. What if this, what if that. And I made myself anxious and lost confidence, by not controlling my mind. I’m different now. I take things step by step. I am not thinking about the matches in April, or next season, or the new signing. I am working hard on training and go from match to match. It serves me.”

“When I was at Ajax, playing in the first team at 19 years old, there were rumours of Real Madrid having an interest. And that screws with your mind a bit. You start with fantasies and with dreams and you play with the idea in your head that the next game might get you that transfer. I mean, many players made big moves in those days, and I too wanted to reach high. I ended up with Fulham and got relegated! But I stayed, I love this club and now we’re number 7 in the league! I am focusing fully on Fulham as I love it here, I love living in London and my family loves it here too. If I have to finish my playing career here, I wouldn’t not mind a single bit.”

Marco Silva’s team has found the way up and has the best season since a long time. “We didn’t lose too many players and were able to bring in some good new lads and it just clicks now. We are playing with flair, with passion, with joy and it works. And we played Arsenal twice, the number 1 in the league, and we lost to them by goals in the last minute. This does mean we are not 100% there yet, but it also means we’re getting close.”

In the past years, the Dutch National Team was a no fly zone for King Kenny, but it might well be that a mainstay in the Premier League gets another call up. Dumfries doesn’t play a lot at Inter. Rensch doesn’t convince. Karsdorp only just started playing again, Geertruida plays as a central defender… Any thoughts? “Well, I was on the prelim list of De Boer’s squad, but I wasn’t a part of the squad for a long time. I missed the Euros, missed the World Cup so I’m not a go to guy at the moment. And I will not claim I should be. But sure, playing well in the EPL does mean you’re reaching a good level, so if the invite comes, I will be ready.”

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Dutch football on the up and up (again)

Wow! Two clubs in the Champions League group stages! What a luxury. Well done Ajax, well done PSV! A wonderful start to the season, particularly with Salzburg missing their chance, meaning that The Netherlands have surpassed Austria (sic!) on the coefficiency list of the UEFA and if all goes well and we get more than enough points together, we could have a direct placement in the CL group stages again in the 20/21 season! Yay!

And based on the draw, I wouldn’t be surprised if we actually get quite some points. Ajax doesn’t have that big a shock. Bayern Munich is definitely too good for us now, but, we play them the second time on the last day. This could be good. Bayern will most likely be placed already and might field a B-team!

The other two opponents seem doable. Beatable.

PSV however will have a mountain to climb, but with sensational ties. Spurs, Barca, De Vrij’s Inter…. Mouthwatering. And I do think PSV could well finish third in the group and go into the Europa League after the winter break.

Bloody annoying that Feyenoord and AZ didn’t do what they could have done and pulled their weight too!

Mark van Bommel deserves praise for the way PSV plays. It’s not all silky smooth yet, in particular in the Eredivisie PSV is not on steam. PEC Zwolle played PSV off the pitch, but…PSV didn’t concede while they took their chance in the last minute of the game to seal the win. That is a quality too.

But the team impressed vs Bate Borisov. Energetic, on the front-foot, playing like a real team. With much criticized Luuk de Jong as one of the leaders, a perfect target man and he is also finding the net again!

Pereiro being found in between the lines

Gaston Pereiro was the most skilled PSV player to never fulfil his promise, for a long time. Every one can see and could see he has tremendous qualities, but will he ever be consistent? Well, under Van Bommel he is the key man. The Dreh-und-Angel punkt. The metronome. Whenever PSV has trouble finding him, like against PEC Zwolle, PSV is under par. Whenever they can find him, like vs Utrecht and Bate Borisov, PSV plays well.

PSV is getting better and better in finding the man more situation on the pitch and the new full backs, former City man Angelino and ex Heerenveen back Denzel Dumfries are perfect for Mark’s game plan. They offer energy, runs forward in the channel and most importantly, great final balls.

And with Lozano and Bergwijn, PSV can dominate games and they can play on the counter attack! Promising, indeed!

PSV in counter attacking mode

The technical management of the club is as pro-active as the players, with two key signings on the night PSV secured CL football. Mexican midfielder and bossom buddy of Lozano Guiterez was signed, while Australian international full back Aziz Behich is coming in as well.

More news this week, Koeman’s Oranje squad. It lacks Weghorst (understandable), Berghuis (lacking form) and Bergwijn (harder to understand) and it will offer a debut to Frenkie de Jong (long overdue) in Oranje. Obviously, Wesley Sneijder will be part of the squad for the Peru game, as he will be farewilled in that game and start as captain.

Koeman called Van Bommel to explain why Bergwijn was not in the squad and why Kluivert (not a starter at Roma) is. Van Bommel declined to tell the media what Koeman told him. Most likely, Koeman wasn’t impressed with Bergwijn’s first matches (he only started to fire in the last week or so). And, Bergwijn is a player who, like Memphis, loves to come into the ball and doesn’t so much go deep or in behind without. This is what Kluivert will give you. That seems reasonable. But Bergwijn will definitely get his spot in the limelight, for sure.

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Gearing up to Oranje friendlies

With the lull we had in Oranje football and the newly appointed strong men finding their feet (Hoogma, Koeman) it’s time we see the Orange Lions perform again. The Eredivisie simply can’t convince us of better times to come I suppose… Ajax, the best players but inconsisent (and even worse with Ten Hag then under Keizer at the moment). PSV, on title winning course, but never impressing (bar the Feyenoord game, in which they played very good) and Feyenoord…well… disastrous really.

AZ is getting the kudos and the headlines, and rightfully so, but we’ll need to see if they can do it in big games vs big opponents as well. Usually, the bottle it against Ajax, Feyenoord and PSV.

There are some positives though, some of our Oranje candidates abroad are getting stronger and stronger. Memphis and Tete show promise. Promes shows…well…promise. De Vrij, Hateboer, De Roon, all strong. Davy Propper is getting praise from the Match of the Day punters while Mike van der Hoorn has found his role in the Swansea defense.

The number of youthful talents in the Eredivisie is on the increase as well, with quite some strong talents coming up on the radar. Soon, I’ll post an article with some up and coming stars for us.

Ronald Koeman made some big changes when he started in the job. In the olden days, a former team manager decided to have the NT stay and train in Noordwijk, in the hotel of a friend. Strange of course. Because the KNVB spent millions to build a cool sports centre in the forests of Zeist. Every athlete or sports team (Hockey, baseball, etc) would go there to be secluded, to be able to focus and have all the amenities available. The NT however, had to train miles away from the hotel at the amateur club of Katwijk (Dirk Kuyt’s former club) and logistically, this was always a drama. The players loved it there though, the more “extraverted” ones would slip away from the hotel to go to the vibrant night life of Zandvoort or The Hague to have some party time away from coaches and family.\

Media circus at Hotel Noordwijk

Under Koeman, no more. He was known to be one of those party animals when he was a player and he knows every trick in the book. (If you were a team mate of Ruud Gullit, you definitely would get a master class in slipping girls into your hotel room…yes girls…plural!). So Koeman decided to stop with that ritual of staying in Noordwijk. And he is directing his underperfoming prima donnas to go to the prison camp – a luxurious one though – in Zeist. Boom!

Koeman demands dedication, rest and professionalism on his long and winding road towards the 2020 Euros.

Koeman is quite optimistic. He believes any team or squad needs to play to their strengths AND weaknesses. “If we don’t have the world class talent of Sneijder and Robben anymore, we’ll need to use the strengths we have. If we’re not strong defensively, we need to make sure we don’t need to defend…” Cruyffian statements.

He asked the questions, rhetorical ones of course. “How is Quincy Promes doing in Moscow? Isn’t De Vrij a top defender in Italy? Has Memphis not demonstrated that he can do it? Is Wijnaldum not a highly valued player under Klopp? Didn’t Liverpool break the transfer record for Van Dijk? Can we not all see the amazing lungs and legs of AZ’s Guus Til? Aren’t we excited about Frenkie de Jong, Justin Kluivert, Donny van der Beek?”

Koeman is optimistic. But also disappointend. “When I was called up for the national team, in my days, I was proud. I was exhilarated to be part of it. I would go even when my leg had been amputated. I miss this mentality now. The pride to wear the jersey. The attitude, the mentality. When you have less quality, you simply have to give 110% of what you have. When you’re Messi or Robben or David Silva, sure, you can rely on your skills. But when you are Greece 2004, you need to spit in your hands and work work work. “Missing one tournament is highly inconvenient, but okay, it can happen. Missing two in a row, is really bad.” The only good thing for Koeman is that with Oranje and the KNVB in crisis, he could come in at his terms.

So after barely a month in the job, we can see some impact already.

The move from Noordwijk to Zeist is a big call. The players’ quarters are at walking distance from the pitches. The medical centre is right next door. There are gates around the complex, so Ronald can work in peace and without media people or scouts or managers trying to butt in.

The KNVB Sportscentre

The prelim squad selection is a second big one. No more Wesley Sneijder. Ronald Koeman did it with grace. He flew to Qatar, spoke with Sneijder, our record international, and basically said: Wes, just pull out of international games, otherwise I have to drop you. And with the former skipper and leader’s international career over, the career of new faces Til, Weghorst, Kluivert, Bizot and Padt just started. And if Frenkie de Jong wasn’t injured, his name would be on the list as well. Our team manager simply looks at players who play well consistently, so Ruud Vormer – best player in Belgium and ignored by Koeman’s predecessors – is also finally part of the prelim squad. Hans Hateboer went through a tremendous development at Atalanta and is also part of the 33-players prelim squad. Koeman’s signal is clear: I cast a wide net. If you perform well, I’ll spot you!

The third signal Koeman is giving, is hidden in the age and skillsets of the players. Ryan Babel is the only 30+ player in the squad. Koeman considers to play like Atalanta does, with three defenders and a team of fit, athletic runners (like Hateboer and De Roon). This playing style fits Koeman, who introduced it at Feyenoord and it will fit Daryl Janmaat, back in the squad, and players like Van Aanholt and Ake.

And lastly, the way Koeman organises the accessibility of the players will change. In the past, it was a media circus when the players arrived at the Hotel Oranje in Noordwijk. Not any more. There will be no press conferences to announce player selections, just a press release. There will be one Oranje training where media is welcome, but only for 15 minutes. At Southampton and Everton, Koeman worked like this. He doesn’t like media and other voyeurs to be watching when he is working. He wants peace and he wants to be able to say or shout things that should not be repeated in the papers. In England, this is accepted. In The Netherlands, the media will complain about this as the former NT managers were usually quite open. But the criticism leaves Koeman cold. He shrugs his shoulders…

“My terms!”

I personally don’t see too many surprises in the squad. Still a bit surprised that Erik Pieters isn’t called up but we do have good quality on the full back positions, with Patrick van Aanholt finding his old form again. Sven van Beek will probably get a look in later, if he keeps on performing consistently and Frenkie de Jong will also be a no-brainer.

It’s good to see Bergwijn amongst the forwards, a very bright prospect indeed.

At the same time, we have all seen how hard it is to reach and stay at top level. I think our good friend Emmanueal Tiju was blowing the horn of Kevin Diks and St Juste and Bart Ramselaar and Jorit Hendrix in the past year, but one can see how hard it is for a talented youth player to stay at the top and keep on developing. The orange jersey seems a long way out for Kevin Diks at the moment.

I saw some questions on the site about some players. My opinion below:

Bryan Linssen – good sub top forward. Already 27 years old. Quite lazy. Doesn’t give 100% for the sports, always struggling with his weight. Gifted player but not for the top. He’s at Vitesse now and I think that is his ceiling.

Idrissi – was kicked out of the Feyenoord youth and went to Groningen. Was seen as a dissonant there too. Showed promise at Groningen but finally shines now at AZ in a better team. Van de Brom is a coach who can reach Idrissi, so there is still hope for him. Very talented but also full of himself.

Ruud Vormer – also a bit long in the tooth. Lacks pace. Great player on the ball, a bit like Lasse Schone. Not an Oranje international long term.

Guus Til – great talent, wonderful runner, picking his time right and cool in the box. Pleasant personality too. Like Van Ginkel a bit. Will make it.

Wout Weghorst – reminds me of Van Nistelrooy. Hard working, very ambitious, invests a lot in himself. Will make it big(ger) due to his workrate and personality. Will not even be able to stand in the shadow of Van Basten, Kluivert, Van Nistelrooy but can be very useful.

Bart Ramselaar – was a big man at Utrecht and took a long time to find his role at PSV. Finally seems to find his game, played well in the last weeks. Too early to tell.

Expect a post on our former skipper Sneijder and our former playmaker Van der Vaart soon!

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Oranje under new management

Finally, the post we’ve been waiting for… The KNVB has made their choices and Ronald Koeman (Team Manager) and Nico-Jan Hoogma (Director Top Sports) were introduced yesterday to the media and the public.

The announcement of Koeman was no surprise. He was named as ideal years ago already. KNVB failure general manager Bert van Oostveen once bypassed Koeman (and picked Hiddink) and it was quite certain the former Oranje captain one day would get the job. With Van Oostveen out of the way, Oranje in deep dire straits and Dutch football in the slumps, Koeman now is the guiding light we all put our faith in. Will the former Everton/Southampton/Feyenoord/AZ/Benfica/PSV/Ajax/Valencia/Vitesse coach be the right man for the job? Who knows… I can see why he would be, and I can see why he wouldn’t be. Time will tell.

General Manager Erik Gudde and Ronald Koeman

Nico-Jan Hoogma will be a surprise appointment. He does not have a big name in Holland, let alone abroad. He is no Oranje legend and I don’t think he ever won a trophy in football (I will need to check…). Oops! He did. He played Champions League football with HSV Hamburg. Won the German cup with HSV and won the title in the Jupiler League twice, once with Cambuur, once with Heracles Almelo. His son Justin Hoogma is a player of Hoffenheim, in the Bundesliga.

He’s not the big name appointment some would have wanted (Van Gaal, Adriaanse, Martin van Geel) but he’s probably a very good choice.

What you need to know, is that the new Chairman of the KNVB is a man called Jan Smit. Doesn’t get more Dutch. A highly respected club chairman (Heracles Almelo as well), who is revered for his wisdom, astute management and experience. Under his management, Heracles became one of the best managed and most healthy clubs in The Netherlands. And he worked with Nico Jan for 11 years and will know exactly what Hoogma can and can not do.

Hoogma was general manager at Heracles for 11 years and was one of the key men to keep that club stable and solid. He’s been a trooper on the pitch for FC Twente, Heracles and HSV Hamburg (ex captain) and was present in the Bundesliga when the Germans in 2000 got a shock with their slump and used the Dutch football know-how to pull themselves out of the rut.

Gudde and Director Top Sports Nico-Jan Hoogma

His role will be specifically aimed at the football development (trainer and coaching training/development in particular) and the liaison role towards the clubs, in order to get them all to toe the new line.

Apart from him, a more football development manager will be appointed as well, to work with the youth rep teams and implement the new development strategy.

At his press conference, Koeman said he will appoint two new assistants and a physiology coach and a keepers coach. The name of Kees van Wonderen (former Feyenoord captain and FC Twente youth coach) is going around. Ruud Gullit will not be considered by Koeman. Brother Erwin Koeman will also not be part of the new team. He is keen to get a head coach job soon after having assisted his bro for 5 seasons.

Nico Jan Hoogma in his HSV days…

Ronald also announced he will make a drastic change. But he didn’t say what. It’s quite obvious that he refers to abandoning the 4-3-3 sacred system…

So, what should be done…

Use your strengths and let the Team support the Key players

So, imagine the team has one world class player and imagine this player is a dribble king. Now imagine Oranje plays a key match against a big opponent, with the chance to qualify for the big tournament after a good result. And that player has not been able to have one single successful dribble during the full match. Weird eh? This is what happened in the away game vs France, under Advocaat. Oranje lost 4-0 and Robben did not have a single offensive action. Instead, he played right back most of the time. When Oranje did have the ball, he was played in when he had two markers on him and was with his back to their goal, as a result of Oranje’s poor pace and poor positioning play. If you use your key player like this, you’re in trouble. It’s not calculus to determine that you need to adapt your tactics in such a way that you use the strengths of your best players. It has nothing to do with systems. Louis van Gaal used this approach to coach Oranje to the semi finals in 2014’s World Cup, allowing Robben to shine. Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich was the reason why Robben was able to be the most dominant player in that era, with their ultra dominating football. This current Oranje doesn’t have a star player. Oranje is therefore forced to make the team the star. With key players like Daley Blind, Strootman, Wijnaldum, Promes and Depay finding ways to play to their best, and lifting the team as a whole into a unit. The Oranje team will have to work to allow the new star to emerge… Whether it’s Frenkie de Jong, Justin Kluivert or maybe still Memphis…

On the left: Robben played in at Oranje, back to goal. On the right: Robben played in at Bayern.

Stop man marking, you can’t win matches with 11 asses

When Oranje plays it’s last match under Dick Advocaat, it’s exactly 25 years since Ernst Happel passed over and is coaching the likes of Garrincha, Cruyff, George Best and Nico Rijnders up in heaven. In the 1960 the Austrian legend brought his innovation to Holland, introducing the 4-3-3 system. He also detested man marking. “When you tell your players to man mark, you’re sending 11 asses into the game and you will never win.” It’s good thing he died and didn’t have to see how Hiddink, Blind and then Advocaat struggled with the new developments in the game. When Belarus left back scored against Oranje, some people blamed Arjen Robben for not tracking back. Now there is an old fashioned concept. The paradox of man marking is, that one can always blame one individual for a conceded goal. Whereas in modern football, the team is the individual. The one team unit philosophy. It’s the collective. We live in a time where nations with less individual qualities than Holland are going from strength to strength (Iceland, Wales, Sweden, Poland, Japan, Peru) using zonal marking. It’s simple. When possession is lost, you create 2 banks of 4 players, with two quicker forwards in front of the block. Compact. Hard to break down. And relatively easy to break when the ball is turned around. Koeman’s first priority should be the defensive organisation. Not conceding is key. And to work on creative, dominant play is not something a team manager has the time for. They simply don’t work enough together and get enough time together. So the priority must be the defensive organisation, which is easier to drill in. And scoring wasn’t out biggest issue anyway. Holland scored more in the qualifications than France! But conceding silly goals was. The good thing is, it was certainly not due to bad defenders, but mostly due to bad collective and organisational defending. Surely, Holland has better defenders (Van Dijk, De Ligt, De Vrij, Van Beek, Blind, Hoedt, Ake, Fosu-Mensah, Bruma, Rekik) than Iceland, Sweden, Poland etc etc but we simply had a dreadful organisation…

Our new defensive organisation!

Control midfield!

What makes most people crazy and does not help Oranje winning games, is the hopeless and ongoing square passing and back passing. In nine out of ten qualification games, it was the defenders who had most of the touches. Koeman will have to put an end to this. This is the symptom of a team unable to dominate the midfield. If a team hasn’t got the individual class to dominate the midfield, it will have to do so with a better organisation and positioning. This was a trademark for Holland for decades. But today, we hardly see the dropping-back forwards (Van Persie, Bergkamp, Ronald de Boer, Cruyff) or the forward moving defenders (Krol, De Boer, Rijkaard, Blind, Koeman). Our midfield is constantly drowned out by numbers. No wonder Wijnaldum and Strootman are hailed at their clubs but constantly fail in Oranje. In most modern successful teams, the flanks are covered by one athletic runner. Whether at Man City, Bayern, Chelsea, Real, Ajax… the double cover on the wings, with two players on each side stuck to the line is outdated. Our opponents think it’s fine that we play like that. What danger can you present from there? Fabian Delph at Man City plays like a midfielder when City is in possession. Same as Kimmel at Bayern. Why can’t Daley Blind do this? Currently, we don’t have a world class striker. So what? Use that to your advantage. Barca doesn’t play with an out and out striker. Use the space for a player to drift into. Promes from the right, or Van de Beek from midfield. Use the 3-4-1-2 system for a change, allowing more dominance of midfield. We have the runners (Janmaat, Karsdorp, Willems, Tete, Van Aanholt) and we have three good central defenders with build up capabilities (De Vrij, Van Dijk, Blind). Watford used this system to beat Champions Chelsea (admitting Chelsea played with 10 most of the game) but still…

Dick Advocaat did make a step forward by placing Daley Blind as central midfielder, against Romania and Sweden. Daley has been developed as a midfielder and can play excellent in this role, provided the team around him can cover for his weakness (speed). Spain uses two playmakers (Isco and Silva) who both start on the flank and drift inside. Steven Berghuis and Quincy Promes or Memphis Depay can play in these roles…

Movement, it’s all movement…

Forget systems, but focus on principles. In modern football, space is limited and time is limited. In today’s football it’s the turnaround that allows for space. It’s all about variance and movement. This is how you can break down an opponent which doesn’t allow for much space. Structured running line and fixed systems are obsolete. Flexible guidelines is what is needed, no more straightjackets. How can we use the ingredients of the Dutch school and adapt these into playing principles of the modern times. Which formation we start with is totally irrelevant. Does Man City play 4-3-3, 4-2-3-1 or 4-5-1? It’s not relevant.

Standard situations

Holland only scored one goal from a corner in the recent qualification games. A Sneijder corner, headed away and volleyed into the goal by Promes, with a lot of luck and through a lot of legs. Working on dead ball situations can and should add 4 to 5 goals in a qualification process. It could well be the difference between qualifying and not qualifying. Long throws, free kicks and corner kicks. The Scandinavians have had mediocre forwards, but they turned throw ins, free kicks and corners into an artform and scored key goals from them. Jetro Willems is one of the few players we have that can throw the ball into the box. If we can’t dominate and obliterate opponents with dazzling pass and move play, why not be happy with a 1-0 win from a corner or well worked free kick?

Thanks to VI Pro.

Next up: Who the F is Nico Jan Hoogma?

Ronald Koeman explaining his concepts for Oranje, sadly in Dutch…

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Ronald Koeman, hero in Rotterdam

We covered and congratulated Ajax on their title win. We will most definitely congratulate a WONDERFUL PEC Zwolle with their bashing of Ajax in De Kuip. It was 5-1 for PEC but it could have been 8-1.

This does link to the topic of today’s post, as Ronald Koeman as Feyenoord coach was opposed to PEC playing European football just by losing a cup final (he said that before the game of course). So, now Ronald can sleep soundly, as PEC deserved it!!

As you will know, the game was seriously disrupted by Ajax fans (!!) throwing fireworks onto the pitch. The theory now is that they did so to ruin Feyenoord’s impeccable pitch! As Ajax supporters have been banned from the Feyenoord temple for years, this was seen as their opportunity to inflict pain to Feyenoord. Well, it worked, as the Feyenoord groundsman was spotted crying when all this happened….

Louis van Gaal decided to wait with announcing his first practice prelim squad until Monday, so we will take the time to look at our Eredivisie Number 2’s coach (and ex player ) Ronald Koeman. No love lost between him and Louis, by the way.

In three years under Ronald Koeman, Feyenoord has made some good progress. Although as a fan and a football connaisseur I personally would not uncork the champagne after this season… But, Koeman is on his way out, and through the front door, as opposed to predecessors Been and Verbeek.

Feyenoord finished second, third and second in three years. The objective of Feyenoord was/is to win the title at least once every three seasons. And they didn’t. And this season should have been that season, of course. (We are a football nation of should haves).

Fred Rutten will now come and give it a go and Rutten is a very decent coach, so who knows. But the question will be: with whom will Rutten have to do this… It seems many international scouts are hovering around this Feyenoord. When the Rotterdam club played PSV in Eindhoven, scouts of Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, Everton, Spurs, Man City, AS Roma, Napoli and several German and French clubs were spotted. Some PSV lads were on the short list, for sure, like Wijnaldum and Matavz but the crop was there for Clasie, Janmaat, Kongolo, Martins Indi, De Vrij, Vilhena, Boetius and Pelle.

Martins Indi apparently is still on the list for Everton, while Brendan Rodgers is a fan of De Vrij. Kongolo will definitely be on the Man City / Chelsea short list while Vilhena seems to be the real hot property. Clasie and Janmaat are linked with moves to Italy while Arsenal has shown interest in Janmaat earlier.

Pelle is getting on age wise and has the best options working on his retirement plan with a move to the Middle East or Turkey.

Tech Director Martin van Geel already stated that Feyenoord doesn’t need to sell players, per se, but De Vrij and Janmaat have already announced they won’t be renewing their deals with Feyenoord before the World Cup. Van Geel is quite positive about Feyenoord’s chances renewing Kongolo’s, Vilhena’s and Boetius’ contracts.

Koeman is a football hero in Holland. He played for all three big clubs and therefore can count on sympathy from most people in Holland ( and Groningen of course). And when he moved to Barca he made us proud with his Europa Cup 1 winning strike at Wembley. His role in Oranje made his a true hero with most Dutch fans secretly loving his “wipe the ass gesture” with Thon’s jersey in 1988.

Koeman R thon

As a coach, he didn’t seem to cut it. He did well with Vitesse and Ajax but his somewhat “cover your behind” antics (re: Van Gaal at Ajax) and his sudden exit at PSV made him suspicious. He got fired at Valencia and AZ and the jury seemed to be coming back with a negative verdict. Until Feyenoord.

A conversation with Ronald Koeman:

The 5-1 in De Kuip versus Cambuur was most likely your last home game in The Netherlands as coach?

“Well, that is quite rash. It will be for Feyenoord and it might be my last ever as club coach, but who knows… It will be a special game. I normally am not that sentimental about things but I did feel tingles during that game. It was in the back of my mind…. And we are closing somethings special here. I highly enjoyed my time at Feyenoord, my relationship with the lads. This is quite a unique club.”

What did Feyenoord bring you?

“Happiness. I lost my happiness as a coach. Being fired so unceremoniously at AZ was a big deal for me. I sort of took a hit and then my wife got very ill and I really didn’t wanna go to another country. Feyenoord was perfect for me. I had very good memories of my time here as a player and the moment I got in the club was ideal. I once had to replace Van Gaal at Ajax after he won a title and I had to replace Hiddink at PSV after he won a title so that follow up season is always tough. At Feyenoord, getting some quick wins in the beginning was not that hard and very essential.”

What did you bring Feyenoord?

“I hope that I taught them that they’re not talents anymore. They need to be killers, they needed that mentality. That and some old fashioned bringing up you know. Some values. When I came here, the players were allowed to have lunch at home. And they sometimes trained at 1 pm and the players were free in the morning! Well not with me… I made them come to the club earlier, we’d eat together… I have so many young players and when you let them come at 1 pm, God knows what they do with their morning… Sleep in? Have a pizza? Play games? I needed to bring them in. I needed them to have a decent lunch before training. I also made a clear statement. “Age is not an issue for me. The best man plays. But…if you do play, even if you’re only 18, I expect you to deliver. No hiding behind “but I am still young” arguments.” As a coach of young players, you have to sometimes act as their dad…”

Not all players enjoyed that!

“That is sadly also the case with your children. But when they get older, they’ll understand. I had my fair share of clashes with Sneijder, Van der Vaart and Ibrahimovic as well but they all said since that they learned a lot under my reign.”

Was this Feyenoord group tough?

“Not really and most things we were able to keep indoors. There were some unpleasant situations. I had to strip De Vrij of his band and later Pelle. I had to tell Vilhena off with a penalty, those sorts of things. Can’t keep that indoors, hahaha. But otherwise we did well. I never understood why players have to go out and talk to the media about things they don’t get or don’t like. It’s easy to knock on my door and simply discuss it with me… But that is youth, I guess.”

koeman LVG

Vitesse, Ajax, PSV and Feyenoord. Which club will be your best memory…

“Oooh, that is a difficult one. And a dangerous one to answer as well. I have had so many good memories. Winning the title on the last playing day with PSV, with Ajax I won two titles and we did well in the CL… With Feyenoord though, we had to make do with limited means and although we didn’t win anything, we did win the respect of Rotterdam and we brought pride back to De Kuip. That is probably worth more than silverware, if I think about it…. The Feyenoord feeling goes deeper than anything else. This is the biggest club in Holland. Reaching second spot is not worthy of a celebration but we do feel like a party. And I can understand why.”

When you took over from Mario Been in 2011, it didn’t look too good….

“It didn’t. They had finished 10th. Which is really really bad for Feyenoord. There was not a lot of confidence. Fer and Wijnaldum had just left. But we did alright, we started well and when Guidetti and Bakkal joined us we suddenly had a team that clicked. Some players even made it to the National Team. That season we ended second. Amazing. The next season we lost the complete axes of the team: Vlaar, El Ahmadi, Bakkal and Guidetti gone. What now? But we got Pelle and we reached the third spot. This season, we kept the squad together while Ajax, Twente and PSV had some changes. So I figured: this is the title year. But we ended up not being consistent enough. We conceded too many late goals and we had a horrific start with zero out of three. This gave us a bit of a stressed out attitude from the start. All in all, not winning the title is a disappointment.”

So what is more dominant: the pride of being number 2 and potentially gaining access to the CL or the idea that the title was lost?

“Both I’m sure. Both. This season, we scored more goals than Ajax. That doesn’t happen often. Normally Ajax reaches 100 goals. There is a shift in hierarchy coming. But we forgot to kill off the small games (Den Haag, NEC, RKC, Cambuur, PEC Zwolle) and that has cost us the title.”

So you actually did go for the title?

“Of course! The start of the second season half, we started great against Utrecht. We had to go to Ajax and then Den Haag. We lost without a hope against Ajax and then we lost against ADO too. 6 points in 4 days. I knew, that if we would survive these two games, for instance a draw at Ajax and a win at ADO we would have had our tails up. But, every coach can look back like this. If if if…. But I can’t shake the feeling we could have won it.”

The last 8 games you started to rotate more and play 5-3-2 and you won almost all the games. Why didn’t you start like this?

“I did! Against Zwolle I played with Vormer and Goossens. I wanted more resistance for the others. But we lost three in a row and I needed my strongest team to pick up points. Once we did, I wanted to let that line up settle for a while.”

You wanted competition in the squad?

“It’s all about taking responsibility. Players need to be 100% committed to their job. I’ll give you example. I asked goalie Mulder at a certain point “Twente is our next target, how many points do we need to take them?”. And Mulder, and most of the players, didn’t know! They didn’t know… How is it possible that you don’t know this? So I had to discuss this with them and make them aware.”

kooeman wembley

Guus Hiddink will be the new team manager of Oranje, but many polls said that the Dutch people wanted you.

“Yeah, but the one guy who decides didn’t think so… Ideal for me. Staying in Holland, working with the best players, visiting and watching football all over Europe. But I’m done with it. The KNVB called me last year to ask if I was able to do it. Now they take Hiddink and needed an assistant who would take over from Hiddink. And I was willing to do this. Why not? I have no ego in this, I would love to have done the field coaching and Guus can do the press, hahaha. But they never called and Guus, whom I consider to be a good friend, never ever called me either. Which is something I will check with him. A simple call and a cup coffee would have made all the difference.”

Oranje has dropped significantly, to the 15th spot on the FIFA ranking. Disturbing?

“Oh yes, the signals are there. There is always generations and quality differences in those… I don’t see the quality of Robben, Sneijder, Van Persie, Van der Vaart, with all do respect. And our development is focused on technical and tactical while in England, Spain and Italy is the focus more on mental strength and physical strength. I saw Oranje Under 21 last summer against Italy Under 21 and it was boys vs men…. I personally believe that young talent can only develop well in the bigger competitions. I am sorry to say so, as it would mean the big talents will leave Holland but our development is too limited. They have to play against better opponents.”

You have a number of great talents in your squad. Which one of these do you see becoming important for Oranje?

“Hmmm…it is always hard to say. I think all the players we have, have demonstrated to be of great value as club players in Holland. Period. That is what we know for sure. Whether they can make the step up remains to be seen. One never knows. I played with tremendous young players in my time who never made it. And others who did make it big were not always the ones who excelled in the youth system. I believe someone like Jan Wouters never even played for rep teams in his youth! Or Jaap Stam! Like I said, they all have the basic skills. The foundation is there. The technical skill of some of these guys is phenomenal, but they need a balance in all their skills. So, mentality, tactical smarts, coaching, reading the game, etc. I think Clasie, Boetius, Vilhena, De Vrij, Martins Indi and Kongolo have all this and will need to further develop, week in week out. Clasie needs to be able to read the game better and become more dominant. He will need some of Sneijder’s venom. De Vrij and Martins Indi need to become tougher and shrewder. Meaner, maybe even! Boetius is still young and somewhat naive. But he will probably keep on developing. Vilhena can be a bit unchoachable at times…. I think Janmaat has shown over the years to be ready for a next step. He is very consistent. But, to take the right step is very important. Club culture, what coach will you work with….what is the vision of the club, what players do they have… Etc.”

But all in all, this World Cup, Oranje won’t be highly successful in your view?

I didn’t say that. I think we have potential. We don’t have to lose against Spain. And we need to be smart in the group. Draw against Spain is a good result, for instance, but we’ll be dependent on what Spain does vs Chile. Or Australia for that matter. It will be a bit of a lottery, sadly. I think Van Gaal is smart enough to have the lads peak at the right moment but I do think he needs to fix the Strootman absence. That is not just a matter of putting another name on the team sheet. I think Sneijder’s lack of fitness and Strootman’s absence calls for another, more conservative, approach. Once we survive the group, anything is possible. At the end of the day, two teams reach the finals and a lucky draw can mean that some of the big contenders get beaten by other nations… We’ll see. I won’t place a lot of money on Holland, though, hahahaha.”

Do you miss the ex-players in the KNVB development programs?

“These guys all work in at their former clubs. The KNVB has teachers on the payroll, not coaches or ex players.”

So, what is the next step for you?

“I am intrigued to take on a higher level. I would love to work in the Premier League, for instance, but I won’t be rigid about this. I’ll entertain the options. We have some requests here and there and we’ll start talking after the competition is over.”

ronald koeman en guus hiddink

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Bruno Martins Indi: No words, but deeds….

With the World Cup swiftly approaching we will take a closer look at some of the lads we expect to perform for us in Brazil but who are not that well known (yet). So less on Robben, Van Persie and Wes and more attention to the up and comers.

Although, obviously, we will keep you informed on the big guns too :-).

Feyenoord did not have a great couple of weeks with losses against Ajax for the cup, ADO for the competition and only yesterday that draw against title contender Vitesse at home.

The good news is: Ronald Koeman will not extend his deal. To me, it seems the juice is gone from that relationship, judging from the lacklustre and inconsistent results of the team. Geen Woorden Maar Daden ( “no words, but deeds”) is the motto of Feyenoord so I won’t go into the Koeman situation to much….

However, despite the lack of trophies, Koeman and his staff has managed to coach young players like Janmaat, Martins Indi, De Vrij, Clasie and most likely Boetius and Vilhena to the highest level. We will most likely see a couple of these lads in Brazil.

Focus on Bruno Martins Indi, for now.

He was very young when he once drove with Robin van Persie to the players hotel of Oranje. Bruno was looking some wisdom and advice from the experienced forward. Van Persie shrugged his shoulders with all those questions and winked and said: no words, but deeds!

It seemed an empty expression to BMI at the time, but the Portuguese born defender made that motto his.

BMI defending

Martins Indi: “It took me a while to find myself. To understand what works for me and who my true self is. I had to really decide to stick close to my essence and to who I really am. I need this to be at my optimal best. I cannot live that life of interviews and tv-shows and sponsor events etc. I do realise I have commitments and I won’t walk away from it, but if I don’t have to do something, I won’t. I need my rest, my focus, to perform well. In the beginning of my career I had six interviews per week and it would not work for me.”

Martins Indi’s career is important to him, but not the most important thing. “Not everything will be sacrificed for football. It’s very important, but more important is my growth as a human being. I want to be a good human being. I want to be there for my girlfriend Meica and my daughter Zoe. And I want to be honest and truthful. There is some dishonesty in this football life and I cannot deal with that. And I refuse to change myself. If people aren’t honest to me or people I love, I will stand up. People who deal with me get the pure me. Sometimes its better to shut up, people say, but… I can’t. I have to look at myself in the mirror, you know?”

Recently, there was this annual riot on the players tunnel again, when PSV came to Rotterdam. With a lead role for Mathijsen and a fleeting cameo for Martins Indi. “I simply walk on and don’t interfere. You shouldn’t do silly things. There’s cameras everywhere. And it’s more about letting steam off to me. It’s yelling and screaming but nothing really happens. But before you know it, the ref gives you a yellow and I simply don’t want to collect cards.”Feyenoord is desperate for a trophy and some players believe this is the year could be the year. Bruno nods. “I do think we are now at the level where we can or could play for the title. But every time someone says it, we disappoint on the pitch. I don’t know what it is. I think we still don’t experience the feeling that we MUST win. It’s still a little bit too easy at times. The loss against Ajax for the Cup is unfortunate. It was a close game. We could have won that. Losing against Ajax is always possible. But losing against RKC, ADO Den Haag….aaargh…that is so frustrating…”What is it? “I think it’s just a couple of players not delivering their 100%. If you have 11 players playing top, we cannot be beaten by any team in Holland. Sure, if we play Real Madrid or Chelsea….but not against Vitesse or PSV or RKC. However, if 4 players only play at 90%, for whatever reason, we become vulnerable. And we do try to manage that process and sometimes harsh words are said. You cannot walk off the field with that “oh well, this can happen every now and then…”. It’s a matter of quality, at the end of the day. And I think we have the quality so I believe we need to deliver. If players don’t, I will call them on it. Just like they should with me, when I don’t play at my usual level. But we are improving on that aspect. I just hope it’s enough.”


Martins Indi’s career went fast. “I was a bit naive in my early days. Remember the 10-0 loss in Eindhoven? I was still a kid. We’re 5-0 down and with 10 men and I still wanted to play nice build up from the back. What was I thinking?? I didn’t realise what pro football meant. I was a somewhat overawed Rotterdam street kid playing in the Feyenoord 1 team… It felt great. But it didn’t get me anywhere.”

When he made some changes in his mentality and decided to treat every ball and opportunity as a do-or-die event, Louis van Gaal picked him as the Oranje defender he is today.

“I didn’t expect that call up, but I did know that it would be a logical step at some stage. I played in the Oranje youth with some of the lads that did make the step up already. So you know that if all would go well, it would happen one day. But with the lack of defenders and Van Gaal’s urge to use young fresh players and my good spell at Feyenoord it happened. I didn’t expect to play so much, but that first game I played was like a dream come true. And Mr Van Gaal is the type of coach I love to work with. Not because he is good or tactically strong or all that jazz. But because he is honest and direct. That is worth a lot for me.”

What does BMI bring to a team? “I think I can do most things well. I am fairly quick, I am not afraid in the duels, I can head a ball well. My passing is ok, my distance strike is ok. I’m quite all round as a defender. My weakness still is reading the game. Tactically, I still need to experience more situations. Play in different, demanding circumstances. Play big games, you know. What I believe is my biggest strength is my mentality. My will to win and my ability to instil that mentality in my team mates. I love good football and I enjoy teams like Arsenal and Barca. But I also thoroughly enjoyed the way Inter Milan with Sneijder played Barca. Or the way Chelsea won their CL. Or the way Italy and Portugal can kill games off. I have a lot of respect for that and I want Holland and Feyenoord to be able to win ugly too.”

Martins Indi’s name is going around in the media linking him to EPL clubs like Arsenal and Everton while Seedorf apparently has his eye on him for AC Milan. The Feyenoord man is not fussed. “These are the things I keep far away from me. It would affect me and my family otherwise. I have a couple of statements I can make. For starters, leaving Feyenoord before the World Cup was never an option for me. Secondly, I really enjoy playing for Feyenoord and don’t have to go anywhere. Thirdly, as with any player, I do like to get the best out of my career so a transfer at a certain time will definitely be on the cards. But when, where, how….we’ll see. I am not involved in that at the moment. My agent will take care of it. These clubs you mention are all great clubs. And as I am now with a great club too, I won’t settle for less.”


The World Cup is approaching. There was some debate about BMIs partner Stefan de Vrij and as a result their partnership in orange. “I did spend some time on it as it annoyed me. Not so much for me. I mean, may the best player play you know? It’s not about me, but about Oranje. But I did feel the criticism on Stefan was absurd. Like any player, he has his strong and weaker points. He’s young, he still has a way to go and develop. But suddenly, he wasn’t good enough anymore? Ridiculous. The problem with defenders is, that whenever a goal is conceded, defenders don’t look good. But it’s often times also the way the forwards or midfielders drop the ball, so to speak. And then defenders get under pressure. But I do think Stefan is coming out of this much stronger. I think Mr Van Gaal can rely on him being totally ready for the World Cup.”

And what about Martins Indi? “You know what, I let it go. I know Mr Van Gaal will pick the best option for the team. I simply have to talk with my feet every game we play. If that results in me being the best option: great! If not, I will support who ever plays there.”

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The Dutch School – the ongoing debate

A topic that has been discussed here many times. And will be discussed many times too. In essence, that is what this blog is about, isn’t it? And under Van Marwijk’s reign, we debated this, as we all felt Bert’s way of playing – no matter how successful – was not paying hommage to the Clockwork Orange of yesteryear.

Bert taught Oranje to play business like. He brought grit to the team. Or better still: he brought “Team” to the team… Suddenly, egos of the likes of Van der Vaart, Van Persie, Sneijder, Robben were able to play together. And with destroyers like De Jong and professionals like Van Bronckhorst and Van Bommel, Bert was able to bring the winning ways back to Oranje. And truth be told, in the qualification series, we played attacking football too. Only at the World Cup, we got stuck in playing “German”…

Although I will never forget the quarter finals against Brazil, for sure. In what some will call a mediocre series of games, that was a real high point.

So, the Dutch school suffered under Van Marwijk. Left footed right wingers? Slow build up from the back? Limited Boulahrouz playing right back? Two holding mids?

But with good old LVG on deck, people could be fooled into thinking that Louis would bring the Dutch School back.

The players enjoyed putting a hungry mouse into Van Gaal’s underpants

But has he? Will he?

Profile descriptions? Robin van Persie can only play deep central striker? Nigel de Jong centrally against Andorra? Four defenders against Andorra?

Louis van Gaal, by the way, claims to be told by the Federation to play with one holding mid. “But, if we don’t get the results, I am supposed to adapt. And if you look at the Belgium game… We lost because we made too many personal mistakes. No system can prevent that.”

Van Gaal doesn’t forget the personal elements in this whole discussion. “I was able to play dominant football with Ajax in 1995, because my wingers (Overmars and Finidi) were able to play like midfielders if we lost possession, and like wingers if we had possession. If players lack that fitness, you can’t play like this.”

This was also the reason why Nigel de Jong, Rafa van der Vaart, Greg van der Wiel and Ibi Afellay were left out of the squad for Belgium. Van Gaal deemed them not fit enough.

Frank de Boer

Let’s see what Frank de Boer (Ajax), Ronald Koeman (Feyenoord), Gertjan Verbeek (AZ) and Rene Meulensteen (Manchester United) have to say about it.

Does Dutch Football still have a unique position in the world?

Koeman: “The Dutch school is very much alive. Dutch players are being developed really well and scouts from all over the world are scavenging on Dutch youth parks. Our way of thinking about football is pretty specific. We are pro-active, we don’t play what I call response-football. Look at Borussia Dortmund-Ajax for the CL recently. They have more quality on every position and probably twice the money Ajax has, but they allow Ajax the ball. At their own turf!”

De Boer: I was a typical example of a Dutch School defender. I was a left winger in the youth system and being transformed to defender. In our case, we have 60% ball possession per game, so defenders need to know what to do when they have the ball.Typical Dutch beliefs. Defenders need to be able to do more than defending.”

Gertjan Verbeek: “It’s genetics too. We are an adventurous and entrepreneurial people. It’s how we are. Loud mouths too. Have an opinion about everything. The only concern I have is the age at which top talents leave the country. Their development stops too early. Adam Maher is a top talent. But he still have years of learning to do. If he’d now decide to make a big money movie to – say – Benfica, he’d suddenly lose his development. Parents are being worked on by agents… It’s not a good development. Altidore told me. He left for Europe at a young age. Started in Spain. Couldn’t impress. Was loaned out to Turkey, to England. Didn’t work. When he doesn’t score, they sell him. They don’t analyse it, work with him… He told me that AZ is the first club that focuses on his strong points, his weak points… And then I hear from Bas Dost what he is going through at Wolfsburg. The first weeks he was sick every day from all the running and working. If Magath would work in Holland, at least five players would put their hands up and say: Coach! Why the hell are we doing this??? And then you better have a good story to tell…”

Always happy go lucky Gertjan Verbeek

Meulensteen: “As I’m working abroad, I have a different view. If you want to be unique, you need to be able to see it in the results too. Otherwise you can be unique by dressing up as clowns too. And the results of Dutch clubs in Europe are…non existent. The last success was 10 years ago. The results of the Dutch national team have shielded that a bit. We do have our own identity. We do develop lots of very creative players. Unique players. Robben, Van Persie, Sneijder, Van der Vaart and coming up a couple of wonderful youngsters too. But Holland now only develops great attacking players, while in the past Holland also delivered superb defenders: Krol, Suurbier, Israel, Hulshof, Mansveld, Spelbos, Jaap Stam, Rijkaard, De Boer, Koeman, Blind… Where are these guys??”

Is playing with one holding mid and a left footed left winger and a right footed right winger, is that the Dutch School?

De Boer: “No, for me it’s wanting the ball, wanting to dominate, wanting to attack. Whether you play 4-2-4 or 4-4-2 or 4-3-3… That depends on the players at hand. AC Milan played Dutch style football with 4-4-2. Wasn’t bad to look at. And Dutch teams and players have this naturally. We played AA Gent once, with Ajax and it’s was in Belgium. We were 0-1 up and they didn’t attack us. They didn’t press. Blind and I could pass the ball hundreds of times to each other, they simply didn’t put pressure on us at all. It’s culture, isn’t it? We had a Brazilian national team striker at Ajax once. Marcio Santos. Great player. Lovely bloke. But whenever we lost the ball, he’d track back. Without thinking. It took a long time to explain to him, that he needed to commence the forward pressure, immediately.”

Ronald Koeman couldn’t find another employer and had to settle for Feyenoord…

Koeman: “That is a system question and that depends totally on the material at hand. If you don’t have great wingers, but you have great midfielders, you adjust to these players at hand. They key objective is winning. The strategy then is: have the ball, dominate, attack. The tactics are depending on the players.”

Verbeek: “I think you need to find the right system allowing you to use your best quality players. I think it’s a disgrace that Huntelaar can’t play if Van Persie plays. No one in his right mind would put Huntelaar on the bench. It is ridiculous. It’s all about improvising and using what is at hand. Look at Michels in 1974, using Haan as defender. And knowing that his team would push up, wanting a goalie with great footballing skills. That is Dutch School. Or take Johan Cruyff, with this tactical prowess. Using Stanley Brard as left winger at Feyenoord instead of Vermeulen.Cruyff played central striker, but dropped to midfield to distribute the play and allow midfielders like Neeskens or a winger like Rep to penetrate that space… That is the Dutch school. Tactical smarts supported by technical brilliance.”

Meulensteen: “I think those “system debates” are utter bollocks. I heard that Van Persie can only play as the central striker? What an insult! It’s bullshit, and Van Persie proves that every week in Man United, creating as much as scoring. He can play everywhere! That is how we use him. He drifts to the wing, to midfield… That is not Dutch school but it’s being rigid. The system is supposed to serve your best players. If this system in Oranje doesn’t allow Huntelaar and Van Persie together in one team, than the system sucks.”

What is the future of the Dutch School?

De Boer: “We will never lose this mentality. The Dutch supporters simply won’t allow it. Do you think we get applause if we win a game after scoring 1-0 and then playing the game out? They’d throw chairs at us…”

Rene Meulensteen and his boss Sir Alex

Koeman: “I think it will only go better in the future. The financial limitations make that clubs will become more creative. The 1987 revolution Johan Cruyff started at Ajax, which resulted in Van Gaal’s success team in the early 90s was the result of financial stress. And at Feyenoord, great prospects come through, because there is no money to buy. Somehow, this is a wonderful stimulator.”

Verbeek: “Funny that Koeman should say this. They sell Vlaar and El Ahmadi and suddenly Feyenoord signs Pelle and Verhoek and some other mediocre midfielders while they could have allowed the youth to play more…. Hmmmm…. Funnily enough, some clubs make totally wrong decisions like this. I heard some clubs have scrapped the youth prospect team to save money. Wrong!! Now there is no platform for the ones close to the big team. Would I sign for such a club, as a talent? Of course not! Clubs need a long term strategy.”

Meulensteen: “The thing is, Holland has a lot of benefits over other countries. We have a flat country, so pretty good amateur fields for the youth. And the clubs are relatively close so the best talents will play each other often. This is different in for instance, France. The best talents of Marseille hardly ever play the top talents of Paris or Strassbourg. On the other hand, amateur clubs in Holland are folding. And the focus should change too… the youth, they dribble a lot while in the seniors, it is all pass and move. At Barcelona, Messi gets to dribble. Whenever. While Xavi, Iniesta and Pique are the only other ones who can dribble with the ball. The rest needs to pass constantly. This is law. We have the know-how in Holland to develop like this. We need to use the Wiel Coerver method in the youth and deploy the Johan Cruyff philosophy when they get older. Those are the two key visionaries Holland brought forth. Coerver and Cruyff. And both have been systematically ignored by the Dutch Football Federation.”

Willem van Hanegem, Wiel Coerver and Johan Cruyff

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My evaluation of Bert van Marwijk

The KNVB will evaluate Bert van Marwijk in the coming weeks.

We will do it now!

I believe Bert should go.

Not that he should be fired per se. I think Bert should resign. But despite everything ( weak defense, egos, blablabla) it is his job to keep it all in check and manage it. That is why it’s called team manager.

If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen!

He did well in 2010, we all say, but maybe it was the team carrying Bert to the finals, more than the other way around?

There is a number of aspects I can not pass judgement on. And I won’t. But I will mention them. The players’ fitness. What could Bert and co. have done about that? The weird 1300 km travel program for every game? Was that really necessary?

Things I can judge are:

– Squad & Team Selection
– Tactics
– Subs
– Team culture

I’d like to bring in some stuff I overheard in the post-Euros debates on Dutch telly. One fairly well positioned ex-player said that he had some off-the-record debates with Bert about Oranje and he got the impression Bert saw this implosion coming. Bert apparently lamented the fact that we had such weak defenders. Apparently, Bert felt that the Eredivisie central defenders ( incl Vlaar, De Vrij, Marcellis, Viergever, Gouweleeuw, Brouwers too) were too weak in footballing sense to support the gung-ho midfielders/forwards. The mismatch. According to this ex-player ( Rene van der Gijp), Bert was pretty desperate about this. ( “You tell me, Rene! You tell me who to pick!!”)

Can I start with Team Culture? The so-called camps and rifts? I think that is all a bit exaggerated. These camps and rifts are always there. 23 guys who are all machos and winners. You’re bound to get that. Even during the World Cup 2010 campaign I’m sure some players had issues, but we never heard. Because we were winning. Once you start losing, these things come out. Camp Sneijder Camp Schmeijder. Who cares. They are all cocky little brats. Let them sort it out. It’s of course something Bert needs to manage, if possible, but as we don’t know exactly what went on, I think it’s hard for us to judge Bert on this.

As for Squad and Team Selection, I do believe Bert is to blame for some of the grieve. Wilfred Bouma? Really?? Why? Why wasn’t Brouwers or Viergever or De Vrij ever tested? Is it really so that a 34 year old spent benchwarmer at PSV is a better option that someone like Viergever? If you haven’t tested it, how do you know?

I wanted to avoid Spain and I managed to do so…

Urby Emanuelson played left back for Ajax. Plays left back at times for AC Milan. Is experienced. Has 100+ pro games under his belt. Plays in the Serie A. Surely, he is at least as good as Willems? Don’t get me wrong: I like Willems. But an 18 year old rookie can only do so much in a team that is dysfunctional. Put Willems in Spain or Germany and he’d be great. But what do we expect from him in this Oranje. Knowing how badly out of shape we are/were, Bert should have protected him. In the Portugal game, he played horrific. Also, three top matches in 8 days is a lot for any player, let alone an 18 year old rookie…

I like Schaars a lot. Another player I like to see more of, but if you have De Jong, Van Bommel, Strootman, Afellay and Van der Vaart for the holding mid role and if Schaars himself declares left back is not his thing, why select him? Why not take another player who can play or is willing to play there? Vernon Anita for instance?

And why bring a real winger like Narsingh with many assists under his belt to the Euros and not play him? At all?

Why putting so much faith in a player ( Afellay) who hasn’t had 18 minutes of play in the last 6 months? Why play him in two games in a row? He’s not even a winger? Against Germany, a real left footed winger would have found Van Persie, but Afellay screwed up a relatively simple pass over 6 yards by playing it behind the Arsenal striker… And like Willems, everone knew Afellay would be able to play 3 games at top level in 8 days!

And any coach with Hunter and Van Persie in the squad would gladly play them both. The whole nation ( incl. Cruyff and Van Hanegem) pleaded with Bert to use them both. Put Sneijder on line back (on the holding level) and use Van Persie behind Hunter. At least try this out once! Bert never did. The only chance Huntelaar got was with Van Persie and Van der Vaart as wingers. Goodness gracious me! No wonder Hunter is pissed off! Bad management, Bert.
But if you do play Huntelaar, you need players on the flanks that will cross in. So, Robben on the left, someone else on the right. And you really want to play offensive football: Narsingh. If you are fearful of the balance ( or lack thereof): Kuyt.
And if you need legs to go from box to box, why not play Strootman instead of De Jong? Why not test these concepts?

So we’re evaluation tactics now… We played our best match in the qualifications with Van der Vaart on the holding mid spot. Why not continue on that path? Why resort back to the couple Bommel/De Jong? So many questions on line ups and tactics…

The most important one, the role of Arjen Robben. Robben in top form is in the same league as C Ronaldo. Just under the Messi league :-). He can tear you apart. But if he’s not ( the dribbles didn’t work, the left foot shots were all wasted), maybe he should play on the left wing. So he can serve up crosses. In particular when Hunter is on!

And we have all seen how the team was divided into a group tracking back and a group pushing forward. Leaving huge gaps for Danes, Germans and Portuguese players to have fun in. This is something the coach should fix. ( I think it’s something the players should fix too, but they clearly weren’t able to). And our coach wasn’t able to fix it. Too bad. Really sad. But that is a big no no of course.

We didn’t play too sexy in 2010. We wanted to fix that. But did we ever practice this? Do we actually have the back four to do so? Shouldn’t we be realistic and realise that without Xabi Alonso, Busquets, Pique, Ramos and Alba we can’t play that kind of football?

If Bert sees that Van der Wiel is not in top form, Mathijsen is not fit and inexperienced Willems is in the team, shouldn’t he be asking the lads to play sexy and attacking football?

I think Bert became the victim ( and the players too by the way) of good intentions: trying to appease the fans, trying to impress the world, trying to keep the “mates-vibe” in the squad intact….

Maybe Bert should have said: I can not play total football with this group. We are not good enough for that. We have no Krol, Rijkaard, De Boer, Stam. We will play like we did in 2010. Go for result. Win the Euros. And hopefully club coaches will develop some better defenders…

To top if off, I believe the substitution actions of Bert said enough. Bringing Vaart and Hunter changed the whole make up of the team. It affected too much. After they were on, it was chaos. Nothing was created, really. And bringing Kuyt late in the game had no function other than making sure the number 14 in the hierarchy got some minutes. Against Denmark, we needed Luuk de Jong. Against Germany and Portugal, we needed Narsingh.

In summary, I think Bert made many mistakes. And these mistakes tell me that tactically, he is limited. He only knows one system and has no ability to improvise or be flexible. He basically hoped and gambled that Oranje could repeat the 2010 trick. With lesser full backs. Non-fit Mathijsen. Rusty Van Bommel. And an unfit Afellay.

These mistakes, for me, mean that he needs to go. Let someone else have a go.

Bert deserves a statue. But he doesn’t deserve the job anymore…

So, the question arises: who now?

Is this our new ambassador??

In my book, no Ronald Koeman.

I don’t have any reason to believe Koeman is “The Man”. Why? He was great as a player but mediocre as a coach until now. He played 4-4-2 with Ajax! He got into trouble there with everyone. Including Sneijder and Van der Vaart! He left PSV for Valencia. Where he made a
mess of things. Some Valencia officials still wake up screaming “Koeman!!” when they had too much to eat that evening… He almost destroyed that club. Then he landed at AZ where they kicked him out before the season was over… There is no indication whatsoever that Mr Koeman can handle this. He has had one good season with Feyenoord. That is all!

Also, I think it’s wrong for the KNVB to approach coaches who are employed by memberclubs of the KNVB. Not done!

We need someone with:

1. Authority
2. Proven experience in getting results
3. A passion for total football, attacking football
4. Dutch nationality

In my book, Van Gaal is out. He screwed it up once. He, like Koeman, is thrown out everywhere as he’s a dick.

Van Hanegem won’t make a good team manager. He’s probably good as an assistant.

Cruyff won’t do it.

Rijkaard probably won’t do it.

So the best candidate is Co Adriaanse!

He has done tremendously well with Ajax, Willem II, AZ, Salzburg and Porto. He has authority. The players look up to him. Sneijder and Van der Vaart rate him as their best coach ever. He is great as a figure head, supporters and media respect him and most importantly, he has the balls to play attacking football. And he’s available.

End of evaluation.

My balls are this big!!

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