Tag: Van Nistelrooy

On the Road to Qatar: Cody Gakpo

Come on guys! Join in!

The name is Lowievenkaals Armie (Louis van Gaal’s Army the way Louis van Gaal pronounces it)….


Cody Gakpo is widely seen as the best player in the Eredivisie at the moment. Again. He’s involved in 29 goals so far in 22 matches (13 goals, 16 assists) and wants to perform at that same level in Qatar and than make a big money move next summer.

Last deadline day was a special one for PSV fans. They knew big money clubs were courting their star and while Gakpo plays a great game versus Volendam, the fans are looking at their phone. Is there a deal being made to lure their favorite son away? Leeds United would have sent a plane to Eindhoven. Southampton just upped their offer. PSV’s board want Gakpo to go. They also want Sangare to go to. PSV needs the money.

But Gakpo isn’t feeling it. He had his mind set on Man United. And decides to stay. The chant “Cody Has To Stay” worked. As a result, the PSV board decides to scold TD John de Jong for keeping Gakpo at the club (what??) and as a result De Jong resigns from his job. Ruud van Nistelrooy is livid. Gakpo is puzzled. And general manager Marcel Brands decides to take it on the chin.

A winter transfer might be on the cards. Due to the Gakpo stats, bigger clubs are circling now. Man United is back on deck and Real Madrid has informed as well. PSV needs the money. But Gakpo can’t be bothered.

The peace he exudes is the result of his disciplined upbringing in a stable family situation. His dad is from Togo, his mum is Dutch. The people who know Cody say he’s not just a unique player, he’s also a unique human being. Deeply religious and highly intelligent. One of his fave books (…) is Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich, from 1937. Gakpo has an idol. It’s Pele. How many 23 year olds would carry around a photo of the Brazilian legend? Gakpo calls himself “an old soul”.

Gakpo was tested academically and given the advice to go for a university degree. He decided to stick to high school and focus on football. But with a broader interest. When a group of journalists cornered PSV general manager Gerbrands, back in 2017, in a hotel at trainings camp, Gakpo – then 17 years old – stuck around to listen as a fly on the wall. Like a sponge.

Toon Gerbrands: “He spoke to me in those days about what he would do after his career! He was only 17 years old and wanted to know what a general manager does. We had so many conversations, about how you manage a bad-news conversation, or how you assess people’s values when recruiting. I bought a book on philosophy for him and he was really intrigued. It had questions like “where were you before you were born” and “how do you know what is the Truth”. And he would always come back to me with further questions or comments and we’d have these really fun debates.”

Gakpo is highly religious and prays several times per day. He even once organised a prayer session at the Philips Stadium, for 200 people. Toon Gerbrands was there: “It wasn’t very “biblical” or anything, just a warm session speaking about the higher power and we had four people who previously didn’t believe, who converted! One person even started crying. I never had that experience before with a football player.”

Gakpo started at the PSV Academy at 7 and perfected his dribble and his shooting. “My dad always told me to shoot low. it’s harder for the goalie to get to the ground. My dad was a number 10 and played at a high level in Togo. We discuss football a lot. And we still play together on a little grass pitch here in town. He’s my toughest critic.”

Aad de Mos says Gakpo has canons in his feet. “He has the same kicking technique as Willy van der Kuylen. Today, Gareth Bale does it as well, Harry Kane too. Or Ryan Babel. We call it the hipshot. No back swing. You can’t see they’re going to shoot. Van der Kuylen used to perfection. The goalie and the defenders thought they had another second to block but the ball was already in the net.”

Luc Nilis taught Gakpo never to shoot at full 100% capacity. Always at 80%. Gakpo: “I have learned so much from Luc Nilis. He always said, you gotta know where the goal is. The goal never moves. So if you know where it is, you don’t need to look, you can fully concentrate on the ball. I noticed a lot of players look up to where the goal is, a couple of times. Those are the nano seconds you can lose control or the defender nips in or the ball makes a funny jump and you hit the stands. Shooting at full 100% capacity usually means you lose control. The body stiffens and there is no flow. The speed of the ball is not just the result of the power in the muscles, but also the move of the body, and the swing of the leg.”

With dad

His youth coaches ( Twan Scheepers, Mark van Bommel) say that due to this specific skills, he is very hard to play. And the stats demonstrate it. Below is the “Growth as a Player” overview, of Gakpo in all competitions. It’s in Dutch, but you get the drift, I’m sure.

Growth as a player. Cody in all competitions.

Wedstrijden = matches, basis plaatsen = starting line up, speelminuten = minutes played, schoten = shots, op doel = on target, kansen gecreeerd = chances created, uit open spel = from open play, bal contacten = touches, in de 16 = in the box, passes aangekomen = successful passes, pass nauwkeurigheid = pass accuracy, dribbels aangegaan = dribbles started and voltooid = completed.

Van Gaal can use Cody on different positions. He can play a 10 or a striker in the 3-5-2 system. He can also play left winger in a 4-3-3. It was Van Gaal who convinced Gakpo that he can be a number 10, by the way. About Van Gaal, when the veteran coach was appointed, Gakpo went to see Gerbrands: “You worked for 4 years with him at AZ. What kind of man is he?”

This typifies the player and the person Cody Gakpo. Always prepared, always focused.

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Van Nistelrooy’s PSV

PSV has been doing great business this summer. Roger Schmidt’s project wasn’t what was hoped for and as he’s turning heads in Portugal, club legend Ruud van Nistelrooy reluctantly took the reins and is making headlines with his TD John de Jong and new MD Marcel Brands.

Sangarue and Gakpo still wear the PSV colours, Luuk de Jong is back. Guus Til will bring depth and goals, while the goalie issues seems sorted now with Benitez between the sticks.

Conceding Less Goals

This was one of the missions for the summer. Joel Drommel, albeit talented, wasn’t the man for the job (yet). A tad nervous, uncertain and lacking courage with high balls. They found the ideal shot stopper in France. Argentine Walter Benitez was statistically the best goalie in France and his mission is to play CL football and get into the Argentina squad.

PSV has a list of players that left Holland at a young age, only to return to PSV to get games in their pocket and as a result an invite for Oranje. Ki-Jana Hoever wants to do what Donnyel Malen, Jeffrey Bruma and Karim Rekik did before him. The youngest ever Liverpool player in the FA Cup will focus on the right full back spot. The season’s preparation demonstrated his comfort on the ball and his smarts in the build up. His weaknesses? Typically, his defensive abilities, but Ruud van Nistelrooy was quite happy with how Hoever developed in this short time at PSV.

Youth Sensation

Xavi Simons is a brand and a youth sensation. With his blonde, curly hair he became an icon as a kid for Barca and he slowly moved to the big boys’ matches via Paris SG. He realised that he would have a hard time playing week in week out in Paris, so he decided on a loan spell to PSV. The talks between him and the club were such that he actually decided to leave PSG and sign with PSV all the way. Simons wants to get the same status in men’s football as he had in youth football. He’s got all the tricks and never loses sight of the space when in confined spaces. Xavi has superior technique and an eye for the through ball. The only question is: how well is he equipped physically, to play 90 minutes at high intensity, 2 matches per week?

Guaranteed goals

No other active Eredivisie player scored more goals in the Eredivisie than Luuk de Jong. 135 goals. And as they saw in Sevilla and Barcelona, Luuk will score when the service is right. The new PSV skipper also has a tremendous role model function in the squad as everyone who knows him praises him for his professional approach. Another guaranteed goal scorer is Feyenoord’s topscorer from last season, Guus Til. Feyenoord couldn’t make a move as they needed to sell players first. Til didn’t want to wait and signed for four years in Eindhoven, where he hopes to play CL football. The midfielder is not the gifted technician but due to his work rate, depth and tactical discipline, every coach in football loves working with him.

New names

With the signing of Jarrad Branthwaite, PSV has another defensive option. Due to injuries, Van the Man needed more and Marcel Brands lured this tall defender away from Everton, where he signed him previously. Savinho is a player the fans will enjoy more than the tall English centre back. The Brazilian super talent is part of the City Group and asked for a loan spell at PSV. The Eindhoven club still have magic in its name in Brazil, thanks to the stints of Romario, Ronaldo and Alex, among others at the club. Savinho is an Antony like left footed right winger, who will benefit from the long term ankle injury of Madueke.


Van Nistelrooy is no Schmidt. Where the German relied on compact organisations and turn-over moments, the former Man U striker is a believer of the Dutch School: possession, pass and move, forward press and attractive and attacking football. PSV will move closer to Ajax and Feyenoord in that way. Ruud used the 4-1-4-1 system a lot at Young PSV and seems to want to play like this with his current squad as well. With the extension of Gutierez, Sangare still on board, Joey Veerman, Guus Til and Xavi Simons, Van has quite some good midfield options to go to. In the pre-season, Van Nistelrooy used Sangare as lone defensive mid and has also played with Veerman next to Sangare and Til as shadow striker. “I like to be able to vary, to keep the opponent on their toes.” In Schmidt’s system, the team would overcrowd the ball and all players would move towards the ball, in order to take possession and quickly break out. In Van’s world, he will keep the players in position as much as possible. This will diminish the risk of not being able to win the ball and having opened up the pitch. Another benefit is, that it doesn’t require the intensity Schmidt demanded. In Schmidt’s system, the wingers played as midfielders and were coming into the space or squeezing inside. In Ruud’s system, the wingers are used as final station in the build up, before the killer pass arrives in the box.

Ruud wants to see one defender more than opposing attackers, at the back. This is usually the central defensive midfielder, as the full backs are needed higher to play triangles with the midfielders and the wingers. Luuk de Jong wants service from the wings and Gakpo and Savinho or Madueke are capable to take on opponents and bring the ball into the danger area.

This season will be really interesting, between PSV and Ajax. I can see Ajax focusing more and more on the CL win, while PSV just wants that title again!

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Oranje on the road to Qatar

Not selecting Weghorst but bringing Stekelenburg back to Oranje are the two main talking points re: Oranje.

The first training is behind them, for the WC qualifiers. Rene Wormhoudt was leading the warming up. Assistant coach Ruud van Nistelrooy and Maarten Stekelenburg (the other one) were managing the rondos, and keeper trainer Patrick Lodewijks was working with his three goalies while senior assistant Lodeweges was managing the attacking patterns. With Frank de Boer interrupting from time to time.

Memphis and Gini Wijnaldum are the last to leave the trainingsground after practicing their free kicks. Frank de Boer was watching from a distance, big smile on his face.

At Crystal Palace, he used to practice with the rest and would get some flak from the players (“Show-off!”) when he curled another ball in the top corner…

Frank de Boer is aware of the humbug concerning Weghorst, Stekelenburg (the goalie) and the Qatar situation in general but wants to focus on the ball. Three qualification games are planned (Turkey on Wednesday, Latvia on Saturday and Gibraltar on Tuesday. This will be the last opportunity for De Boer to weigh his players before we start the prep for the Euros mid May. Without skipper Virgil van Dijk, if we have to believe Jurgen Klopp.

Normally, Stefan de Vrij would come in for Virgil, but the former Feyenoord has tested positive for Covid. Nathan Ake is also absent, as he missed months of game time due to a muscle injury. But there is no shame in playing Daley Blind and Mathijs de Ligt in the centre defence.

Frank de Boer seems to build on the work Koeman left him, with as key difference, the use of a real number 9 in Luuk de Jong and Memphis back on the left wing. Koeman struggled with that position himself as well. Under his reign, we saw Justin Kluivert there, Arnaut Danjuma, Dilrosun and Boadu but Koeman constantly went back to mainstay Ryan Babel.

Right wing is also not a settled spot. Steven Berghuis has the most caps, Calvin Stengs is considered our biggest prospect and Steven Bergwijn has experience in a top competition.

There are heaps of choices at right back. Kenny Tete’s return gives De Boer more options, on a position where Dumfries and Hateboer seemed to have their stamp. Joel Veltman can play there too, as can Jerry St Juste, while Rick Karsdorp is knocking loudly on the door as well.

On the left, Daley Blind seems to have that spot as his, but Van Aanholt and Wijndal are strong contenders when the Ajax man is needed elsewhere. Daley Sinkgraven is an option outside of the squad, but looking in…

In midfield, Tonny Vilhena and Kevin Strootman – southpaws both – seemed to surpassed by Teun Koopmeiners, who excels week in week out for AZ. He’s currently with Young Oranje but for the Euros, you can count on the AZ captain to be present.

The battle for the third midfielder spot will be interesting. Frenkie and Gini are beyond discussion, so the third spot will be between Klaassen, De Roon and Gravenberch. Davy Propper is working on his fitness while Donny van de Beek hasn’t had enough games, you’d think.

The meeting with Turkey on Wednesday is the 13th match up. The last time we met was 6 September 2015, when we lost painfully, 3-0. We lost three times against them and we won five matches. Four games were undecided.

Daley Blind is about to play his 75th cap and is the 22nd player to do so in Oranje. Blind is the most experienced international, with Gini Wijnaldum and Ryan Babel as 2nd and 3rd (respectively 70 and 67 caps).

Frank de Boer at the presser about his decision to ignore Weghorst. The former Heracles striker scored 22 times this season but hasn’t gotten the chance to add another cap to the last game he played in November 2019. He has played four international games so far.

“I had to choose between Luuk and Wout and I picked Luuk. I understand it’s delicate. It’s a very tough call, also for me. And definitely for him of course. He has performed ever so well but so did Luuk at Oranje. We now only have a couple of days to prep for this important match vs Turkey and taking that into consideration I decided to go with the player who is used to our processes, who knows the way we work and train… Luuk.”

“I did call Wout and explained it to him. It’s a tough call and he wasn’t happy with me, that can be clear for all. I told him to keep on making it hard for me. He is knocking on the door… or even worse, he hit a couple of holes in the door already. This was the most difficult decision I had to make.”

“I do feel they’re a bit the same, as types. And yes, I can take both, but for now I think, for these three games, I needed Luuk only. But Wout is heavily on the radar for the Euros. I truly admire him and we will follow him. Others know that they also have to keep on performing to stay in the race. Wout is definitely in the mix for the Euros.”

I think Frank should play this eleven:


Dumfries – De Ligt – Blind – Wijndal

Klaassen – Frenkie – Wijnaldum

Berghuis – Memphis – Malen

I can see us win this game 1-3, with Memphis, Malen and Klaassen on the score sheet. Expect a top game by Wijndal!

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Face to Face with Klaas Jan Huntelaar

In making all our squads and line ups for Oranje, I found that quite some people think Klaasjan Huntelaar is done for? He is not good enough? He only scores easy goals? He has no skills?

I think his track record says enough :-). Huntelaar is without doubt one of the best strikers in the world. With his left foot, right foot, with his head, etc. He does not have the pure skill of RVP or the speed of Lionel Messi but there are hardly any better real in-the-box killers than KJ the Hunter.

And he was a nuisance at the Euros? I’m sure he was. But was that his fault? I believe BVM mismanaged this situation. Huntelaar is known to be a modest chap. He is no Sneijder or Bogarde. He is a plain and simple Dutch lad. Who was promised a real chance before the Euros. And didn’t get one. When RVP missed all these chances against Denmark, obviously he was not able to respond.

The man is injured now. But he will most definitely return and I hope in the Dutch squad. A mix and match article here with info from VI, from World Soccer and other sources…

klaas jh mine

Whenever Schalke lost, their coach would send them in the mines the next day 


Last season there was a lot of speculation that you would leave Schalke, but in the end you signed a contract extension until 2015. What brought you to that position?

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar: I have never played in England and that was on my mind, so I asked myself if I wanted to move to the Premier League or to carry on in the Bundesliga. I talked to Schalke first and then I tried to understand what I wanted to do. I went deep inside my own mind and tried my best to listen to my heart. After a lot of soul-searching I told my agent to talk to Schalke with the instruction that I was ready to stay.

Apart from spells in Spain and Italy, you’ve played for clubs close to your home in Angerlo, Holland. How important is it that Gelsenkirchen is only 100km away and that your father can drive you to training?

It did play a role in my decision to join the club, as I enjoy living in Holland. I normally go abroad on holiday or to play a match with my club, but not to live. It was strange to live in Spain and Italy, to adapt to a new culture and learn a new language, but I am happy I did it and I do not regret it. Now I have a new two-year contract at Schalke and I am enjoying it. I can understand and speak German quite well, and this makes my life a lot easier.

On the pitch, is it realistic to think Schalke can break the supremacy
of Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund in the next few years?

Yes, I think we can. We are a good team, but not good enough yet to better Bayern or Dortmund over the course of a season. I think we’re on the right path though, so we should keep doing what we’re doing and maybe buy a couple of quality players to bring us closer next year.

The Bundesliga is the rising force of European football isn’t it…

The Bundesliga is, for me, the best league in Europe at present. The Premier League is very good, but if you look at German clubs, they are all economically solid and healthy. It’s very well organised. Each team can beat everyone else, which isn’t like Spain, where Real Madrid and Barcelona are in a league of their own. The Bundesliga is more balanced and better in terms of quality.

You joined Schalke from Milan. How did you find life at the San Siro?

I loved the Italian way of life. In fact, everything was great in Milan apart from the football we played, which was a bit too defensive for me. This is the way Italians play and, as a result, unfortunately I did not play many times as a proper striker. I was often used instead on the right wing, which didn’t suit me. My time with Leonardo as coach was quite difficult.

kjh ronald

Ronaldinho really admired KJH’s teeth


And before that you were in the Spanish capital with Real Madrid. What was it like there?

It was great, but also strange at the same time. I had spent all my life in Holland, then all of a sudden I was playing abroad, with different people and a new language. It felt like I was on holiday, despite working hard and playing my football. It was very unusual for me and I had the feeling I didn’t belong there, not in that country.

I had to absorb a lot of new things, to assimilate a new culture, to learn new ways to communicate. It was nice, but it was not easy. Cristiano Ronaldo was there, and Real Madrid wanted to buy Karim Benzema and Kaka, so I knew I would play less. Raul was also there, and so were Gonzalo Higuain, Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Javier Saviola and myself. We almost had a special bus only for us strikers!

Any regrets about those short spells with the two European heavyweights?

No, I don’t regret anything. I had a very nice time, and personally they were two important experiences which helped me develop as a person. I learned that things in football don’t always go the way you expect them to.

As an Ajax fan, was it hard joining PSV youth academy in your early career?

Obviously PSV was not my favourite team, but at that time it was the right place for me to improve as a player, to learn new things and to develop my game. It was a bit strange for me, and I was hoping for Ajax to call me as that would have made things easier, but to move to PSV was the right thing to do at that stage.

KJH Real

After scoring 17 goals before January for Heerenveen in 2006, the call you had been waiting for from Ajax finally came. How did it feel when they asked you to join them? 

I felt a surge of energy, but also pressure  because you badly want everything to work out well. It is like a dream, and you don’t want that dream to end in a negative way. Thankfully it all turned out very well for me at Ajax.

How proud were you to wear the historic Ajax number nine shirt? 

It is true that many great players have worn that number nine, but for me it was not about the number. What counted most was wearing the Ajax shirt. I had always been an Ajax fan, I had always looked out for them on TV, my whole family were Ajax fans too. It was just great to play for them.

And under Marco Van Basten too…

Yes, back then Marco Van Basten was a very young coach so he spent most of his time with the whole group. Unfortunately, us strikers rarely had the opportunity to work alone with him. What he really taught me was how to be critical towards myself and the need to do everything properly in order to achieve my goals. Without that attitude it’s impossible to succeed.

Were these your happiest days?

At that point, yes, for sure, but I have loved every single step of my career and every club I have played for. I always tried to do my very best to develop and make the next step. I’ve tried to approach all experiences with that same attitude. However, back to the question: I must admit representing Ajax was something very special for me.

Huntelaar’s position in Oranje was never really firm. He did play a number of games as a striker and scored a good number of goals, but it always seems as if he just wasn’t seen as good enough. This curse has been around Oranje since one Johan Cruyff was the central striker and everyone wearing the orange number 9 seems to be compared to JC or Marco van Basten. Even Ruud van Nistelrooy had criticasters talking about his lack of technical skills!! Players like Kees Kist, Peter Houtman, John Bosman, Hans Gillhaus, Roy Makaay, Wim Kieft, Floyd Hasselbaink… They all suffered from this….

Hunter missed the Asian trip this last summer. The 30 year old was allowed a break. “The coach told me he wanted to try out some other lads and would most likely not need me. I was a little annoyed at first, but realised I could actually use the break. So I saw it as a holiday gift. It’s been a while since I had a good summer break, so it was actually great.”

Huntelaar doesn’t seem to have a grudge, being Oranje’s substitute striker behind Van Persie. “Playing in Oranje is always a bonus. It’s always fun to be together and to play football.”

Klaasjan started well, scoring a brace for Schalke vs HSV but has been sidelined with an injury. He hopes and expects to be ready when the CL starts.

Asked about his expectations with Oranje, he says: “I can’t have any expectations yet. I need to get fit, and play well. Which in my case means: score goals. I expect to be part of the squad if I do this and once I’m part of it, I will probably hear from the coach what my role will be. I know Van Gaal well enough to know he will be straight and honest about it. I think I still have a lot to offer and I hope the coach will see this too.”

KJH ArsenalHis time at Milan and Madrid was not great but at Arsenal he was really invisible….Bookmark and Share

Support your local team!!

My dear friends, I need to ask you all to keep the positive spirit up.

Yes, we are disappointed. Yes, we believe the team should do better. Yes, Van Marwijk is too rigid and headstrong. Etc…

But… Our players bleed orange. They do. I am 1000% certain. Has to be.

Remember how Robben played with pain at the World Cup? How hard he worked to get back? How Huntelaar is swallowing his pride tournament after tournament?

Van Nistelrooy was in the studio the other day and said he had intense contact with some of his buddies in the squad (Bommel, Boulah, Mathijsen, Robben) and said with conviction “there are no cliques in the team, there are no ego clashes!”. He was convinced this team was mentally focused on this tournament but tactics and maybe physical condition are lacking.

I think it’s painful to see how heroes like Robben, Van Bommel and Van der Vaart are crucified on this blog.

Van Persie is all professional and played some good game for us this tourney. But sadly missed too many chances. I’m sure he suffers like we all do.

If you saw Arjen Robben sing the anthem while prepping himself mentally, you could have seen he wants to give his right foot (useless anyway) for a good win.

And the reason why we have Robben in the first place is because he has that skill: taking on people, coming inside, taking a shot… This is how he bailed us out many times. And now he has difficulties getting to his normal level. Support the lad!

Mark van Bommel has been our fierceless leader for years. And him being Bert’s son in law was never a problem. I don’t think it’s now either. I expect Bert to bench Mark for the Portugal game.

Stekelenburg got us into the semis two years ago. He hasn’t yet won games for us this time around, but give the guy a break, please.

At times like these, it’s the Al Pacino “inch by inch, we claw ourselves out of this hell” monologue that springs to mind! And this is where we need to support our boys.

If we suddenly burn our orange jerseys and start insulting our players, we are doing the thing we accuse them off… Our task is to support. So, maybe if we start doing our job, they will do theirs….

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