Tag: World Cup Brazil

Pre-Wales Update from the Oranje Camp

SEVEN DAYS TO GO. Gosh, I need a timer on my site…. Why am I so web-challenged… 🙁

Anyway, no matter. It’s one more friendly before we go for the big job.

Wales tomorrow, sans Bale and Ramsey sadly. Ramsey was one of my fave players last season. What a tremendous revelation he appeared to be.

Louis will play with yet another system. A bit cheeky of course. We will end up playing 3-4-3. With Sneijder close to RVP and Robben roaming where ever. Blind, De Jong, Fer and Janmaat in midfield (Blind and Janmaat covering the flanks) and BMI, De Vrij and Vlaar as defenders.

A system the players should be able to handle, without too much of an issue.

I like this. To me, it says Louis might be working with different systems vs our group opponents. Spain will most likely need a 5-3-2 approach (or a 1-9-1 approach, hahahaha). Chile depends a bit on their first result and how they play. Australia will most likely need a 3-4-3.


Van Gaal: “I selected the players also on the basis of their ability to play various systems.”

This probably explains why Van Aanholt was not needed. Blind can play on four positions, Kongolo on three positions.

De Guzman is out, as you know, and Clasie is not 100%. Odds are high that Fer will start. And from what I hear, De Guzman might not be out of the woods as yet, with his hamstring which might be very bad news indeed…

Wondering who LVG will call up if De Guzman needs to throw the towel…

Nigel de Jong is about to start his fourth big tournament as a starter. This time under Van Gaal. The 29 year old has an impressive list of clubs on his resume and after playing more than 10 years at the highest level, he still is hungry for the ball. “I have to be. That is how I can survive. You know, the playing pitch is like a jungle. It’s the survival of the fittest. I want the ball if I don’t have it and I must want it more than the other guy. Otherwise I don’t stand a chance. EWhen I played in the Ajax youth, we would win most games because we were better. When you play for Man City or Milan or Oranje, you don’t win because you are better. Because you are not. There are ten nations at the World Cup that could claim better players than us, spot by spot. Fine. We need to be better organised, better mentally, more hungry, etc. I reached the top in football not because I was the best player. I played with guys in the youth who were seriously, much more skilled than me. But I made it. And sure, when you are Lionel Messi or C Ronaldo, you can play frivolous and win. I can’t. I know my limits, hahahaha.”


De Jong looks the part too. Muscly, buff, tattooed and a stern look. But when you hear him speak, he is an intelligent, soft spoken and humorous bloke from the streets of Amsterdam. Vilified and criticised for his harsh play and in particular after he was involved in a couple of broken legs and a chest kick studs up to Xabi Alonso, people started to feel De Jong was giving Dutch football a bad name.

“I don’t care too much about what others think. It makes life easier this way, you know? I don’t respond to these things. I know and Xabi knows whether I hit him on purpose or not. That is enough for me. I will not go and publically defend myself. I am hired to do a job and in my position I cannot not go into the tackle for fear I might hurt the other bloke. The team manager would take me off. The team manager selects me and I do what he wants me to do. I am now starting at my fourth Tournament, so I guess I am doing my job properly.”

Van Gaal overlooked De Jong in March. Was he ever scared he would miss out on Brazil. “Nope. The team manager told me he wanted to see others at work. I am confident enough to know that if I would focus on my own game, I would be part of the squad. I am one of the best on this position, full stop. When I am fit and happy, I can deliver.”

De Jong enjoys the new system. “Yes, it fits us. It is the right thing to do. And I believe we will have it down pat for Spain and I believe we will go for the win. That first game is very important and we will try and win it.” Is a draw not a good result? “No man! You always go for the win. That is why we play.”

The mood is good in the Oranje camp. The Feyenoord youngsters (Wijnaldum, Fer, De Guzman, Clasie, Vlaar, De Vrij, BMI, Kongolo, Janmaat) seem to have a dominant role in the squad . This clip explains their shenanigans. What they basically say is: Bruno Martins Indi is the joker of the group, always trying to fool a mate. Arjen Robben and Dirk Kuyt are the best mentor / motivator, biggest training animal is Bruno Martins Indi, Terence Kongolo is the worst in playing pool, player who most underestimate himself: Bruno Martins Indi, the man who knows much about football: Louis van Gaal.

Martins Indi remembers one of his first friendlies, when apparently Robben yelled really loud in the tunnel towards the field “There are no friendlies!! We are Holland and we play to win!!”.

Yolanthe, Wesley’s better half, presents the new Orange knickers to the world. You can order them through this website if you are interest. One word of warning: Yolanthe is not part of the offer!!

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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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Van Persie: "We still don't know how good we are…."

Oranje is 100 days away from Brazil. Only 100 days…. It feels like it’s so close. But looking at the task of Van Gaal, you’d wish it was 1,5 season away…. So many uncertainties…. These last couple of days, Raf van der Vaart and Michel Vorm have left the camp, sick. Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben aren’t fit either. It wouldn’t surprise me if we would see a somewhat devaluated Oranje perform. Van Persie is also struggling with the flu, while Robben is trying to fight off a knock.

Siem de Jong is called up to replace Raf.

Wesley Sneijder will most likely start along with some new names up front. Huntelaar will play if Van Persie isn’t fit and he will be flanked by some youngsters left and right.

Van Gaal told the media he is ok with Van Persie and Robben not being able to play. “I will use them in Brazil anyway, of course. But now I have a chance to see some new kids. Boetius will most certainly play.” Based on the last practice session, it seems Karim Rekik will also play his first Oranje game.

Van Gaal has a rookie-card, or a wild card, in his mind for a youngster who currently is not yet part of the squad. Van Gaal knows who that is, but doesn’t want to announce the name yet.

LVG training

Van Gaal is currently working with a 35 man squad (incl Van der Vaart and Lens). Willem van Hanegem wouldn’t be surprised if the rookie is Feyenoord defender Terence Kongolo. The last weeks, the young talents has played Mathijsen out of the Feyenoord team. “I have said this two seasons ago: that is probably our biggest prospect as a defender. He was the best player in the Feyenoord – Ajax of last weekend.” If the youngster keeps on performing the coming months, it could well be him. Virgil van Dijk could be another candidate. In Amsterdam, the name of Ricardo Kishna is being whispered. Danny Blind is a big fan of the youngster. When Kishna was badly injured, the top management of Liverpool traveled to Amsterdam to sign the winger. Blind was quicker and presented a juicy contract for the bravado boy and secured his services for Ajax. Kongolo, Kishna. Boetius, Rekik, Klaassen, Promes… It could be either of them. Boetius is cautious with his comments: “I have been battling injuries and I am happy I am playing for Feyenoord again. Everything else is a bonus. I will do what I can to show myself.”

Karim Rekik: “I have nothing to claim but I would be disappointed if I would miss out….”

Van Gaal discussed the situation of Jeremain Lens in detail at the press conference, as the former AZ and PSV man plays in war stricken Kiev. “We keep an extra eye on Lens, as he has a special training program during the long winter break in the Ukraine. But with this unrest there, the situation is pretty serious there and we keep an eye out for him.” The suspended Lens is not part of the squad now.

Van Gaal will use this game vs France as his last real opportunity to experiment. Partly due to the fact he has a long list to submit by May 7 (30 players) and partly due to the number of absentees. It looks like Van der Wiel and Clasie will get a chance to show themselves. This team manager is not that hard to please. Veltman, Klaassen and Cillesen, for instance, all were players of Young Ajax at the start of this season and are now part potentially, of the World Cup squad. If a youngster shows consistent form from now on, he could be in it.

Quincy Promes played for Go Ahead Eagles last season. The Twente forward is humble, still. “I am not counting on anything. It is going fast, but I don’t want to get lost in all this. I take it one step at a time.” Klaassen played Jupiler league last season, but for him it can’t go fast enough.

strootman robben

Kevin Strootman is still considered a youngster but he is about to play his 25th international game. He will be honoured with a bottle of champagne and a shield with inscription. Dirk Kuyt and Arjen Robben are also about to reach a milestone: 100 and 75 caps respectively.

Robin van Persie, still not sure if he will play, was happy to be interrogated during the press hour. He frowned and was quite stern whenever someone raised issues re: Man United. “We are here at Oranje now. And I wish to keep my comments limited to Oranje.” But when someone asked him about the squad and the newbies in it, he said he couldn’t comment on topics that are the team manager’s decisions… What he did say: “The Stade de France is sold out for this game. Quite astonishing. 80,000 people on the stands, which says something. It will be a real match, I think. France has a strong squad. They play well. I saw some of their games. Players like Evra, Giroud, Pogba, Cabaye are pretty good. I see them as a contender.”

Asked if he felt Oranje was one too…. “I think we need to be modest. We don’t really know where we stand. We have some changes in the squad, with some players out and some newbies coming in. The expectations in Holland are always sky high. Ever since the 1970s, that result and those performances are now the benchmark. I don’t think that is realistic.” Van Persie does not believe Oranje will lack confidence or ambition. “Oh no, we are going to Brazil to go for gold, for sure. But with us, at least 10 other nations. We simply do not know now where we stand. But I will say this: I am impressed with the quality of the youngsters. I saw Ajax – Barcelona and the way Klaassen was making sure that the Spanish couldn’t get to the ball in the dying minutes and how he played it tactically was pretty impressive. We have wonderful talents and if we can make it gel, we can do something spectacular. But we also need to be critical. Only then can we get better.”

RVP training











Call me crazy, but I think we are going to give the French a beating. I think they will be cautious at home, playing in a low pace and our fresh legs and youthful enthusiasm will get them. I think we win 1-3, with a dazzling Boetius and a powerhouse Klaassen performance.

Sneijder directing traffic, Boetius and Klaassen making runs while the rest of the team keeps it tight.

What do you guys think?

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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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Keep Calm and Trust in Louis

The Portugal friendly resulted in many-a critical comment on this blog and in other media. That is not a coincidence, as other media obviously copy all we are saying here. In fact, most of Goal.com’s coverage on The Dutch National Team are copies of soundbites of Tiju ;-).

But seriously, our defence is shit, our best striker can’t score for shit in Oranje, Robben is slow, Lens is stupid, De Vrij is ugly, Van Gaal is a moron, and Vorm can’t distribute the ball.

Before you know it, we will ask Van Gaal to please save us the shame and simply pull out of Brazil… Why bother.

No people!!!

This is not on.

We need to man up.

It’s early in the season. Hell, RVP, De Guzman, Vorm, Strootman, Van Ginkel haven’t even played a real competitive game, as yet. The Bundesliga lads just started. The bodies are still a bit rusty.

Then, most players can not play their best in a friendly. It simply doesn’t work. If your name is Robin van Persie, you know you have 50+ matches in front of you (and a World Cup). Subsconsciously, you play these  matches on 85% of your normal intensity. Arjen Robben will peak in the summer 2014, but not in August 2013.

kluiv rvp

We played with a couple of new lads in the team (Vorm, Verhaegh, Wijnaldum and later on Van Ginkel) and that might seem a detail, but it’s not. Almost 30% of the team has never played together. That is pretty big.

The criticism on our defenders is justified. But at the same time, they are very young… When Rijkaard and Frank de Boer made their debuts, they were criticised too. Frankie was too slow and too complacent. Frank was too arrogant and sloppy. Jaap Stam never made it into the Oranje squad until he was 24 years old. 3 years older than De Vrij is now. We need to cut them some slack and accept their mistakes. That is how they will learn.

And knowing Louis a bit: if he sees that BMI and SDV don’t learn fast enough, he’ll recall Mathijsen, Heitinga, Vlaar or even Douglas. And as he said: with Rekik and Bruma playing regularly together, who knows…. They might be the real deal.


I am proud of having such a young team (defensively). It shows courage. And it will boost our football. With Van Aanholt, Willems, Pieters to name a few, waiting in the wings (Van der Wiel???) I think we will be fine. We might not win the World Cup, but if we are depending on a left back to win us a World Cup, we simply do not deserve to win it.

Our midfield wasn’t great. Apart from Strootman, Van Gaal would want to play different players on that midfield. Wijnaldum was given the nod but only because De Guzman wasn’t fit. And Van der Vaart played because Sneijder isn’t fit and Maher lacks form. Normally these two (and maybe Siem de Jong) will be higher on LVG’s list.

Upfront, people complain about Hunter and RVP leading the line. I have three words for you. Let them be.

Huntelaar scored two against Hamburg. In a game that mattered. Robin scored two against Wigan. Another game that mattered. Hunter won my sympathy for ever since his grass eating antics against England at Wembley. Leave the man alone. He risked his life in a friendly. He will be fine!

Robin van Persie is one of the best players on the planet. Full Stop. Every coach of every nation would sacrifice one testicle to have Van Persie in the team. Yes, also the Spanish coach.

So what will Van Gaal do?

He wil monitor all relevant players. And the closer we will get to the World Cup, the sharper he will get. And if Narsingh, Ola John, Boetius or Elia will shine, he will pick them. I think that Sneijder will be back for the qualification games, if he keeps performing for Gala.

He will use the time to mould variances on the current 4-3-3. He will play around with Robben, with the midfield make-up ( forward center mid or deep lying center mid).

robben funny

And most importantly, he will craft something that we don’t have as yet: a team!

We don’t need the best left back or the best right midfielder or even the best center forward.

If Messi and C Ronaldo were the best players of the last 5 years, they still haven’t won the big trophies to prove that?

It’s not about the best this and that. It’s about TEAM.

This is also what Van Gaal can create. If we can operate as one, with the fitness required (physically and mentally) and we have three players in top form, who can make the difference, we have a chance.

Look at Germany in 1990. Or Argentina in 1986. Or Germany in 1996. Greece 2004. Or Italy in 2006. Spain in 2012.

Did they play “awesome” football? Did they have “awesome” players?

Germany 1990 had Klinsmann and Mathaus. Don’t you think RVP and Strootman (to name two) are better players?

Argentina had Maradona. Ok. We have Robben. The rest of the Argentina 1986 team played totally in service of Maradona.

Germany 1996, had an atrocious team. All anonymous players except for Scholl and Moller maybe? Bierhoff? Surely, Huntelaar is as good….

I think I made my point. We have (if all goes well) Sneijder, Strootman, Van Persie and Robben. We most likely will have other players in form available. Probably from the list of: Maher/Wijnaldum/Fer/Van Ginkel/Clasie/John/Lens/Elia etc.

I don’t care if it’s Lens or Wijnaldum of Elia. I believe that whoever Louis picks, will be the right lad.

By the summer of 2014, we will have a squad ready to go out and play for gold. We know the core names. We don’t now the supporting actors yet.

But with our talent and with Louis’ balls, bluff and bravado we will go a long way.


hunter grass

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