Louis van Gaal doesn’t doubt stuff. He doesn’t doubt, full stop! And in particular not himself.
But… Lately, with Strootman taking a big injury hit and half of the Dutch internationals under performing at their clubs, he would be a fool not to doubt stuff. Like: “who will I take along”, “what kind of midfield will I use”, “will I go for 4-3-3 for real?”, “Can I find an honourable way to get out of this job NOW?”…. ( Btw: rumours go that Man United wants to talk to LVG for a role at Old Trafford…)
In a recent interview, Van Gaal – for the first time in a long while – said he was reconsidering the set up of his midfield. He decided earlier on, on using a three man midfield with “the point aiming back”. Or one central defensive mid and two offensive players. These two would have been Sneijder and Strootman. With the latter being able to support the former. With Stroot out of the picture, the make up of the midfield might need a change, is what Louis said.
The options he has are clear. Play with two holding mids and one central offensive midfielder. Playing De Guzman and De Jong or Blind and De Jong with a more agile and moving number 10. I don’t think Siem de Jong would be the man for that, but Wijnaldum or Klaassen could be that player. Even Robben and Van Persie have played there. As has Rafael van der Vaart but he will first get back to fitness before even thinking about Brazil.
Sneijder (and Van der Vaart) might be too static for the Van Gaal midfield Mark II, mind you…. Adam Maher in form would be the ideal player, by the way…
Or LVG resorts back to 4-1-4-1. Or 4-2-3-1. With RVP the lone striker. Or even a solution with Hunter as lone striker… but I doubt that Louis will venture there.
Anyway, big question marks. Van Gaal clearly says he doesn’t see a replacement for Strootman in the Strootman style. Van Ginkel, Afellay, Klaassen, Fer…all possibilities. But none of them has what Stroot has. Some have no rhythm, some lack the skills and qualities.
Wesley Sneijder doesn’t seem to have impressed Van Gaal. Not sure what this means though…. In personal meetings? In his role as playmaker in the games he played? At Galatasaray? And is a 100% fit Immers better than a 80% fit Sneijder? Does this comment mean that Wes is not yet on the list of 23?
Van Gaal voiced concerns over Sneijder’s level of performance in Turkey and declared that only in-form players will be on the plane to Brazil.
Van Gaal told Dutch media source NRC, “You should be able to deliver at club level every week. If you can’t deliver at your club, then you most definitely can’t deliver at the national team.
“He [Sneijder] will play in Turkey until the middle of May, so I will wait and see. There is no need to decide before then.”
Sneijder’s contribution to the Netherlands team over the years has been immense. His performances at Euro 2008 saw him named in the UEFATeam of the Tournament, and two years later he appeared in the All-Star World Cup Team—with his displays in South Africa being a major reason behind his nation’s route to the final, where they lost to Spain in extra time.
In addition to his impressive international achievements, Sneijder has enjoyed a trophy-laden club career. The Dutch No. 10’s CV boasts titles in Holland, Spain, Italy and Turkey, as well as five domestic cups.
However, his crowning achievement came in 2010, when he won the Champions League with Inter Milan. Sneijder, who has previously scored a crucial goal in the semi-final, provided the assist for Diego Milito’s opener in the 2-0 triumph over Bayern Munich.
Sneijder is widely regarded as one of the greatest attacking midfielders in Europe and has returned 12 goals in all competitions for Galatasaray this term, and his omission from the Netherlands setup would be a huge shock to all.
What does this all mean?
I know Frank de Boer knows what to do. “Sneijder? I would always take him along. I don’t want to sit on Louis’ chair but I think that whatever solution you pick for the midfield, three or four in diamond or 4-2-3-1….that is determined by the quality of the players I think, but whatever system you use, you need players with that extra creative spark. That uniqueness. Sneijder has the ability to win a game for you. The venom, the will to win, the class, the persistence. He can score from a dead ball or create a chance out of nothing or play the through ball no one saw…. I would take him always.”
This is where I think a coach has a big call to make: either the Team is the most important or you mould your team around a couple of aces. Van Gaal would normally go for the former. Make the team key. So rather three hardworking and dependable midfielders (like PSV changed its midfield and like De Boer still uses Poulsen) then one artist that doesn’t always perform and two players in his service. The teams that excel are the teams were everyone battles and fights and works their arse off. Liverpool, Bayern, Atletico Madrid, Everton…. This is where Spain will be vulnerable… Anyway, Sneijder….one needs to change the team around so Sneijder can deliver. I see him in the Cabaye/Pirlo role. Deeplying, next to Nigel de Jong. With Robben, Klaassen/Wijnaldum and Lens in front of them and RVP deep centrally.
Although I would love to use Robben as the number 10. Centrally. With Depay on the left and Lens on the right.
This does look like a very offensive line up but why not. If you go down, go in flames!!
It seems like Oranje is in a spot of bother.
Johan Cruyff spoke about Oranje recently. And was quite clear. “Listen, I don’t want to interfere with the work of Van Gaal and I don’t want to say things that people can then use to put pressure on him. But….fact of the matter: it will be very tough in Brazil. Surviving the group will be quite an achievement. Spain and Chile in the draw, aaargh…. Just two very good sides. And attacking sides too. Our problem is not that we lack quality. We have a lot of great talents. But this is the problem: most are just talents. They need a couple of seasons extra to be ready for the World Cup. In 1974, we had one talent in the team, in Rijsbergen. Our goalie was already experienced and so was the rest. Both Ajax and Feyenoord had just won the European Cup 4 times in a row, amongst them. De Kromme, Jansen, Nees, Rensenbrink, Krol, Rep…all experienced lads. World Class. Now it’s different. Our key players are the forwards. When midfield or defence can’t play themselves out of pressure, it will not help too much who we have upfront. We could have Messi and C Ronaldo as well, but if they don’t get the ball, we won’t score.”
When the interviewer suggested we need to play ultra defensive football, JC exploded. “No! Wrong! I hear people say this. It’s the dumbest thing you can do. If your defence is your weakest link, don’t play defence!! It’s simple. We want the ball to be with RVP and Robben and those lads. Also, play your strength. If our lads are young and quick, play unpredictable football. Put the pressure on them. Sure, we’ll concede, but we need to make sure we score more than they do and it’s all good.”
May 7 is the day LVG will start with his formal prep work. A big group of Eredivisie players will join in and he will most likely also invite players of Young Oranje, to keep the numbers interesting. Van Gaal has three periods of three days planned. He will announce his first squad list on May 2. Van Gaal will go for short but intensive sessions. After three days, the lads can go home for a bit. The second session will be with the players from the English and German competitions.
After returning from Portugal, Holland will prepare for a friendly against Ghana on May 31 in Rotterdam. Holland will play a last friendly in Holland in De Arena against Wales. On June 2, Van Gaal will announce the 23 players who’ll take the flight on June 5 to Rio.
In Brazil, Oranje will training on the Flamengo facility, on walking distance from the players hotel at Ipanema beach. The facilities are authentic. Maybe old fashioned. But the pitch got priority and is exactly the same in terms of blade length as the official venues: 1,8 to 2,0 mm.