The Road to Qatar: Frenkie speaks

Frenkie is a player who has been hailed as the grandmaster of current Dutch football and graced our pages here often. We discuss Van Gaal here and tactical systems and Memphis’ injury and all this, but we only have a chance to win something in Qatar when Frenkie can play his best version of himself.

There is a painting in Zeist, which is called The Dutch Masters. Johan Cruyff is the beaming centre of the painting. Frank Rijkaard, Marco van Basten but also Xavi Simons and Vera Pauw are on the canvass. Louis van Gaal is there as well.

It’s unclear if Frenkie is on it, I haven’t seen it, but he is currently the only Dutch Master in the squad (sorry Memphis, Virgil). Louis van Gaal: “Frenkie is always important. If the opponent wants to pressure us, he is the man who can play out of it. He is strong on the ball, can turn both ways easily but he can also give the final through pass or score a goal.”

Beautiful words

Frenkie: “Yes, it’s always nice to hear nice things from the coach.”

Did you have to get used to this national team manager?

“Not really. He has such a reputation and he does have a different approach and way of working. I have never worked with someone like that, and you sort of prepare for this. But it’s really good to work with him. He is very direct and I like that. You get clarity and you will hear it when you don’t do well but also if you do do it well. As a group, we can deal with this. We won’t be losing sleep because of his approach because we know why he does it. He is merely helping us win matches.”

Van Gaal said: we can win this World Cup. Agree?

“Of course, we can win it. We have a pretty good team. We might not be the favorite, but we don’t need to be the favorite. I never look at who the media push as the frontrunner. I agree with the coach, we can win it, but other nations can win it too. Our strength is the team spirit combined with good players. We are not France though. A big nation, with a bigger pond to fish in.”

Who wins it: the best team or the best players?

“The team. 100%. But that is always the case, in any competition. If you would plan a match between the best team and a team with the best players, the best team would win. And in a tournament, it’s about working as a team and do what you can, literally everything. That is the foundation of it all. When you can do this, the qualities of the individual players can make the difference. The team is a the foundation and we have this very solidly.”

So this Oranje is a good team?

“We’ll need to see. The vibe is top. We are willing to work our asses off. All ingredients are there. The coach has brought a structure and that helps us enormously. We play with a fixed core of 14 players or so and that brings automatisms and patterns.”

Is this system a good system for you?

“Oh yes. I can play in any system. I don’t even think in these terms. Whether it is 5-3-2 or 4-3-3 or 3-4-3… it’s all about a couple of meters left or right or back. The most important thing is that the positioning on the pitch is correct. When that is the case, any good player can play in it. The way we do it now suits me fine.”

Where were you when Robin van Persie headed the ball over Casillas in 2014?

“I was watching tv with my orange jersey on hahaha. I was 17 and playing for Willem II. I liked that tournament, but I loved the 2010 tournament. I was 13 and you do process it way more intense. I remember everything from that tournament. But I have always been an Oranje fan and when you can play a World Cup yourself it is the best, the highest, the most important… The Euros was different due to the Covid restrictions. We didn’t play for full stadiums and the matches were played in different countries. There was atmosphere and all that, but not really, you know? Now, it will be different, a World Cup is huge. Now we play Senegal and Equador. I never played these nations. I have played against Germany four times now, but might be playing Brazil or Argentina for the first time. I look forward to that.”

How do you view this World Cup in the winter?

“It’s different, isn’t it? With one 1 week prep. We had 4 weeks for the Euros. But, all nations are suffering from this. But we’re basically in WC preparation since Norway away, really. By now , it’s quite clear what is required and how we want to play and solve problems.”

Virgil van Dijk wasn’t there, at the Euros. What is the difference when Virgil plays?

“I was devastated when Virgil got injured. He is one of the best defenders in the world, if not The Best. He has so many qualities, but he’s also a leader. On the pitch, off the pitch. He has charisma and you can tell that opponents and even referees are impressed with him. And when we play, the way he organises, keeps everyone awake and alert and coaches, that also makes an impact. On us, but also on the opponent. When I look behind me and I see Van Dijk, that gives me a safe feeling. Certainty, or an insurance kindathing. I am happy for him that he can play this World Cup but also very happy for myself, hahaha.”

You are close with Memphis. Is he going to be ready?

“I think so. Or think… I know so. He has been working so hard the last weeks and I know him well, he is a true professional. No one can criticise him on his mentality and work rate. He trains when he has to and does even more than that. Memphis was born ready.”

We all know you are top player, but you also seem to have top mentality. I think you had this as a youngster already, but this last transfer summer in Spain you kept a really cool head…

“That is basically how I am. I simply won’t get nervous easily. It’s all between the ears. My family and my agent Ali Dursun supported me well, in what I want: stay at Barca. No discussion. And I stuck to my path. The world outside of the club can say whatever they want or have any opinion. It’s nothing to do with me. I knew what I wanted, and that is all that mattered. I think you will be doubting stuff, if you are not quiet in your head. And in all honesty, I used all that stuff to get motivated. That is how I dealt with it. I believe in myself and the rest is just noise.”


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  1. Arnaut Danjuma is in the studio in Holland. He is asked about what the LVG reason was to leave him out. He said the only reason he was given is “we decided to pick another player over you”. Nothing more.

    There is a rumour going around in the Dutch media, that LVG didn’t pick him because he is too shy and stays too much by himself in his room and doesn’t mingle too much with the group. Andy vd Meyde, who seems to become a pretty thick caricature of himself, came out with this.

    When Danjuma was asked about this he called it bullshit and ridiculous and stupid to say something like this. He said that he was not shy and staying away from the group and he also said that this was never said to him by LVG. ” And we know Louis, he is honest and would say this to me.”

    The final conclusion: “I missed 6 matches, the games in which LVG was prepping his tactics and Noa was there. I think it was between me and him.”

    Andy vd Meyde is the fixed guest of a new football talk show and he is a bit of a clown to be honest.

  2. I watched it.Given Simons and Frimpong are in the same boat were called up, danjuma should have been too. This has been discussed, you need a player like him in the squad especially when there is question mark surrounding depay.

  3. @Jan

    Re: There is a rumour going around in the Dutch media, that LVG didn’t pick him because he is too shy and stays too much by himself in his room and doesn’t mingle too much with the group. Andy vd Meyde, who seems to become a pretty thick caricature of himself, came out with this.

    These are the kind of speculations(truth??) that rubs me raw about Dutch management.

    I can’t imagine there is any organization in world football that this would even arise as a thing.

    Infantalizing these players haven’t brought any good. Only unnecessary tension and excuses for a freehand to be arbitrary and bias.

  4. As funny a game as football can be, the stars have to align in utmost perfection for Oranje to go all the way.

    I don’t believe they can win it if they have to play Brazil, Argentina and Brazil in a row. It’s virtually impossible.

    Not with baby Blind in the team. Not with 2-3 world class players in the team. Not without a true goal poacher.

    But hey, football is a funny game.

  5. Thanks Jan for this post, amazing how important van dijk is as a moral boost for the best along side his playing qualities …. I love frenkie man , what a special player he is !!!!
    One day a midfield of frenkie and xavi simons will be full of speed, skills and even more 🙂

  6. @organgutan

    Not sure if you read my comment properly. The story andy vd meyde told about Danjuma being shy and therefore not selected IS NOT TRUE. Andy made it seem as he heard this from Danjuma himself. Danjuma came out to say it was rubbish. He said he isn’t shy (and he doesn’t seem to be indeed) and this was never an issue. Andy vd Meyde is not the role model for Dutch management.

    Please don’t turn everything you read in to the “Dutch Management sucks” rant.

  7. @Wilson

    “Given Simons and Frimpong are in the same boat were called up, danjuma should have been too.”

    No this is not a proper conclusion. Simons and Frimpong were with Young Oranje who worked on the same tactical set up. Plus, they play in different roles. Van Gaal compared Danjuma with Lang and Bergwijn and made a choice.

    For RB we only have Dumfries, as Hateboer and Karsdorp were not available or good enough, just like Veltman was considered too lightweight. Hence Frimpong.

    You cannot compare Frimpong with Danjuma.

  8. @Jan

    Andy never categorically said Danjuma told him he was fazed out for being shy.

    Now, we can jump to our own conclusions that Andy gave that impression of hearing this from the horse’s mouth but that would be just our opinion.

    The more serious part of this whole thing, like I stated in my last post, is that Andy, suggestive or not, felt that this is something he can sell to the Dutch public.

    Andy has been in Oranje camps before. He must have weighed in on the plausibility of such story and with impish delight, decides to run with it.

    Opportunists like Andy remain lurking. And as long as the smoke billows, they are ready to create a firestorm.

    As for me, I am a mere messenger. I only speak of what I know.

    1. But really you only speak of what you think/guess. You have no idea what’s in the head of LvG or Danjuma nor of what they said to one another.

      The roster limits will always create the need to choose, unless you’re a country that only has 26 men in it. So this need to describe every single selection as if it is a big scandal or if it the one single thing that will decide Dutch fate for this tournament is just ridiculous.

      If LvG had picked Danjuma over Lang, this whole blog would be fired up about how the Ajax cabal didn’t like Lang and so he’s been given the shaft by the KNVB. But he didn’t get along well at Ajax and yet he’s still called up here because someone believes he has the right abilities, is in the right form, and is the right mix for this team at this time.

  9. Angel Di Maria game by numbers of yesterday’s match between Argentina vs UAE: i think this player should not be underestimated.

    ▫️45 Minutes
    ▫️38 Touches
    ▫️100% Tackles won 1/ 1
    ▫️3/4 Ground duels won
    ▫️2/3 Accurate crosses
    ▫️2/3 Successful take-ons
    ▫️2/2 Accurate long balls
    ▫️3 Chances created
    ▫️— 1 Big chance
    ▫️2 Total shots
    ▫️2 Goals
    ▫️1 Assist

  10. “I agree with the coach, we can win it, but other nations can win it too.” – I love this, so very deep and intelligent 🙂 Jokes aside, FJB ……sorry , I meant FDJ is our engine, no doubt about that.
    A real pity Danjuma missed out. Also Botman could have gained a lot of experience from this tournament. He may be critical to our defense in the next team iteration.
    Looking forward to our first match. Such a weird feeling a WC in the winter.

  11. @Aanvaluh

    Re: But really you only speak of what you think/guess. You have no idea what’s in the head of LvG or Danjuma nor of what they said to one another.

    Nor have I ever claimed or suggested in my writings that I know what’s going on in another’s mind. I am quite wary of crossing that line.

    What I do go by is what’s presented to me through a person’s pattern of behaviour or what comes out of their mouth.

    Take Danjuma for instance. He denied ever having a conversation with Andy. Did my post at any time suggested otherwise?

    But in the case of LVG, I am obliged to listen if someone like Andy comes up with a claim that Danjuma was left out because he doesn’t connect with the rest of the team. Why? Because this is a “thing” in Dutch camps(and Andy has been in several) and Dutch management. And even more importantly, it is something that I could not put past LVG given the fact that he is such an authoritarian figure. Reserving the possibility of such a claim is not equivalent to, I, speaking on behalf of LVG.

    But I have seen your past comments where you vaguely address my posts, about going on long-winded responses and comments, and suggestions of me hating Dutch management and players, and for me to find another blog etc.

    I chose not to respond because such comments appear to me quite redundant. And reductive. They do not add anything to the conversation.

    Rather, comments like these are geared towards establishing what makes you feel comfortable, personally, in a public setting. And I really do not care about your compatibility issues vis a vis my writings.

    Do yourself a favor like you had suggested to me. Skip my comments or go find a home Reno blog.

    1. Based on you serving up yet another oversized portion of Word Salad, I think I will take your advice and just skip past your inane comments from now on. I’m glad we’ve found something to agree on.

      Here’s the thing—
      The odds are that Nederland won’t win this World Cup. Literally. The odds are like 1200 to 1. So I think a lot of you guys like to come here and say, “they can’t win without (fill in the name of any player that wasn’t selected) and the management are idiots for not selecting him”. That will give you the opportunity, at whatever point in the Cup that the team may be eliminated, to say you were right, that you knew better. I’m not sure how that would actually make you feel better, but it’s the only thing that makes sense to me as your possible motivation for repeating all of these same kinds of unfounded and unprovable claims over and over again.

      For me, I believe that we can win it. Not that we will, not that we’re the secret favorites, but that we can. I think we can beat Brazil on the right day, I think we can beat Argentina on the right day, I think we can beat France or any other team in this tournament. A cohesive team with a few really good players and with no glaringly weak players is what we have, maybe a couple of great ones. With team cohesion and a world class manager, both of which we have, this team can go really far and could actually win it all. If that happens, I’m not going to be sitting here typing “I told you so”, I’ll be celebrating and saying that “we” did it.

  12. @Manoj
    TAKE A NOT OF THIS..We should not overestimate Arjentina and Messi/De maria..
    1-its UAE who could nt even beat India at times ranked &0th ob fifa.
    2-Its friendly match ,they didint want to injure any arjentine players (friendly)
    3-Most overrated team in this Wc is Arjentina and i am sure they wont win it..
    4-Angel d maria is an excellent finisher who can finish from half chance deadly with ball. but off the ball ??/ i am not sure..
    i am convinced yesterday that if we meet Arjentina at quaterfinal we are going beat them in 90 minutes..Period..just like in 1998.
    Sad part..
    Here in india/kerala and perhaps world wide dimwits think that Oranje should loose to arjentina and go home .Beacuse Messis D@##k is big and strong,Arjentina has Big D@%24k etc blah blah ..WTF…………FR@#$^^#$k them all…

      1. Yes, as keralites we both know that Argentina and brazil enjoy big following in kerala and thousands of them ate going to watch them play and support them in the stadium. The matches against both teams combined with these noisy supporters is not gonna be easy for any team.

  13. Frenkie is a top professional with a cool head. But I feel that he usually have so much to do on his own, especially in games that we are not faring so well.

    And this is where I feel LVG should have experimented a little more with a partner for him.

    Hoping that Koop can do the job but we all know he has his own defensive limitations. Still feel he is the safest bet.

    Would have love to see how a Timber, Struijk or even a Simons perform beside him.

    We very well might see that in the tournament proper. It’s unfortunate there won’t be no room for mistakes.

  14. To win the WC this year, a team will have to play 7 games in less than a month, in sometimes difficult conditions. (Likely nothing like the 2014 match against Mexico, but still…) Throw in yellow card accumulations and injuries…hard not to think that guys who may not start, but who have real qualities, like Lang, De Vrij (two my favorites—though I understand why both may not start in the opener), De ligt, Frimpong, etc, won’t play important roles.

    Starting to get really excited about this…I have the DVR set for all the games, but I am wondering if I can handle four in a day. lol

  15. @orangutan

    You lost me with your Andy comments. Now, the Dutch disease is the result of me assuming that Andy heard it from Danjuma. Right.

    Well, I don’t know if you ever have seen Andy in his youtube channel or followed his career but he is an absolute idiot, irresponsible, cheating, lying moron who has more failures in his life than the whole Dutch 1974 squad together.


  16. Rick Karsdorp is most likely on his way out after Mourinho’s outburst.

    The impact is such that fans have now threatened Rick and family and they escaped to Holland for a bit.

    Many Roma former players support him publically, as he has been a loyal soldier for quite a while and is popular in the dressing room. Mourinho and Team Karsdorp will talk soon as Roma will embark on a tour to Asia. It’s speculated that Karsdorp will not travel with, as Juventus, AC Milan, Bologna and Lyon are named as potential suitors.

    1. Karsdorp did not have the right attitude. But I think Mourinho is the one who crossed the line. He coached in Italy for long time, he know ultras behavior and he called his player a traitor in public. This is so low. If the player did not have his mind right, bench him, tell him to find a new club but at least keep it private.

  17. I won’t take anything Andy Van der Meyde or Drenthe said seriously. They are extremely talented and they throw that away. If one of them reach their potential then we could have that extra person to win WC in 2010 or 2014.

    1. Van Der Meyde was very talented but for some reason didn’t go far. Might have been that he went to Inter which has always been a black hole for many players. Drenthe was a super player but mysteriously vanished very early.

  18. I am getting annoyed by Arjentina and Messi fans over here…they say this is messis last Wc so messi has to win we must give it to messi and world cup should always won by arjentina..FKS they are not even close to Portugal..Portugal,Germany ,Dutch are the teams to watch out in qatar…Portugal was dismantling Nigeria yesterday..though that penalty was harsh..i really wish Arjentina pack to home at the earliest with Messi..

  19. Our toughest match in group stage will be against Ecqudor.. As they play for draw in away games..Senegal is a penetrable opponent,they have holes at back…we will find goals..Qatar to has..i fee;l Ecqudor and dutch will go to next round..Brazil and portugal are the only teams that can hurt us,because they have plethora of attack and they are capable of scoring…VS arjentina if they make it QF we will struggle to score on ground game,but we can finsh them with bullet headers from Virgil,Deligt,Ake and Luuk De jong.. Just like zidane did Vs brazil at 1998…or Puyol single gaol Vs germany at semi of 2010..

  20. Guys, my head just exploded!! I don’t watch the Australian league and I missed out on this kid but his story is compelling so I watched the high lights reel (see link below). He is AMAZING!

    Move over Messi, Haaland and Xavi Simons.

    Garang Kuol was born in Egypt, to Sudanese asylum seekers, who ended up in West Sydney. Garang played on a field with the amateurs until his brother – I believe he plays in Europe now – pointed out that his kid bro was the true talent.

    He is 18 years old and has yet to start a league game in Oz, but Arnold selected him for the World Cup. And I can see why. The kid is incredible.

    Newcastle United signed him already. He will be massive.

  21. Nice article Andrew, thanks for posting.

    And yes, expect Blind in the line up. Van Gaal really rates him, as you know. And no, it’s not because Danny Blind has photos of Van Gaal in a three some with Frans Hoek and Edgar Davids.

  22. @ Andrew

    Agree this world cup could come down to teams that have the best quality depth in the team and which dont get affected from which you mentioned.

    I see Brazil, Portgual as two teams that have this. France seems to have gone thin with injuries but they still poses a talented depth. Might have to dig deep though this time around. Argentina also has been rocked with injuries and whether if it will affect them remains to be seen. The injuries were more to the bench players though.

    Germany, Spain Netherlands, England are in the same boat I would say. Good teams but lack in certain departments.

  23. @ Jan

    Danjuma should have been the 26th man and the player that he should have been selected over should have been either Talyor/ klaassen.

    I can understand the comparison between him, Lang and Bergwijn. But I have doubts on Bergwijn even though he has been delivering at NT level. He only thrives in space and with big teams and in big games that won’t be the luxury he will get. His not that type of guy who can create something out of no thing. I’m certainly not saying he should have been dropped but danjuma could have being the x factor in the team when needed the most. SF or final .

    Lang is also like a free lancer, he doesn’t play a particular position he keeps moving all over the park. His best position should be in the hole where he gets that freedom to move where ever he wants

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