The Vision of Erik ten Hag

We are at a turning point. Currently, in a vacuum. No team manager currently. The new technical director and the new coach are a question mark. The NT missed a second tournament in a row. And we only have two Dutch clubs in Europe, both seem to be thrown out of the competitions before the new year. A mighty low.

But it might be a good thing. We are forced to look at changing what we do. A changing of the guard as well. No more Van Gaal, Adriaanse, Van Hanegem, Advocaat, Ten Cate, Jol, but time for the next generation.

Erik ten Hag is seen as the Crown Prince among Dutch football coaches. Ten Hag started his career with FC Twente, the key club in the region where he was born. The centre back played for Twente in three periods of his career. and also donned the colours of De Graafschap, RKC Waalwijk and FC Utrecht. As a coach, he started as assistant to Fred Rutten at FC Twente, then went on to assist Rutten at PSV Eindhoven. His first head coach role was at Go Ahead Eagles where he got heads to turn. So much so that Bayern Munich signed him as the Bayern II coach, where he worked under Pep Guardiola for 2 years. He returned to Holland to coach FC Utrecht and has done so with great fanfare.

FC Utrecht, with their limited resources, had a super period with Ten Hag, reaching the cup finals and ending up fourth last season (the Best of the Rest), with sumptuous football at times.

But losing key players resulting in a renovated FC Utrecht and this season was a bit of a hit and miss for Ten Hag. Losing 1-7 at home vs PSV for instance. But also winning vs Ajax in the Johan Cruyff Arena.

Is there a crisis this season at FC Utrecht?

“This is the story of facts and perception. If you only base our opinion on perception you could interpret our results as “Utrecht is in crisis” but I stick to the facts and these tell me a different story. Already before the Ajax victory. I try to stick to the facts.”

So, what are those facts?

“Well, success comes on foot but leaves on horseback. And I’m not using the following as an excuse, but I see these as facts. For instance, despite the defeats, we now have more points than we had last season. We had a different pre-season due to the European competition and we lost four key starters: Haller (VFB Stuttgart), Barazite (Turkey), Wout Brama (Australia) and Sofyan Amrabat (Feyenoord).  The year before we lost Boymans, Letschert and Bart Ramselaar. Something like that will start to have its effect. We do move on a tightrope. We did really well two years in a row, we finished 5th and 4th and reached the cup finals but we only have the 8th or 9th budget in the Eredivisie. Add to that the quality of our game, add to that the brilliant games we played against Zenit St Petersburg and before you know it people mention the word crisis when the results are a bit disappointing… Well, there’s not much wrong at FC Utrecht. But we became the victim of our own success. Now people tend to judge us as if we’re Feyenoord.”

Please go on

‘We played away vs Twente and AZ for the league and away to VVV for the cup and we were below par. There are no excuses for this. But we do play good more often than that we play bad. Especially taking into account that we needed to bring in 4 or 5 new players. And my role, is to confront the players with the facts. It’s about what’s in their mind. We shouldn’t panic or feel bad about ourselves. If we keep on doing what we do, it will come good. I think the victory vs Ajax was a big mental win for us and we laid the foundation for what will come next.”

Labayad scored the winner vs Ajax

The mind… Is there a lot to be gained in the mental aspects of the players?

‘Absolutely. See, we can play good football with Utrecht, we demonstrated this. But now, you need to deal with the dips, with the disappointments, with the fact that our solid centre forward Haller isn’t here anymore, with the fact we didn’t get into the Europa League. Now, the mentality needs to deal with the higher expectations. The men will have to step up. And I saw it vs Ajax, but I want to see it every week. And, this is not just our problem, we are talking about a key problem in Dutch football. It’s the combination of technical, tactical, physical and balanced with relations, conduct and emotion. These six aspects make the total athlete.”

How do you work with the players’ minds?

“It starts with understanding their personality. You need to know about the man behind the player. And I tell you what, I can read this from the way a player moves, the way he responds when losing the ball, when he concedes or gets fouled. I can make a picture – a broad stroke picture – of the man. And I can use this in my management. I choose a different approach per player. But thats’s only the start. You also need to look at the dynamics in the group. How they relate to one another. And I can see before the game, what kind of match we’re getting. Take AZ away, a terrible performance. I noticed in the dressing room, the tension wasn’t there. We weren’t front-foot. There was no real intensity. I could see in the way the players played the ball in the warming up, this will be a tough afternoon.”

How do you see this?

“Just, how they hit the ball. Not full. No conviction. No real idea. Just going through the motion. And I felt it back in the dressing room. And players showed tell signs of nervousness. Plucking at socks, hiding under a towel. I usually break those routines up. I don’t want it to be a nerotic thing. A “must-do” ritual. Because suddenly, if they didn’t sit under their towel, they can’t play well. It’s just creating an excuse to fail.”

So you also know when you will win?

“Not if we win, but I can see whether we will play a good match. Last season at home, also AZ. The finals of the play offs. I felt the instict, the urge to survive that match. I saw energy, intensity and we took the 3-0 defeat and turned it around, on penalties. That was the perfect example of the right mindset. I think it was the best or most impressive game I witnessed as a coach. Everyting worked: tactics, drive, mentality. And we won that match due to mental strength. AZ only had one shot on goal, in the 82nd minute! Just like the Ajax game two weeks ago, we wanted it more. I’m really proud of them in those situations.”

Pep and Ten Hag at Bayern

So, the logical question follows: why isn’t it possible to generate this more often?

‘And that is my challenge. And the challenge of the lads. Doing it better and more often all the time. PSV at home, we lost 1-7. But for an hour we are in the game. We were 1-2 behind at half time, and the lads walked into the dressing room asking themselves: how come we are behind? We should be 3-1 up! I told them: just keep going. We shouldn’t force the equaliser because PSV is lethal in the counter, but be patient. Do not open the gates. And what do we do, when PSV scores 1-3? We open the gate. We miss two major chances to get back to 3-3 and PSV beats us at a terrible moment. A throw in, we pressure forward, our back slips and Locadia is away and scores: 1-4. Then, something broke. Some players wanted to take responsibility all by themselves and do it alone, other players gave up. It all crashed down. We basically lost our minds, and PSV was able to punish us. But the next week, vs Heerenveen, we were back at it. It’s basically a matter of being on top of them constantly, demanding demanding demanding.”

So why is Bayern Munich capable of doing this week in week out, with much more talented players and Utrecht can’t do this. While the FC Utrecht players would have to work harder for it anyway?

‘Good question. I worked at Bayern and was often totally surprised by the mentality of players like Neuer, Robben and Lahm, for instance. They have accomplished so many great things, but when you see the intensity with which they train. Unreal. They constantly try and find the limits of their trade. Constantly, finding the limit and surpassing it. Again and again. Take Cristiano Ronaldo. His heading capabilities, his jump, his timing, that takes 1000s of hours of training and practice. Like with his free kicks and kicking technique. He’s so talented but he constantly demands the best out of himself. That is the difference with the subtop. But if we are subtop, we can distinguish ourselves from the level below us, by doing the same at our level.”

So how can you do this with Eredivisie players?

‘By confronting them constantly with the agreement you made with the player. I always try and find their motivation. What do you want to achieve and how will you do it? Quincy Promes, at Go Ahead Eagles. He knew exactly what he wanted and what he needed to do for it. Tremendously ambitious, that kid. And still, I had to battle with him every day.”

Is it a sign of the time?

‘Well yes. Different times, different players. I can still enjoy that video of a young Ruud van Nistelrooy, writing down his goals and achievements into a little notebook. That was all him. Nowadays, I make a POP with the players. a Personal Development Plan. These days, we facilitate these things. We facilitate everything for the youth. And we create players without the ability to find it within themselves. Whenever we played against an opponent with a different shape as expected, my players would look at the bench, confused. Coach, what do we do? Now, the players know how to deal with that. But that didn’t just happen. We had to work on that. These days, youth players get into a bus that brings them to the club. There they have study mentors, nutritional experts, etc etc.”

Yassin Ayoub, boss in midfield, sadly selected to play for Morocco

It used to be all better in the past?

‘Ha! No, it wasn’t. But it was different and we create more characters. Van Hanegem, Lerby, Jan Wouters, Mark van Bommel. They had to find that motivation themselves. But, if we don’t offer it and AZ or Vitesse or Sparta does, then these players will go there.”

And everything is becoming more invidualised?

‘I’d call it more ego-centric. But a football team needs to work together. How do you get all those egos to do that? I aim to have a good relationship with the players and I want my players to get along as a team. And I am not talking about joint holidays or playing paintball. I think teambuilding is done on the pitch. We do a lot of positioning games and I put the benchmark higher and higher. I want them to demand more and more from one another. I ask for focus, quality, the right weight on the ball, playing into the right foot, the right movement. We play 4 v 2 +1, we play 6 v 2, we play 4 v 4 + 3, I build it up from complex to even more complex. And if they’re not focused or aren’t with their head in the game, those practices fail. So you’ll see that players start to correct one another, coach one another and motivate one another. That is team building! I think you can gel a team together by the way you work, the demands you put on them and the practices you come up with. But it takes hard work. Every day you need to be sharp.”

Have you seen players change? In their personality, or attitude?

‘For sure, but you can’t blame this generation for being ego-centric. It’s a reflection of our society. In the olden days, in Twente, we had the so-called “neighbourship” Whenever a farmer had a cow that was ill, the other farmers would give him a healthy cow for the time being. And when the harvest needed to be done, they’d help each other. In the cities even, doors weren’t locked. Now, if you don’t lock your door, your furniture is for sale on Ebay. The world is different now. But I am not complaining about this generation of players. They’re not lazy. I know enough players who train individually, to work on their touch, their power, their ability to turn, the explosiveness on the first yards, etc. But they’ll need to do it within the club.”

Your training sessions are tough?

‘No not necessarily tough. I train long. I want the players to be at the club all day. But it depends on the program. Sometimes we train short but intensive. I work with my team and I’m never done. Every day, we can improve things. And where do you do that? On the pitch. You win trophies on the training pitch.”

Erik ten Hag and Jean Paul de Jong, team mates.

Fred Rutten claims we don’t train hard enough. We do less but expect more, he says. Peter Bosz thinks that is bull, and says you need to train differently.

‘It all depends per team and group. A team that plays Champions League and travels midweek needs a different approach. A team with only one match a week needs different things. A youth team needs a different approach. Players in their puberty can’t train with the same intensity as adults. You increase the risk of injuries. But when they are about 17 years old, you can practice with extreme intensity with these lads. This is the final stage of their physiological development. And you can make tremendous progress in their coordination. Their first tough, their turn, the way and timing of their sprints. I think 17 and 18 year olds need to train harder than older players. When you make the step to the first team, the level and intensity will be much higher. If you have the capacity to tag along, you can. If you haven’t invested enough, you might drop off.”

So they need to do more?

‘Yes absolutely. And you can justify it. Look at the Dutch youth teams. The Under 17s always compete with the top, but then the problems start. It’s partly the lack of competition intensity in Holland. Not enough resistance. That is not always to be helped, but the Eredivisie has been eroded in such a way, that top players leave at a young and younger age. Then there are the talent teams, the young Ajax, young Utrecht teams. We needed to have a competition for them, and from 2006 onwards we pleaded the KNVB for a good competition. But now we have that, we ruin it by not having relegation and promotion in this. The amateur clubs have vetoed this. This is not good for the quality of Dutch football. The top of the amateurs are happy to win titles, but they don’t want to be promoted because of the additional costs and infrastructure they’ll need. This needs to be resolved. This is one of the reasons why our quality has peaked and we’re getting behind countries like Belgium and Norway and Austria. In the first division, the Jupiler league, you couldn’t get relegated. So the clubs that were not able to win a trophy that season were just free-wheeling a bit. You need the opposite, you need players to want to better themselves daily. That doesn’t work when you can’t get relegated. Where is the challenge?’

Does it make sense for the talent teams of the pro clubs to play in the Jupiler league?

‘It does! Both AZ and Ajax were pretty good last season and look how the first teams now benefit from those youngsters? We had the option to get promoted into the Jupiler League with Young Utrecht and we didn’t. We couldn’t afford it. But we did it anyway and we are now reaping the rewards. Kerk, Venema are both from that team and they’ve been important for us already. They played with more resistance. I think the benefit for all is that players will ripen at a younger age.”

Erik ten Hag and JP De Jong now, coach and assistant

So, in reality, we have four talent teams in the Jupiler League and only one a division lower. The rest even lower than that.

‘Yes and that is the problem. So calculate with me: 15 players per club, which means 75 players playing with resistance every week. And all the rest is playing on a lower or even on no level… This means you can throw away a whole generation almost. Our development platform is way too narrow.”

What is the solution?

‘Well, we can’t turn back time, but ten years ago all the talent teams should have gone in that competition. But now, we do need a system of promotion and relegation, like in England. But people in Holland, in football at least, don’t like change. People think I say this for my own agenda, but what would that be? Why would I personally care? I’m talking about this because Dutch football needs it. We now have talents playing for pro clubs who don’t play weekly games at their level. That is such a waste!”

So how can you explain to outsiders that Feyenoord and Heerenveen don’t compete?

‘You can’t! There is no explanation. They probably didn’t see or didn’t care about the strategic impact for Dutch football. Their talents are getting hardly any resistance. I find it very hard to grasp and I find it disastrous.”

You were the coach of Bayern Munich II in an open competition set up

‘I saw how it worked there. Talking about resistance. We were playing away against Wurzburger Kickers. Big club in a big city with a rich sponsor. In those regional leagues, there’s big clubs. But then there’s Buchbach, a club in a rural town. A couple of former pro players with some locals, playing on a paddock of a pitch, with aggressive fans close on the pitch intimidating us. Try and win there. So you need to go full throttle, battle for every yard. As a youngster, this is how you build up character.”

This is a big challenge for the new technical director of the KNVB?

‘First the KNVB needs to tackle this. The Federation’s structure isn’t helping. You can’t change anything. I used to be head of development and I dealt with the KNVB. Everything is done via committees and boards and staff. The Netherlands is a country of compromises. The KNVB is the federation of compromises. In football, you can’t get forward with this. And now the KNVB is coming up with the weirdest brainfarts. Now there is no referee anymore at the youngest youth level. How does that work? Talents need to learn to accept authority and need to deal with decisions a ref makes. I also hear that they stopped keeping score at that age, because “kids might get demotivated if they lose big”. Add it all together: a competition set up based on the Olympic philosophy, no referees, no more scores. Who comes up with this? How can you create a top sport mentality? We are going far to far into the social aspect of it all. We want it to be social and fun and “gezellig”. This is not how you create a new Mark van Bommel or Frank de Boer! And you see it in society as well. Playing football, even at amateur level, is like life. You get educated there, you learn social behaviour, you want to achieve things, you win together, you lose together, you explore boundaries, you learn discipline. And if you are formed in the wrong way, you’re lost. We have hammered the winners mentality out of our football. It’s time to start at the top now, and change things internally at the KNVB. Change the structure and the way decisions are being made. Develop a football vision and roll this out, create acceptance with the clubs. The clubs need to support this and endorse the people who will do this job.”

Quincy Promes at Go Ahead with Ten Hag

Who would you like to see do this?

‘I think Louis van Gaal is the ideal man for the job and I think he’ll do it, but only if he gets carte blanche. Now, he knows there is not much he can do. So put him in the job, and give him free reign and change. I think Dutch football can be leading again in the future.”

What to do with that report: Winners of Tomorrow?

‘There are some good elements in there. The conclusion was: we need to do things differently, mentally and physically. And the next decision they make is to stop keeping score at youth games. I can’t understand this. I don’t see a strategy. It’s all loose sand as we say. I would love someone to explain it to me. We need a strong TD at KNVB level who can put his foot down when someone comes up with an idea like this in a meeting.”

How about you?

‘Nope, I’m still too much of a coach and trainer. And I have my hands full here at FC Utrecht. But, I do feel a joint responsibility for the state of football in The Netherlands and I feel responsible enough to be part of a discussion.”

AC Milan, with Zlatan, Nesta, Bommel, Seedorf and Urby

Former Ajax midfielder and Oranje international Urby Emanuelson is back in the Netherlands playing for FC Utrecht. His adventures took him to Italy, to England, but he’s happy in Holland, despite less money on the pay-check. He’s quite positive about Erik ten Hag.

“Ten Hag thinks more international than many a Dutch coach. It’s so clear that he worked in Germany, with Bayern and with Pep Guardiola. In Holland, adapting the 4-3-3 system is almost blasphemy, but Ten Hag uses different systems as a weapon. He is doing what Pep is doing. He changes things, he challenges beliefs and wants players to be flexible. And Barcelona and Man City and Bayern, they all do it. They play 3 or 4 different systems, sometimes in one match.”

Is Ten Hag one of the best coaches you worked with?

“For sure. He is, he is always involved and genuinely interested in you. And he’s working individually with players, very intense. And he’s a super human being as well. That to me is very important too. But I was lucky in my career. Henk ten Cate was super, Maxi Allegri at AC Milan was a genius. But the best coach I ever worked with: Marco van Basten, no doubt. I had my best time with him. His ideas about football, his vision, the way he had the team play in 2008. But, there is no one as critical of himself as Marco and when he quit just like that, I thought: yep, typical Van Basten…”

Would Ten Hag be a good national team manager?

“100%. He has the guts to do things differently. We seem to have made 4-3-3 holy for some reason, but it’s about the results and Erik is capable of finding a playing style that fits the players and will get results. I am convinced he can do what he does with Utrecht at a higher level.”

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  1. Again a timely remainder of what to expect with Daley Blind in the back of the few gamed where he is exposed big time by flashy wingers and again how his defensive deficiency nullfies his attacking united scumbling to defeat.

  2. I like ETH.he is the only coach who seems to be having a broad mindset. I like his approach of two strikers up front and with attacking midfielders.this is what I would like to see teams do more in eredivisie rather than sticking to 4-3-3. They need to deploy different tatics so that the players develop into all rounded players and not in just one position. I also have my doubts on Strootman in a two man holding mid.he has thrived in Roma because of the same old Dutch kind of approach. A reliable holding mid in the form of De Rossi and all rounded Raja Nainggolan.they form a solid 3 man midfield and I’m thinking the day Roma bring in quality CM,that is when Strootman will find himself in less breathing space.

    ETH remains me so much of Conte when he started at juventus.I jus hope he goes on to become a great coach and someday coaches NT.

    1. I might be the only one here. I like to read I read a lot, I’ve been reading for a long time. But please use his film full name. Out of respect. No offense Wilson but you’re very USAish with your responses. It’s aggravating, well I’m speaking for myself here but please have some respect.

      1. I guess you are refering to my constant criticism on Blind which I have maintained it for years. this is my justification on this.i have also said this before.daley blind is one of those players who has receieved the benfit of doubt beyond expecations, when there are others players who could have been used and in 4 years time could have provided sufficient depth in the team and best options through competitive rotation. there is no doubt that he has been spoon fed while others have been made to wait in the line or simply throw the towel. im not a hater or being dis respectful.its jus the truth and the proof for this is the what we are seeing now in context the state of NT.

          1. You are using ETH instead of Eric ten hag. Y does north america have such a bad reputation?

          2. Too much ETOH by night. I’m not trying to be disrespectful. I just (and that is just my personal opinoin) want to understand why aren’t we saying AR or VDB or WS or VDW or CS or FDJ? Name the people I mentioned. I don’t like abbreviations. I think it’s respectful to write out the full name. And by USAish I mean lazy by kit putting and extra second to write out his full name

      1. Got subbed off in like the ,50th minute. Idk if that’s true cuz when he first joined he said he one day dreams of becoming Everton’s captain

  3. Still not recovered from the pain that NT is not qualified for 2 tournaments…by their own stupidity may be arrogance..its the high time to get rid of many players who had played in both qualifications…
    Believe me we can win a WC with out Roben..spain has proved it,Germany has done it…
    Just form a squad of 23 players who has natural football intelligence and good skills who is ready to sacrifice anything to win a WC/EC.
    its the high time shut the doors for certain players in NT those are Strootman,BMI,klassen,Dost,etc.Due to lack of skilled players i am excusing promes and Depay .
    Also we need to stop playing Daley Blind and Wijnaldum in WRONG SPOTS LB and DM respectivley…Wijnaldum should play as forward he is skilled,disciplined and has got stamina…Blind has exemplary vision which is required as DM .he should be played with strong tackler at midfeild..
    these things needs to do immediately.
    Then comes the TD and new manger..its a long time process.i hope they find right candidates…
    Jan how about Jordy cryuff??

        1. its like when u have only crap left ,you have to choose best crap…Babel is 30…Janssen is fading from screen…then Dost,luuk,promes,Depay,berghuis left..i have no other choice…hope u understand..

          1. There is so many good talents who are on the verge of the horizon and you are thinking about crap left.are you sure that pain you talked about above is not the butt crack pain from shitting here.

            El ghazi is finding his form back at Lille,so is Depay.locadia, is yet to make his debut for NT,kuilvet,sinkgraven ,stengs all could be in the mix come 2020.this is jus the reinforcements on the wings and you are stuck with the crap.

          2. Elghazi lacks intelligence to be top class player..i dont count on him..Stengs is young he needs time..justin kluiert am not convinced ….Singraven is not on radar of any dutch coach..Then who else??Only one comes to my mind is Myron boadu ,guy has got something..but injured and lets wait and see..that left with me go with current available ones..

          3. Its not about what you think.its about injecting new faces and then identifying who should or should not be given the nod.its simply as that.

  4. I’m encouraged by the mentality of these younger Dutch coaches like Pepijn Lijnders and Erik ten Hag.

    I’m concerned about Peter Bosz’s struggles with Dortmund though. He hasn’t seemed to resolve their defensive problems yet and blowing a 4 goal lead at halftime is probably not going to help his position.

  5. Guys,

    I have seen many gestures that players do after scoring a goal. Majority of them I can interpret well but in some of them I truly need help to understand. Do you know why Vilhena and Depay stick fingers into their ears when they score the goal. What does that mean? Is it a gesture of humility that they do not deserve fan’s appreciation or what? Today I read how Vilhena explained it but I still could not understand it. Any ideas here?

      1. It’s just a way of telling the haters that they can’t hear them anymore. Basically for people like Emmanuel and how depay doesn’t listen to your insults so may as well just stop

  6. Van ‘t Schip has always been a good coach. His work at Ajax2 was hailed which got JC to present him and Marco to the KNVB as team managers. The KNVB decided to put Marco on as head coach, due to his international image. But Marco always said: I focus on the details, John is the actual tactician.

    John did very well in Australia too.

    He is one of JC’s proteges and you can be assured he knows his football. His public presentation is lacking a bit. He’ a bit timid and not a lot of bravado. More like Watford’s Silva than Special One Mourinho-style.

    But Johnny won’t leave PEC Zwolle now I don’t think.

    I mentioned Schip in the earlier post as well, like Mitchell van der Gaag (Excelsior) and Fons Groenendijk (ADO Den Haag).

    1. Jan and Wilson:

      Is it coincidental that these young Dutch coaches — Lijnders, ten Hag, van’t Schip all have garnered quality coaching experience abroad and studied under well known star managers?

      It seems that they all have the classic Dutch foundation, but have broadened and deepened their experience by gaining fresh perspectives from other countries.

  7. Some intereting observations of the past weekend.

    Memphis flying in Lyon (well, away games mostly) as is Tete. Memphis has more goals in the Liga than Neymar!

    Berghuis was sensational for Feyenoord this weekend with some Messi likes moves and great passing.

    Frenkie de Jong came on in the second half for Ajax against very sturdy Roda JC (Ajax’ first half was terrible) and taking the reigns for a big win in the second half.

    Apparently, Chelsea, Man City and Bayern Munich are queueing up to make a move on him. The youngster is still not in the starting 11 for Ajax. You wonder why Keizer doesn’t build his team around him.

    Ziyech was booed again in the Johan Cruyff Arena for sloppy passing. The Moroccan always puts a lot of risk in this passing but it’s quite unheard of to have the home fans booing one of their key players.

    Would never happen at Feyenoord, I can tell you that.

  8. And then a comment about the post I saw earlier, someone here saying:

    “We need to start to shore up the defence in order to build a successful NT!”

    I think this is – again – old school thinking. Stuff that Advocaat or Hiddink would say. And in the same sentence they’d probably mention something like 4-3-3 as a system.

    This is old school. Systems are worthless. Chelsea played 3 different systems in their match vs Liverpool.

    And thinking that these four lads in the back are “the defenders” is also old hat.

    The whole team should be thinking defence or offence based on the phase of the game. The goalie is the first attacker and the striker the first defender.

    By thinking and talking in those “lines” you are doing exactly what our coaches have been doing in the past.

    Whereas Klopp, Conte, Pep, Ten Hag, all the modern coaches these days want the TEAM to put pressure in certain scenarios or drop off and be compact in other scenarios.

    It’s that LACK of team work and team tactics and understanding that got us in this mess.

    And lastly: take it from me (your humble blogger) that for every tournament, the Dutch ALWAYS criticised and doubted their defence. In 1974, 1978, 1988, 1998, 2010 and 2014, people always felt the defenders weren’t good enough.

    Heitinga, Ooijer and Mathijsen always copped it but they did make it to the finals in 2010.

    I think we’re fine with Van Dijk, De Vrij, Van Beek, Tete, Pieters, Ake, Blind, Karsdorp, Kongolo, De Ligt etc etc for years to come. It’s not the defence that needs suring up. It’s the TEAM!

    1. I myself think that no hope on kind of player like van Beek, he’s just another version of Klassen, same as others but different reason such as Pieter, Kongolo, Blind, Berghuis, Babel, Janssen, L. de Jong, Ginkel, etc.

      To have a good team that can compete to other best teams in the world we can utilize our current resource who ‘s show their domination on others & able to make Orange team to be class level or at least can compare to other teams such as Van Dijk, de Vrij, Wijnadum, Memphis, Tete, Kardorp,Strootman, Zoet, Promes( maybe a little more depend on how they show) & forget about the rest

      We can mix them & other young talents that emerging also dominating other rival’s talents at their age such as de Light, de Jong, Kluivert, Fosu, Bijlow, Drongelen, Til, Stengs, Bergwijn, Bazoer, Chong, Schuurs, Pierie, Kongolo,Daishawn Redan depend on how we develop them.

      If we cannot do this combination for this generation then we will keep our current situation longer & longer.

      1. I also have my doubts on van de beek.he doesn’t strike me as a player who will be able to thrive outside of eredivisie as usual.when I look at his physic,I jus can’t see him going one on one with the robust midfielders, when you think of some of the young and upcoming midfielders like Eric Dier,Bakayoko,pogba,Rabiot,Tolissio,Bernardo Silva,loftus cheek,casemiro, who will be around and reaching their prime around 2020 and 2022
        Was watching Rabiot at PSG and he turned into a good makeshift DM with Veratti and Draxler.

        Again the DM is one position that requires a lot of attention come the new coach. Maybe its time to go with two holding mid who can also provide cover for the CBs like in 2010.contenders still no idea. Let’s see or hope Frenkie doesn’t end up like Anita,Siem and Klaassen.

          1. Blinds career is basically over. Lost his spot to Ashley Young at lb and isn’t even is uniteds squad anymore. Probably gonna move in January or for sure in the summer. Should move to a smaller Eredivisie club he might find minutes there. He’s extremely over rated

          2. you kidding me? it’s just one game. he played consecutive games before sat out of the last game. and he’s been playing 90 minutes. how Mou gave him the PK duty ahead of Lukaku and Herrera already shows how much he trust Blind. he’ll find a spot somewhere, definitely. CB, DM, LB, he’ll do his job, despite all his weakness (speed/height)

        1. Talking about Frenkie, he’s not like de Beek/ Klassen style who just try to find out a good place to score & try to play as simple as possible in the game without any special, Frenkie’s possessing skills of Modric/Eriksen. They all are slim/small but playing smart with very strong energy, good run, good pass, able to score, able to defense and look like a boss at Midfield area.

  9. @Jan

    I have to disagree with you on this.
    Yes, we need to shore up the defense! I strongly believe in that. Shoring up the defense doesn’t mean only the designated defenders do the defending.

    You are absolutely right in saying everyone is responsible for defending when the team doesn’t have possession.

    The defenders of the past you mentioned Heitinga, Ooijer, Mathijsen were average players. They needed two defensive midfielders to compensate for their perceived weaknesses. That 2010 team made it to the final because we had a good midfield and forward line.

    Personally, I am not obsessed about traditional formations 442/443/352 etc. Whatever system you have, pay attention to the defense. Make sure the players are comfortable in handling corners/counter-attacks/free kick situations.

    Work on the basics of defending. Man-marking, reading the opposition’s offense, positioning etc

    We have a good crop of defenders now. Moving forward, any coach who doesn’t pay proper attention to defense will not be successful.

    1. You don’t really need defensive midfielders. These days it all about all rounded midfielders who can do everything.attack,defend,jump,dive,tackle at the same rate. This is where the traditional dutch 4-3-3 system has very much hindered the development of current generation midfielders. Clasie,Van Ginkel,Klaassen,propper,hendrix,strootman,blind.They all lack some aspect of being all rounded players and no one at this moments looks like can break this cycle.

      1. When I said we need to shore up the defense, I meant that whatever system/formation you are using, you should make sure your team is defensively capable.

        You make sure everyone is responsible for collective defense. As I mentioned earlier, the basics need to be emphasized (man-marking/tackling/positioning/communication with the goalkeeper etc). I wasn’t advocating we must always play with defensive midfielders.

        I agree midfielders need to be all-rounded players since they are the link between the offense and defense. We had much better midfielders in the past than the current pedestrian crop we have so I don’t think the 4-3-3 system alone is to blame.

        The whole system from the youth academies to the top Eredivise clubs needs a complete review. Training techniques, transfer policies, club finances and so much more needs to be properly evaluated to change this tragic path we are currently on.

        Holland is a small country so changing things is doable if the concerned stakeholders are willing and able. The Germans showed it can be done. We don’t have to copy theirs but it should serve as an example. Things always regress when proper attention is not given. I’m optimistic that the future will be better.

  10. Kluive/Chong–Malen/Redan–Bergwijn/Stengs

    ——-Bazoer—-Til –Frenkie———–




    I hope a day to see this squad can win trophies & become best team in the world

    At the moment, all of them are young & most of them are dominated others at their age so let’s see how they develop.

    1. To be honest some of them might go on to become the next golden generation for Sure. Chong and Kuilvert could be on collision course and as I like it the best,this could go on to become a shown down like to that of Huntelaar and RVP when both start playing together at some stage. I have my doubts on malen.there is no reason why Arsenal released him and at Jong PSV he has been shifted to the wing with Lammers preferred at CF.PSV also needs to send lammers out on loan to an eredivisie club next season or otherwise his development will stall playing at amateur level or from off the bench.this will further free space for malen another bright prospect for striker is AZ prodigy Myron badou. With AZ flourishing with their finest talents you can expect him to make his debut for the first team very soon.just like stengs. The important thing for him would to not make the same mistake as Zivkovic did when he moved to Ajax from Groningen. Im also a big fan of the beast and I think he needs to come back to eredivisie. Jay Roy- Grot has failed to establish himself at Leeds and even though he hasn’t played much,the other strikers at the club seems to be more mature and clincally than him at this moment. If there is one striker that he remains me of is Romelu Likaku.still 18 he needs to look for a club where he can play consistently. Then comes Ferdi Kadigolu.was pissed of when NEC got relegated and no team came for him. This should have been his second consecutive season in eredivisie but looks he will be stuck in eereste divise.

      Being following games for Jong eereste divisie level they look good but it might be hard for them to break into the main team and like others will be released. Kaj sierhuis in particular. Dolberg has established himself at AJax and if huntelaar contract is not renewed,I can’t see him replacing huntelaar instantly.

      Backline looks set with de ligt,Van Drongelen and schuurs.

      Midfielders again could s question mark.

  11. it is so stupid to criticize Van de beek..He is way better than klassen…He is way too skilled than klassen or strootman…Van de beek,Frenkie dejong,kevin diks,Vanrhijn has billiards type accuracy in their passess and shots…thats determining factor for goals WE ARE BADLY IN NEED OF THAT..
    Promes,klassen,wijnaldum doesnt have that..

      1. No you are TERRIBLY WRONG….if they had we would be playing in Wc2018 Russia..Coz we just missed finsihing only…Klassen just benfitted from too many chances..if u shoot 10 then u might get 1 goal..he just did that only…He has to learn from Davy to shoot accuratly or from Toonstra…Please dont talk about wijnladum and promes…

          1. Janssen has accuracy but he is too direct and direct to Goal keeper..
            Propper,Vanrhijn,Van de beek,Frenkie dejong has it…Daley Blind not bad either..
            Roben,Vaart and RVP where definition for that..

          2. No. Promes klaasen and wijnaldum are sending of the best at it. Obviously not including depay. Propper is trash. Daley blind can hardly shoot a ball. And frenkie do Jong can’t score either. One of the bestidfielders I’m the game right now at scoring is klaasen

  12. @Depay 9 i dont what games u are watching to say klassen is a better finisher and he has shot accuracy.and wijnaldum and promes…they will kick out of post even when there is no goalkeeper…Amount of goals propper scored was mazing he scored in crucial times,agree as midfeilder he might be trash…But he has venom in final box…ur Depay has better shot accuracy than klassen…We blame strootman,stekelnburg mistkes for no qualifications but how many chnaces wasted by klassen and Janssen??? what an atrociuous match we had when we played with Gin-strootman combo in midfeild..with a finisher like Dost…
    looking back to EC2004 greece,2006Wc italy how did they won it????EC2016 portugal…how did they do that…
    Strootman,klassen,Dost,BMI,should not be ther at anycost along with Danny blind and Hiddink…
    We need to start 343 formation or 2323 for mation….

  13. We must find right players, i mean players who has brave heart..footballing intelligence,tactical awarness,good stmina and shot accuracy..
    ATM we look better with
    Williams–van debeek—-bazoer-Vanrhijn-
    on bench

  14. Well, as I was preparing to write a “This has to be the end for Bosz at Dortmund”, Yarmolenko bails him out with a goal to tie the match.

    Dortmund have looked both sloppy and inept despite having a man advantage against Leverkusen for the entire second half.

    I recognize that the absence of Reus, Gotze and Aubameyang certainly makes a huge difference, but as a team they are still vastly underperforming, and moving Pulisic to a wingback role seems nonsensical as well.

    Hope he can turn it around, but from this outing, I’m not very optimistic.

    1. Hey JB. I think we had this conversation. Coaches are nothing without their players and this has been evident so many time even with big name coaches.Dortmund needs signing,quality signings.

      1. Greece 2004…
        Portugal 2018 and their struggles from 2012 to 2018 even for qualification..
        Italy 2000
        Italy 2006 they just won the Wc by false pnealty by beating austrlia and ZIdan head butt…Dutch would hva e tored apart had they faced that 2006 italian team..
        it all about scarifice
        Commitmnet and tacttical intelligence first…Talent and skills are just 25 %…

          1. What are you idiot you talking…did i talked about dortmund ???u stupid CU##$NT????.
            I was generally talking about the factors needed to win a Trophy..

  15. Watching Arsenal vs Man United, I’m shocked by the poor quality of Arsenal’s back three — Koscielny, Mustafi and Monreal look awful and worse with the ball than without.

    They would benefit from adding any of our center backs!

  16. I think wijnaldum just found his new position. Just played an amazing game at CB. Emmanuel had it all wrong. He should be moved back not forward

  17. After today victory AZ Alkmaar moved to the second place! The game was quite boring though. I am very impressed with Teun Koommeiners. He is central midfielder but in current AZ composition he plays more as defensive midfielder and does an excellent job. However, I am absolutely unimpressed by Guus Til. He plays as an attacking midfielder but lacks good technique…

  18. Ruud vormer is having a great season at Club brugge. 4 goals and 12 assists.given most of the current midfielders are underperforming in NT,why not give a chance to him. He is in his prime and is a overall complete midfielder.hope he switches to stronger league in Jan.

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