Weak Oranje bullied by Northern Irish

We saw our beloved Oranje in the doldrums for a couple of years, and we had to sit out two major tournaments. Our newly found confidence, the string of new players, Ronald Koeman as the new NT Manager, the sun started to shine again.

We played “Dutch football” again, we won vs France, Germany, England and we reached the finals of the Nations League.

And right at the time when Frenkie claims “there is a lot of growth still in the team” our Oranje crashes through the floor in terms of quality level.

Of course, a team can never be an “8” every match. There will be games where we are an “9” in one half and a “6” in another half. But yesterday vs a very average Northern Ireland, we dropped below the level that I would call acceptable. I’d say every single player from the starting line up except for Virgil van Dijk deserved a bad mark on their report card.

And yes, Mathijs de Ligt, Daley Blind and Jasper Cillesen all had a howler in a comedy caper sequence leading up to the goal. But it was the whole team that disappointed. From Dumfries, to Wijnaldum, from Memphis to Babel. But the biggest disappointment for me, was Frenkie de Jong.

I would like to start by saying that Northern Ireland is completely entitled to play the way they do. They cheat for seconds, they don’t play to score but they play to destroy. And why wouldn’t they. They play Klopp-Liverpool style football but without the amazing forwards.

It’s annoying, it’s negative, it’s anti-football but…it’s their prerogative to do this and it’s up to us to break them down.

I believe it all started to go wrong with the starting eleven. This is typical a game where you need Donny van de Beek and you don’t need Martin de Roon. De Roon is our destroyer, but we didn’t need to destroy. We needed to create. And move. And stretch the opponent. Something Donny does in spades.

So why didn’t Koeman start with Donny? Unclear. “So he could bring him in when the team needs him”. BS.

Also Dumfries. A great athlete, good runner. But hard feet. Doesn’t have the subtlety in his game to play along in this pass and move game we needed. We could have used Veltman better in this match, I feel. A good cross, solid passing and experience and physical strength.

I can imagine Koeman didn’t want to start with Malen as you do want to be able to bring an explosive attacker in from the bench, and Babel did have some good games before, but Van de Beek vs De Roon… I can’t understand it. When you play a strong opponent, maybe De Roon is better, allowing Frenkie some support, but against this type of opponent, you do need a runner like Van de Beek.

But lets not kid ourselves. Koeman made mistakes but the eleven on the pitch simply were terrible. Touches, passing, understanding, pace, moving without the ball, it was all sub par.

In these type of matches, you need to pass and move. At pace. One or two touches. Don’t play backheels or funny shimmies or don’t try and dribble. They won most one on one duels and most second balls. Stay out of the duels and pass the fricking ball!

You also need to keep the pitch wide, and use the half spaces to reach the byline and cross the ball in low and hard (like Malen did!).

Northern Ireland wanted to suck the oxygen out of the game and sadly, our playmaker Frenkie de Jong helped them but taking so many touches of the ball. Trying to dribble, trying to turn, left, back to right, back to left again. And all to no avail. There wasn’t enough movement up front, yes, I’ll give him that, but when you are being man-marked (as he was) you know another player gets some freedom. Pass the fricking ball!

This is where Ronald Koeman could and should have changed his team, even 10 mins in. Take De Roon out and bring a player with ball skills. Even Steven Berghuis on that right midfield position would have done better than De Roon as Berghuis can pass a ball and take on a player.

And our wing play? In the first half you could see ever so clearly that Dumfries isn’t trusted by his team mates. Frenkie de Jong, Bergwijn, Van Dijk, they all prefer to open on the left – to Babel – instead of using Dumfries, no matter how open Dumfries was. Reason why? They don’t trust him to do the right thing! And they were right!

Can’t wait for Karsdorp to be 100% fit!

Second half, it all started to get a bit better. Northern Ireland was getting more fatigues and there was more pace and more grit in our team in the second half. When Van de Beek was introduced he received a thundering ovation.

But for the first time in 19 years, Oranje faced a 0-1 score line in De Kuip, when the first and only attempt on goal by the Northern Irish got promoted to a goal thanks to the 3 Stooges: De Ligt, Blind, Cillesen.

The first time we reached Malen in the half space on the left resulted in his low cross and a magical Memphis touch resulted in the 1-1.

Another freak goal got Luuk de Jong the hero status in the dying minutes, when a deflected defensive header got onto his stretched out leg and the ball went high up, only to land just in front of the goal line. L de Jong quickly grabbed the post and was able to flick the ball over the line.

And finally, when the game was played, Frenkie got his chance to dribble forward and that immediately resulted in Memphis’ 3-1.

They crucial game in our group was won. And after the game, a lot of relief and optimism about the future, but it was merely the result that we should be happy about.

Lots and lots of things to think about. For Koeman and his staff, yes. But also for Frenkie, Mathijs, Daley, Gini and the rest.

As the whole team, including technical staff, failed. Despite the win.



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  1. The question is who start against belarus?? De roon or de beek?? Also u think promes can start and wijnaldum play in de roon position. Wijnaldum isnt atacking mid un liverpool maybe we can test him as cm now

  2. “”And our wing play? In the first half you could see ever so clearly that Dumfries isn’t trusted by his team mates. Frenkie de Jong, Bergwijn, Van Dijk, they all prefer to open on the left – to Babel – instead of using Dumfries, no matter how open Dumfries was. Reason why? They don’t trust him to do the right thing! And they were right!””””””””””

    Spot on..i thought only i had doubt or may be my feeling…

  3. i did not like Berjwin he was too much dribbles no penetrating passes..when u add Gini to that you lack creativity..
    i can forgive the mistake done players Deligt,Blind,Cillessen…though i do understand against strong opponent u are done with that..
    Berjwin,dumfries,De roon and Gini doesnt bring creativity…Compared to them Babel was better..
    i hope he benches these 4..and brings in
    –Frenkie——De beek——–

  4. I agree with Jan’s assessment. Spot on! Pointing out mistakes is not negativity. We all want the team to win but we also have to say what we saw during the game.

    It was a bad game but we won. I rather see the team play bad and win a game than see them play good and lose (which can happen).

    Moving forward, Koeman needs to make the team more competitive. Players in-form for their clubs need to get a chance. There shouldn’t be any automatic starters. Everyone has to earn their spot. I also agree with Jan that he needs to make his selections based on the opponent and also make his adjustments or substitutions earlier in the game, when things are clearly not going right.

  5. Not much to add to Jan’s analysis. Not a great performance. Should have started Van De Beek, he made such a difference. Should have started Malen, I think, too. NI compressed the midfield so much that it would have been nice to have someone with real speed to run in behind the defense. None of the forwards who started last night have the inclination to do that.

    Some credit to NI. They played their game, and they have given other teams difficulty.

    One thing to very admire about the current NT, though, is their spirit. Wish they weren’t going down a goal (or two) as often as they do, but rather than hanging their heads and giving in, they get on with it. That was evident again last night. The players get credit for that, but so too must Koeman.

  6. THANK YOU Jan! Harsh reality but it needs to be faced. I kept screaming especially in 2nd half about stretching the field. We kept playing in very tight spaces in left flank which was totally insane. Yes players were bad (most of them) but it is coach’s responsibility to shake the team up and not wait until things get extremely tense. Remember at 0-1 we were eliminated. Why not try to settle the game early on and avoid the whole drama?! We had LUCK again on our side but it is bound to run out at some point. Koeman can be much better.
    And kudos to NI, they played with what they had and to their strengths. Smart coach set them up the way which with little luck they could have caused a major upset.

    1. As Jan said other players avoid Dumfries,and players are very right…So right wing has become futile..So we need to try from left but this also stops when Blind takes precaution for his lack of speed vs quality team..

  7. I’d like to see Holland play with Malen and Depay up front together, and use the full backs for the width. Something like:


    ———de Ligt——-van Dijk——–


    ——Wijnaldum—de Jong—van de Beek–


      1. Interesting, that isn’t too terribly different than when they went 3 at the back against Germany, and really found their game. Depay and Malen have been effective together.

    1. Depay injured wont play..Babel will place him with malen..
      then do we really need Dumfries???who is frequently avoided by teammates for a reason vS BELARUS??.
      If it was germany for defensive sake we could play him..but Belarus???
      Deligt is little absent minded De ligt can play better RB than dumfries…
      or shall we play wijnaldum there as RB..HE DID THAT once in NT..
      why not give a chance to Bizot?
      —-De beek———-Frenkie——

    1. If Koeman can incorporate this contingent going forward into 2020,NT can become serious contenders. This team is similar to that 2013 contingent that went to Israel and only Depay,Blind and Wijnaldum are current survivors.

      1. Personally I hope that Koopmeiners and Stengs can travel with them to Euro 2020. Those are the only 2 I would take as of right now, but if they develop I’m sure Kluivert and Wijndal could go as well.

        1. winjdal is pretty Good ,great at going up,not that bad in defense..kluivert has amazing dribbles..i dont like his cocky nature.
          i like Shuurs as well…
          ATM-its koopmeiners,Stengs and winjdal may be kluivert..

          1. I don’t think Wijndal gets in ahead of Blind or van Aanholt and I wouldn’t want to bring 3 Left-backs.

  8. I love deLigt but for some reason every mistake he makes turns into a goal with both club and country. He may have the highest goal/mistake ratio out there at the moment. Maybe he needs a break.

  9. Strong rumour from Dutch newspaper Telegraaf. Ronald Koeman signed deal with Barca for job post Euro2020.

    Koeman to take Memphis along as replacement for Suarez / Messi.

    I think we’ll see Malen vs Belarus. I hope so, I rate the kid.

    I totally agree with whoever suggested to bring Wijnaldum back to the holding role (as he plays it at Liverpool) next to Frenkie and have Donny play from the 10 position.

    Against Belarus, Koeman could decide to play Promes and use Malen as a super sub.

  10. The main problem against Northern Ireland was Koeman choosing De Roon over Van de Beek! To make that worst he kept him on the game for 65 minutes which was absolutely shocking. You know what though, if you think it doesn’t get any worse than that well think again…..our coach after the game said that “he didn’t believe any other player would have made a difference and that the game would have gone this way regardless of who he started” due to the way Northern Ireland was playing!!! For me this statement alone is very problematic since it shows that Koeman is stuck to a certain players no matter what. He did the same thing against Portugal in the Nations League final where Fernando Stantos (Portugals coach) simply took Koemans coaching license away for that night. Do not fool yourself by thinking that the whole team did bad because Northern Ireland played anti-football! How many teams have done that in the past? The real question is what you did as a coach to prepare your team as best as possible for this type of opponents. Yes, Frankie held the ball too long but again it was very hard for him to find the open man because the opponent did a brilliant job not giving anything away and when you have De Roon next to you who lacks creating anything offensively then it becomes twice as hard. Another thing i noticed is that Gini is playing in the wrong position. Him and Donny need to switch places and have Frenkie and Gini next to each other. It will be very interesting to see who’s gonna start between Donny and De Roon vs Belarus. If our stubborn coach chooses to start De Roon again hoping that Belarus side is too weak and somehow his team will manage to score and win then the future for Oranje under Koeman doesn’t seem to be very promising.

    1. koeman is the least sturbborn bondsccoach in past 20 years..i hope he listens and gets Dest for NT at earliest..
      Koeman should start thinking about koopmeiners and Ake as our permanet DM..Both can control games..with Blind as emergency DM on demands ..
      –Frenkie——-Van debeek—-
      —Wijnaldum———Noa lang—
      once babel retires

    2. @Tomy14, you’re 100% correct regarding Koeman. A great coach prepares against any type scenario. Keeping the same impotent 11 in the field for almost 3/4 of the game is like playing with fire. To do this in a critical game such as this one it really is a cause for concern. The game should have been over by end of 1st half. You can’t always rely in some incredible luck to score and win the game in the last 5-10 mins after you go behind. Both , Portugal game and Germany (2-3) were lost due to him.

  11. Daley blind plays for Ajax really well.Not as excellent as Virgil as LCB spot…
    While on NT he is given as LB
    offcourse Blind can play LB as well.

    Nathan Ake play as LCB at club level,He is regular and excellent perhaps better LCB than Blind..He can also play as great DM..which we really lack ATM…

    Why there is bias towards meaurements??
    if LCB blind can play as LB why cannot LCB AKE as DM??
    Memphis was wasted on left wing,When Basdost did a great favor to NT,Koeman was forced to use Memphis at middle..Memphis is untouchable there now..that got him lyon half striker spot as well..
    Why Ake is wasted at bench???
    Why Blind cannot be good back up for virgil as LCB???

    Why players who offer very little while going forward playing against busparking teams (dumfries,Deroon Vs Ireland)??

    1. I don’t think anyone will comment on this. Players make mistakes. Virgil, De Vrij, Ake, Blind, all of them.

      Koeman is very clear on why he wants to stick to a core team. I think his reasons are valid. I might make a post on this. But I do think everyone here understands why. Except a small group.

      1. I’ll comment on this Jan. Thanks for keeping this blog up. Love the posts. I don’t post as much as some but I read all the valuable input. Thanks again

  12. It is confirmed that we will be playing Belarus without depay

    Now I think there is no better moment to force Koeman trying his Plan B. I would rather have this now than in the middle when we face the stronger nations

    Let’s wait and see what Koeman will come up with

  13. Koeman has a beautiful problem on his hands..He has abundant of selections..think of the players in the U21 team and also Dest, ihatteren, Danjunma, Dilrosun etc. 😊

  14. We have talked about this hour before and and it has arrived. Well even though it vs a team like belarus but still the injury to depay means the spotlight shifts to others, the intergrity of the team without their tailsman and @ Andrew, koemans must be having contengency plan. The emphasis specifically here is to that of filling the voids and how it will affect the team given koeman never rotated anyone upfront to shift the team dependency on depay. Yes luuk and Malen have been used as impact players but still Memphis has being there amongst them assisting, if not execuating.

    Being said this the one player whom I think especially should be centre of focus has to be Ryan Babel. In the absence of Depay,he should be the one wo should be taking the centre stage given he is next profilic front man after Depay.this will also be a good game to gauge his form at a personal level and whether its worth investing in him for the euros. If he cant leave up to expectation in this type of games then forget about him holding it up for the next 8 months. It will then be in the best intrest of the team to call other potential wingers like groeneveld,Dilrosun and stengs least and test as to how much of a difference they can make. A win vs belarus and then NI should be enough and then there will be two qualifers left before the qualifications officially ends. Add to this,for sure there will alot of frienlys leading to the euros so there is still time.

    Considering the belarus game, the pitch will certainly be an issue,belarus are always stubborn until they are made to throw the towel and their coach must have also taken note of what happened vs NI. Under these circumstances it would be wise to start Malen-Luuk- Babel upfront.malen is certainly not good in air and given if the condition of the pitch is bad,Luuk arieally could make a difference. If he doesn’t he should be subbed off for maybe promes and malen to move into centre.

    Im also in the same boat as tiju.if blind can play CB at Ajax and in NT LB then why not Ake at DM, hence this is what I would like to see vs Belarus.



    Van Annholt-Van Dijk-De Vrij-Dumfries


    I curious to see the partnership between De Vrij and Van Dijk.

      1. No one passees to Dumfries,unfortunalely we dont have karsdorp or Dest..Both has perfect crossses than dumfries,..Dumfries just blew the balls hard feeted..
        He is only good at defending fast agile playes of opponenent…
        Even Deligt can play there as RB and Deligt has better crosses than Dumfries..

    1. Calvin stengs is class,the precision,the clamness on ball,incredible effective dribbles and extra visionary like Vaart and sneijder…
      its the time for koopmeiners,stengs and winjdal to integrate to dutch NT..

      1. look at his first assist for boadu,most of the foolish slefish players will go for slef glory..Stengs made it sure that chance becomes goal..that decided the match result..

        1. Well said Emmanual.I totally agreed with you.

          Calvin Stengs is a very talented player. He is really good. Ronald Koeman must include him on the SUPER-SUB at lease.
          and i believe the oranje fans will enjoy it as well.
          I am awaiting Stengs to be called up from Koeman !!!

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