Thanks to the AD for this insightful article. I have used what I can and added my own opinion to it :-).
Willem van Hanegem said it ( I think). “Football is a simple game. But playing simple football is hard.” And we saw that demonstrated by Oranje. Despite all the quality, all the experience, all the will and all the chances, we lost.
So, is our coach suddenly not able to motivate them? Has Van Persie unlearned to score? Has Italian football wasted Stekelenburg? No…
It’s system and player selection.
In the last months, things aren’t going too well for the team manager. Like with Van Basten’s 4-3-3, the time for this current system to be binned could we be here. The idea of the 4-2-3-1 is to play tighter and not let a mouse slip though the trenches. The 6 at the back defend the fort and the thoroughbreds up top need to score. Well, in the last months, the six at back conceded a lot of goals and the guys up top can’t find the net.
And if you recall the Denmark game, you’ll have to agree that it indeed looked like “6 at the back” and “four on top”. The gap between the forwards and the rest was huge. The stars wanted to attack attack and pushed up high while the insecure defense (incl De Jong) tracked back whenever they could. In particular after the Danish goal. The result? Gaps for the Danes to exploit and lots and lots of yards to cover for our lads.
“Those forwards need to do better in the turnaround”.
No, that is too easy. If you do that, you’ll be playing like we did in the World Cup. But do you think Denmark and even Germany or Portugal will have a go at us if we play counter football? Dutch football is forward pressure and high paced football in a small space.
Pic 1: Our current system is too static and predictable and when executed like Saturday leaves a huge hole in midfield.
But, this system reached the finals at the World Cup!
Was it because of the system, or despite the system? Did we play really good football? Were we lucky? We had an easy group against three teams counting on us winning. Cameroon didn’t lay down and play dead, but Japan and Denmark invited the Dutch victory in.
Our first knock out game was atrocious! The Brazil game was too, in the first half. In the second half, Raf van der Vaart came in for Nigel de Jong… We won, but also because Brazil imploded.
The Uruguay game was not that good. Hell, I remember plugging my butt in the last 10 minutes!! We scored the first but allowed them back on the scoresheet.
And we all know what happened in the finals.
So, the system, to me, was not the hero of the World Cup. The difference was the sheer quality of and will of our individual players! And some luck, at the right times.
It’s clear that if your defense is the weakest link, you should make sure the defense will not come under pressure. As Cruyff always says: if you don’t want to be under pressure, you simply have to put more pressure on them. Our best game in the last two years was against Sweden. Little hint: Nigel de Jong didn’t play, but Rafael played on his spot. Silencing the “Sneijder and Vaart can’t play together” crowd.
So, is Van der Vaart the solution?
No. It’s never one player. The solution is, to bring more football from the holding position. Like in Spain, where Xabi Alonso plays there, but that is one hell of a playmaker. Or Pirlo in Italy. Or Schweini in Germany. Very tough lads, sure, but mostly football players.
If you have Hunter and Van Persie, you should bring Sneijder back on line. Let Sneijder direct play from midfield with skipper Bommel. Let Van Persie play on the 10 position and bring Hunter up top. And yes: Robben on the LEFT!!
In stead of 4-2-3-1 we should play 4-1-4-1. With Bommel in the lone holding role and Sneijder next to Van Persie centrally. Van Persie playing in the Litmanen role, as a shadow striker. In reality, it will play like a 4-3-3 in possession. Which means there is always a player in reach within 12 yards. And this relieves our defense even more.
See pic 2.
So what to do with Huntelaar if we don’t cross balls in?
Well for starters: to think Hunter is dependent on crosses should check Hunter’s goals for Schalke on YouTube again. He is fine in the combination with a Raul type behind him. But bringing crosses in will work, obviously and with a free flowing Van Persie behind him, we can become quite a threat… In particular if Bommel and Sneijder are there for the loose balls.
The “idea” with false wingers is that the full backs will overlap to give the cross. Well, we haven’t seen any decent cross from Willems or Van der Wiel… So it doesn’t work.
We need Afellay on the right ( or Narsingh) and we need Robben (or Afellay) on the left.
So, bottomline, will Bert make these changes for us?
No. Fat chance. Bert is married to the system. Believes in it. Told the journalists yesterday that no matter what people say, he will always do things “his way”. Bert thinks that if we keep on creating, we will start scoring soon. And win games. He also said confidence in the camp is still very high.
Let’s hope Bert is right!