The Netherlands: What has happened to the Oranje?

As another international break begins, nations around the globe continue to play for a place in next year’s World Cup in Russia.

A few teams are in real danger of not making it to the World Cup, including the likes of Argentina and Chile.

But, in my opinion, the biggest shock will be if The Netherlands don’t qualify for the World Cup. The Oranje missed out on the last major tournament, Euro 2016, and look likely to miss out this year, but how has it come to this?


The Talent has Dried Up

The big advantage The Netherlands had through the years is that they always had a talented squad with a lot of flair, yet that Dutch flair is non-existent in teams of the past.

If we look at some of The Netherlands’ most recent call ups to their matches against Belarus and Sweden, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of youthful energy that you would connect with Holland.

The likes of Ryan Babel, Daley Blind and Arjen Robben are all getting older and to the end of their international careers. Then you look at the rest of the squad, and it doesn’t seem very typically Dutch.

There are still a lot of talented players in the squad. The likes of Memphis Depay, Georginio Wijnaldum, Nathan Ake and Kenny Tete on their day are unbeatable, but those days are too and far between.

And when you look at who the Dutch had in the past, and compare it to this crop of players, it might suggest that the talent coming out of The Netherlands simply isn’t good enough at the moment.

The Netherlands have gone from Patrick Kluivert, Marco van Basten and Dennis Bergkamp to Vincent Janssen. They’ve gone from Marc Overmars and Johan Cruyff to Ryan Babel.

They’ve gone from Ruud Gullit and Frank Rijkaard to Davy Klaassen. There is simply no comparison, and that leads to the second issue.


Domestic Failure

The Eredivise is in a dreadful state at the moment.

Although it was a fantastic moment seeing Feyenoord winning the title after 16 years and Ajax getting into the final of the Europa League, Dutch clubs simply aren’t good enough to compete with most of teams in Europe.

In this season’s Champions League, Ajax entered the competition in the Third Qualifying phase and had a difficult draw against Nice, which they lost. Then in the Europa League playoff, they drew Norwegian champions Rosenborg.

A team of Ajax’s size and budget should be sweeping away the likes of Rosenborg with ease, yet Nicklas Bendtner and his team managed to beat Ajax with relative ease in both legs.

PSV, meanwhile, didn’t fare much better. They got knocked out in the Third Qualifying round of the Europa League by Croatian minnows Osijek.

Then we look at the other team in the so called ‘big three’ in Dutch football, Feyenoord. Though making it to the Champions League group stages, for the first time ever, due to the location of the Dutch national team in the UEFA coefficient, Feyenoord as Dutch champions, were in pot 4 of the Champions League draw.

Though drawn in a group with Manchester City, Napoli and Shakhtar Donestk, you would still expect are certain level of performance from Feyenoord, and those levels simply haven’t been good enough, and this could be down to the third issue.


Too much Dutch influence

The Dutch FA have always had a philosophy of appointing Dutch managers to manage the national team.

There have been some brilliant Dutch managers who’ve managed the national teams, from the likes of Rinus Michels and Guus Hiddink to more recently Louis van Gaal.

Though, there have also been many poor Dutch managers, including Bert van Marwijk and Danny Blind who both failed to propel the national team to any success in any tournament.

Now with 70 year-old Dick Advocaat at the helm for the third time in his managerial career, it’s just same old, same old with The Netherlands, but this can change.

I believe the reason why the Dutch have always gone Dutch is due to the influence of Johan Cruyff. The judgement of Cruyff has always hanged over the national team, and his words were normally final, and he was the measuring stick for every Dutch player and manager.

With the unfortunate passing of Cruyff in March 2016, maybe it’s time for the Dutch national side to move along too.

A way the Dutch side can re-build themselves is by hiring a foreign manager to introduce new ideas and a new philosophy.

Many international managers are available. Carlo Ancelotti, Thomas Tuchel, Laurent Blanc and Dunga are all currently out of a job, and their experience of managing in a country other than The Netherlands, and would give a new lease of life to an already defeated squad.

Then there’s the issue of the Dutch introducing former players as assistant managers and preparing them for the eventuality of becoming Dutch national team manager.

We’ve had Patrick Kluivert under the tutelage of Louis van Gaal, Ruud van Nistelrooy under the tutelage of Danny Blind and now Ruud Gullit under the tutelage of Dick Advocaat, the later saying that Gullit is the perfect candidate to be the next Dutch manager, which is wrong!

If the Dutch FA keep hiring former players, they are now simply prolonging this mini state of emergency that they are currently in.


The Verdict

At the moment, The Netherlands are in a terrible place, and aren’t showing any signs of getting out of that place.

From the quality of the current squad, the form of the domestic teams to the management and the FA, The Netherlands really need a whole makeover.

If they don’t hire a foreign manager to introduce new ideas, introduce a new style of play that will surprise opponents, The Netherlands are simply moving backwards, and I think we will get used to not seeing The Netherlands in more major competitions.


Written by Sion Misra

Follow Sion on Twitter @sionmisra

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