Connect in the back of the net

With France narrowly beating Bulgaria and Sweden putting eight pass Luxembourg, the Netherlands are on the verge of missing the 2018 World Cup and the second major competition in a row.

With the Dutch finishing runners up and third in the previous two World Cups, it’s astonishing to think how far they have dropped.

With heroes like Mark Van Bommel and Giovanni Van Bronckhorst moving on from recent years and Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben playing days coming to an end, what is the next move from the Dutch FA to get the Oranje flying again.

 

Getting the right players

The Netherlands are known for their attacking style of football, with the concept of “Total Football” originating from the days of Johann Cruyff.

The Dutch were able to play expansive and offensive football, which put teams under pressure and vulnerable to mistakes. However, this has not occurred in the last two qualifiers as the Dutch failed to break teams down and even struggle against the minnows of the group.

They were famously outplayed by the Iceland national team in Amsterdam, during the Euro 2016 qualifiers which signified the turn in fortunes for the team.

One question that has been raised is the lack of quality that is available, while others look at the wrong players starting ahead of more capable ones. For example, the starting of Vincent Janssen over the likes of Robin Van Persie or Bas Dost is a cause for concern.

Prior to his move to Tottenham, Jansen had a stellar season at AZ Alkmaar, netting 31 in 49 games for the Eredivisie side. However, Jansen’s time in North London has been difficult, with the Forward scoring twice in 24 games for Spurs. This makes it even more surprising to as why he is starting ahead for his mentioned counterparts.

In contrast, Bas Dost scored 36 in 41 for Sporting in Portugal. With blistering form like that, Bas Dost would have the confidence and the killer instinct to aid the stuttering Dutch. Therefore, by starting players on form over reputation, the  Netherlands will have a better chance of qualifying for major tournaments.

 

A new coach required?

Since Louis Van Gaal departure in 2014, the national team has gone through three managers, Guus Hiddink, Danny Blind and now Dick Advocaat.

There is an issue here from these three individuals. Both Hiddink and Advocaat are seasoned managers and although they both deserved immense respect for their careers, their style of play has become outdated.

Hiddink struggled to adapt a sufficient style of play, when he took over from Van Gaal, winning only 4 of his 10 games in charge. For Advocaat, he is steadying the ship after the calamitous spell from Danny Blind, who only managed to win 7 out of 17 in charge.

Although Advocaat is doing a respectful job, do the Dutch FA need a younger and newer approach. Though the likes of Ronald Koeman has been linked with the post in the past, the Eredivisie contains a young crop of managers.

Phillip Cocu and Van Bronkhorst are two examples. Both managers have been successful with their respectful clubs (PSV and Feyenoord), both are adored by the Dutch public due to their status as players and both are just beginning their careers as managers and would have new, fresh and more dynamic style of play that would revolutionise the fading orange light of the national team.

 

Rebuild

Simply, the Dutch national team needs to rebuild and reshape its identity in the footballing world.

Although Arjen Robben is still playing at the top of his game, there will come a time that he will no longer be there. The logical way around this is to slowly phase Robben out and find someone of similar traits and/or calibre to prevent any sudden panic when Robben does leave the famous orange shirt behind.

Secondly, and mentioned above, the Netherlands need to have a coach who is capable of adapting to the modern style of play.

With the likes of Van Bronkhorst and Cocu showing their potential as managers, the Dutch FA should take into consideration when the qualifiers conclude and whether to keep hold of Advocaat or move for a younger manager in the modern game.

Finally, the Netherlands national team need to rekindle their fear factor it once had. In recent history, the Dutch were regarded as one of the best national sides in the world and breezed through any qualifiers without any hiccups.

However, the last couple of years suggest teams do not feel frightened by them and challenge the Dutch. Hence, by getting the right manager, players and style of play correct, the Oranje can return to the top, sooner rather than later.

 

Written by James Reidy

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