As a true Dutchman I decided to write a post on the devaluation of Dutch football. It’s only four years ago the Netherlands played the semi-finals of the World Cup against Argentina. Since then we failed to qualify for the Euro 2016 and World Cup 2018. In this post I’m going to give three reasons for the devaluation of Dutch football.
- Mismanagement in Dutch football association KNVB
Louis van Gaal managed the Dutch national teams to the World Cup semi-finals in 2014. From the start of his second spell at the KNVB in 2012, it was clear for everyone he would be there for two years. So the KNVB had two years to look for his successor. Despite this knowledge it looked like the KNVB was surprised with his decision. Ronald Koeman had a very strong spell at Feyenoord and every Dutch football fan agreed he would be the best person for this job. The association however, decided Guus Hiddink was the right guy for this position. At the same time they assigned Danny Blind as his assistant and future successor. So they made two stupid decisions in one. Koeman was the best candidate and they failed to sign him. Hiddink reached an age where he lost a bit of his motivation and he never got the machine rolling. He left after a year and Danny Blind, who had little coaching experience took over the job because the KNVB already signed his as successor of Hiddink a year before. Blind showed no managerial quality at all. The Dutch national team failed to qualify for the Euros under his leadership. The start of the World Cup qualification wasn’t all that as well, so the KNVB fired Blind in the beginning of 2017. This led to the appointment of Dick Advocaat, wh is now the third manager since Louis van Gaal reached the semi-finals in 2014. The fourth is incoming, since Advocaat decided to stop after failing to qualify for the World Cup. Ronald Koeman is available again, so there is a big chance he will be the next Dutch national manager, only it’s four years too late.
- Lack of quality
We can’t deny it, there is a big lack of quality in the Dutch national team. The country that reached the final in 2010 and the semi-final in 2014 won’t be there in 2018. You just need to compare the big stars of the squads in 2010, 2014 and 2018 to see that there is a problem. The Dutch started the 2010 tournament with 3 players who played a main role in the Champions League final of that year. Arjen Robben was one of the stars in Bayern Munich’s team, Mark van Bommel was the captain of that team. Wesley Sneijder was the big star in Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan. He won the Champions League with his team and was one of the best players in the world at that time. Sneijder was surrounded by players who played in the top of European socer. With Arjen Robben in his shadows, Sneijder showed the world that the Dutch still knew how to play football. Four years later Arjen Robben they switched roles and Arjen Robben was the big man of the team that reached the semi-final. Louis van Gaal noticed the first sign of devaluation in Dutch football and he decided to play with a reinforced defence. He took the liberty to chance the 4-3-3 formation where Dutch football was famous for. With a stronger defense and some luck they reached the semis. At this moment Arjen Robben is still the big man in Dutch football, but he isn’t on his peak level anymore. Robben is the only Dutch player who plays in the top of European football. Other players who should take the lead are Manchester United reject Memphis Depay and Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk. Our first choice goalkeeper Jasper Cillissen is benchwarmer at Barcelona. The rest of the squad is basically filled with players who aren’t even good enough to play in the top of the Dutch Eredivisie.
- Youngsters leaving the nest too early
This point is partly influencing the second point. Big Premier League teams sending their scouts to the youth academies in the Netherlands. It happens several times a year that these EPL teams contact 15-year-old Dutch players. They leave the country at the age of 16 at I can’t name one player who made it in the top of the Premier League. Timothy Fosu-Mensah has the chance to be the first one who is going to make it. If you take a look at the Premier League you see a lot of former Eredivisie players in the top. All the players who really perform at a high level, left the Eredivisie when they dominated this Dutch league. With the likes of Christian Eriksen, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen and Daley Blind all finished their academy and played several years in the first team of Ajax, before they made the big move. I think the Dutch academies belong to the top of the World and are much better than those in the Premier League. Dutch football will benefit when talented Dutch players finish their academy in the Netherlands and develop in the Eredivisie before they move to the Premier League. You can read my full opinion on this problem in this article.
The Netherlands will always bring new young talented players into the football world. Now it’s up to them to make the right decisions at the right time. If Ronald Koeman indeed will be assigned at the next manager and they give him the time to built a new team, we will come back to the top of European football.