With Guus Hiddink now in charge of the Dutch team for the next two years,what will the direction of this team be when he hands over the reins to Danny Blind. Will he be able to get them ready to win Euro 2016 or will he be laying the ground work for World Cup 2018?

  • By Ibrahim Ayyub
  • Follow Ibrahim on Twitter

hiddink asdGuus Hiddink announced his first Netherlands squad recently and it did not contain any big surprises. All the usual suspects were back along with players such as Gregory van der Wiel and Rafael van der Vaart who missed out on the last World Cup because of injuries. Yet, is this the correct approach to move this team forward by still relying on the old guard?

With Euro 2016 two years away and Holland’s first match under Hiddink set for September 3rd in a friendly against Italy, is it not time to start planning ahead for World Cup 2018 and start relying on younger players? Vorm, Verhaegh, van der Vaart, Sneijder, Robben, Kuyt, van Persie, and Huntelaar are all 30 or older and were called up for the Italy friendly. They won’t be any younger in two years and one wonders how many can be still effective in four years’ time.

The team seems to be in safe hands when it comes to goalkeepers. Fortunately, the biggest concern I had of the Oranje prior to the World Cup, was how their young defenders would do. Low and behold, they managed to do well in the presence of 29 year old Vlaar. The midfield though still seems reliant on the old guard if Sneijder and van der Vaart are still getting called up. Sneijder had a horrible World Cup while Memphis Depay was introduced to the world as an up and coming star. One can hope that the likes of Kevin Strootman and Stijn Schaars can overcome their injuries and return to form and get called up for the Oranje along with Adam Maher if he can get back on track and live up to expectations. There’s also van Ginkel if he can ever find playing time so the midfield seems to be well stacked for years to come if the time comes to bid the veterans goodbye.

Up front is another story altogether. I don’t expect Kuyt to be starting in Euro 2016 but then again, he is like the Energizer Bunny and just keeps going and going. Robin van Persie, Huntelaar and Robben are all in the 30 age group. Robben shines for both club and country while van Persie never did perform well enough for the Oranje to be enshrined with the greats such as Cruyff, Rensenbrink, van Basten, Gullit or Bergkamp when it comes to scoring in knockout stages of competitions. Moreover, Huntelaar just never got enough starts to prove himself in these tournaments as he has for Schalke. Unfortunately, it appears that the youth movement in this area is basically slim pickings.

Besides Jermaine Lens, the pick of the litter is rather unimpressive. Ricky van Wolfswinkel doesn’t seem worthy of being called up while the jury is still out on the likes of Luuk de Jong, Luc Castaignos, Jürgen Locadia, Ola John, Quincy Promes, Jean-Paul Boëtius. None of them stood out like Huntelaar did at the youth level and the only other Dutchman to be top scorer of the Dutch League since 2008 was Bas Dost and he too is playing in Germany. Which one of these men will be leading the charge in four years’ time?

The Netherlands is a small country compared to its footballing rivals but they always find a way to stay competitive. The road ahead is uncertain but this nation always finds a way to get it done. Euro 2016 is only two years away so some of these veterans can help them win this title for the first time since Euro 88. However, would that serve a proper purpose or would it better to start relying on the youth to prepare them for the World Cup in four years’ time? One hopes that Hiddink lays the ground work for Blind when he takes over in two years and not have Blind go through this situation with only two years to prepare. At least I will end this on a positive note, and that is there is hope.

Ibrahim Ayyub (24 Posts)