Ronald Koeman has named his first Netherlands squad and there is no sign of a revolution just yet. The returning Oranje boss has mostly stuck with the old guard.

  • By Michael Bell
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In less than a week, the Netherlands kick off their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign with a huge clash in France before a home game against the minnows of Gibraltar.

On Friday, Koeman named his first squad since returning to the Netherlands position and for me, it is rather underwhelming to see a lot of the same names there.

I was hoping that Koeman’s return would be the start of a revolution of the national team that would see Oranje only picking players based on club form and those that deserve to be there. To an extent that has been done in the squad with Sven Botman, Lutsharel Geertruida, Bart Verbruggen, and Mats Wieffer earning deserved call-ups. Although, some would argue it is a bit early for the latter.

However, Oranje still seems unwilling to let go of some players, who do not deserve a call-up and only seem to be there because of their familiarity with Koeman or who they play for. Why is Daley Blind in there, other than to give him his 100th cap? Why have Davy Klaassen and Kenneth Taylor been preferred over Branco van den Boomen and Tijjani Reijnders? And most surprisingly, why is the excellent Jeremie Frimpong being overlooked for Denzel Dumfries, who is suspended for the game against France?

Frimpong was part of the World Cup squad but didn’t feature and could still play for Ghana and England, even if he insists he only wants the Netherlands. He is one of the most coveted right backs in football and could even be deployed as a right-winger. Koeman may have doubts he could play in a back four, but why not take a look yourself instead of bringing in Dumfries, who can only play against Gibraltar?

Then there is Georginio Wijnaldum, who was dropped by Louis van Gaal because of his poor club form. He has spent most of this season injured and has only just returned for AS Roma. However, Koeman instantly brings him back into the international fold despite no indication that he is in good form. Wijnaldum has been a great servant to the national team over the years, but there are other options out there and he should be given time to get regular playing time with Roma before returning.

Up front, the Netherlands has a lack of in-form options with Luuk de Jong and Vincent Janssen announcing their international retirement recently. Memphis Depay, Xavi Simons, and Cody Gakpo are the stars and they are hopefully the players that Koeman builds his team around. However, Koeman has decided to give a chance to Ajax striker Brian Brobbey.

Brobbey has 11 goals in the Eredivisie this season, but he is definitely a reserve for Ajax, having started only one of their last nine league games. He has become an impact sub at Ajax and maybe this is what Koeman is looking to use him as, but it goes against the notion that you must play regularly and in good form to be in contention. Thijs Dallinga is on fire recently for Toulouse in France but he is only deemed good enough for the U21s at the moment and wasn’t even in the provisional squad.

To be fair to Koeman, he may be picking the players he knows most in his first squad to take a look at them before making changes going forward. However, the Netherlands cannot become a closed shop and in order to challenge for trophies, players who are in form need to be selected, even if they don’t play for a Champions League club. There are players excelling for Toulouse, Bologna, Stade de Reims, Fulham, and AZ Alkmaar who need to be included and it shouldn’t come down to the fact that if you play for Ajax you make it to Oranje.

For now, I will give Koeman a chance as he deserves it after what he did with Oranje before, but the early signs are that he is not the man to revolutionize the Dutch national team and it seems it’s more of the same for now.

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