The Dutch National Team have started a journey that will coincide with them being away from the bright lights of Europe’s top International tournament while they try to rebuild their International side. Danny Blind will have to experiment and tinker during this transition in order to truly prepare the team for World Cup qualifying.

  • By Chaka Simbeye
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dy blindThe Dutch National Team will be absent from Euro 2016 as Danny Blind will took introduce new youngsters and prepare the team adequately for the World Cup Qualifiers. Danny Blind will use this time to try different players and different systems that are appropriate for the playing staff that he has at hand. The friendly against France proved that this young team has potential but ahead lies a long road before they can begin to dream about the glories of the past.

The defence is the largest concern for Blind as he is yet to find a recognised centre-back partnership with his defensive options dearly lacking in experience as during the 2014 World Cup, Louis Van Gaal used Ron Vlaar in between Bruno Martins-Indi and Stefan De Vrij in order to remedy this. Since then Guus Hiddink reverted to a 4-3-3 with De Vrij and Martins-Indi at centre-back as two of the country’s most talented centre-backs lacked the experience and decision making to be effective at International level. In the final game of the qualifying phase, Blind used Jeffrey Bruma and Virgil Van Dijk against the Czech Republic and they were torn to bits. The next defensive partnership will most likely include Daley Blind who has been playing in the position for Manchester United as it is a hope that they can find a suitable partner for the former Ajax man. Timo Letschert from Utrecht is the latest young centre-back to be called up to the Dutch National Team as he has been part of an entertaining Utrecht side.

Right-back is possibly the most secure position that the Dutch National Team have as Kenny Tete, Joel Veltman, Rick Karsdorp and Kevin Diks are just a few of the options that the National Team will have going forward. Veltman has been playing in the position for Ajax since an injury ruled out Tete for an extended period in January and was one of the best performers against France. Paul Verhaegh and Daryl Janmaat are fighting relegation battles at their respective clubs in Germany and Britain. Both are adept at marauding forward but aren’t as assured defensively while Gregory Van Der Wiel was behind Serge Aurier at PSG until the latter had an ill-informed incident on social media.

At left-back, Jetro Willems stands out as the best option as it is heavily believed that he can grow into one of the best left-backs in the world but must still improve defensively. At only 21, his potential is immense as his 16 assists last season were integral to PSV breaking Ajax’ hold on the Eredivisie and he has eased his way back into the PSV first-team after missing the first half of the season with injury. Ajax youngster Jairo Riedewald played in the position under Blind but will be out for the rest of the season with injury and will look to establish himself at centre-back when he returns. Erik Pieters of Stoke is also an option but Blind Snr has named Jetro Willems as the starting left-back in the past.

The defence has lacked security from a midfield that has been stuffed with too many creative players and not enough hard men due to the lack of them coming through the youth academies in Holland. Riechedly Bazoer is the Ajax wonder-kid on everybody’s lips while it is expected that Jordy Clasie will improve as he adjusts to the physicality and intensity of the English game. This is the biggest problem position for the Dutch as at the moment, the midfield fails to transmit any sort of calmness to the defence and vice versa. Looking over the Dutch’s qualifying campaign, one will find a highlight real of missed challenges, groups of Orange shirts chasing down opponents only to leave other opponents in space and poor decision making that is shackling the team to rock bottom.

Vurnon Anita and Marko Vejinovic have been picked in the past while Jorrit Hendrix, one of the most promising players in the country, still waits for his first callup. There needs to be an introduction of a double-pivot as the midfield is akin to three strangers being forced to play together with square pegs being forced into round holes. Clasie played in the holding role against France and was blown away by Pogba and Matuidi as he is used to having a physically imposing figure like Oriol Romeu or Victor Wanyama being deployed next to him at club level. Bazoer himself is used to playing with Gudelj who does most of the dirty work and allows the 19 year-old to focus on working the ball.

Wesley Sneijder has played as a number 8 for the which has given him too much to do in the engine room as he should be played in the number 10 role or not at all. Davy Klaassen, Davy Propper and Georginio Wijnaldum will give Blind a selection headache going forward as all of them have impressed this season. The National Team manager has also admitted to looking at Marten De Roon who is known for his tough tackling rather than his elegance on the ball and after an impressive first season in Italy for Atalanta , he could be a welcome addition. Blind’s biggest obstacle is finding balance in midfield as the current state of the midfield is bleak with too many players geared at retaining the ball and not enough willing to work to regain it.

After a reliance on Arjen Robben that was heightened after the 2014 World Cup, it is clear that Blind cannot continue to rely on the Bayern Munich man. Robin Van Persie has also been put out to pasture after his move to Fenerbache as Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Eredivisie hot-shots Vincent Janssen and Luuk De Jong are left to take up the mantle left by him. This is the first time since the post Van Basten time that the Dutch don’t have a striker at a top European club and it is telling. Huntelaar has his prime in his rearview mirror while De Jong should be the starting striker given he is a few years from his prime and is the best performing Dutch striker for the last two years. Janssen is brimming with confidence as him and his AZ Alkmaar team have risen into the race for third place as he is now top scorer in the Eredivisie while he will look to challenge De Jong and Bas Dost going forward.

Memphis Depay is arguably the most talented of this new generation but has struggled to find his stride in an unstable Manchester United side which affected his confidence in an ‘Oranje’ shirt. His two assists against France prove that he is the game-changer in the side as it is a hope that he can continue to hone his talent playing top-level football. Quincy Promes is another talent in the Dutch National Side as he has been scoring freely in Russia for Spartak Moscow while playing different positions as he has been deployed on the flanks and up front. He was the best player on the pitch against France as he could become a favourite of Blind in the future. Luciano Narsingh, Jurgen Locadia, Anwar El Ghazi will all play a part in the future of the Dutch National Team. Blind needs luck in finding a top-level performer in the Dutch National Team as Robben can’t carry his responsibilities at Bayern and the Dutch National Team on his aging, brittle shoulders anymore.

Danny Blind is caught in two camps as he can go with a classic Van Gaalian 5-3-2 or a Cruyffian 4-3-3 which symbolise his two mentors in his playing and managerial career. However, the Dutch team need a teacher and not a student in order to find their way to the other side of this transition as it is important that he starts to put a side together before the World Cup qualifiers. Against France, the Dutch team looked as disoriented and dis-organised as they have for the last year making the same mistakes and being caught in the same traps. The team have a chance to build away from France but this team needs alot of progress and luck to get back to where they once were.

Chaka Simbeye (69 Posts)