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Ronald Koeman faces huge task to rebuild Netherlands nationa

 
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MessagePosté le: Jeu 22 Mar - 12:02 (2018)
Sujet du message: Ronald Koeman faces huge task to rebuild Netherlands nationa
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sbo666 Retired stars, a "lost generation" of Dutch players, and issues with the Eredivisie... Ahead of Friday's friendly with England, Nick Wright looks at the challenge facing Ronald Koeman as he attempts to rebuild the Netherlands national team.

Ronald Koeman says he has been "crazy about football" since his departure from Everton. It was, he added this week, the "right moment" for him to take over the Dutch national team. But was that his craziness talking? Koeman is a legend in the Netherlands for his part in winning the 1988 Euros, but his reputation is on the line now. Can he reverse their decline? Can anyone?

Since the third-placed finish at the 2014 World Cup under Louis van Gaal, Guus Hiddink, Danny Blind and Dick Advocaat have all failed. Hiddink left with their Euro 2016 qualification campaign in disarray, Blind was unable to turn it around, and their efforts to reach the upcoming World Cup went the same way under Advocaat.

They have suffered one mishap after another. The first of two embarrassing losses to Iceland came just months after their run to the latter stages in Brazil. A galling defeat to Bulgaria wrecked their hopes of reaching Russia last year. The Netherlands, an iconic team of the past who were ranked fifth in the world in 2014, now sit 21st in FIFA's standings. They are at their lowest point for generations.

"It has been a very difficult period," Rik Elfrink, a journalist for Algemeen Dagblad, tells Sky Sports. "We did very well at the 2010 and 2014 World Cups, finishing runners-up and third with Wesley Sneijder, Rafael van der Vaart, Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie, but now they are all retired or old. It's a big challenge for Koeman to build a team at the same level."

Koeman can call on Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk and Lazio's Stefan de Vrij at centre-back in addition to Bournemouth's Nathan Ake and Ajax prospect Matthijs de Ligt, but with Sneijder, Van der Vaart, Robben and Van Persie out of the squad, the Netherlands have lost a combined total of 440 international caps and 143 goals at the other end of the pitch. sbo666

How do you replace that? It's the biggest question facing Koeman. He will be encouraged by Memphis Depay's progress at Lyon and by the Champions League pedigree that Liverpool's Georginio Wijnaldum and Roma's Kevin Strootman can bring to midfield, but there are few proven options beyond that.

"We have a lost generation between 23 and 29, that's what we call them," Martin Wijffels, another journalist for Algemeen Dagblad who has covered the Dutch national team for 15 years, tells Sky Sports. "Wijnaldum and Van Dijk are the only ones playing at the very top level. For the rest, it's difficult.

"Yesterday I asked Koeman if he sees us on the level of Iceland, and he accepted that comparison. They don't have big individual talent but they made a decent squad and reached two tournaments in a row, beating some bigger opponents. We have to build a new team without the world-class quality. We have to be Iceland for the next two, three or four years."

Koeman's remit is to guide the Netherlands to Euro 2020. He hopes to achieve it by rebuilding their confidence, nurturing their identity, and by putting youth at the centre of it all. His first squad, for their friendlies with England and Portugal, contains five uncapped players and six under the age of 22. Ryan Babel, now at Besiktas, is the only inclusion over the age of 30.

Patrick Kluivert's son, Justin, is the most exciting member of the new generation. The 18-year-old has emerged as a major prospect at Ajax, but with Manchester United already reported to be chasing him, Elfrink believes fulfilling his potential on the international stage might depend on what happens next at club level.

"We have some exciting players of around 18 or 19 years old, but we always have them at that age," he says. "They are so young and inexperienced, but a lot of our young talents go away to big clubs too early. Memphis is a good example. When you look back at his move to Manchester United, maybe it was not the best choice for him at that moment. sbo666
 


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MessagePosté le: Jeu 22 Mar - 12:02 (2018)
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