Dutch courage required for Clockwork Orange to restore pride
Holly Thackeray | November 10, 2015
The Netherlands’ Euro 2016 qualifying capitulation shockingly came just over a year after entertaining millions with a third-place finish at the 2014 World Cup, meaning Dutch hopes were raised then dashed in a matter of months. Yet, an upcoming prestige friendly against team of the moment Wales could provide just the stage to recover some Clockwork Orange pride.
Of course, coach Danny Blind and co could probably do without being spectators to Welsh celebrations. After all, most fans may have expected the roles to be reversed when this friendly was penciled in, with the Dragons yet again licking the wounds of failure, while Dutch superstars instead flexed their muscles ahead of France.
It hasn’t quite panned out that way for this Netherlands team in turmoil and transition. Clockwork Orange can, however, take advantage of any festivities at Cardiff City Stadium and, though subsequent friendly scuffles against similarly qualified Germany, France and England may prove similarly painful to take part in, it is a crucial chance for Blind to show his worth as boss.
Dented Dutch pride makes for dangerous opponents
Perhaps more importantly, the Dutch (10/11 with Coral to win in Wales) need a show of strength and defiance, to show they are building for the future instead of pining for past glories, and sulking about being left behind this summer. After all, few big teams have a summer free to prepare, with World Cup 2018 qualifiers set to start next September.
There are signs already that Blind, the best option for continuity following much upheaval if neither Ronald Koeman or Frank de Boer can be captured, is scrutinizing his squad. Though, critics could argue it is a reward for a regime which ended in failure.
It appeared as though first for a Clockwork Orange cull was Manchester United wingman Memphis Depay, who was cut from the preliminary roster for November’s friendlies, following poor club performances and a reported dispute with Robin van Persie in training.
At the time, Blind told press: “I think Depay is a player for the future, but there are other issues to look at.
“In football you must function in a team. He doesn’t always do that. I have also told him when I called him to say he’s not in there. That’s something he has to learn.”
Memphis to make a point
Yet, much backtracking was made, with Memphis re-called to the final roster and the ability to rectify mistakes should be looked upon as weakness rather than strength from Blind, though undoubtedly pundits will claim it a show of the former.
Memphis (15/8 to score anytime against Wales) may not have played to his potential in qualifying, but it was not so long ago a host of top clubs were chasing the potent PSV Eindhoven academy product’s tail. A move to Manchester may not have yet borne fruit, but the signs are there.
Omitting the usually deadly winger would only have dented his confidence, a quality which already looks to have deserted Clockwork Orange regulars in droves. It’s the Dutch way to show faith in the future and, casting an eye over fellow call-ups, Memphis’ ceiling still seems highest.
The Red Devil has been far from his usual deadly self, but did at times appear the only Netherlands attacker able to craft something, pumping crosses into the box that were left unmet or off target by Van Persie, now left out on the cold himself, and co.
Plenty of potential in the armory
With the ‘golden generation’ slowly being eased out, the Dutch (18/1 to win World Cup 2018) must take courage from defeat and come back stronger, with spades of time to blood a new team before business begins again.
Defender Terence Kongolo, Ajax schemers Davy Klaassen and Riechedly Bazoer and Newcastle United goal hero Georginio Wijnaldum may not have yet proven their international predigree, but are promising enough to challenge Memphis for the mantle of top Dutch talent.
While, Eredivisie attackers Anwar El Ghazi and Luciano Narsingh missed out this time, but show there is still so much more to come from this crop of youngsters, should they be allowed to gel away from the shadow of their predecessors failures and successes.
Read more on the Netherlands in our archive