Koeman now has to make difficult decisions

Most of the Dutch national team players travelled straight to a holiday destination on Thursday. They will recover from a long project that brought them to the semi-finals of the European Championship. It also offers time to think about what comes next. This certainly applies to national coach Ronald Koeman. In Germany he achieved “the maximum result”, as he himself put it, but he will also have to embark on a new path with the Dutch national team.

His contract with the KNVB runs for two more years. Immediately after the elimination against England, he said he had “some confidence” in the future of this team. He referred to the fact that several players were not even present due to injuries, especially Frenkie de Jong and Teun Koopmeiners. Koeman praised “the great attitude of this group”, “how they worked and lived together”. “I had given a title to this generation.”

The Netherlands is still a modest footballing country, compared to finalists England and Spain, but also Germany and Italy, who had to return home much earlier. It shows that the Dutch national team has not had a bad time at this European Championship. The opposition was good. In the semi-final, they lacked a bit of luck. According to Koeman, the Netherlands were awarded an unjustified penalty due to the intervention of the video referee. “I think football is destroyed by these kinds of decisions.” The 2-1 came in the last minute. Koeman: “We cannot blame ourselves.”

Saudi desert

An important merit of this team is the positive image it had in the eyes of the outside world. That and the results sparked an orange craze that, according to Koeman, was ‘more extreme than ever’. “These players made people believe in something.”

But it is also time for innovation. For this Euro, Koeman teamed up with players with whom he had a good relationship in the past. It shows his loyalty. He even selected Georginio Wijnaldum; Koeman even substituted him three times, which always showed how much he has deteriorated as a footballer in the Saudi desert. Wijnaldum (33) is already ready as an international player.

Memphis Depay is also not the striker that the Dutch national team will have to deal with for another two years. He was not a key player for his clubs in recent years, he was often injured, but because of his past he has maintained a high status in the national team. Just like at the World Cup in Qatar, he did not stand out much at this European Championship. Depay has not been the striker that the Dutch national team can rely on for years.

However, he has an influence on the national team, just like Virgil van Dijk. As a leader on the pitch but also in defence, he made quite a few mistakes in this tournament. Stefan de Vrij, who played a very strong European Championship on the right, showed what a modern defender can do. “It will be a summer of reflection,” said Van Dijk in Dortmund, about his future at Liverpool and the Dutch team.

Micky van de Ven: speed and dueling power

Koeman cannot afford to continue to do without these sacred cows. The positive thing is that there are alternatives who deserve a chance. Like Joshua Zirkzee. He was the revelation of the Italian league and can prove his worth as a striker at Manchester United next season. He is fast, agile, physically strong and is only 23 years old. Micky van de Ven can play in Van Dijk’s position without any problems. The very strong defender, also only 23 years old, already impressed in some substitute appearances at this European Championship with his speed and his power in duels.

This is how the skeleton of the new Dutch national team was formed during this European Championship. Goalkeeper Bart Verbruggen (21) proved to be the captain of the new generation in every respect. The late Jerdy Schouten showed in some weak moments against Austria that he could be a European star. With Nathan Aké, Jeremie Frimpong, Cody Gakpo and also the Timber brothers Mats Wieffer, Teun Koopmeiners and of course Frenkie de Jong, Koeman can continue to build on his success in the coming years. Also with Xavi Simons and Tijjani Reijnders. Their first major tournament went off without incident for both of them.

“Sometimes we still expect too much from a young player,” Koeman said of Simons. He also said he saw “absolute potential” in Zirkzee and Brobbey. “We have to hope that these younger players develop further and become better attackers. That pond is still not very big.”

In two years’ time, the World Cup will be played in America, Canada and Mexico. Qualification should apply next year. But a new international match will begin at the beginning of September, with matches against Bosnia-Herzegovina and Germany in the Nations League. It seems an ideal time for Koeman to turn the Dutch team around.

Read also:

Dutch players are proud despite the defeat. “We have become one with the fans”

The Dutch internationals are licking their wounds after their semi-final exit from the European Championship against England. As well as disappointment, there is also pride.

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