The Netherlands has been considered a powerhouse in World Football and has produced some of the finest players ever. They however have been one of the biggest underachievers in the World Cup, with 3 runners up and 1 third place finish. Over the last few years, they have been one of the biggest teams in World Football.
Then, what has changed since 2014? After finishing the World Cup securing the 3rd place, their next big challenge was qualifying for the Euro 2016. Given their group (Group A), it was thought they would finish first with ease. Yet with just two matches left, Iceland and Czech Republic will be going to the tournament, not the Netherlands (well not yet).
They are sitting fourth, 10 points, 2 points behind 3rd place Turkey as they hope to secure a playoff spot for the competition. What happened to the Oranje?
Following their World Cup, Louis Van Gaal stepped down and the skilled Guus Hiddink was appointed as the new boss. There seemed to be little problem after Hiddnick who was the manager of the team for two and a half years was nominated for the second time. The squad has largely been the same; the only notable absentee was Kuyt who announced his retirement.
The team seems to be struggling with their main members who either are down with injuries or have been erratic in their form. Next in line, Danny Blind has not surpassed his forerunner. Hence, the manager alone is not at fault.
The only solution is to gradually bench the ageing squad members and bring on some talented youngsters. The squad have options in all areas of the pitch, but these youngsters need to be put in gradually. As for their immediate future, the Dutch has to win their next two games, and hope Turkey loses at least one of their matches to qualify third in their group and head into the playoffs. The qualification campaign is dire, but it is by no means over. However, the Dutch needs to identify players who will form their new core, to lead the country for the next 7 to 8 years and maybe, someday win that elusive World Cup.