The small European country of the Netherlands has had an outsized influence in the development and evolution of football. From the days of Johann Cruyff and Marco van Basten to Dennis Bergkamp and Patrick Kluivert and on to Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben, the quality of the Dutch players has had an influence at the highest level of club football.
However, the Dutch national side has not made the impact at tournaments that it’s players have with their clubs. Their only international triumph came in the 1988 European Championship, but victory has often been within their reach only to slip away. They have made four other European Championship semi-finals only to lose there and were runners-up in the 1974 and 1978 World Cups as well as in 2010.
Consistency has not been the Netherlands strong point. They didn’t qualify for the 1982 or 1986 World Cups, and also missed 2002 and have stunningly missed the last two major tournaments. They need a new manager and fresh ideas to get them back to where history suggests they should be. Can you take over and guide them to Euro 2020 and beyond? RealSport has everything you need to know about managing the Netherlands.
Expectations & philosophies
Unlike when you take over a club, the Holland board have no specific philosophies they want you to follow as manager, freeing you to use older players or youngsters as you wish and allowing you to use whatever tactical model you deem appropriate for the game.
Equally the board have no expectations for you to meet when you take over. This is due to their not being any scheduled tournament on the horizon or even a qualifying campaign in the fixture list. Instead you have the new European International League coming up, a friendly tournament that you can use to test your tactics and find the right squad for you. However, once the Euro 2020 qualifying groups are drawn you can rest assured that the board will expect you to qualify for the tournament without issue.
Football Manager 19 offers more in-depth tactical options than ever before, and provides some templates for styles of play that you can then tweak to suit your squad’s strengths and your own wants as a manager. The Dutch side is no longer full of creative, fast, forwards that can menace the opposition. What it does have though is some extremely talented centre backs and defensive-minded midfielders. With this in mind you should look to play on the counter attack, so selecting a fluid counter-attack tactical style is the smartest choice. There will be some games, particularly in the qualifying campaigns, where you can be more positive with a control possession or tiki-taka style, but for the most part Holland will need to play safe, secure, football and look to pounce on the counter.
With all the talent Holland have at the back it is smart to play with three centre backs and let them take care of most of the defending. As a result we have gone with a 5-2-3 WB formation. Jasper Cillessen is in goal, with a back three of Matthijs de Ligt, Virgil van Dijk, and Stefan de Vrij. Rick Karsdorp and Jetro Willems provide your width from wing back. Your central midfield duo is Kevin Strootman and Frenkie de Jong while Georginio Wijnaldum and Quincy Promes support the single striker Memphis Depay.
Internationals have an unlimited bench so the rest of your squad will be available to you in games.
When you expect to be on the front foot for most of the match you can look to open things up a little by using a control possession tactic and removing a centre back (either de Vrij or de Ligt) and bringing on a winger to play in a 4-1-4-1 DM formation.
The likes of Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben are gone. Who are the stars that you can rely on in the current Dutch squad?
Virgil van Dijk - CA 4 star (173), PA 4.5 star (175)
Virgil van Dijk is perhaps the best centre back in the world today. The Dutch talisman started his career at Groningen but he didn’t stay there for long, making a move to Scottish club Celtic in 2013. He played only two seasons at Celtic before Southampton swooped in with a £13 million transfer in Summer 2015. He didn’t stay in Southampton for long either as his play improved and the big clubs became interested in him. Eventually he made an enormous £75 million move to Liverpool in January 2018.
In FM19 van Dijk is a spectacular centre back. He is physically strong and a technically gifted defender. With 18 heading, 17 tackling, and 16 marking he can shut down any forward. His 173 CA is near his peak of 175 PA and is comfortably the best player in the Dutch side.
Stefan de Vrij - CA 3.5 star (157), PA 3.5 star (161)
Stefan de Vrij started his career with Feyenoord, rising through their ranks and playing over 150 games for them before making a move to Italian side Lazio in July 2014. He played four strong seasons with the side and eventually made a free transfer to Inter Milan in July 2018 when his contract was up. He made his international debut for Holland in August 2012 and has gone on to make over 30 appearances for his national side.
In FM19 de Vrij is a well-rounded defender. He has terrific mental attributes with 17 anticipation, 16 positioning, and 16 work rate and can also move the ball in possession. His 157 CA means he is an extremely reliable player for you but he is playing very close to his peak of 161 PA right now so don’t expect him to reach van Dijk’s level of play.
Georginio Wijnaldum - CA 3.5 star (155), PA 3.5 star (158)
Wijnaldum is another Feyenoord product, making his senior debut with the team in 2007 at just 16 years old. He played there until the summer of 2011 when he made a €5 million move to PSV. His talents soon caught the attention of the wider football world though and in 2015 he made a £14.5 million move to Newcastle United and a year later was signed by Liverpool for £25 million. Wijnaldum made his international debut in September 2011 and was a member of the 2014 World Cup squad.
There are a number of young stars already making a mark in the Dutch side. Who are the ones that could be breaking into the team come Euro 2020 or World Cup 2022?
Tahith Chong - CA 2 star (116), PA 5 star (150-180)
A product of the Feyenoord youth system, Tahith Chong was snapped up by Manchester United in April 2016. Under new manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Chong has been given more first team opportunities and has been used as a substitute in the FA Cup, Premier League, and Champions League this season. His FM19 stats are already strong, with 16 acceleration, 16 flair, and 14 dribbling, and with a very high PA range of 150-180 he could become a leading star for the Dutch team in years to come.
Ryan Gravenberch - CA 2 star (103), PA 5 star (150-180)
A centre midfielder from Ajax, Ryan Gravenberch could soon become a pivotal player for the Dutch side in Football Manager 19. The 16-year-old has strong mental attributes like 15 flair, 13 decisions, and 12 composure to go along with solid talent on the ball. With just a 103 CA he isn’t going to break into the senior side immediately, but come World Cup 2022 he could be a key part of the squad thanks to his PA range of 150-180.
Javairo Dilrosun - CA 3 star (134), PA 4.5 star (161)
Javairo Dilrosun is the most ready of these young talents. At 20 years old the left winger for Hertha Berlin could slide into your squad now if you decide to play a more attacking, width-based, system. His problem is that Holland lack to talent in the squad to support the style of play he needs to make it. With so many narrow players and a lack of quality up front it will be difficult to get him in the team until other pieces develop. Still, with a PA of 161 his place in the squad may soon be undeniable.
|Virgil van Dijk||D (C)||26||Liverpool||173/175||£59m|
|Stefan de Vrij||D (C)||26||Inter||157/161||£39.5m|
|Matthijs de Ligt||D (C) DM||18||Ajax||144/160-190||£15m|
|Daley Blind||D (LC) WB (L) DM M (C)||28||Ajax||139/152||£8.75m|
|Nathan Ake||D (LC) DM||23||Bournemouth||141/161||£16m|
|Rick Karsdorp||D (R) WB (R)||23||Roma||136/149||£8m|
|Hans Hateboer||D (R) WB (R)||24||Atalanta||136/143||£9m|
|Patrick van Aanholt||D (L) WB (L)||27||Crystal Palace||131/134||£12m|
|Jetro Willems||D (L) WB (L)||24||Eintracht Frankfurt||136/149||£7.75m|
|Kevin Strootman||DM M (C)||28||OM||147/162||£20.5m|
|Frenkie de Jong||D (C) DM M (C)||21||Ajax||144/160-190||£7.75m|
|Donny van de Beek||DM M (C) AM (C)||21||Ajax||133/140-170||£5.25m|
|Davy Propper||M (C) AM (C)||26||Brighton||143/146||£17.5m|
|Georginio Wijnaldum||DM M (C) AM (LC)||27||Liverpool||155/158||£27.5m|
|Quincy Promes||M (RL) AM (RLC) ST (C)||26||Sevilla||148/150||£12m|
|Steven Bergwijn||M (RL) AM (RLC) ST (C)||20||PSV||143/159||£8.75m|
|Justin Kluivert||M (RL) AM (RL)||19||Roma||135/140-170||£10.75m|
|Ryan Babel||AM (L) ST (C)||31||Fulham||145/155||£19.25m|
|Memphis Depay||AM (LC) ST (C)||24||OL||152/158||£32m|
|Luuk de Jong||ST (C)||27||PSV||136/144||£6.75m|
The Netherlands haven’t missed two consecutive major tournaments since the early & mid 80’s and they returned from that International exile to win Euro ‘88. With so much talent and a long history of contending for trophies their current state of international oblivion is a stain on their orange shirts. It will be your job to restore pride to the country and take a group of talented individuals and find a way of playing the game that suits the makeup of the squad and get them into Euro 2020 at all costs. Failure to do so is not an option, and the long term aim to finally lift a World Cup. Their three runners-up places and two further semi-final appearances are the most without tasting the ultimate prize. You need to be the one break that duck and bring the trophy back to the Netherlands at last.