No national coach, no premier league football for almost half a year, no supporters in the stands. Nevertheless, the Dutch national team is preparing as normal as possible for the Nations League games of 4 and 7 September, against Poland and Italy.
With interim coach Dwight Lodeweges on the bench, it should look as much as possible the same as it was the last two years. The course that Ronald Koeman had successfully set should be sailed before he left for Barcelona.
“We want to continue on this footing. And we want to have fun. It’s nice that we finally get back together”, says Lodeweges, who has two temporary assistants at his disposal with Erwin van de Looi and Maarten Stekelenburg.
The proportions were clear in the time-Koeman. Between staff and players as well as in the staff.
“We were more in the ground work, how are we going to play”, Lodeweges describes the role he had the last two years. And now, at least for the next two internationals, the responsibility rests on his shoulders. “I’ve been around for a while, of course. But this is very exciting.”
Lodeweges has no idea what state he’s in. “Everyone comes to Zeist differently,” the 62-year-old trainer knows.
“There’s a lot of variation between the players who are top fit and maybe ready for a holiday, I call a Stefan de Vrij, and guys like Ryan Babel who haven’t played a game in a while.”
Although there hasn’t been played in the premier league in the Netherlands since March, Lodeweges thought the time was ripe for the youngsters Mohamed Ihattaren (PSV), Perr Schuurs (Ajax) and Owen Wijndal (AZ) to make their debut in his squad. “In the first place of course because they are good soccer players, they have confirmed that in the preparation for the new season”
Of course, Sunday-evening in Studio Soccer was also about the Dutch Team. Who should succeed Koeman? Lodeweges will not remain the national coach, that seems out of the question. And so let’s take a shot at Louis van Gaal?