Jonathan Reis: A Cautionary Tale for Would-be Ronaldos

By Kristian Heneage

For some players, their story is written on the pitch, hero or villain, infamy or inspiration, their career is defined by what they produce on the field. Brazilian striker Jonathan Reis has not been so fortunate. A player that seemed at one point destined to succeed compatriots Romario and Ronaldo as PSV Eindhoven’s star Brazilian, too much of his career has been spent trying to beat his demons rather than defenders. 

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As Europe searches for drama, the Eredivisie’s title race rises

With seven games remaining in the Eredivisie the destination of the championship is no clearer than it was at the beginning of the campaign. At this time of writing four sides are in contention separated by three points making this the most eagerly anticipated climax to any of Europe’s major leagues. Like the season finale of a gripping television drama series, its one not to be missed.

How this has come about is attributed to a new economic reality, one that has slowly weakened Dutch clubs, as a result the gap between the traditional old guard (consisting of Ajax, Feyenoord and PSV) and majority of the division isn’t as wide as it once was. You get the feeling this season won’t be a one-off.

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Vilhena ready for the next stage after emerging from Feyenoord’s fountain of talent


By Mohamed Moallim

Ask a manager about the value of camaraderie and you could be there for a while. Ronald Koeman is no different, his situation unique to most, is common within the Netherlands, and even then it’s different. No better demonstration this season and explicitly in Feyenoord’s recent game against FC Twente. It would end goalless, but the headline was already written, one that embodies the clubs resurgence heavily characterised by a youthful feel.

When it comes to youth football the Rotterdammers are at the forefront, their academy Varkenoord – reinvigorated by club icon Wim Jansen first as manager then as technical advisor – been voted three years running as best in the Netherlands. It’s this coupled with talents given a chance at first team level – averaging seven graduates starting per game – that has eroded fears of losing them before a professional contract can be presented (see Karim Rekik and Nathan Aké). Those waiting to break through can look to the Twente game.

Koeman, who arrived in the summer of 2011 with reputation as a champion of youth development, started with four of the clubs brightest recent graduates: The Four Musketeers. It was their first ever appearance together; Jordy Clasie the most experienced, and Feyenoord’s metronome, flanked by wingers Jean-Paul Boëtius and Anass Achahbar and mercurial talent Tonny Vilhena alongside in midfield.

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The Dutch ambivalence towards modernity in football

By Nick Lichtenberg

The Barcelona-Arsenal tie made me consider the importance of the Dutch football tradition, but it wasn’t until this week that the prominence of Dutch players and coaches in the Champions League became tangible, in contrast to the complete absence of English footballers.  At least half of the remaining clubs are dominated by the Dutch, either in the form of players or ideas.  Bayern Munich looks to have settled under legendary manager Louis Van Gaal, formerly of Ajax and Barcelona, and in turn his countryman Arjen Robben is increasingly influential (a “talisman,” one might say).  At Inter Milan, Jose Mourinho has entrusted the creative role in central midfield to Wesley Sneijder, whose departure from Real Madrid along with Robben last summer is fast becoming infamous.  

Finally, although Barcelona features no Dutchmen in its starting lineup, the club’s style of play is directly descended from the Dutch club (Ajax) and national teams of the 1970s: Ajax and Dutch manager Rinus Michels coached the star player Johann Cruyff at Barcelona later in the 1970s, and then Cruyff managed the team in the 1990s, which included current mastermind Pep Guardiola.  The current Barcelona’s unusually nationalistic composition (Guardiola is Catalan, as are five to six of the usual starting XI) marks a sort of historical culmination: the Dutch style of play has become an integral part of Catalunya’s football culture.
Nationalistic stereotypes are legion in soccer: the English are physical and aggressive, the Germans tough and efficient, the Italians defensive and disciplined (some might say cynical), the Brazilians are exuberant.  But what is this elusive Dutch “style”?  Why did this relatively small country fall in love with football and become a worldwide influence on the game?  

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