With the Netherlands in grave danger of not qualifying for the 2016 European Championship in France — the Dutch currently sit fourth in Group A, two points back of Turkey in third for a place in the qualifying playoffs, with just two games left to play — which has, understandably caused a bit of criticism to be lobbed the way of the current Dutch squad.
One figure, however, that you might not expect to be hammered for his contributions to the team, given the Oranje‘s penchant for conceding lots and lots of goals, is Manchester United forward Memphis Depay. Alas, that hasn’t stopped Willem van Hanegem, a fixture for the Dutch national team in the 1970s, from going all-in with his anti-Memphis agenda.
Van Hanegem, on why Memphis is the Netherlands’ real problem, from the Mirror:
“There are a few players at Oranje that only think about themselves. Take Memphis for instance. He’s just like Goldfinger with his golden shoes. But what is the use of that for Netherlands?
“I don’t care that he comes to Oranje with a hat and a scarf. What he does outside of the pitch is his own business. But with a couple of suspenders and a beard, he could easily join the Amish people in America and sit on a wagon.”
First things first, that’s an all-time great quote. The analogies, the imagery, the crabbiness from a figure of the past begrudging a current player of reaching heights he never did — it’s all spectacular.
But if Van Hanegem wants to call out Memphis as the chief issue among the current Dutch squad, it might be time for a come-to-Jesus moment for the 71-year-old former midfielder. In fact, it’s Van Hanegem’s area of expertise — central midfield — that’s letting down this Dutch team.
Take Sunday’s 3-0 defeat to Turkey for example — where was the pressure in midfield? Oh yeah, that’s right, there was none because Davy Klaassen and Daley Blind is possibly the most immobile, defending-averse double pivot in the history of the world. Not that he should be called back in (far from it, in fact), but this Dutch team misses a Nigel de Jong-type player that protects the backline and reduces their workload of emergency defending by at least 25 percent.
So Van Hanegem can continue to deride Memphis all he wants, but the 21-year-old attacker is roughly the Netherlands’ 15th-biggest problem at the moment.