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Netherlands manager Danny Blind fired after Bulgaria loss

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The Netherlands are in real trouble, and the manager has paid the price.

The Dutch national team has parted ways with Danny Blind the day after a 2-0 loss to Bulgaria left the Dutch fourth in their World Cup qualification group halfway through.

The move garnering all the headlines from Saturday’s loss was Blind’s decision to start 17-year-old defender Matthijs de Ligt. The Ajax youth product, who has just two Eredivisie starts to his credit, made two crucial errors and yanked at halftime, but the damage had been done. Spas Delev scored twice in the opening 20 minutes for Bulgaria, and that was all the home side needed as the Dutch offered little in front of goal.

Blind was also criticized for not getting Memphis Depay on the field as they chased the game. The Netherlands held 74% possession, but could only manage 3 shots on target. Depay has been in good form since his January move to Lyon, with five goals in his 10 Ligue 1 appearances.

This decision was something Blind saw coming. He told national broadcaster NOS immediately after the Bulgaria loss, “I blame myself. It can’t go on like this. Things have to change.”

“I need to think about [my future]. I do not throw the towel in here. I’m incredibly disappointed, especially since I had a good feeling about this match. It makes sense that I put myself in front of the mirror.”

However, the problems for the Dutch go far deeper than Danny Blind. They missed out on Euro 2016 largely thanks to the failed 2nd tenure for Guus Hiddink. His assistant Blind took over, but the results have been equally as poor. The Netherlands sit fourth in UEFA World Cup qualification Group A, with losses to Bulgaria and France plus a draw with Sweden. It’s not over for them though, as they sit three points back of a second place spot with five matches to go, and three of those five at home.

With the Netherlands still yet to play their friendly against Italy this coming week, former goalkeeper Fred Grim takes over on an interim basis. Grim collected 101 caps for the Netherlands, and has served as the Netherlands U-21 manager for the last two years. Before that, he took charge of his first full managerial job as head man of Dutch 2nd-tier club Almere City.

Daley Blind’s father Danny tabbed as Guus Hiddink’s Netherlands successor

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Netherlands national team road trips together are nothing new for father and son Danny and Daley Blind, but the relationship is stepping up a notch.

The Manchester United midfielder will be playing under his father Danny, the longtime Ajax player, who is taking over for recently-resigned manager Guus Hiddink.

[ MORE: Ranking the top players at Gold Cup 2015 ]

The 68-year-old Hiddink stepped down as Dutch boss with the nation in a precarious position for Euro 2016 qualifying. Blind will take over a unit that is third in Group A, five points behind leaders Iceland and three back of No. 2 Czech Republic.

The top two seeds advance to Euro 2016, as well as the third place team with the most points in qualifying. The remaining third place teams will face-off in a playoff round. The Netherlands are currently the third-ranked third-place team.

Blind, 53, managed Ajax in 2005-06, but his only other management experience comes as an assistant or director of football, roles he’s served with Ajax, Sparta Rotterdam and the Netherlands.

The Dutch have qualifying trips left to Turkey and Kazakstan, and home matches against the two teams above them.

Dutch FA terminates Guus Hiddink’s contract amid EURO 2016 qualifying struggles

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Less than 12 months after taking over as manager of the Dutch national team for a second time (1994-1998), Guus Hiddink has been relieved of his duties as leader of the Oranje after the Dutch football federation decided to terminate the 68-year-old’s contract on Monday.

[ MORE: Monday’s transfer rumor roundup ]

Led by Hiddink from day one of their 2016 European Championship qualifying campaign, the Dutch currently sit third in qualifying Group A — behind Iceland and the Czech Republic — with four games to play in order to qualify for next summer’s tournament in France (the top two teams from the group qualify automatically, while the third-place team has one last chance to qualify through a home-and-away playoff series).

Hiddink’s contract was originally set to run through EURO 2016, when he would then step aside and Danny Blind, assistant to Hiddink and father of Manchester United midfielder Daley Blind, would take over ahead of 2018 World Cup qualifying.

[ RELATED: Ronald De Boer rips Hiddink’s “old-fashioned” approach under Hiddink ]

Hiddink, on his termination, from a Dutch FA release:

“It’s a shame that it went this way. It was an honor to coach the Netherlands team again and I wish my successor, the staff and the squad every success on their way to the European Championship in France.”

The news of Hiddink’s termination also comes just three weeks after the Netherlands’ shocking 4-3 defeat to the US national team, a game in which the Dutch held a 3-1 lead with 20 minutes to play, only to see their lead slip away and lose in Amsterdam.