On Saturday, Netherlands coach Danny Blind admitted that it will be difficult for the Oranje to qualify for the 2018 World Cup following a 2-0 loss at Bulgaria.
If the Dutch are going to prove him wrong, they’re going to do it with a new man on the sidelines.
One day after slipping into fourth place in UEFA Qualifying Group A, the Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB) announced that Blind has been fired as the Dutch national team’s boss, citing the possibility that one of soccer’s world powers is in danger of missing out on its second straight major international tournament after failing to qualify for Euro 2016.
Goal.com reported that KNVB director Jean Paul Decossaux said that the Dutch FA respected what Danny Blind did in his tenure as the man in charge, but felt forced to make a change because the task of qualifying for the World Cup in Russia has now become far more difficult than anticipated.
The Netherlands, still smarting from being the only one of the major European powers to miss out on Euro 2016, was hoping to rebound with a strong performance and announce its return to being a force on the continent. However, a loss at home to France and a draw at Sweden left the Oranje with little room for error and needing a win at Bulgaria to get back on track.
Instead, Danny Blind’s men conceded twice within 20 minutes and exited Sofia in fourth place in the group, sitting six points back of the French and automatic qualification for the World Cup. With a trip to France still to come and Blind tarred with the failure of qualifying in 2016, the KNVB decided it had no choice but to go in a different direction while the qualification campaign could still be salvaged.
Blind leaves with a record of 8-3-7, including three home defeats this year and a failure to qualify in 2016 from a group that saw Iceland finish ahead of the Dutch. The Oranje finished second in the 2010 World Cup and third in 2014, but have seemed without direction since Louis van Gaal’s retirement in 2014, having fired Guus Hiddink and now Blind while looking for a solution.
Netherlands under-21 manager Fred Grim will be the caretaker for a friendly match with Italy while the Dutch FA searches for a permanent replacement for Danny Blind. The Oranje will not resume qualification until a June match with group minnow Luxembourg. Whoever permanently replaces Blind will face the challenge of returning to the heights the Dutch reached under Bert van Marwijk, who guided the Netherlands to the World Cup final in 2010. However, since that high, the Oranje have struggled to the realities of aging, with Robin van Persie already retired from international soccer and Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder now in their 30’s.
Readers, do the Dutch have a chance to come back? Are they still an elite squad? Or has this generation reached its end and necessitated an Oranje rebuild? Sound off in the comments and like and share this story!
Commentary by Dan Angell