The Netherlands are on the hunt for a new coach after Danny Blind paid the price for his side’s poor start to qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™.
Fred Grim, the Oranje’s erstwhile U-21 coach, has been placed in caretaker charge and will oversee tomorrow’s friendly against Italy in Amsterdam. The KNVB will then need to make a permanent appointment capable of arresting an alarming slump that has followed their third-place finish at Brazil 2014.
Blind is the second Dutch coach to have vacated the position during the time since, with Guus Hiddink having departed in June 2015 after losing five of his ten matches in charge. The Netherlands failed to qualify for the newly expanded UEFA EURO 2016 and now, having lost two of their five Russia 2018 qualifiers so far, they languish fourth in Group A, six points adrift of France, three behind Sweden and in real danger of sitting out a second successive major tournament.
“We must be honest and say that getting to Russia is now going to be a lot more difficult,” admitted a candid Blind in the wake of the 2-0 defeat in Sofia on Saturday that ultimately ended his reign. “The blame is on me. It falls firmly on my roof. I must now think about it and my employer will be doing the same. I’ve worked long enough in football to understand how it works. It can’t carry on like this.”
The former Ajax coach, who had served as Hiddink’s assistant before taking charge, was correct in seeing the writing on the wall. Within 24 hours, the KNVB had wielded the axe following a meeting between Blind, professional football director Jean Paul Decossaux and technical director Hans van Breukelen. “Because the sporting results are disappointing and it will now be difficult to qualify for the World Cup in Russia, we feel unfortunately we have to say goodbye to him,” said Decossaux.
One notable tribute was, however, paid to the departing Dutch coach, with Daley Blind – his son, and a stalwart of the current Oranje generation – expressing his pride on Instagram.