Netherlands not ready for titles yet says coach Koeman
Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman has led a revival in their fortunes but after Sunday’s 1-0 defeat by Portugal in the Nations League final he conceded that his rebuilt side was not yet ready to win titles.
The Dutch failed to qualify for Euro 2016 or the World Cup in Russia last year but their Nations League campaign has seen them beat Germany, France and England before their loss to the European champions.
“We know we made big steps in the past year and that is positive but to make the next step maybe we need more time,” said Koeman, who was quick to highlight the weak spot in his side.
“Offensive strength is important, we need to create more chances, to have what we missed tonight,” he said.
“Maybe its too early to win, there are the Euros coming up next year, but I don’t want to be too negative about the performances of this team, these players.
“I am really proud about the spirit of the team, it wasn’t enough tonight, but the whole campaign was really very positive,” he added.
While Memphis Depay has rebuilt his career in the past two seasons, the converted winger now playing as a central striker, struggled to find real opportunities.
The wide players used by Koeman also lacked incisiveness as the Dutch found it difficult to turn their always impressive midfield play into clear chances.
“They had more time together than us and I think the way they played enabled them to get the maximum result and that’s a quality in itself,” added Koeman.
“Ronaldo, Bernardo (Silva), (goalscorer Goncalo) Guedes, they’re fast – and handsome – and maybe we missed this kind of quality up top.”
But the former Everton and Southampton manager believes his young team, which includes several of the Ajax Amsterdam players who featured in the Champions League semi-finals, can continue improving and close the gap on the elite.
“All of us have worked together to get the best possible results and things can get better if players evolve to a higher level,” he said.”
“If they play Champions League they will evolve…. we have certain possibilities with players with attacking qualities but they are not yet there for this level and that could also push us forward,” he said.
REUTERS/Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Ken Ferris