March 27 – With the risk of a second consecutive major tournament qualification failure increasing, the Netherlands have sacked coach Danny Blind after the country crashed to a 2-0 World Cup qualifying defeat against Bulgaria.
Defeat left the Dutch struggling in fourth place in Group A behind France, Sweden and the Bulgarians and in real danger of missing out on Russia as well as last year’s Euros.
Ajax debutant Matthijs De Ligt, who is 17, was at fault in both Bulgarian goals. De Ligt, who has started in just two league games for his club, misjudged Simeon Slavchev’s long pass, allowing Spas Delev to poke the ball beyond keeper Jeroen Zoet after five minutes.
The youngster, who replaced the injured Stefan de Vrij, endured a terrible debut. Delev punished yet more hesitant defending by De Ligt with a thunderous shot from 18 meters midway through the first half.
In the second half the Netherlands enjoyed the lion’s share of possession, but they failed to score.
Blind was informed of the decision to sack him at a meeting with the KNVB football director, Jean Paul Decossaux, and technical director, Hans van Breukelen on Sunday. Fred Grim, the Dutch Under-21 coach, will take charge of the senior team for Tuesday’s friendly with Italy in Amsterdam.
Decossaux said in a statement that Blind, who took over from Guus Hiddink, in 2015 was dismissed because of poor results. “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,” he told the federation’s official website.
“We were on a good roll,” said Blind. “I think the game against Bulgaria was an incident. I gave everything I had. It’s too bad that it stops with this now.”
Blind’s son Daley, the Manchester United defender, paid tribute to his father in a post on Instagram. “Worked at the highest level, a dream for both of us as father and son,” he said. “It was not easy and it has not always been that, but I’m proud of how you’ve always taken responsibility and never gave up!”
Frank de Boer and Ronald Koeman have been mooted as potential successors of Blind. Dick Advocaat and Louis Van Gaal are also in the picture.
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