Jill Rudd (25) loves to be important. Stand at the base, in a place where much is expected and requested. She feels pressured, but primarily feels confident. “And that’s a nice feeling, it excites me.”
Saturday was just as important, as it tied Sweden in its first European Championship match in the Netherlands. The goal came after I moved from the right flank to tenth place after the end of the first half.
There she plays in her club Wolfsburg. It is her favorite place, also in the Dutch team, near her friend Vivien Miedema and in the middle of the field. You’ll likely be there again Wednesday night against Portugal – at least hope national coach Mark Parsons picks it up. “I was happy with it and I think it went well.”
Roard is feeling appreciated by the man who succeeded Sarina Wegmann in September 2021, but he has to get used to the national coach. The contrast between the Hague player, who likes to keep it short and straightforward, and the Englishman, who has a tall texture and a keen eye for player luxury, couldn’t be greater.
Parsons wants footballers to play differently than they are used to, apply more pressure and control the ball quickly, while always playing more conservatively. In the preparation and in the first half against Sweden we can see that they have a problem with that. The team was regularly falling apart, limping in at least two minds.
In the second half things went better on Saturday and in the upcoming matches against Portugal and Switzerland, weaker than Sweden on paper, the coach and players get time to get closer to each other. But it is clear that they are still looking for the right way to operate in the European Championships.
Rudd says of Parsons, “He’s a really nice guy, he’s a good guy who wants to get the best out of everyone as an individual. He’s passionate and busy with us and I have a lot of respect for that. It’s different from our culture and it just gets used to it.”
The original Oldenzales say that English men are sometimes interrupted by Dutch women. He’s used to America, and that didn’t happen there. He gives more talks than Sarina. Not only about football, but also about other things he sees as important: standards and values, the atmosphere in the team. He also asks a lot of questions. When I say I don’t feel good, he asks: Why don’t you feel good? He likes to dig into it and then get 50 percent of it out with us. Me too. I find it interesting, but sometimes I also have to laugh: What kind of question is this?
And you’re telling him that too?
“Yes, we have a few of them.”
Is it true that his meetings sometimes last three hours?
“Yes very much,” Rurd laughs. The first time he was there, we immediately pointed out: This is taking a long time. Now they are shorter, but sometimes I think: do you require a meeting and for how long? But he’s learning, he’s getting better.
Roard played for a year at Arsenal and speaks English well, but the language sometimes causes confusion. “The way he talks about football in English, in all sorts of American terms, is new to me. That’s why sometimes it takes a little bit longer, so we have to check what he’s talking about.
What do you think of his idea of putting more pressure on faster?
We all love the way we defend and put pressure on them, and we love that too. We’re more into building and playing positioning games, he wants to go deeper faster. We prefer not to have it, but on the other hand: we have qualities for it, with fast people on top. Finally we are in the field. If we think we have to build now, we will build, and that is the case again.
The magic word that is often used is “compact”. Football players should stay together as much as possible, and keep the playing area small. When there is pressure, everyone has to go along with it. In practice, this is sometimes difficult.
“That’s a thing,” Rurd says. If the spaces get too big, we’re too vulnerable, we see that for ourselves and we work on that too. But we have an experienced team, if after ten minutes we notice that it is not working, we have to convert it ourselves.
In the chaotic first half of Saturday, with both goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal and defender Annick Noen both withdrawing, the Netherlands were essentially behind the Swedes. Rhodes in particular had to take a lot of steps, which made her visibly angry. Things improved after the conversion in the second half.
At half-time it turns out that players and coaches can find each other under high pressure. It got emotional after the players failed and the tough match. Parsons said at the press conference that he asked Miedema about her thoughts in the locker room. She came up with an idea that, among other things, put Roord in 10th and moved Daniel van de Donk to the right.
“After that, he just got into more football,” Rurd says. “Sometimes it takes a little something.” She was allowed to be significant in the first match of the tournament, and not for the first time. She immediately scored the winner against New Zealand in the 2019 World Cup. He laughs widely: “Yeah, if we can keep it that way, I’ll sign it.”
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