Ronald Koeman unsurprisingly said he expected more from his Netherlands team after they were beaten 4-0 by France in his first game back as head coach.
Koeman replaced Louis van Gaal to begin his second stint as Oranje boss, and will have been as surprised as anyone to see his team go 2-0 down after just eight minutes in the Stade de France, and 3-0 down after 21 minutes.
Speaking to NOS Sport after the chastening defeat in their Euro 2024 qualifying opener, Koeman admitted he had not expected such a gulf, though his team had finished with 59 per cent possession and just one fewer shot than the hosts (12-11).
“I did not take into account that the difference would be so great,” he said. “I expected more from everyone. The team performance was below average.
“We lost the ball 20 metres from our own goal. That is a place where you should never lose the ball. And then France is, of course, a very good team that is lurking and immediately benefits.”
0-4 – @OnsOranje lost a match by a four-goal margin just twice in the last 60 years: a 0-4 defeat against France at the Stade de France tonight and a 0-4 defeat against France at the Stade de France on 31 August 2017. Déjà-vu. pic.twitter.com/8SoReErhy6
— OptaJohan (@OptaJohan) March 24, 2023
Antoine Griezmann, Dayot Upamecano and new France captain Kylian Mbappe gave Les Bleus an early cushion, before Mbappe struck again two minutes from time after intercepting a pass from Memphis Depay, who later had a penalty saved by Mike Maignan.
“Memphis lost the ball, but Mbappe of course finishes it off great afterwards. So it was not just us. It was also the class of France,” Koeman conceded.
The Netherlands were without some key players including Matthijs de Ligt, Cody Gakpo and Sven Botman with viral infections, but Koeman was in no mood for excuses.
“Of course the preparation has not been ideal. That has left its mark,” he said. “But there have been just too many moments today when we failed.
“We now know where we stand and have learned from this. It can therefore also turn out positively. We are going to learn and improve, including us as technical staff.”
Dutch captain Virgil van Dijk added: “We didn’t get there, lost the duels and lost the ball too often. The second goal was a set piece, but the other goals came because we handed them the ball. France has so much quality, they immediately punish that.
“We will analyse the defeat and take a good look at what we can do better, but it is clear we are very disappointed.”
The Netherlands host Gibraltar in their second Group B game on Monday.