Football

Depay urges Holland to stay united after 'very bad week'

Memphis Depay insists Holland have to "keep the faith" despite a turbulent week finishing with a 2-1 friendly defeat by Italy yesterday morning (Singapore time).

The Dutch are in danger of failing to qualify for a second successive major tournament after a 2-0 defeat in Bulgaria last Saturday left them six points adrift of Group A leaders France with five games played.

That result cost Danny Blind his job, with his assistant and former Holland Under-21 coach Fred Grim taking charge at the Amsterdam Arena.

Everton's Ronald Koeman is one of several names linked with the vacancy, while former boss Louis van Gaal was spotted in the stands.

He saw the Oranje make a flying start when they took a 10th-minute lead through an Alessio Romagnoli own-goal, but the Azzurri quickly equalised via Inter Milan forward Eder.

Leonardo Bonucci gave the visitors a 2-1 lead just after the half-hour mark, and it turned out to be the winning goal.

VERY BAD WEEK

"Ultimately we have lost," Depay, who joined Lyon from Manchester United in January, said in quotes reported by telesport.nl.

"We have fought for every metre. The game was better than against Bulgaria, but it is a very bad week.

"There was a lot going on. The resignation of Danny Blind and fierce criticism we've received.

"We need to regroup - even in difficult times we must remain close together. Let's stay positive and try to keep the faith."

Roma midfielder Kevin Strootman captained the Dutch side, with Bayern Munich's Arjen Robben watching from the stands.

After the game, winger Robben said he would like to be involved in choosing Blind's successor, although he came up short of endorsing van Gaal for a third spell at the helm.

"It was not fun. It's been an intense few days," he said.

"I have been in touch with him (Blind) and thanked him. I have sent a personal message to him.

"We like to be involved in that process. Wesley Sneijder and I are 14 years with the Dutch team. We have seen many coaches and players.

"We have, I think, a good idea of who will fit into this group. I'm the captain and the first point of contact. "

Asked specifically about van Gaal, he added: "It makes no sense now to talk about names. This is too early."

Italy coach Gian Piero Ventura was pleased with the effort his players put in.

"Italy are famous for being bland and not showing heart in friendlies but, today, we showed heart and soul." - PA SPORT

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