Football: Sense of relief for Roy

BRYAN ROY, slipping quietly past the scrum of jostling journalists from his own country, seemed pleased to find an English scribe seeking his views after the Netherlands' 2-1 victory over Saudi Arabia. Like the Dutch display, Roy raised as many questions as he answered.

What, the winger who is shortly to forsake Foggia for Nottingham wanted to know, was Stan Collymore like? Did Forest play a passing game? And how far was the City Ground from London?

In terms of scale, Roy's new home is to Washington's Robert F Kennedy Stadium as a wooden shack is to the White House. Yet, ironically, the way the Dutch hauled themselves back into the match after trailing at half-time was due partly to attributes and attitudes the former Ajax player will encounter in England.

Time after time post-mortems into England defeats have tended to emphasise the disparity in technique between players in the attritional British leagues and their Continental counterparts.

At the RFK, there were several moments when it was the Netherlands who were left looking clumsy and heavy-legged by the sweet-moving Saudis, who might have marked their debut in the finals with a goal in 40 seconds. With more than a hint of Cameroon in their exuberant attacking, they found gaps down the flanks and through the middle - where Ronald Koeman still appeared jaded - that better sides will exploit.

'For a while we just weren't concentrating,' Roy admitted. Had they underestimated their opponents? 'Every time you play a team like them, everyone says 'We won't treat them lightly.' And what happens? You do.'

Wim Jonk equalised with a shot Mohammed Al Deayea should have saved. A far worse mistake by the goalkeeper enabled Feyenoord's Gaston Taument, on as a substitute to help provide badly-needed width, to head the late winner.

With a Group F collision with Belgium next up, Roy was more concerned about the physical toll their efforts had exacted. 'Having to claw the game back took a lot out of us,' he said.