Holland: Brotherhood is why the future's orange

Tantrums and strife are a thing of the past. Holland are finally at one, and now the world is at their feet.

The Dutch players' armbands are discreet, barely the width of a piece of tape. Dirk Kuyt's is orange, Robin van Persie's white and five more of Bert van Marwijk's side are wearing different colours.

They took to doing so a few months ago, as a token of the kinsmanship they feel for each other. It is a small gesture and yet a huge one in the perspective of the squad's World Cup tournament because the Holland sides who have been a source of such hope and despair over the past 30 years have rarely been kinsmen.

There has been the odd characteristic Dutch tantrum at these finals. Robin van Persie took badly to being substituted against Cameroon, but he quickly made an apology through Dutch national radio and TV. The entire team were banned from Twitter after winger Eljero Elia streamed a webcast of himself and Ryan Babel playing a computer game during which Elia was heard to use racist language. But it has otherwise been quiet as Holland have discreetly navigated a course through the tournament before signalling their arrival so mightily with Friday's win over the Brazilians.

Amid the euphoria back in Amsterdam yesterday – "World Class" declared the 'De Telegraaf' headline; "Marvellous" and "The Road to Gold" read others – was an acknowledgement of the part that coach Van Marwijk has played in establishing such a culture.

Van Marwijk hardly fits the mould of those Dutch managers with colourful careers and large egos who have tended to add to the internal squad strife, rather than deal with it, in recent years. He goes in for something more subtle: "I pay a lot of attention to non-verbal communication. I know that a little joke with a player or a tap on the head can mean much more than long conversations. But I do talk with them, of course. I have this huge suite in the Huis ter Duin hotel (in the western Netherlands) and I invite them in, one by one, whenever we're together."

The Premier League pantomime has led us to conclude this kind of approach only works for a Special One or a knight of the realm, not a manager whose modest career in club management began at the Dutch club Fortuna Sittard and took him to Feyenoord, where he won the Uefa Cup in a side which included Pierre van Hooijdonk eight years ago, on to Borussia Dortmund in Germany, then back to Feyenoord again.

But Van Marwijk has the virtue of having known his superstars before they were famous. Managing a youthful Van Persie at Feyenoord, he sent him home on the eve of a Super Cup match against Real Madrid. "I told him: 'You need to understand what it takes to be a top player'," van Marwijk recalled recently. "He was sloppy. He'd give 20 crosses in a game, 10 of which were crap. For someone with his technique, it's not on."

Van Marwijk feels his compatriot has "developed as a player but more so as a human being" now, though before the tournament he told him and the rest of the golden orange generation to stop discussing their salaries and show more respect for the squad's lesser lights. The reward has been a flowering of the players who were not expected to feature so prominently. Mark van Bommel, van Marwijk's son-in-law, has been the Dutch player of the tournament so far, vindication for the manager's determination to persist with him in the face of initial criticism. Maarten Stekelenburg, the goalkeeper who had tended to resemble his predecessor Edwin van der Sar in looks but not ability, has been one of the most consistent goalkeepers of the tournament and a revelation.

This is part of a collective spirit which is all the greater considering the Dutch are a squad of two-tier talents. While the group known in the Netherlands as the "famous four" (Van Persie, Wesley Sneijder, Arjen Robben and Rafael van der Vaart) have always been capable of setting the tournament alight, the defence has always looked vulnerable.

Its susceptibility to a long ball bypassing Van Bommel and Nigel de Jong was never more evident than when Robinho scored on Friday. But the kinsmanship played its part after a nervy first half in Port Elizabeth, where Andre Ooijer, the 35-year-old former Blackburn player drafted in when Joris Mathijsen was injured in the warm-up, though currently not even on a professional club's books, weighed in. In the second half, Van Marwijk billeted De Jong to help Gregory van der Wiel silence Robinho while Van Bommel and Ooijer took Kaka.

It is hardly the stuff of David Winner's 'Brilliant Orange' we are describing here; nothing like the totaalvoetbal perfected by Johan Cruyff under Rinus Michel's leadership in 1974 in which all the Dutch players were so completely gifted that they could interchange positions in the 4-3-3 formation which the side displayed to the world. But this is not a tournament of perfection: each of the remaining contestants has looked defensively vulnerable at times. And few of them have looked quite so at one with each other as the Dutch, who would have feared sterner semi-final threats than Uruguay, in Cape Town, on Tuesday.

Two years have passed since Van Marwijk declared that he would quickly identify the players who could win a World Cup for Holland and then not chop and change his squad on the way to victory. The first part of the promise has been kept and the second is in sight. Sneijder put his finger on why yesterday, as he reflected on a win to avenge the 1994 and 1998 defeats to Brazil. "Finally we won and are very happy. If we can put out Brazil, one of the biggest and best teams at this World Cup... it's a fantastic team effort."

Property
pets
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Sport
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
News
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Sport
football
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’
tvThe Enfield Haunting, TV review
News
news
News
The Mattehorn stands reflected in Leisee lake near Sunnegga station on June 30, 2013 near Zermatt, Switzerland
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living