Van Marwijk guided by results in putting an end to Dutch squabbles

They have had tactical innovators like Louis van Gaal and Guus Hiddink. They have given the national team to footballers like Marco van Basten or Frank Rijkaard who displayed an aura, a presence. They all achieved something with Holland but they never took them to a World Cup final in the way that a man who seemed to possess none of these qualities has.

Bert van Marwijk was 22 when the phrase "Total Football" was born and he was on its fringes, playing for Go Ahead Eagles in the town of Deventer. But for injuries – he had five knee operations in three seasons – he would probably have gone with them to the World Cup in Argentina in 1978. Van Marwijk had the long hair, the desire to attack and the mouth that "Total Footballers" required.

It is the mouth, rather than the knees that restricted him to one international appearance, that is the most interesting part of Van Marwijk's anatomy. The Dutch are natural squabblers. Given the way he stamped on what appeared to be yet another row between Robin van Persie and Wesley Sneijder after the defeat of Slovakia – calling a team meeting and confronting each of them – it comes as a surprise to discover Van Marwijk, the player, liked an argument. His career at Alkmaar was essentially ended by a series of rows with his then manager, Hans Kraay.

As a manager, he is completely different to how he was as footballer. He talks and they – even Van Persie, who could not stand him when the two were at Feyenoord – listen. "I am not the guy to talk because we need to talk," is how he described himself before the tournament. "I am more a 'players should listen' kind of guy. I pay a lot of attention to non-verbal communication. I know that a little joke or a tap on the head can mean so much more than long conversations."

At home, the Dutch base themselves at Nordwijk where the breakers crash in from the North Sea. Van Marwijk says that if any Dutch footballer needs to talk, his door is "always open". Not many appear to knock.

The one question he has always been asked in South Africa is where is the "Total Football"? The reply is that Holland are here for no other reason than to win.

There is always the memory of the 1974 final with West Germany to spur him on. Having taken an early lead in Munich, Johan Cruyff decided the Germans should be tormented and so they were. But the second goal never came and the final slipped from their grasp.

"That game is precisely what I had in mind when I said that too often in the past, the team has started well and then become too complacent," Van Marwijk said. "The two things I have tried most to eradicate are complacency and over-confidence."

He was offered the job when Van Basten resigned after Euro 2008 when the Dutch had been eliminated by Russia in a quarter-final that saw the start of the split between Van Persie and Sneijder over something as trivial as who should take a free-kick.

Holland had been Van Basten's first job but his successor begun at the bottom, combining running a sports shop with a youth team in Meerssen outside Maastricht. His break came at Feyenoord, with whom he won the Uefa Cup in 2002, but when he was at Fortuna Sittard his daughter met and married Mark van Bommel. When Van Marwijk became national manager, Van Bommel was out of the Dutch side and he did not hesitate to bring the father of his grandchildren back into the fold; a move that met with considerable opposition inside the camp. He also decided to "knock the cockiness'' out of Van Bommel's midfield partner, Nigel de Jong. It was a move that could have exploded in Van Marwijk's face and exposed him to charges of nepotism. In terms of results, it has worked.

Van Marwijk is a results kind of guy. Deventer, where he grew up, is not far from the German border and Holland's journey to the final in Johannesburg has had an efficient Germanic feel to it. "The most important lesson the Germans have ever taught us is that individual quality is nice," he said. "But it is not essential."

News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Bruce, left, with Cream bandmates Ginger Rogers, centre, and Eric Clapton in 1967
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
News
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
arts + entsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker