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."

News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Sport
Louis van Gaal would have been impressed with Darren Fletcher’s performance against LA Galaxy during Manchester United’s 7-0 victory
football
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Sport
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
sport
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
News
Tovey says of homeless charity the Pillion Trust : 'If it weren't for them and the park attendant I wouldn't be here today.'
people
Sport
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
News
Isis fighters travel in a vehicle as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Life and Style
fashionLatex dresses hit the catwalk to raise awareness for HIV and Aids
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

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little