'Holland are a joke': The view from the Netherlands following Euro 2012 exit


Bert Van Marwijk's future is uncertain
Bert Van Marwijk's future is uncertain

“Holland are a joke” is the headline in Volkskrant.

The Dutch press have come down hard after their team’s inglorious exit from the European Championships.

The Metro led with “All zeros for Orange” as their team crashed out of their group having not registered a single point.

The performance was labeled as an “embarrassment” by Algemeen Dagblad and De Telegraaf called Sunday night “a black page in Holland’s football history.”

The big question in Holland is now where the blame lies for such a poor performance. After finishing as runners-up at the last World Cup and scoring 37 goals in a flawless qualifying campaign for this competition, Bert van Marwijk’s team were hotly tipped to top their group and possibly reach the final. Instead, they suffered a shock defeat to Denmark, lost to their great rivals Germany and crumbled after 20 minutes against Portugal.

The press are still undecided on Van Marwijk’s fate as the Dutch FA begin their deliberations.

KNVB director Bert van Oostveen feels that a decision regarding Van Marwijk’s future should not be made too hastily. Van Oostveen knows though that the pressure on the coach is mounting after the early elimination.

“In terms of results the Dutch performance was under-par,'' says the director of professional football, “But we have recently renewed his contract until 2016”.

This comment perhaps insinuates that financial reasons may be holding the Dutch back from cutting ties with their manager. However, Van Oostveen was also quick to mention the coach's successes on the pitch: “We must not forget that under him we have had two faultless qualifications and finished second at a World Cup.”

In contrast with Van Oostveen’s delicacy in the matter, Gerard Marsman, head of the Dutch Coaching Association, said that Van Marwijk should be “cut loose” with immediate effect after Holland’s dismal performance. He added that he had “expected more” from the men in Orange.

Most countries would have seen a huge backlash against their national team coach after such a disappointing tournament. However, the difference in opinion between Van Oostveen and Marsman seems to reflect the split opinion amongst the Dutch press and public over the future of Van Marwijk.

The division in Holland was made clear by a survey conducted by ‘Oranje Talk of the Day’ that showed that 55 per cent of people thought that the coach should go.

As well as 45 per cent of the public, many of the players backed their coach.

Tottenham's Rafael van der Vaart showed his support, saying: “For me he shouldn’t go.”

Wesley Sneijder further added: “We have all failed together, do not blame the coach.”

The Holland camp was hounded throughout the tournament by rumours of infighting and disunity and as a result of this the players have admitted that they did not perform to their best.

This has not escaped the notice of the press as SP! comments that “egos have destroyed the team,” and Algemeen Dagblad observes, “disgruntled reserve players have caused unrest,” leading to tension between the growing number of high-profile players in the squad.

Big name players such as Van der Vaart, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Ibrahim Afellay were agitated at being left out of the starting line-up and this unhappiness spread through the camp and was reflected when Arjen Robben jumped the advertising hoardings in frustration rather than run across the pitch to be replaced by Dirk Kuyt against Germany.

Holland captain Mark van Bommel, who tried hard to keep his fracturing side together, offered his opinion on why a team that promised so much failed to deliver.

According to Van Bommel there is a logical explanation. "During the World Cup in 2010 it was clear what the arrangement would be, there was no discussion. Now the roles have changed. At that time Afellay still played at PSV (rather than European giants Barcelona), Rafael van der Vaart was on the bench at Real Madrid and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar’s appearances for AC Milan were rare,” he said.

Following the World Cup many of the ‘squad players’ in the Holland set-up became stars and first team regulars at their respective clubs. This meant that the Dutch squad this year was full of individuals who believed they deserved a first team place rather than be part of a squad united in search for victory.

As Van Bommel said, “There are only eleven players on the field, but the rest must have the same goal in mind: all must strive together to become European champions." he was quoted as saying by Spits News.

The question still remains in Holland whether it is the coach or the players who are to blame or a combination of the two. What is certain though is that someone must find a solution to this age old Dutch disunity if they are to fulfil their potential.

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