The Dutch have been famous for producing some of the world’s best attacking talents like Johan Cruff, Marco van Basten and Ruud van Nistelrooy to name a few.
They appeared to have reached the pinnacle when players like Wesley Sneijder, Arjen Robben, Rafael Van der Vaart announced their arrival at the football stage.
Together they made up a squad which not only consisted of highly talented attacking players but also those who were considered among the best in their respective positions – Arjen Robben is one of the best wingers in the world and his speed with the ball is unmatched. Rafael van der Vaart and Sneijder have time and again proved themselves as excellent playmakers for their respective clubs with the latter having won the UCL with Inter in 2010. Robin Van Persie and Huntelaar were both top scorers in their respective domestic leagues this season.
So, many expected this multi-talented squad to be able to go one better on their World cup 2010 result and deliver the country’s first trophy since the 1988.
But forget about winning the Euro, the Dutch didn’t even manage to win a single match and were dumped out of the competition, thus humiliated.
The reason for their demise can without doubt be pinned on the lousy performances by some of the “star” players and the side’s inability to finish off their chances.
But these were not the only problems, as the manager Bert van Marwijk was often criticized for choosing a very defensive formation but to his credit, this very formation led the country to finals in South Africa, two summers back. His choice of son-in-law and captain Mark van Bommel over Rafael van der Vaart in midfield didn’t do well among many players who felt van Bommel was no more the player he once was.
Other than that Van Marwijk’s decision to prefer Van Persie over Huntelaar even after his average displays didn’t win the fans over. Huntelaar too didn’t do himself any favors after an average performance against the Portuguese in a must win game. Matters were then made worse with reports suggesting that Huntelaar didn’t want to wear the Oranje’s jersy until Van Marwijk was the coach.
The problems still didn’t have an end as many players had more personal agendas to worry about. Gregory van der Wiel seemed to be more interested in promoting his clothing range rather than trying to stop the likes of Podolski and Ronaldo, while Arsenal captain Van Persie showed no interest in speaking to the media with his Arsenal future still in the balance and Barcelona winger Ibrahim Affley was more interested in discussing about the positions in which the players played rather than concentrating on the tactics and his own game.
Things didn’t go as planned even for the flying Dutchmen – Wesley Sneijder as he blamed egos in the dressing room and “a mole in the Dutch camp” as the reasons for their demise.
But still one player who seemed to be missing from this ego driven squad was Real Madrid man Royston Drenthe whose antics had got him banned from the first team by Everton where he was at loan this season.
But with the end of this miserable campaign, the class of 1983-84 would certainly be asking themselves if a chance like this will ever come their way again because by the time the World Cup 2014 kicks off these players will be in their 30s and with such injury ridden careers; will they be able to perform to fulfill their potential and their fans’ expectations?
– by Pranav Agarwal