Bert Van Marwijk is anything but your stereotypical Dutch coach. Where Rinus Michels wrote the blueprint to Oranje success, style and theory, Van Marwijk has scribbled over the top of it with a ghastly looking black marker.
From two games at the 2012 UEFA European Championship, the Netherlands have returned zero points and up until yesterday’s second half goal, were at that point the only team not to have found the back of the net in Poland and Ukraine.
This is a far cry from the expressive Dutch quality they undoubtedly possess in their present day squad. Robin Van Persie, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Luuk De Jong alone fired a net bulging 84 league goals between them in the 2011/12 season.
So what seems to be the problem? For many, you only have to cast your mind back two years to South Africa. Van Marwijk’s Oranje had reached the World Cup Final and yet many felt ashamed. Ashamed by the playing style which had got them there that is.
In Nigel De Jong and Mark Van Bommel, Holland’s basis for all things football is to disrupt the opposition. The two deep lying central midfielders, with more yellows to their name than a Coldplay lyric, are the anti-establishment. Their inclusion has meant talents like Huntelaar and Van Der Vaart have been shackled to the bench, the padlock only to be unlocked when Van Marwijk feels desperation.
This is not the traditional Holland we all know, enjoy and respect. Many could probably excuse Van Marwijk for altering the national philosophy if he simply did not have the talent available to him but his squad selection suggests otherwise.
With just one game left in the tournament, and a favour from neighbours Germany required, it is imperative Van Marwijk sacrfices his own philosophy. Michels’s disciples are calling for his head already and it’d be of no surprise to see the Netherlands playing the Michels way come the World Cup qualifiers. Ajax Amsterdam’s Frank De Boer might have something to do with that.