The Dutch saw their hopes of qualifying for Euro 2016 go up in flames after falling to a shocking 3-2 home defeat to Czech Republic. For a team who were third at last summer’s World Cup, not qualifying for next year’s Euros is a huge fall from grace to grass.
Here, we takes a look at five people whose performances ensured the Oranje would miss the party in France next year.
- GUUS HIDDINK
The former PSV and Chelsea boss was trusted to replace Van Gaal after a surprisingly good World Cup campaign with a view to guiding the team through a manageable qualifying group and into Euro 2016.
However, the man who broke Dutch hearts during Euro 2008 with an impressive Russia team has done so once again, only this time unintentionally.
Hiddink’s tenure got off to the worst possible start as he revealed his decision to scrap Van Gaal’s counter-attacking style and replace it with a more “typically Dutch” style – lining up in a 4-3-3 and looking to dominate possession and play with width.
The coach, though, failed to realise that there was a reason Van Gaal opted for a different style, in that the group of players were not suited to a more expansive game. That, coupled with some bizarre selections and a complete inability to learn from mistakes and build a competent team, laid the foundations for a miserable campaign.
After just a few games, the calls for Hiddink to be sacked began but he would remain in the role for almost a year and by the time he left – shortly after a 4-3 defeat to USA in Amsterdam – the team were third in the group and five points off the pace.
2. BERT VAN OOSTVEEN
The chairman and managing director of the KNVB is one of the key decision makers and the public face of Dutch football’s governing body.
The current disaster the national team have been faced with extends far beyond the players and coaches and Van Oostveen, among others in the organisation, arguably have an even bigger share in the blame.
Many believe the 44-year-old should be sacked as a consequence of the atrocity of the last year. Otherwise, he simply must take action to rectify the mistake.
Sadly, though, not only have Van Oostveen and the KNVB neglected to acknowledge the terrible mistake they have made, they are showing no signs that they will make the necessary changes to get the team back on the right track ahead of the 2018 World Cup campaign.
Van Oostveen has insisted that Blind will remain in charge despite the abhorrent displays and questionable choices.
“We believe Danny is doing well and he can count on the support of the KNVB and he should also have that from Dutch people,” he said ahead of the last day defeat to Czech Republic. “He will be on the bench after the qualifiers. Whether that is during a play-off game or during a friendly, it does not matter.”
The inability to identify and learn from such blunders is a worrying sign for the future. Van Oostveen and his colleagues at the KNVB must own up to them if they are to recover from this debacle.
- ROBIN VAN PERSIE
A bizarre and somewhat hilarious own goal in Tuesday’s defeat to Czech Republic summed up Van Persie and Netherlands’ utterly remarkable decline,
Now Netherlands’ most capped player ever and one of the most experienced players in the team, he has been unable to lead the Dutch from the front and has indeed at times turned out to be a hindrance.
His form is dwindling for club and country and the 32-year-old’s displays have been underwhelming since the early stages of the World Cup, yet he has remained a regular starter.
With just two goals throughout the qualifying phase, he has been unable to make the difference despite ample opportunity. As the complaints of a lack of experience in the team are raised, it is startling to see that the man with the most caps under his belt has proved so ineffective when he has been needed most.
Van Persie’s influence is dwindling, and it appears we could be looking at his final days in the national team. On current form, that’s not a big miss.
4. DANNY BLIND
There must be a lot of sympathy for Danny Blind. He has been thrust into an absolutely torrid scenario, one which appeared beyond rescue before he even took over as head coach. There are a lot of problems in the team, for sure, and from his perspective, coaching your national team is always an opportunity you cannot pass up on.
The issue, though, is that Blind is completely out of his depth. His only full season as a head coach before he stepped up to the Netherlands hot seat was a decade ago, in which he did not fare particularly well. Since then, he has only been a technical director or assistant. While he has worked closely with the likes of Van Gaal and Hiddink, there has been no indication that he is a suitable manager.
Since he replaced Hiddink, he has been exposed completely. He has not rectified the mistakes of his predecessor, in fact he has barely changed anything. His changes have been strange and some of the players he has selected have been questionable.
Blind’s task of turning the situation around was gargantuan, of course, but this four-year plan from the KNVB must be killed off immediately by relieveing him of his duties before the World Cup qualifiers begin.
5. BRUNO MARTINS INDI
The defensive issues of this Netherlands team have been plentiful and no one player embodies that as much as Martins Indi.
The Porto centre-back’s poor positioning and concentration left his side exposed many times. That he was often paired on the left side of the defence alongside the defensively unreliable Daley Blind has often turned out to be a disastrous combination.
Martins Indi was shown a red card in the early stages of Hiddink’s debut – a friendly defeat to Italy – which kickstarted a dismal year. And he was again given his marching orders in the first game under Blind, with a ridiculous slap to Kolbeinn Sigthorsson in the first half of their crucial encounter against Iceland. It was a stupid card to receive and he let his side down immensely as they went on to lose the game.
Martins Indi’s form throughout the campaign has been atrocious and it is again another symptom of an unfit system leaving the team’s most vulnerable players at risk.