Before the Euro’s had begun everyone talked about their favourites to win the tournament with the majority feeling that Germany and Holland had the best chance. Now it is clear that the majority of people were half right!
No one could have imagined the Netherlands finishing bottom of the group with zero points, I’m sure when Redknapp said that he thought that they might not get out of the group stage he never imagined them finishing with no points.
Going into the competition the Dutch could boast two strikers in a rich vein of form with Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Robin van Persie scoring a combined 85 goals last season while van Persie managed 17 assists. The Netherlands also had an array of attacking midfielders in good from with Robben scoring 18 assisting 6, Van der Vaart scoring 12 and assisting 8 and Sneijder in not as good form but still scoring 7 with 9 assists.
Holland could also boast two workhorse’s in midfield with Manchester City’s Nigel de Jong and the PSV bound Mark van Bommel.
So where did it all go wrong?
Holland had 35 attempts off target with only 19 on target, 8th worst in the tournament so far, with 6 teams still having games to play. The only team that is out that has had less shots on target is the Republic of Ireland with 9. Also as of today (before the Group C games) the Netherlands have had the second most amount of possession in the tournament with 54% and worryingly they had the most amount of time on the ball with 103 minutes.
Many criticized Robin van Pesrie’s performances but he the most shots on target for the Netherlands with 7 in 270 minutes of play while Huntelaar had no shots on target having played 153 minutes. Rafael Van der Vaart managed to grab himself a lovely goal, one that gave Holland the lead over Portugal, playing 153 minutes, so Huntelaar can’t use the excuse of the amount of time on the pitch.
van Persie was chosen as the main striker, but I always felt that he suited the role of second striker when playing for Holland with Huntelaar a better main striker. Afellay was also chosen ahead of Van der Vaart but he wasn’t to be as effective as the Tottenham midfielder.
Much was also talked about the ego’s of the bigger stars with Robben ironically being the one to first publicly mention it. There is more than just the performances of the attacking side of the Netherlands that can explain their poor showing in this years’ tournament and the defence and the managers, Bert van Marwijk, decisions would be the other main culprits. Jetro Willems at left back always looked easy to exploit and could have been replaced while when it was clear that the way they were playing wasn’t working, it never seemed that they were going to change it.
van Marwijk as the manager is the one that needs to pick the best team and not just the best 11 players. If there were tensions and players couldn’t play together, then make the tough decision and drop one of them. It was clear for many to see that
Robben, although persistent, was not playing for the team. Far too often he was only trying to find the space for himself so that he could get a shot away. He may have had 3 on target but he had 9 off target. I don’t know if I am being harsh on him as he did assist one of the two goals that Holland managed to score.
For me a team didn’t crash out of the tournament, half a team and a bunch of individuals did. That is where they failed but where Greece succeed. Greece showed, and not for the first time, what a team of players can do, and even England at the moment seem to be doing it without Rooney in the team. If all eleven players on the pitch for the Netherlands had played for each other then they could have been a real force in this tournament, but in the end with some only looking out for themselves they weren’t.
For me that ultimately rests on the managers shoulders. Of course the players will have to take a lot of the blame, but if they were not in the team or the squad then they wouldn’t be able to affect the outcome.