Perhaps someday we will learn all that went down behind the scenes for the Netherlands during the Dutch's disappointing Euro 2012 run. One thing we know for sure is that Bert van Marwijk will not have a chance to redeem himself the next time the Oranje take the pitch.
Sources such as Sky Sports and ESPN FC, citing reports out of Holland, confirmed late Wednesday afternoon ET that Van Marwijk had quit as Dutch coach. The official website for the Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB) confirmed the news later on in the afternoon. The statement, when translated into English, contains the following: "On the initiative of Bert van Marwijk, the KNVB and Bert van Marwijk decided on Wednesday to end the coach's contract with immediate effect." According to Goal.com, however, it does seem that Van Marwijk was assisted in making his decision. A story on that website quoted KNVB director Bert van Oostveen as having said: "We are grateful to Van Marwijk. He performed exceptionally well at the 2010 World Cup and in getting us to the top of the FIFA World Ranking. Of course it is sad to part company with him, but we must be realistic"
Van Marwijk took the Holland job following Euro 2008, and he led an extremely talented Dutch squad all the way to the World Cup Final back in 2010. Spain defeated Netherlands 1-0 in extra time to win that competition. The Netherlands immediately picked themselves up the following September, winning four consecutive Euro 2012 qualifying matches. Holland went on to win nine consecutive Euro 2012 qualifiers before phoning it in in their tenth and final game, a match Sweden won 3-2.
This is where things began to go sour for the Dutch. Holland were rather lackluster in two friendlies, a scoreless draw against Switzerland and a 3-0 rout at the hands of rivals Germany. The Netherlands were missing several lineup mainstays when facing the Germans, however, and everything appeared to be OK when the Dutch defeated England 3-2 at Wembley back at the end of February 2012. Then came their Euro 2012 warm-ups, which started with a 3-2 loss to Bayern Munich at Alliance Arena. Holland were then stunned at home by Bulgaria before earning an unconvincing victory over Slovakia. Their final pre-Euro 2012 match came against a makeshift Northern Ireland side, a game that was mostly a training exhibition for the Netherlands.
Holland were pre-tournament favorites to win this summer's European Championship, but they instead exited the competition without having earned a single point. After being the better side throughout much of what was ultimately a 1-0 loss to Denmark, Holland were beaten by Germany and Portugal in games the Dutch deserved to lose. Speculation regarding Van Marwijk stepping down or being sacked began even before the conclusion of Holland's match against Portugal, but the coach alone certainly doesn't deserve all of the blame for the team's dreadful performances this June.
A Holland squad that has never been chummy off the pitch was especially out of sorts over the past month. Wesley Sneijder hinted that there was a "mole" in the team, and Arjen Robben admitted that unrest in the team's dressing room played a big part in Holland going three-and-out in Euro 2012. The Dutch back line was also guilty of some of the most noteworthy defending miscues of the group stage of the tournament during the team's final two losses.
In the end, Van Marwijk failed to do two vital things this June: Keep the egos in his team in check, and pick a squad that would actually mesh well with one another during contests. Fans and critics alike slammed Van Marwijk for the starting elevens he selected for Holland's first two Euro 2012 matches. While I was a fan of the lineup he trotted out for the game against Portugal, it proved to be a "too little, too late" scenario for both team and coach.
Van Marwijk signed a contract extension at the end of 2011, one that was supposed to keep him as Holland boss through Euro 2016. Football is a results first "what have you done for me lately?" business, however, and the answer to that question regarding Van Marwijk is simple; not enough.
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