Fire still burns for Soc­ceroo’s Dutch coach

The Weekend Post - - Sport -

TOM SMITHIES DON’T be fooled by ap­pear­ances. There is a fire that burns within Bert van Mar­wijk, for all the aus­ter­ity of his look.

There’s more than one fire in fact; first there’s the spark that comes when the new Soc­ceroos coach leaps from his chair in a Syd­ney ho­tel room to act out a par­tic­u­lar tac­tic.

Then there’s the sud­den flare of dis­dain when he de- scribes the slat­ing he took from cer­tain parts of Dutch foot­ball for the man­ner in which the Nether­lands side he coached reached the World Cup fi­nal in 2010.

Eight years later, on the eve of coach­ing at another World Cup as Ange Postecoglou’s re­place­ment, van Mar­wijk’s dis­taste is pal­pa­ble at the mem­ory of Jo­han Cruyff call­ing his tac­tics “anti-foot­ball”.

“Af­ter that I went to (work in) Ger­many and I was the vizewelt­meis­ter, the “vice cham­pion of the world” and they cel­e­brate me there. In Hol­land, you’re a loser be­cause you’re sec­ond.

“Such a small coun­try and (apart from) the fi­nal, all the other games we were the best team so we de­served to win. But, that’s typ­i­cally Dutch.

“Yeah, Cruyff … he vis­ited us for one day so I spent a whole day with him talk­ing about foot­ball and he never men­tioned things like that.”

Van Mar­wijk talks of the need to have a sys­tem but be flex­i­ble within it.

“It’s much more dif­fi­cult to play in the sys­tem and to teach the play­ers what to do in ev­ery cir­cum­stance and within the sys­tem try to be flex­i­ble so you can sur­prise the op­po­nent,” he said.

That’s an am­bi­tious aim given that the World Cup is some four months away, and he is yet to even meet his play­ers. The cru­cial thing, he says, is to get out of the group in Rus­sia.

Then mo­men­tum can take over, as he found with the Nether­lands in 2010.

“We didn’t have the best play­ers but a re­ally good team. We were im­prov­ing ev­ery game,” he said.

“That’s the ex­pe­ri­ence of a world cham­pi­onship.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.