An extract from David Winner “Brilliant Orange”.
The current generation of Dutch footballers are polite, intelligent, modest, ironic, ‘ideal sons-in-law’. They aspire to being great artists.
Yet the genuinely greatest Dutch football artists – the stars of the Total Football era in the 1970s – had a very different agenda.
They were only trying to win.
They could play rough and hard and they attacked relentlessly because it was the best way to dominate and overwhelm, not simply because it was beautiful.
They saw themselves not as artists but as winners.
‘Anyone who says the only important thing is to play beautiful football, well, they are crazy,’ says Johnny Rep. ‘But I don’t think they really mean it. Yes, we liked to play too, but our character to win was 200%. With so many great players in one team you make art; you don’t mean to, but you do.’
When Holland played Brazil in WC1974 semi-final, the two teams produced a game of almost frightening physical intensity.
Rivelino jostles Rep, Rep waits a few seconds, checks to make sure no one is watching, and then delivers his retaliation – a well-aimed elbow in the face!
When reminded of this, Rep beams. ‘Yes! He had done it to me before and that was my reaction. Of course, you look to make sure the referee doesn’t see it……..That’s football.’
[ Today, you can’t do it. To Song’s sorrow, there is video evidence.]
Sjaak Swart, ‘Mr. Ajax’, demonstrates Ajax’s essential approach to their games in the late 1960s and 1970s by pounding the table with his fist: ‘Boom! Boom! Rinus Michels always said from the start of the game this is how we play: Boom!’ He hits the table again. ‘Like this to the other side. That’s not a system, it is attitude – every player knows what he must do. Very aggressive. We went for the goal. First we make three goals and then, yes, we can make some nice combinations, something you wouldn’t normally do’.
‘You can make a show for the public. We were all winners; we weren’t trying to be artists. We just wanted to win.’
So people have remembered that team wrongly?
‘Right.’ When people say, ‘Ajax is art’, that wasn’t the idea at all? ‘No. Not at all.’Hugh McIlvanney savours the memory of the Dutch teams of the 1970s for their ‘tremendous surging aggression which brought you to your feet all the time’. Some of the Dutch players could mix it like South American street-fighters. Suurbier, Neeskens, and Van Hanegem were intimidating tacklers.
Neeskens tackled with such ferocity that he has been known to injure national-team players in training. Before the WC1974 match against Bulgaria the Dutch prepared a special treatment for the one Bulgarian player they saw as a threat, their playmaker Bonev. Arie Haan recalls: ‘Before the game, we drew up a list of our players who would hit him with hard tackles early on. Neeskens first, Van Hanegem second, then Suurbier, I think, Wim Jensen, maybe…..I forgot the roder and exactly who it was. I think I was number five but we never needed number five.
After four tackles, Bonev didn’t want the ball any more. He didn’t give us any problems.
’Like what Ferguson did by identifying Reyes as Arsenal “Bonev” and took him out by serial hard tackling and rotational fouls. Exactly the same way that Nani was taken out at Stamford Bridge by Luiz, and taken out at Anfield by Carra. Or how Nasri chickened out after 1 or 2 hard tackles and never in the game, and didn’t want to see the ball anymore.
So, it is all a fallacy and a cover-up by Arsene Wenger when he claimed the moral grounds by harping “we play Beautiful Football and are not thugs” Think again as those Dutch players can mixed it up, utterly thuggish in their hard-tackling style to take out dangerous players. Like Swaat said, yes, we can play the Beautiful Game to entertain the crowd, but first, let’s score 3 goals before grandstanding.
And that is the problem with Arsene Wenger’s obsession with playing Beautiful Football – no killer instinct as what De Haan said below.
De Haan: ‘…..look at our youth [team]. We have to work very hard to teach them to give everything they have. They are not real fighters; but their talent and the things they bring from home are enormous. The boys here are tall, strong and quick and have good skills. They are real footballers. Everything is good. We can train twice every day, but we cannot teach them to be killers.’
We have dominated possession, played dazzling football and yet ended up being suckered punch with a quick counter-attack and lost the game 1-0.
We are exactly like Denmark WC1986 where an “inferior” Spain took them apart a “superior” Denmark.
Denmark played a compelling brand of delicious-looking Dutch-style Total Football – the most artistic football of the tournament – and swept aside West Germany 2-0 and demolished the tough Uruguayans 6-1.
The Danes were beautiful and seemed to be heading for glory. They took an early lead against Spain, and then Spain equalized; and inaugurated one of the strangest massacres in World Cup history. The technically superior, more creative Danes continued to attack while their defence was ripped to shreds by smart, lethal Spanish counter-attacks led by Butragueno.
[On a bright note, Denmark surprisingly won the Euro1992. But it was based on very different principles: a packed midfield, tenacious defence and clever counter-attacking with two quick strikers, Flemming Povlsen and Brain Laudrup.]
Defeat rarely produces gorgeous football and long before the end, the Danes were dejected and befuddled rather than beautiful.
There in a nutshell is why we lost it all during last season.We had a bunch of french poodles, pretty boys, bottlers but no “killer” in the team.
But this season?
We will never know how much we can achieve if we incorporate “Aggression” and “Killer instinct” into the team, like marrying steel to silk.
A run of clean-sheets will prove we have a mentally tough defence, well marshaled by Vermaelen and has better protection from MIDFIELD. With this firm foundation at the back, then we can have a brilliant season.
Play free-flowing football, scoring for fun and yet with an aggressive and “killer instinct” to see off opponents within 20 minutes before starting to play Beautiful Football for the spectators.
Like Denmark in Euro1992, we can have two quick strikers in Gervinho and Theo Walcott (plus speed monsters in Ryo and Oxalde-Chamberlain as well) with counter-attacking plays. Perhaps in Song and Frimpong, we will have or very own “Neeskens and van Hanegem” tough tacklers to take out opponents’ “Bonev” and keep ‘em quiet.
In summary, I am ever a Dreamer and belief as long as the entire TEAM had gelled and play like 2007/08 season with that steeliness and mental toughness, experienced and toughened by three seasons of heart-breaking collapses, then we will have a brilliant 2011/12 season.
That is, the TEAM will defend as a UNIT, will attack as UNIT and this famous comment at Bernabeau Stadium will come true:
‘We defend as a UNIT
We attack as a UNIT,
We are always talking to each other’!
Senderos, February 21, 2006 STRIVING FOR UNITY and TEAM SPIRIT!
This is not a goal in itself, but it forms the psychological foundation for the team tactical development.
Lastly, perhaps Arsene Wenger is truthful for once and will buy 2 or 3 more players before September 1, 2011; unlike previous seasons with his spin-doctoring of :
“I prefer not to buy as it will inhibit the development of my young players….or I can’t find quality players at a reasonable price that will improve the quality of the squad.”
Written by Merlin96