Ruud Doevendans

Ruud Doevendans has been an official columnist for a Dutch club and owns one of the largest collections of soccer videos containing hundreds of World Cup matches. We at PWC are proud to have him as a columnist. He will share his views about the past, present and future of the World Cup.

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Dutch football and women - a bad combination

    Holland, European champions of 1988, travelled to the World Cup 1990 in Italy as one of the favourites. Of course other big guns like Germany, Italy, Brazil and Argentina were in the hunt as well, but for every Matthäus there was a Wouters, for every Baresi a Koeman, for every Careca a Van Basten and for every Maradona (in his 1990 shape) a Gullit. Plenty of first class players in the squad, it seemed.

    But there were troubles as well. Coach Thijs Libregts had fallen out of favour with Ruud Gullit, and had to be replaced. Some players wanted Johan Cruijff as their coach, but as so often negotiations failed because of his conditions. Other possible choices were Aad de Mos, who had had success with Belgian side KV Mechelen, and Leo Beenhakker, who had coached Real Madrid to successive titles before returning to Ajax. Against the will of the Cruijff-clan, in the end Beenhakker was named as coach. The Ajax-coach chose personal favourite John van Loen instead of John Bosman, who had a magnificent record in the national team, and drafted in Ajax-mate Danny Blind in place of Edward Sturing, who had had a great season as rightback with Vitesse, being named Dutch Player of the Year. The start at least was controversial.

    And there was more. Ruud Gullit suffered from an old knee-injury that had kept him on the sidelines for almost a year, Rijkaard had private problems and Koeman was not at his best. The preparations for the finals were difficult. Holland lost to Austria 3-2, with a dismal performance. After that, they beat Yugoslavia 0-2, in spite of the result still not playing well. Most players were not in great shape. There was very little to be proud of. Or to build high expectations on. They had to rely on some huge talents, but they were not acting as a team. On top of that, the presence of director of football Rinus Michels caused problems. The big players accused him of having kept Cruijff out of the organization.

    In the first game, Holland was immediately in trouble. They couldn’t find a way through the well-organized Egyptian defence, until substitute Wim Kieft did what he had done before many times: score when it’s needed most. But Egypt levelled when Abdel Ghani converted a spotkick. One-one in the end, a draw that was considered a big shame for Dutch soccer. And not only the score, but the way they played raised eyebrowes. Were these favourites for the title? No, but there was an immediate chance to make up for it, since England were the next opponents.

    And we could expect some game, when we heard Beenhakker say: “I’ve had enough of it, they are just talking about how good they are, how they won Euro 1988. From now on I’m the man at the wheel, the team that will be playing is my team, not that from Euro 1988!” Waddle, Gascoigne, Lineker versus Rijkaard, Gullit, Van Basten, a big fixture. But it once more turned out to be a dull game, ending in a stalemate. Only when Stuart Pearce launched a mighty free kick in injury time, there was drama in the game. Van Breukelen couldn’t reach it, it went in, but was disallowed because it was an indirect free-kick. Van Breukelen after the game insisted, that he had let it in on purpose because he had known that it was indirect. Hmmm, it didn’t look like that.

    Ireland were the last opponents in the group, and there was everything to play for. For both teams, as all four games had ended in a draw. For once Holland started well, and Gullit beat Pat Bonner with a low shot. But Ireland came back into the match, and when Hans van Breukelen dropped an awful Van Aerle backpass, Niall Quinn equalised. Both teams knew (with England winning at the same time against the Egyptians) they would be through with a draw, and what happened then brought back black memories from Germany-Austria 1982 in Gijon.

    Holland and Ireland did nothing in the last ten minutes, just passing the ball from man to man, without taking any risk. Holland played the ball, Ireland did nothing to intercept and after 80 minutes the game was over. Ireland was drawn second in the group and Holland third, both teams had drawn all three matches they played with two goals scored and two conceded. The draw of lots meant that Holland would meet Germany in the second round. Many thought this was good as motivation would be on top when facing Germany, their eternal rivals.

    And in Milan, Holland played a great first half against the Germans, who were lucky to escape with 0-0 at half time. Winter had missed two big chances. Both teams were reduced to ten men, when Frank Rijkaard and Rudi Völler – two future national team managers! – were sent off. Völler dived after a Rijkaard tackle, Rijkaard got a yellow card and couldn’t bear the fact that he would be suspended for the next match. He couldn’t bear the whole situation in the Dutch team, his own private situation, the way Völler had provoked this caution and did what he never should have done: he spat at Völler. Twice! His sending-off was deserved, Völler’s wasn’t. After, against the run of play, Klinsmann opened the scoring for Germany, Wouters and Van Basten squandered more big chances for Holland. This wasn’t their night. Brehme curled in the second goal for Beckenbauer’s men, and Ronald Koeman's consolation penalty-kick came too late. One of the big favourites went out of the tournament. Early, much too early for a team with so many good qualities.

    After this game Beenhakker was asked by the press, how it was possible that this team had done so badly and were eliminated at such an early stage. Beenhakker spoke the famous, or should I say infamous words: “There were so many troubles in this team, we couldn’t control it. The world has seen just 25% of it, I will never tell anyone about the other 75%”. That makes one curious to know what has really been going on in the Dutch team of 1990.

    Were there commercial interest that bothered the team? Probably. Was it the Cruijff-myth? Cruijff, who is always capable of making his influence count, even when he is not there? Not impossible. Was there a fight in the trainingcamp? Before the England-match, Beenhakker appeared with a big wound on his nose. Who knows? Was it too warm in Palermo? Where they threatened by the Sicilian Maffia? Or were there women who did the damage? Hey, that’s funny. In 1974 in Hiltrup, during the World Cup 1974, some of the Dutch players were found naked in the swimming-pool, together with some women (also naked) that were not their own wifes ...... The year after that, Ajax-coach George Knobel told the press that Ajax went down to drinking, money and ...... there they are again: women!

    Now, in 2001, Dutch internationals Davids, Kluivert and Frank de Boer are accused of spending the night before the friendly with Denmark, together with ...... women! And now there are voices saying, that during Euro 2000 several players were transferred from camp Hoenderloo to Apeldoorn, to visit ...... women! And not just to have a small talk with them, or drink a cup of coffee. I can assure you that. And I know it's true. Because someone I know well (he's a cabdriver in that region) told us some time ago, that he had driven those three players to the red light district in Apeldoorn. I didn't believe it at first, but now I think I know better.

    Ah, there we have the link. Everything is clear now, it seems. Dutch international players and women, a catastrophic combination. These 75% of Beenhakker, it must have something to do with women. Ban them, get them out, wherever Holland is playing. All girls and women from 15-65, lock them, block the door, send them to a place high in the mountains and far away from Davids, Kluivert and Frank de Boer. And all those other, naughty Dutch boys. What was Gullit doing the night before England-Holland in 1990? Where was Van Basten before the Egypt-drama? Why couldn’t Aron Winter convert one of those simple chances? Or why did Rijkaard overreact the way he did against Völler? In the end, mystery is caught by reality. During Euro 1988, it was said that Rinus Michels enabled to players to visit a Whitney Houston concert. Would these players have been able to touch her, I’m sure they would never have won the championship.



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