By mark Gleeson
The Netherlands were plunged into a veritable crisis after Sunday’s 3-0 loss in Turkey left their Euro 2016 qualification hopes in tatters with the local press declaring it as the end of an era.
New coach Danny Blind said the team had “shot ourselves in the foot” with individual errors in the defeat in Konya, which followed on a 1-0 home loss to Iceland on Thursday.
The two losses in Blind’s first two games left the Dutch floundering in fourth place in Group A, needing to overhaul a two-point deficit on third-placed Turkey with two games to play in October to have any chance of reaching the Euro 2016 finals via the November play-offs.
It is a significant fall for the Netherlands after finishing third at the World Cup in Brazil last year.
“We don’t count anymore,” screamed the front page of Monday’s Algemeen Daglad while the high brow Volkskrant said there was a “blatant lack of quality, fitness, speed, teamwork and courage” displayed by the team.
Midfielder Wesley Sneijder was not sure what exactly went wrong.
“Maybe it’s bad luck, maybe it’s a lack of confidence,” the Galatasaray player said after the latest loss.
“We let two easy goals in against us that had to do purely with a lack of concentration and focus,” he told Dutch television.
Robin van Persie, dumped as captain by Blind for the Iceland game but restored on Sunday after injury to Arjen Robben, did not hide his feeling.
“The whole qualifying tournament has all been very difficult. We now no longer have it in our own hands. I feel terrible, really terrible,” he said.
The Dutch were on the back foot from the start of the preliminaries as Guus Hiddink’s first competitive game back as coach saw them lose in Prague to the Czech Republic, followed the next month by defeat in Iceland.
Continuing poor performance and mounting criticism saw Hiddink resign after less than a year in charge with Blind promoted up from assistant.
“You let yourself enormously down if you give goals away so easily,” said Blind. “We had a few good chances of our own before half-time. In total maybe more than Turkey but we did not rewards ourselves.”
The Dutch next face Kazakhstan away on October 10 and finish their group campaign at home to the already-qualified Czech Republic on October 13.