I have an orange jersey. I was pulling for them in the final against Spain in 2010. They were so great in their group games. They were my fallback team after the US got knocked out and England had long since gone home. But, unfortunately, I just can’t get behind the Dutch anymore.
I had been letting a lot of things slide in order to follow this team. Their late penalty against Mexico was rough and I thought it was an unfortunate way to go through. But, after it’s all said and done, they still won, right? So, fine. Their top striker is a former Gooner and current Manchester United player. Fine. Arjen Robben is an unapologetic flopper. Fine. Rafael van der Vaart is out of the squad and Wesley Sneijder is a disappointment. Fine. This team is missing a backbone of Ajax academy players and is comprised of more Feyenoord players. Fine. They don’t play creative total football like Dutch teams past. Fine.
Then I watched Tim Krul talk smack to each penalty taker during the penalty kicks at the end of the Costa Rica game. It wasn’t fine.
I couldn’t believe that no one else was talking about this. Doesn’t anyone else think Tim Krul was acting like a bitch? I saw this article in the Guardian where Nick Miller argues that he didn’t cross a line. Tim Krul even defended himself. But I don’t care. I think he went too far.
Look, keepers are supposed to get in the kicker’s head in a penalty kick situation. I get that. Keylor Navas was doing his bit. He cooly walked up to van Persie and handed him the ball before his kick. But he was silent. Krul was shouting at each penalty taker “I know where you’re going.” He was getting in their faces. The last straw for me was when Giancarlo Gonzalez scored his penalty and Krul kept shouting at him as he walked away, saying “I knew where you were going. I knew!” Yeah, Tim but he still scored. If you know and he still scores, that just makes you a shitty keeper.
Here’s the thing: Tim Krul saved two out of twenty penalties in five years at Newcastle. That’s ten percent. Ten percent makes him a specialist? Tim Krul was pacing around the box like he owned it. Whether it was genuine or false bravado is irrelevant, it’s still absurd when you’re save rate is ten percent.
The phenomenon of calling a manger a “tactical genius” for making a substitution really annoys me and Louis van Gaal is getting more than enough praise for the move. He took a risk and it paid off but he didn’t reinvent the wheel. The penalties were coming up and he had a taller keeper. It was a smart move, sure. But, frankly, this tactic worked in one game. One. I wouldn’t call that enough data yet to verify van Gaal’s tactical prowess.
The Dutch were the superior team in the game. It’s not a tragedy that they won but, what drew me to the Dutch national team was their character. It was their attitude that it’s not just that you win, it’s how you win. And in this case, they didn’t win right.