Holland legend Johan Cruyff has launched a scathing attack on the Dutch team’s performance last night, slamming their “dirty” tactics and their style of “anti-football”.
Cruyff was at the heart of the Holland team that earned a reputation of playing ’Total Football’ in the 1970s, and the pioneer of the style that earned the Dutch the reputation of being a joy to watch.
The current Holland team displayed a type of football that was the antithesis of that last night, as they lost 1-0 to Spain in the World Cup final, and a disappointed Cruyff admits it saddened him to witness the Dutch thuggery.
“Thursday they asked me from Holland ’Can we play like Inter? Can we stop Spain in the same way Mourinho eliminated Barca?”’ Cruyff told El Periodico, in reference to the way Inter Milan defended their way to a Champions League semi-final victory over Barcelona.
“I said no, no way at all. I said no, not because I hate this style – I said no because I thought that my country wouldn’t dare to and would never renounce their style. I said no because, without having great players like those of the past, the team has its own style.
“I was wrong. Of course I’m not hanging all 11 of them by the same rope, but almost. They didn’t want the ball.
“And regrettably, sadly, they played very dirty. So much so that they should have been down to nine immediately, then they made two (such) ugly and hard tackles that even I felt the damage.
“It hurts me that I was wrong in my disagreement that instead Holland chose an ugly path to aim for the title.
“This ugly, vulgar, hard, hermetic, hardly eye-catching, hardly football style, yes it served the Dutch to unsettle Spain. If with this they got satisfaction, fine, but they ended up losing.
“They were playing anti-football.”
Cruyff has also joined in with the criticism of Howard Webb, who has been heavily attacked for the way he managed last night’s stormy game.
Webb dished out 14 yellow cards – including two to send off Holland defender John Heitinga – but Cruyff believes he could have been even firmer, and should have dished out a red card for Nigel de Jong’s karate kick to the chest of Xabi Alonso as well as handing a second booking to Arjen Robben for kicking the ball away.
The 63-year-old added: “When we say, often, that we do not like talking about referees, it is true and, above all, because only refereeing like that last night by the English Howard Webb can create in us a state of such indignation that then yes, it is necessary to comment.
“Because you can referee wrong, make a mistake, but what you can not do is create your own sense of justice and, even worse, invent a very personal application of the rules.
“Not only did he not send off two Dutchmen (including Robben who deserved the second yellow) but he also looked the other way at times when he should have involved himself.
“A World Cup final deserves great refereeing and, above all, deserves a referee who dares to do everything it means to be a judge.”