Dutch Philosophy That Fades

Dutch Philosophy That Fades

Every country that plays football must have its own playing philosophy. For example there is Spain playing Tiki Taka, Italy with catenaccio-his. The Netherlands is the same way, they have their own playing philosophy which we usually refer to as Total Football or in Dutch it is called Total Voetbal.

Total Football is a game tactic that emphasizes the constant permutation of player positions when in control of the ball or not in control of the ball. Of course, this tactic requires a team that contains players who are physically strong and have both defensive and attacking aspects as well.

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Of the eleven players, only the goalkeeper has a standard position. However, the role of the goalkeeper must have good vision and high tech. Because, it is the goalkeeper who determines the initial attack pattern when the ball is in his hands. So he doesn't only have to pass to the centre-back or wing-back, but can also go to the midfielders or direct attackers.

In this tactic, permutation of positions is important, because to maintain the organizational structure of this game, players who move out of position are required to be replaced by other players.

The Beginning Appears

Actually the concept of this tactic was born from The Wunderteam Austria, which at that time played the Total Football system, although it was not perfect in the mid-1930s. In addition there is the Hungarian national team with GoldenTeamhis with Ferenc Puskas and his then club River Plate with Machine in the mid 1940-1950s.

Initially this concept entered the Netherlands when the former Austrian national team player, Ernst Happel coached several clubs in the Netherlands in the 1960-1970s. In fact, he coached the Dutch national team at the 1978 World Cup and was able to make it to the final before finally collapsing at the top of the party.

This tactic was further introduced by Jack Reynolds who coached Ajax in three different periods. He closely observed this game system and further polished how it was implemented on the field.

Then one of Reynolds' foster children, namely Rinus Michels, after becoming a coach modified, refined and beautified the concept into a philosophy called Total Football. He applied this tactic when he coached Ajax, which at that time was able to present the Champions Cup trophy (1970-71) as well as to the Oranje team in the mid-1970s.

Rinus michels
Source: History of Soccer

After Michels moved to Barcelona, ​​the concept of this tactic was deepened by Stefan Kovacs at Ajax. In fact, he was able to bring Ajax to win two Champions Cups in a row (1971-72 and 1972-73) so that Ajax recorded hattrick as champions of the Champions Cup.

The event to prove Total Football took place in the 1972 Champions Cup final. At that time, Ajax faced Internazionale from Italy, who used the system catenaccio. At the end of the match, Ajax crushed 2-0 without reply and in the media headlines appeared "The Death of Catenaccio”.

Johan Cruyff As System

One of the most well-known players in the Total Football system exponents is Johan Cruyff. He played this system when he was at Ajax. Even though he is central forward, he could be the heart of Total Football. Because, he can roam in all areas of the field and confuse opponents.

The importance of this tactic is that when a Cruyff gets out of position, his colleagues adapt flexibly to compensate for him. Cruyff always talked about space, where players have to run, where players have to stand, and when players have to stay still and not move from their position.

Johan Cruyff
Source: The New Yorker

The system isn't just the coach that's the brains. However, a player on the field must also have good intelligence and playing vision so that he can interpret tactics and improvise according to the conditions on the field.

Even Cruyff once said that "Simple football is the most beautiful. But playing simple football is the hardest thingreferring to his Total Football.

Dutch ties to Total Football

Rinus Michels was appointed as coach of the Netherlands to face World Cup 1974. Throughout the tournament, the Netherlands appeared powerfully. They crushed Argentina (4-0), East Germany (2-0) and Brazil (2-0). This made them advance to the final against West Germany.

However, in the final they reached their limit. Precisely in the second half, after the West German players did man-to-man marking to Cruyff. This kills Cruyff's central role which cannot be replaced by anyone. And be a big drawback to this tactic.

So to make up for this shortcoming, a minimum of two players are needed who can become the center of the game. So that in the 1988 European Cup semifinals, Michels had two central players in Ruud Gullit and Frank Rijkaard. This rendered West German tactics impotent. At the end of the tournament, the Netherlands won after overthrowing the Soviet Union.

On World Cup 2022, the Netherlands is being fostered again by Louis van Gaal for the third time. Under the tutelage of van Gaal, the Netherlands began to abandon the philosophy of playing Total Football which used 4-3-3 tactics. In fact, many media criticized van Gaal for bringing the Dutch game into a defensive system. Completely opposite the heritage of playing beautiful football reigning over space.

Netherlands at the 2022 World Cup
Source: The Telegraph

The Dutch football system is now more pragmatic which emphasizes the end result. Van Gaal seemed to say that to hell with all kinds of playing philosophies because the most important thing is the result of winning and winning titles.

Even though he is better known for playing defensive football and tends to be pragmatic, even though in the end he can make the Netherlands a champion, surely the media will not pay attention to this. After all, after all, the beautiful game of Dutch football with its Total Football doesn't make it a champion, right?


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