Bert van Marwijk has resigned. The most successful Holland manager ever made the announcement ten days after the most disastrous tournament performance by a national Dutch side in three decades.
Holland crashed out of the Euro 2012 early last week without a single point following three painful defeats in a row, scoring only two goals and conceding five. Both the players and the coaching staff were subjected to a torrent of criticism at home, which may have precipitated Van Marwijk's decision.
The Holland coach was the first to accept the blame. "I've certainly failed," he admitted straight after the final group match against Portugal in Kharkiv. But he added meaningfully "and so have the players." Prima donna behaviour by some of Holland's many superstars has widely been cited as the main reason for Holland's dismal performance at the Euros.
The entire Dutch media blamed Van Marwijk for losing control of the dressing room and for making "big mistakes" in the run-up to the tournament. The Holland boss failed to call up players on form and opted for virtually the same line-up and tactics that had been so successful at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, but now looked hopelessly out of date.
Van Marwijk always said he would step down the moment he sensed any signs of erosion in support for his work. In the end, he found the decision to resign hard to take, as he admitted to Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad on Wednesday evening.
Open and frank
The announcement came after two post-tournament assessment talks, which the Director of the Royal Dutch Football Association, Bert van Oostveen, described as "open, frank and constructive."
"We are grateful to Van Marwijk," Van Oostveen said. "He performed exceptionally well, steering us to the 2010 World Cup final and to the top of the FIFA World Ranking. Personally, I look back on our collaboration with a good feeling. Of course, it's always regrettable to say goodbye at an early stage, but we have to be realistic."
Waiting in the wings
Last December, Van Marwijk renewed his contract as Holland manager until after the next European hampionships in France in 2016. After taking over from Marco van Basten in 2008, he coached 52 international matches, of which 34 were won, ten ended in a tie and eight were lost.
The Dutch FA is expected to announce a new manager before long. The first scheduled fixture is a friendly away against Belgium on 15 August. Later this year, Holland will play 2014 World Cup qualifiers against Turkey, Hungary, Romania and Andorra. Potential candidates for the job reportedly include Ronald Koeman, Guud Hiddink, Louis van Gaal and Frank Rijkaard.