"We always go for perfection, but of course it doesn't always pan out the way you intended it," Holland boss Bert van Marwijk told reporters at a heated press conference on Friday afternoon.
"You see, we're dealing with people here who are performing in certain circumstances which you have to allow for," he said, countering criticism of his men's below-par performance in three warm-up matches before UEFA EURO 2012. Holland lost 3-2 away against Bayern Munich and 1-2 at home to Bulgaria before defeating Slovakia, with some difficulty, 2-0 in Rotterdam last Wednesday.
"Looking at the players during the matches and the training sessions, I think it's fair to say that we're making steady progress. We're aiming to hit form in our first Euro 2012 group match against Denmark [on Saturday, 9 June, ed.]. And I think we're on track. "
Fitness and form
Van Marwijk is working with the same squad that went all the way to the World Cup final two years ago. Asked whether some of his men are now perhaps past their prime , the Holland boss replied:
"It's difficult to say what the sell-by date is for a footballer. Some peak at 23 or 24, others at 27 or 28 and some are still on great form at 33. I believe that this team can make it happen one more time. Of course, all depends on fitness and form. But I think that we have a strong group and a wider group now to choose from than two years ago."
Van Marwijk said he expected that Saturday night's warm-up match against Northern Ireland to be more attractive than the previous pre-Euro 2012 friendlies.
"Northern Ireland play less defensively than other opponents that we have faced recently. So we can expect a wider playing area with more space and therefore a more exciting game."