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Dutch coach reliant on Robin and Dirk
Published : 05 Jul 2010 20:58:00
Holland face Uruguay in the World Cup semi-finals on Tuesday, with coach Bert van Marwijk placing his trust in Dirk Kuyt and Robin van Persie. Neither man enjoyed the best of domestic seasons and Arsenal star van Persie has not always cut a contented figure in South Africa amid rumours of a sour relationship with star man Wesley Sneijder. But van Marwijk is happy to have the duo on board for a journey that took such an unexpected twist with a fabulous 2-1 quarter-final triumph over Brazil. "I read somewhere that when Rafael Benitez picked a team at Liverpool, he wrote Kuyt's name down first. That says everything," van Marwijk said. "Every player has a period where things don't work out and Liverpool had a very tough year, but Kuyt is extremely important for us. "The way he plays shows his passion and enthusiasm, and it is catching." Van Persie was out of action for five months after suffering a major ankle injury on international duty last November. It has taken the Arsenal star a bit of time to find his form, with just one goal so far, but van Marwijk believes the 26-year-old remains a major influence. "Robin is extremely talented," he said. "He is one of the best football players on this planet. "He was injured for a very long time and you do need a certain rhythm. Sometimes it comes just like that. Sometimes it takes a bit longer. "But he was better in the last match than the one before. Players with so much talent can suddenly decide a game. I always believe in him and still do." Arjen Robben may have quit English football in 2007 but he still attracts plenty of attention. Manchester United suffered at the magical feet of the 26-year-old in the Champions League this season as Robben's blistering strike dumped them out of the quarter-finals. However, ahead of a game that has been punctuated by questions over Luis Suarez's glorification of the blatant handball that gave Uruguay their shot at glory, Robben's conduct has not gone unnoticed either. The winger has always had a tendency to hit the ground at the first available opportunity, which has been highlighted over recent days. Even van Marwijk admits there are times when the former Chelsea star has gone too far, although he insists Robben has cleaned up his act. "He doesn't do it deliberately," van Marwijk added. "Arjen is incredibly fast and creative. He faces up to opponents and you do fall, or get pushed. "Maybe he has done things in the past that he shouldn't but he has learned and doesn't do it any more." With Sneijder pulling the strings - and scoring four goals in the process - Holland arrive in the last four as the only member of the quartet to have won every game so far. Added to the fact they also boasted a 100% record in qualification, van Marwijk has clearly done something right. The 58-year-old cuts an impressive figure, exuding a quiet authority that is not afraid to deliver curt answers to questions he feels are either ridiculous or impertinent. Brought into the international set-up to replace Marco van Basten following Euro 2008, van Marwijk might be relatively unknown outside Dutch borders. But he is delivering results, something the Football Association might take note of given their preference for paying big money to foreign coaches who have not really delivered what was required. Not that van Marwijk is flawless. Sometimes he even loses his temper. "I once kicked an advertising hoarding, so I do have that anger," he said. "But it is important that, under all circumstances, you stay above things. "The players mustn't become confused by your behaviour. I can be angry and emotional but I am also capable of being cool, calm, and collected."