‘IT WAS THE RIGHT TIME’

Bert van Marwijk was officially unveiled as the next coach of the Dutch national team Monday morning at Dutch FA headquarters in Zeist. Scheduled less than 24 hours after his team’s disappointing display in Breda and a few hours before discussing the performance with his squad, Van Marwijk admitted that the timing was a little strange. ‘It is taking some getting used to, being here. I’m still employed by Feyenoord and I’m being presented here already. It’s early, but I can say that I am delighted with this new job. I’ve been on the pitch day in day out for 35 years. That will change and I’ve given that some thought. I’m 55 years old and it feels like the right time.’ Van Marwijk’s assistant Dick ‘Cooky’ Voorn was also presented.

The press were in Zeist en masse to ask Van Marwijk about his vision on the Dutch team, but the future national coach had to disappoint them. ‘I don’t think it’s fitting while Marco van Basten is national coach to talk about Oranje in any great depth. The European Championship is coming up and anyway I’m contracted to Feyenoord’, said the coach on more than one occasion. Especially when the Van Bommel question was raised. The Bayern Munich midfielder – Van Marwijk’s son-in-law, – ‘retired’ himself from international football during Van Basten’s reign.

Van Marwijk was delighted to talk about his new job however. ‘An enormous challenge, I’m happy the KNVB chose me,’ said the coach. The Dutch FA’s desire ‘to really help him’ and the fact that he was given carte blanche to put together his own backroom team was decisive. Van Marwijk typed Frank de Boer and Phillip Cocu as two model pros that would give him plenty of input. Besides impressive careers as players, the new national coach also talked up the duo’s verbal qualities. ‘And they are closer to this generation.’

Dick ‘Cooky’ Voorn is another matter, explained Van Marwijk. It’s no coincidence that Voorn is hooking up with Van Marwijk for a new adventure. ‘Cooky is someone I can confide in. He has been very loyal to me for many years, he has a lot of experience as an assistant and he’s a professional behind the scenes. What’s more, he quickly forms relationships with players. I’m very content with my team; it’s what I wanted.’

Van Marwijk revealed that Feyenoord, represented by general manager Eric Gudde in Zeist, endeavoured to hold onto him. ‘I was asked not to do it,’ admitted Van Marwijk. ‘At the end of the day it’s all about feelings. I didn’t get the feeling the squad had any problems with it or thought I didn’t deserve it. In the end I weighed everything up and came to this decision. I am full of pride about being able to represent my country and work with the best players on the way to the World Cup in 2010.’

The coach of the national team is fair game, as shown by the recent experiences of Van Basten. The enormous media interest Monday morning was the first sign that Van Marwijk will constantly be under that spotlight himself over the coming period. Just before signing the contracts, Van Marwijk confirmed that he was well aware of that. ‘I’ve talked about it at home and elsewhere. I’m not banking on coming out of the battle scot-free. But I won’t avoid it.’

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