Dutch too dependent on Robben, says Melchiot
LONDON – Netherlands are over-reliant on winger Arjen Robben and the 2014 World Cup semi-finalists are in danger of failing to make next year’s European Championship, according to former defender Mario Melchiot.
Guus Hiddink took over as coach when Louis van Gaal joined Manchester United after last year’s World Cup in Brazil but his squad are toiling in Euro 2016 qualifying.
They are third in Group A after five matches, six points behind Czech Republic and five adrift of Iceland.
“I’m not sure they will qualify,” Melchiot told Reuters in an interview after watching his former club Chelsea beat Stoke City 2-1 in the Premier League at the weekend.
“Everyone knows Holland aren’t the team they were. They don’t look like a team that is playing great football.
“You don’t always have to play the most beautiful game but you have to be at least convincing and they don’t look convincing to me.”
Melchiot, who won 22 caps for his country, believes too much revolves around Bayern Munich forward Robben who scored three goals and was one of the World Cup’s best players before the Dutch were knocked out on penalties by eventual runners-up Argentina.
“The main guy for Holland right now, the star player, is Robben,” he said. “At the World Cup he showed how important he is for the team.
“He has to be fit. If you don’t have Robben in the side they look very vulnerable. They look okay but not a great side — he makes the difference.
“They have some good youngsters like Memphis Depay but we have to wait to see what’s going to develop with him,” said Melchiot of the PSV Eindhoven forward who is top of the scoring charts in the Dutch championship this season with 19 goals.
“I enjoy watching him at PSV and if he carries on the way he’s developing he will become a great player.”
Melchiot, who also played for Ajax Amsterdam, Stade Rennes, Birmingham City and Wigan Athletic before quitting in 2011, said Hiddink’s style was completely different to Van Gaal’s.
“I love Holland but at the moment it’s a new team. When Van Gaal took over they had their ups and downs but he came through it. He’s one of my inspirational coaches, he gave me my debut for Ajax and Holland.
“Now Hiddink is coach and it’s a different philosophy. He didn’t like Van Gaal’s philosophy in terms of the way the team played and now he’s showing Van Gaal wasn’t so bad after all because he did really well at the World Cup.”
“Hiddink did really well against Spain but they are not the old Spain of course,” said Melchiot.
“They are also rebuilding their team. It doesn’t mean they are not great as individuals but as a team they are not performing so well any more.
“They used to be great individuals in a great team. They still look great individuals but the team looks like it’s crumbling a bit.”
Melchiot has been out of football since retiring four years ago and has no ambitions to become a manager or coach.
“I work for Fox Sports, I enjoy my life, I travel, I talk about the game, I love the game and I will always be part of the game but not as a coach,” he said.
“If I change my mind it will be to work with children. I love the emotion of a child, to make him or her feel welcomed and loved and to understand the game but when it comes to the top level I just enjoy being a fan.” – Reuters