Netherlands midfielder Wesley Sneijder has told fastidious Dutch football connoisseurs to forget about the side playing pretty at the World Cup because he does not want to go home just yet.
The continuing debate over the team abandoning its total football philosophy and employing an uglier pressing and counter attacking style still has Dutch opinion dividend – even after the team scored 12 goals in four wins at the tournament in Brazil to book a quarter-final berth.
“Why must we go into overdrive just so that we are praised by the world for playing good football and trying so hard? Would you rather we sat in the airplane going home? I prefer to go for the best option,” he told reporters as the Dutch readied to depart their base for Salvador where they meet Costa Rica in the last eight on Saturday.
Sneijder has proven a ready convert to coach Louis van Gaal’s insistence the Dutch cause is best served playing with three centre backs, two wing backs, three midfielders and two attackers - keeping it tight in defence and waiting to catch the opponent with swift attacks.
It was the basis for their dynamic start in Brazil where they thrashed defending champions Spain 5-1 in Salvador.
Van Gaal decided on this before the World Cup after injury ruled Kevin Strootman out of tournament leaving the coach feeling there would not be enough balance in midfield. He sought buy-in from the senior players in the squad but raised the ire of many of the country’s opinionated former stars.
“If we listen to all those who say we must be the team who have 70 percent of the ball possession then we might as well pack to go home,” added Sneijder.
“We must be realistic. We don’t have the midfield to hold onto that much possession.
“Four years ago we just missed out on winning the World Cup and, honestly speaking, we didn’t play very well there either,” he said of their performance at the 2010 finals in South Africa.
“If we become world champions, and we must believe we can, no one will say how ugly we played. At the EURO-2008 tournament we played super games against Italy and France but we tried the same against Russia and went home.”