A Thinking Man's Game

In Holland, football is a thinking man’s game. When the Dutch talk about it, the concepts to which they always return are ‘techniek’ and ‘tactiek‘. ‘Passie‘, or passion, was a quality they associated with unsophisticated footballers from other countries. In Korea, Hiddinck learnt that it was actually pretty important. Even when speaking Dutch, he tends to describe this quality with the English word ‘commitment’ , perhaps because there is no obvious Dutch equivalent.

Kuper and Szymanski, Why England Lose (2009) p. 321

4 Replies to “A Thinking Man's Game”

  1. A bit like Manchester United in the first half yesterday then. Sharp little patterns full of techniek and tactiek but unable to put in a decent centre. The passie went a little in the second half t00. All that remained was the commitment. But commitment to what? Ah well, most of them were only just out of childhood.

    I wonder whether ‘team-spirit’ would be a good partner for ‘commitment’. The Dutch weren’t always leaders in team spirit. Total football, yes. Even sexy football. Talking a good sexy football. But then they haven’t won much either.

    Come to think of it most international teams haven’t won much, if anything. So what makes England so special?

  2. A German friend returned home and was amused when the team he played in was told by the coach “Sie haben nicht nur gut gekaempft sondern auch gut gefightet.”

  3. I can’t find it now but McClaren was interviewed recently and he spoke at length about how far ahead Dutch football was especially in talking about tactics at a very young age to boys. I’m always beating this drum… maybe someday, someone will listen.


  4. Agreed. As far as Scotland goes, did you pick up on the Kuper/Szymanski analysis which identified Scots as amongst the heaviest watchers of football per head but amongst the lightest actual players of the game (contrast Holland where 10% of the pop turns out!!)

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