Words from the Wise: Dutch team and Dutch coach left short-changed

Despite bringing with him a renewed spirit of optimism and self-belief, Caanen has been replaced by general manager Luis Fernandez.

By DAVID WISEMAN
December 14, 2005 14:49
4 minute read.
Words from the Wise: Dutch team and Dutch coach left short-changed

soccer 88. (photo credit: )

 
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The draw for the 2006 World Cup resulted in some interesting groups. With FIFA doing as much as possible to control the outcome of the draw via predetermined steps, it wasn't as random as it could have been but we are still in store for some enticing matchups. That Spain was seeded and the Dutch were not was some kind of sick joke. Spain is a perennial flop and finished second in its qualifying group, while the Dutch always present themselves and finished at the top of their qualifying group. The Spanish are easily the World Cup's biggest underachievers; every four years they bring great expectations with them and every time they fail dismally. Their best result is fourth place in 1950, although they have reached the quarterfinals in three of the last five attempts. The Spanish were then given the fortune of being placed in a relatively easy group alongside Ukraine, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia. The Dutch got the indignity of having to be placed with Argentina, Serbia-Montenegro and the Ivory Coast. The strongest group on paper would be the quartet of Italy, Czech Republic, Ghana and 2002 quarterfinalist USA. Even though World Cups past have shown time and time again that you can not discount anyone, you still can not help but think the usual suspects are going to be in the mix. Only seven countries have held their hands on the World Cup so it is a very exclusive club indeed. What is not an exclusive club is that of sacked coaches. Betar Jerusalem's Ton Caanen is the latest to join those ranks. Despite bringing with him a renewed spirit of optimism and self-belief that yielded 10 points from a possible 15, Caanen has been shown the door in favor of general manager Luis Fernandez. The timing is interesting. In the weekend's papers, there was a barrage of press for the yellow-and-black. Seemingly everyone from owner Arkadi Gaydamak down to the guy who turns the lights on and off gave an interview. Either Caanen was blindsided completely or was forced to tow the party line when he was quoted in the weekend's paper. "I'm not upset about reports in press creating problems," he said. "I'm only upset for the fans because they want some quiet and the people in the club want some quiet. "The media make the fans nervous, and I have no problems with Luis Fernandez. The time is too short, we have just started." He didn't realize just how short his time was as the axe swung before there was time to turn the article into fish and chip wrapping. Who knows how this will turn out for the troubled club? At the moment it seems as though it is chasing its tail. The real enemy isn't within but lies north and wears green. That's who the focus should be on as opposed to petty, pointless politics. Frenchman Fernandez should not make himself too much at home in the nation's capital. Having seen what happened to his predecessor it could just as easily happen to him. A similar thing is happening across the water in Manchester where Sir Alex Ferguson is under extreme pressure to keep his job. With Chelsea so far ahead, being tied for second is not worth anything for Manchester United. Dumped from Europe and seemingly done in the Premiership, the FA Cup and League Cup look to be his only salvation. How times have changed! In years gone by, Ferguson would have fielded players picked from the terraces to compete in the FA Cup because it simply wasn't a priority. One year they even pulled out from the FA Cup so they could compete in the World Club Championships in Brazil. Now it might save his skin.

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