‘Advocaat deserves credit’

Agence France Presse

Faro, June 27:

A week ago if Dutch coach Dick Advocaat had looked up he would have seen vultures circling overhead as the Netherlands faced a humiliatingly early exit from Euro 2004. But now after a remarkable turnaround in fortune the predators are gone and in their place hangs a nice new shiny halo. Advocaat admits he’s been put through the mill in the past seven days as fans, press and even players queued up to take a pot shot at him as the 1988 champions’ progress through their group proved anything but smooth. Criticism reached fever pitch after he made a self-confessed tactical error in the 3-2 defeat to the Czech Republic.

When he turned up for training after that defeat which left qualification hanging by a thread Advocaat was greeted by jeers from fans shouting “Just leave, Advocaat” and “You do not know what you are doing”. Some Oranje supporters had a collection to raise money to pay for his trip back home. But, after Saturday’s 5-4 win over Sweden Advocaat conceded the attacks had got to him. “Of course they do,” said Advocaat, who on Saturday took charge of the Dutch for the 55th time, one more than the Euro 1988 winning coach Rinus Michels.

Skipper Frank de Boer said: “It wasn’t fair how they treated him. Sometimes they play it too hard.” “Of course it hurt him. He’s thick-skinned but he showed it was getting to him sometimes,” he added. But the important thing is he’s got through it, he deserves every credit for turning it around.”