Netherlands coach Guus Hiddink said that he was wearing his bullet-proof vest against the criticism levelled against him and his team.
Holland have not had the greatest Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, sitting in 3rd place in their group . They had to depend on a 90th minute strike from Klaas Jan Huntelaar to grab a point in the home game against Turkey, and after a very encouraging World Cup campaign, this sort of form has understandably brought out the knives from the media.
When asked how he was coping with all the negative criticism in the media, Hiddink joked: “I’ve put my bullet-proof vest on.
“To tell the truth, I haven’t really read the papers. I had training to prepare ahead of tomorrow’s (Tuesday’s) match (against Spain).
“I have paid attention to the shots directed at me. The media are very good at manipulating public opinion.”
Hiddink also talked about his opponents on Tuesday, a team that Holland had comprehensively beaten 5-1 in the World Cup, and said that it would give him a chance to experiment with the team.
“The Spanish will want revenge and will want to erase the memory of that World Cup defeat in Brazil,” said Hiddink. “It will therefore be a difficult match but one that will allow me to experiment.
“Because the crucial match will be the one against Latvia in June.”
Hiddink felt that the reason Netherlands are struggling in their qualification campaign was because they had a bad start when they lost the first game to Czech Republic.
He added: “I was very disappointed with our defeat in the first match against the Czech Republic because I know from experience that the first match affects the rest. When you start well, on the whole good results follow. Here that wasn’t the case and we’re paying for that.”
After 5 games, Holland are only in 3rd place, and more worryingly 5 points away from 2nd placed Iceland who are having a wonderful campaign so far, having won 4 games and lost only one. The Dutch, on the other hand, have managed only 2 wins, while losing 2 others and drawing one. It, therefore, did not help their cause that they almost lost to Turkey as well, before Huntelaar rescued a point for them.
While there are still 5 games left in the qualification campaign, they cannot have any more slipups and anything less than 5 wins would bring Hiddinka s men to the very real possibility that they may not qualify for Euro 2016.