Mark Van Bommel Was the Only Choice To Become New Dutch Captain

John Tilghman Correspondent ISeptember 2, 2010

Van Bommel marshaled his Dutch team to the World Cup Final in South Africa.
Van Bommel marshaled his Dutch team to the World Cup Final in South Africa.Jasper Juinen/Getty Images

Criticism has been raining down on Netherlands coach Bert Van Marwijk over the last 24 hours for his decision to hand Bayern Munich skipper the captain's armband for Holland's upcoming Euro 2012 Qualifying campaign. 

Perhaps raising eyebrows is the fact Van Bommel is Van Marwijk's son-in-law, which has brought about claims of nepotism within the Dutch camp. 

Those claims are being heard, but perhaps the fact that is most questioned by outsiders is that Van Bommel epitomized the new pragmatic, dare I say cynical, Dutch mentality at South Africa 2010 that was a far cry from the Total Football the Oranje dazzled the world with in 1974 and 1978. 

Van Bommel arguably became the villain in South Africa not just for his persistent fouling, but his ability to escape punishment from the referees. He remarkably did not even receive a yellow card until the dying minutes of the semifinal against Uruguay. 

The confrontational Van Bommel may have been reckless in the tackle, but his actions were calculated as he helped his team reach the World Cup Final for the first time in 32 years. 

Now, the 33-year-old is not simply the best choice to take over as captain from the retired Giovanni Van Bonckhurst, but the only choice. 

"Mark is the correct age and the right position for that. He has done the job in the past for PSV Eindhoven and now for Bayern Munich," explained Van Marwijk.

Van Bommel not only has the leadership credentials, as did Van Bronckhurst who was the captain of Ferynoord, but the rest of his teammates lack the necessary CV to captain their country.

When Van Bronckhurst was substituted late on during the World Cup Final, Rafael Van der Vaart was the man to be handed the arm band, but the ex-Hamburg man has the problem that he is not a starter of the Dutch, ruling him out of the race for the captaincy. 

Playmaker Wesley Sneijer had a brilliant World Cup scoring five goals, but he is often viewed as selfish by the Dutch press and he is known to have a rocky relationship with a few teammates, most notably striker Robin Van Persie.

Van Persie's bid to become captain most likely never took flight due to his constant injury problems, the most recent of which will keep him out of the first round of qualifying matches against San Marino this Friday and Finland the following week.

Winger Arjen Robben falls in the same boat.

Although unquestionably the most talented player at Van Marwijk's disposal, Robben has always been plagued by injuries, most notably a knock that kept him out of Holland's pivotal Euro 2008 Quarterfinal tie to Russia and the first two games in South Africa thanks to a hamstring tear he suffered while trying to perform a back-heel in the dying second of a 6-0 win over Hungary. 

A captain of a national team must be available for selection, and the truth is Robben is usually not. There is also reason to question the player's mentality at times, something that cannot be said of Van Bommel. 

As Van Marwijk points out, Van Bommel's position is ideal to be captain. Operating in the middle of the park, the ex-Barcelona man directs traffic and marshals his team even without the armband. 

His petulance and rough house tactics make opposing fans hate him, but if Van Bommel is on your side he is the ultimate warrior. 

Plus, there is no denying of the influence he has over referees. 

At 33, it is unlikely that Van Bommel will make it to Brazil 2014, which gives him two years as captain while his teammates try and prove their own cases to lead the Oranje


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