"This means covering areas, rather than players, which makes a team less prone to leaving gaps in their defence for the opposition to exploit," Van der Heide said.

OLD HABITS

But old habits die hard, especially if you're from the country credited for coining the term "total football".

Linked to Dutch legend Johan Cruyff, "total football" is the tactical philosophy where any outfield player can take the role of another player, thus allowing players to roam freely in different positions, so long as the overall formation is maintained.

The tactic saw the Dutch reach two World Cup finals in succession in 1974 and 1978.

"As Dutch supporters we have been spoilt by our achievements," said Van der Heide.

"For such a small country the Netherlands has been achieving good results for so long that we thought we had all the knowledge."

As many Dutch coaches have left to take up overseas jobs, so Dutch tactics have also become known to other countries which were paying close attention.

"Meanwhile, we took too little notice about what was going on (outside the Netherlands), what works," Van der Heide added.

"Our way of playing football became too deeply rooted. What was good a decade ago may not necessarily be any good today."

Dutch media on Wednesday called for a "clean sweep" of Dutch football, to forget about Russia and start preparing to qualify for Euro 2020.

"The Oranje must start anew, but with whom? It could still take years," the NRC daily newspaper said.

Netherlands' forward Arjen Robben acknowledges the fans following their Fifa World Cup 2018 Group A qualification match against Sweden at the Amsterdam Arena in Amsterdam on October 10, 2017. PHOTO | EMMANUEL DUNAND |

Netherlands' forward Arjen Robben acknowledges the fans following their Fifa World Cup 2018 Group A qualification match against Sweden at the Amsterdam Arena in Amsterdam on October 10, 2017. PHOTO | EMMANUEL DUNAND |

Referring to Robben's announcement about retiring, the paper said: "Suddenly things turned very dark as Robben dims the lights on his international career."

Van der Heide added: "It's clear that we don't have quality players at the moment.

"But you can compensate for that, for instance by defending well."

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