Dutch football as we have known it was born in Amsterdam in the late 1960s as the city was being transformed by social and cultural revolution. Playful Provos and anarchists were subverting the old, grey, sober Netherlands and turning the city into a centre of world hippiedom. Meanwhile, iconoclastic Ajax coach Rinus Michels and teenage genius Cruyff were laying down the blueprint for a revolution in football. Within a few years, Amsterdam went from backwater to world significance. In the early 1970s Ajax won the European Cup three years in a row with their dazzling cerebral style, and the official foreign policy of the radical government of Joop den Uyl was Nederland gidsland, literally Netherlands Guiding Country. In both cases, the idea was that the ever-moral Dutch would show the rest of the world how things were done. But Nederland gidsland bit the dust in the wake of the economic crisis that overwhelmed Holland following the Yom Kippur War and the Arab oil boycott. The football was never quite the same after the 1974 World Cup final against the West Germans in Munich, when Holland took the lead in the second minute, yet lost. The day is remembered in Holland with the sort of shudder still evoked in America by recollection of the assassination of President Kennedy. The Dutch convinced themselves they were moral winners because they played the more beautiful football. Now this view is being fundamentally challenged.
more from David Winner at The Guardian here.