Netherlands winger Arjen Robben has hinted that dressing room unrest undermined their UEFA EURO 2012 challenge, which ended last night following a third successive defeat. The Dutch went to Poland and Ukraine among the favourites to lift the trophy, but failed to pick up a point in Group B, losing to Denmark, Germany and, last night, Portugal.
The future of coach Bert van Marwijk is now under scrutiny and his chances of staying in the role will not be helped by revelations of disharmony among the players.
Bayern Munich star Robben told Voetbal International: "Of course there were some internal issues but we will keep them indoors. But believe me, we tried everything, it's just not worked."
While Dutch fans were quick to search for a scapegoat, Robben insisted it was a collective failure. He said: "The hunger in the team is there, but we failed together.
"And I mean the technical staff, the players, the whole team. This is the harsh reality of the sporting world. We must all, therefore, look in the mirror."
Captain Mark van Bommel, who was dropped for last night's clash with the Portuguese, admitted the atmosphere in the squad was different to that at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, when the Oranje made it to the Final only to lose in extra-time to Spain.
The 35-year-old said: "I am captain and will always protect my players, but the atmosphere was different than two years ago. Why that was I don't know, I can only speak for myself, not the other guys."
Things started brightly for the Netherlands on a night when they had to win by two clear goals and hope Denmark lost to Germany as Rafael van der Vaart put them in front. But Cristiano Ronaldo netted a brace for Paulo Bento's men, who joined the Germans in going through following their 2-1 defeat of Denmark.
Van der Vaart said: "I knew it would be difficult. We had to score two goals. We started off really well and scored one goal, but we knew we had to score another one, so we got nervous.
"After our first goal, Portugal began to play very well, and we didn't. We all played badly. We all have to take a good, long look in the mirror. All we can say is that it's sad for our supporters.
"We lost all confidence after losing the game against Denmark, and so today against Portugal we knew it could go wrong, and so it did. We have to start all over again."