A small nation with grand ambitions in disaster; a manager sacked midway through the qualifying campaign and over-reliance on big names.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? But on this occasion it’s the Netherlands, rather than England.
The Dutch will not be at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Not unless they can overturn a 12-goal swing against Sweden in Amsterdam tonight.
Assuming that doesn’t happen, the Oranje will miss out on back-to-back tournaments after failing to qualify for the 2016 European Championships.
So what has gone wrong for one of the most recognisable and iconic footballing nations on earth? Our friends at Football Whispers investigate.
To outsiders looking in this Dutch decline might appear to be a recent thing. The reality is it began with success.
Reaching the 2010 World Cup final, where they were beaten 1-0 in extra-time by Spain, might have been viewed as a triumph. But the Dutch public felt differently.
The functional, bordering on aggressive, style of play preached by coach Bert van Marwijk was seen as the total opposite of what Dutch football stood for.
In broad terms, van Marwijk overachieved by guiding a talented yet limited Dutch side to the final in South Africa.
But any goodwill towards the coach and his players was undone in the final as the snarling midfield of Mark van Bommel and Nigel de Jong set about trying to intimidate and unsettle their superior opponents.
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Did van Marwijk instruct De Jong to commit near-assault on Xabi Alonso? Of course not. But that enduring image is the epitome of why the Dutch public never took to that side.
Van Marwijk’s time was up after failing to gain a point from an admittedly hard group which included Germany, Portugal and Denmark, at the 2012 European Championships.
But things have scarcely got better since then.
Louis van Gaal, Guus Hiddink and Danny Blind have all tried and failed to truly reinvigorate Holland since, with a third-place finish at the 2014 World Cup under LVG the high point.
Blind’s reign was particularly disastrous. Having already failed to take the Oranje to the 2016 European Championships he was sacked in March following a 2-0 defeat to Bulgaria.
It was ironic that was the game Blind finally decided to give youth a chance. Ajax’s 17-year-old centre-back Matias de Ligt was thrown in for his debut after just two senior appearances but was out of his depth.
In appointing ex-Sunderland manager Dick Advocaat, 70, for his third spell as Netherlands boss the KNVB – the Dutch FA – have highlighted a major issue: a lack of progressive coaches.
Advocaat first had the role from 1992 to 1994 before returning in 2002 for another two-year stint. Van Gaal has also held the post twice, as has Hiddink.
The list of managers since 1990 reads like a who’s who of Dutch football from back in the day.
But therein lies the problem. Dutch coaches, with the exception of the impressive Peter Bosz who took Ajax to last year’s Europa League final before moving to Borussia Dortmund, have fallen way behind.
Van Gaal’s methods were seen as outdated by the time he was sacked by Manchester United while Ronald Koeman is under pressure at Everton this season.
The players aren’t faring much better. Once the envy of Europe, Holland have failed to produce a genuinely world-class talent in years – and it shows.
At 33, Arjen Robben is captain and the Oranje’s most important player. Fellow 30-somethings Robin van Persie, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Wesley Sneijder have also been included in recent squads.
The fact two of those are centre-forwards is another big issue for Dutch football.
Known for their No.9s in a bygone era, Holland desperately lack a striker of Marco van Basten, Ruud van Nistelrooy or Dennis Bergkamp’s calibre.
Spurs flop Vincent Janssen has led the line in recent games and despite rejuvenating his form with Fenerbahce, he has never been prolific.
The other out-and-out striker in Advocaat’s current squad is Sporting’s Bas Dost.
The hulking striker has scored just once in 16 outings for his country and shows little sign of replicating his club form on the international scene.
Indeed, few Dutch players even play starring roles for big clubs anymore. Gone are the days when you could find Holland internationals at the core of major clubs across Europe.
Goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen might be at Barcelona but he is behind Marc-Andre Ter Stegen.
Right-back Daryl Janmaat is Watford’s second-choice while Davy Propper finally left PSV Eindhoven this summer… to join Premier League new-boys Brighton and Hove Albion.
Even Davy Klaassen, who got a move to ambitious Everton, is having a hard time of it with Toffees supporters puzzled as to why Koeman spent £25m on the former Ajax captain.
If there is a positive for the Dutch, perhaps it is the turnaround enjoyed by neighbours and fierce rivals Germany.
After failing to get out of their group at the 2000 European Championships, the DFB looked at how they were developing and coaching players from the grassroots up.
Since then they have won the World Cup and finished third at least in the last four tournaments, as well as reaching the semi-finals of the last three Euros.
Something has to give for Holland. But if their managerial appointment process is anything to go by nothing will change quickly.