Hiddink sends Davids home

 

FURIOUS infighting in the Dutch squad burst into the open last night when Dutch midfielder Edgar Davids was sent home by manager Guus Hiddink.

The 23 year old was furious at being left out of the Dutch opening line up against Switzerland and made no secret of his feelings. He accused teammates, believed to be Ajax colleagues Ronald de Boer and skipper Danny Blind, of trying to get him dropped and poured scorn on Hiddink.

"Hiddink listens too much to other players," complained the former Ajax player who recently moved to AC Milan for £3 million. Davids also vented his anger in Dutch newspapers yesterday morning.

Hiddink asked him to apologise. Davids agreed but said he still felt the same way. Then the Dutch coach acted immediately. "This wasn't an easy decision to make and anybody who suggests it was is lying," said Hiddink whose squad is now reduced to 21 ahead of Tuesday's meeting with England.

"But there are times when you have to take such decisions, however difficult they are, for the good of the team. In a tournament as short as this, where there is a lot of tension, you cannot allow such situations to harm the team. Davids left the camp straight away and headed for the airport.

Equally unhappy is Clarence Seedorf who is upset over Hiddink's team selection. Seedorf was pulled off by Hiddink after an early booking in the match against Switzerland on Thursday night.

"It is appalling what is happening behind the scenes. I know I was brought off because I had already been booked but I should have not been playing in that position.

I want to be involved in the build up not marking at the back. I was up against a guy who was much bigger than me. It was ridiculous. I was pleased we won but not what happened before," complained the Real Madrid player.

And he had some scathing remarks about the manager's team selection. "We had a three week build up where we settled on a style of play and it has been turned upside down after just one match.

"There were six positional changes for the team for the match against the Swiss and I could not understand at all why Davids was left on the bench," said Seedorf.

If is not the first time dissent in the Dutch camp has caused unrest but while Ruud Gullit walked out of the squad in the United States in 1994 that was before the World Cup had started.

A precedent was set for sending a player home in the US, however, when German coach Berti Vogts sent Steffen Effenberg packing after he had made abusive gestures to fans.

But it was clear that Hiddink had done a lot of soul searching before taking his decision. "I am not proud of what I have done, although I had to do it," he said.

Blind, skipper of the Ajax team - which included Davids - which won the European Cup in 1995 was spoken to by Hiddink before Davids was told his Euro 96 campaign was over.

However, the veteran sweeper denied any involvement. "It was a decision of the coach and he only spoke to me after he had talked to Edgar," said Blind. "I am surprised at what has happened because I have played with Edgar for some years now and nothing like this has ever occurred before.

While Davids' immediate international future is bleak in the extreme, Hiddink hinted that the row would not spell the end of his career for Holland. "When I was 23, I did some things which were wrong," he said. "Maybe he will think in another way when he is so like me. We will see what will happen in the autumn."