I'm too busy to go back to 'Brilliant Orange' (try and get a copy if you haven't read it) but although the Brentford/Luxembourg links might have been my own, anyone reading that book would have come to roughly the same conclusion re. Dutch football, post war.
I didn't talk about 'why' it was like that, or the history/politics that preceded it, I just stated 'it was' like that!
Northern Ireland and Wales played in the 1958 World Cup, Holland didn't.
Of course Cruyff was selfish, arrogant, a maverick (a 60s maverick and he could only have come from that ultimate generation - see Lennon, Dylan, Beefheart etc.) but you definitely underestimate his reputation, in Britain at least.
The major events here in 1977 were (a) the Jubilee and (b) the Dutch, and specifically Cruyff, playing in a friendly at Wembley. I even seem to remember a will he/won't he play saga leading up to the game. The notion that Cruyff wouldn't be playing was like The Jimi Hendrix Experience taking the stage without Jimi Hendrix.
I know that 1988 team won the European Championship, but to my mind they were a shadow of the Cruyff era. Like comparing The Beatles to Wings. Even the kit (the 1980s.....shouldn't be surprised) was horrible.
As for one player making a huge difference to a team, I'd argue that Argentina wouldn't have got anywhere near either the 1986 or the 1990 World Cup finals without Maradona, and, although a different sport, Ian Botham pretty much turned around the Ashes in 1981 on his own. England were 500-1 to win the Third Test before he came in.
Anyway, today's not the day to dispute Cruyff's influence, today's the day to laugh at Arsenal.
I'd even put it in my diary at the beginning of the year.....'February 19th - Arsenal get knocked out of Europe'. It's as likely to happen as Mothering Sunday or Good Friday.
Erm, I trust you don't support Arsenal!