Socceroos need an urgent revamp
The late Eddie Thomson would have laughed and said: “We were lucky to get nil!”
The late Eddie Thomson would have laughed and said: “We were lucky to get nil!” Frank Arok, another former Socceroo coach, would have said in his trademark, gruff, accent: “Son, first and first, it's better to lose one game 6-nil than six games one-nil!” Both are right in regard to the Socceroos' recent capitulation to Brazil. But having played under both of these men with the national team, the jokes would have belied the anguish and the anger both would have felt about the performance.
I-m not saying Holger Osieck wouldn-t be angry, as he has every right to be. Just as thousands of supporters are judging by the reaction on social media. I-m angry too, and so are a lot of my mates - generally ex-players and coaches. We have every right to be.
I love watching teams like Brazil play. I saw them live twice at the last World Cup. In South Africa I also went out of my way to see Spain, and was lucky enough to watch Argentina as well. The quality of their play makes me laugh with joy, it's that good. Of course I also saw Germany - in the opening day disaster against the Socceroos. Déjà vu kicked in big-time watching the game in Brazil - it was Germany all over again, but maybe even worse.
Don-t get me wrong, from a pure football perspective I couldn-t help but smile at the sheer genius of Brazil. They play football for fun, with a smile on their face, but they also play to win. They were utterly ruthless against a Socceroo side that - channelling ‘Thommo- - were lucky to get nil.
Reading the comments of our players in media over the years since 2006 I can-t help but notice the increasing use of the letter “I”. I this, I that, I, I, I! There wasn-t too many after the game last week. In fact there was a lot more of the “we” category - the ‘share the blame- category. I didn-t see one comment along the lines of “I stuffed up” or “I played poorly” or ‘I made some elementary mistakes” or maybe even “I should retire”! I can think of a few- I- words that suit though - inept, insipid, ineffective. What about INEXCUSABLE! Ouch. That might hurt, and might even put a few noses out of joint, but then the truth generally has that effect.
The pundits have had a field day with the result. It-s opened the floodgates of criticism that's been building for a while now. Of course the prime target is Holger Osieck, the coach. The rumour mill has been in overdrive about his ability to coach, his tactical nous, his selection policy. There's a scent of blood is in the air.
Osieck seems to have been walking the tight-rope for some time now. Was he lucky to survive after the Oman debacle back in March? Be that as it may, his job was to get Australia to the World Cup, and on that count he has fulfilled his obligations. So does he deserve to be sacked for getting his job done? There is a push on now to get him out and a local in. Ange Postecoglou is the main candidate. But let me say this - coaching a national team is a lot different to club football. There-s a whole different set of circumstances at play that you have no control, or influence, over. Sacking Osieck now will cost money - dollars that may be better invested elsewhere in the short term. Not to mention how we-d be viewed in the eyes of the football world given the advice taken by the FFA when he was appointed.
Frank Farina was sacked when it looked as though we wouldn't qualify for Germany (2006). It worked then, but now we want to sack the coach because although we've qualified, it looks like we'll struggle when we get there. So is it the coach, or the players, or both? I recently received a text from an agent who reckons it's 'criminal' what's happening to this team. I know this person has their own agenda, but to me it still tells a story.
I was reluctant to write this article, given I belong to the ex-coach category. I have no doubt I-ll be branded a wowser, but the simple fact is something needs to give. The performance against Brazil was unacceptable at this level, friendly or not. No amount of sugar-coating can justify it.
The performance can-t, and shouldn-t, be brushed off as an aberration in the belief that all will be well when we get down to the serious stuff. If this was in Europe or South America, there would have been blood spilled by now. It-s all become a bit too cosy and comfortable in 'Camp Socceroos' over these past years.
Truth is, we limped into South Africa, and no amount of spin and propaganda will convince me otherwise. Now we've barely scraped through to Brazil - as much due to a lack of real quality from our opponents (Japan excepted) than anything wonderful from us. We have to take stock.
For me, it's obvious the team needs a revamp. Do it now before Brazil and use the World Cup to prepare for the Asian Cup, which as hosts we must set out to win. Let Osieck see his out his contract, but give him a clear directive to do what should have been done three years ago.
If Holger doesn-t want to do it, that-s a separate issue needs to be dealt with. But starting with the trip to France in a few weeks, we simply have to start playing some of the youngsters. The talent is there - Trent Sainsbury, Matthew Leckie, Rhys Williams, Jason Davidson and Mitch Langerak to mention a few. The only experience I-d take would be Mark Bresciano and Josh Kennedy, because of the type of players they are. We've already wasted too many opportunities, and we can't afford any more repeats of Brazil.