Tag Archives: socceroos

Pim’s on Ice – now for a real coach

The autopsy has been conducted, the eulogy delivered and the culprits drawn and courted so now it’s time for Football Federation Australia to move on and recruit our next national team coach.

The likely replacements include Paul LeGuen, Sven Goran Eriksson, Carlos Alberto Parreira and Marcelo “EL Loco” Bielsa.

Prior to assessing the credentials of these candidates, I should say that the Socceroos prefer to play a confident, attacking, proactive style of football – one that reflects our true sporting culture. We witnessed the benefits of this style of play under Guss Hiddink at the 2006 World Cup.  These playing characteristics obviously affect the selection of coach. Further, the coach must instil the players with technical qualities and believe in the youth of our proud nation.

Now for the candidates…..

Paul Le Guen

Le Guen had successful coaching stints at French clubs Lyon and PSG and Scottish giants Rangers. He recently resigned from his post as the national team coach of Cameroon following his side’s inglorious exit from the World Cup after losing all three of its group matches. Further, and despite boasting the talents of players such as Samuel Eto’o and Alex Song, Cameroon were the first team officially knocked out of the 2010 World Cup.  The abovementioned results speak for themselves….

Sven Goran Eriksson

Erikkson enjoyed an extremely successful tenure as a club football manager in the Swedish, Portuguese and Italian leagues from 1978 to 2001, most notably with Italian club, Lazio.  In the period 2001 to 2006 he coached the England national team.  Despite having coached many of England’s “golden generation” of players, Eriksson failed to take England beyond the quarter final stages of both the 2002 and 2006 World Cups and most notably, failed to engineer a win over a ten man Brazil side in the 2002 World Cup quarter final.  Further, Eriksson had a disastrous and short stint as the manager of the Mexican national team – in fact, immediately after he was sacked in April 2009 the Mexican fans’ association held a ‘victory rally’ attended by approximately 30,000 angry supporters! In short, Eriksson has been unable to replicate his club football success on the international stage.  Finally, he would cost a pretty penny.  In my opinion, it would not be money well spent. 

Carlos Alberto Parreira

We’re getting warmer now….

Parreira has enjoyed a distinguished coaching career.  He coached Brazil to victory in the 1994 World Cup, 2004 Copa America and the 2005 Confederations Cup.  Further, he is one of only two coaches that has led five national teams to the World Cup: Kuwait in 1982, United Arab Emirates in 1990, Brazil in 1994 and 2006, Saudi Arabia in 1998 and South Africa in 2010. 

Nevertheless, and somewhat surprisingly, he failed to take Brazil beyond the quarter final stages of the 2006 World Cup.  This, despite having attacking talents such as Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Adriano and Robinho at his disposal.  Further, and like Eriksson, he will not come cheap and frankly, I would prefer seeing Football Federation Australia investing the money in grassroots football and unearthing the next Harry Kewell and Tim Cahill. God knows we need more of them….

So that leaves the madman, Marcelo Bielsa

Bielsa coached the Argentine national team from 1998 to 2004 and enjoyed mixed success.  The team exited the 2002 World Cup at the first round but were runners-up at the 2004 Copa America and won the 2004 Olympic Games.   Bielsa is the current coach of the Chilean national team and it is here that he has truly worked wonders.  Under his guidance the team has undergone many historic firsts, including their first win over Argentina in official matches and beating Paraguay away from home for the first time in nearly thirty years.  Further, Bielsa fast tracked many young talents throughout Chile’s qualification campaign and employs an attacking brand of football – Chile scored the most goals in the South American qualification stages of the World Cup. 

Bielsa’s relationships with the media are also good. 

His interviews are stimulating and he has been known to field every last question from the assembled media at his press conferences.  Further, he once famously stated:

“Every section of the media should get the same attention from me, from the capital’s most prominent TV channel to the smallest newspaper in the provinces”.

A refreshing change from “Pim’s and (very) dry” who, amongst other things, publicly smashed the A-League and later, rather than backing away from his comments reportedly remarked, “I’m Dutch, we’re honest”.

Bielsa is reportedly paid $1.5 million per annum to coach the Chilean national team – a figure less than what Football Federation Australia paid the man who couldn’t get and/or afford a decent haircut.  

There are increasing suggestions Bielsa will leave his post now that Chile has exited the World Cup….

As Deborah Harry once sang, “I want that man”.

Mark “The ‘F’ Word” Fiorenti – discussing all things concerning the World Game.

Australia vs Serbia: The Chevaps tasted good but only if we’d sampled them sooner…along with a side of Sauerkraut

“Don’t bother chasing women or buses…..Chances are, you’ll miss both” – author unknown.

The same arguably applies to World Cup and tournament football.

The Socceroos’ inspiring 2-1 win over Serbia was brilliant but not enough to earn qualification for the second round of the World Cup. A team only gets three bites of the cherry and Australia effectively wasted one of them against Germany. As such, it was always playing catch up football and needed a miracle to progress.

Having said that, the Socceroos earned some redemption and will go home with their heads held high. Pride in the shirt has been restored and Australia’s second ever World Cup win (and first over a European nation and heavyweight, I might add), removed any doubt they deserve a place on the World’s biggest sporting stage.

The Socceroos were (finally) due some luck at this tournament and they certainly rode it against the Serbs, who were close to their best despite the scoreline. A combination of wasteful finishing, particularly by Milos Krasic, and Mark Schwarzer’s brilliance kept Serbia at bay in a one sided first half. But a dominant second half performance by the boys in green and gold secured the points and some well earned respect.
Continue reading Australia vs Serbia: The Chevaps tasted good but only if we’d sampled them sooner…along with a side of Sauerkraut

Australia vs Ghana (Part II): I see Red. Full stop.

A few days ago I reviewed Australia’s gutsy performance and 1-1 draw against Ghana.  That performance gave the Socceroos a glimmer of hope going into their third and final group game against Serbia.

In short, I was impressed by the Socceroos’ fighting spirit and tactical set up to earn some redemption in Rustenberg.

All this, whilst playing a majority of the match with “10 men”……

As promised, today “The F Word” gives his thoughts on “that penalty”.
Continue reading Australia vs Ghana (Part II): I see Red. Full stop.

Australia vs Ghana (Part I): I see Red (on and off the field). But shades of green and gold, too.

“90 minutes, 90 emotions” – A –League advertising campaign.

So imagine what a week in football does to a supporter!

And what a week it was in Australian football. The debacle in Durban, the media circus and fallout that followed, a(nother) controversial sending off and finally, some redemption in Rustenburg.

The Socceroos’ World Cup campaign hangs by a thread but Australia’s draw with Ghana was a sharp reminder of what is possible in a green and gold shirt.

Pim Verbeek’s tactics against Germany were negative and nonsensical.  Further, the Socceroos appeared devoid of pace, creativity and passion. The performance against Ghana however, was a drastic improvement and the 10 men who remained on the field at Royal Bafokeng can hold their heads high.
Continue reading Australia vs Ghana (Part I): I see Red (on and off the field). But shades of green and gold, too.

Some dare I say "Mouth Watering" ties ahead at World Cup

All in all a promoters dream in the 2010 World Cup – so many games changing so many fortunes all hanging on a knife edge in the 3rd round!

  1. No bigger than Chile v Spain – a Spanish loss and they are out.
  2. Italy v Slovakia – Italy must win to get through (NZ v Paraguay to add some smeltz…I’m sorry spice).
  3. Japan v Denmark – winner through to the next round.
  4. Germany v Ghana – could the unthinkable happen and Germany not qualify for the round of 16?
  5. Our Socceroos v Serbia – Aussie win may get us through depending on results, Serbian win sees them into the next round.
  6. Slovenia v England – a must win for England or one of the tournament favourites is going home!  The spice is that if USA win, England must win by more to ensure a place in the next round.
  7. USA v Algeria – USA an unlikely member of the final 16 but should get through with a win.
  8. South Korea v Nigeria – Sth Korea will again move on to the round of 16 with a win.
  9. Greece v Argentina – Greece need to win by more than Sth Korea if they are to go through.  A tall order against an undefeated Argentinian team.
  10. France v the host nation – You would think a France win on paper but has all the team unrest and infighting taken its toll?  Besides if Uruguay v Mexico is a draw, this result doesn’t matter.
  11. Uruguay v Mexico – A winner heads the group whilst the loser may miss out.  A draw and both go through.

How good is that 12 out of 16 games with a direct result on the next round. 

Sportzfan Radio 159.2

Magers League Rugby Ball21 June 2010 159.2 – Fiorenti continues discussing the fortunes of the Socceroos and gives his opinion on some underachieving countries at the World Cup, Paul Dalligan highlights the AFL leading the NRL 2 to 1 in the racism stakes, is disappointed at the state of NSW rugby and believes the Cockroaches will make changes and go for youth in State of Origin 3.  He also suggests the Professor’s Canterbury Bulldogs have picked up a likely player in Trent Hodkinson (now with Manly) who kicked two field goals late in the game to help Manly down the Rabbitohs.  The Panel looks at the AFL’s suggestion of the 2012 18 team league being broken up into Conferences and Sean wonders whether that may prevent Collingwood from ever playing Carlton in a Grand Final again.

Australia vs Germany: We parked the bus but the tyres were flat. In fact, a couple have been flat for a few years now…..

Schwarzer – Wilkshire, Moore, Neill, Chipperfield – Grella, Valeri – Culina, Garcia, Emerton – Cahill.

4-2-3-1 or 4-6???

On Sunday’s edition of Sportzfan Radio my fellow panellists asked me what tactical approach Pim Verbeek would employ against the Germans. I responded by saying, “Pim will park the bus in front of the German goal”. Put simply, his primary and in fact only objective would be put up to eight or more Socceroos’ players behind the ball and attempt to preclude the Germans from scoring.

Park the bus he did, but the tyres were flat and the engine(room) dead. Further, the driver was confused and frustrated, ultimately seeing red. All this whilst Pim overlooked that he had not one, but a few decent ‘spares’ in the trunk and forgot the newer model at home.

When the abovementioned Australian team was announced just after 4am, I no longer needed my shot of espresso to wake me up. Rather, I needed something to drown my sorrows. I couldn’t help but feel the game was already lost before a ball had even been kicked.

In fact, you could sense it in the build up all week. The players were paying far too much respect to Germany in the press (a very un-Australian trait) and the modus operandi was simple, not to lose.

The abovementioned starting line up confirmed as much. It sent a clear message – we’re here for a draw.

Pim Verbeek’s tactics were downright negative but more worringly, nonsensical.

For two and a half years Pim put his faith in a gameplan which focused on an ability to shut teams down and edge out hard-fought victories. It worked beautifully throughout our qualification campaign – 11 victories, 3 draws and no losses. Need I say more….

But the one time when safety was the highest priority, Pim recklessly sent out a combination of players who played out of position in a system he had never tried before.

Against three time World Cup winner and Euro 2008 finalist, Germany, no less.

Don’t mention the war…..

Well Pim, you just got one. The reasons for:

1. Josh Kennedy had started the previous two games for the Socceroos (scoring in one of them) but was consigned to the bench, with Cahill asked to play as a lone striker and target man. We all along knew a ‘striker’ of Scotty McDonald’s height and physique couldn’t cut it in that position (that’s why the poor fella didn’t make the cut – because he was played out of position far too many times under Verbeek) so why play Cahill, an ‘attacking midfielder’ who is of similar physique up front on his own??? Worse still it rendered Cahill, the driver of the bus and Australia’s most important midfield player, virtually useless. No wonder he saw red!

2. Culina, a holding midfielder under Verbeek’s entire reign, was now a left winger, presumably to stop Philip Lahm’s marauding down Germany’s right flank, but his capacity to launch attacks with his long and short passing game was nullified.

3. The omission of Marco Bresciano (a player who is capable of creating chances and scoring the odd goal) and the selection of Richard Garcia in his place was baffling. Garcia, by all accounts only made the cut because of Rhys Williams’ injury but here he was starting (and yes, you guessed it, playing out of position!) against the Germans.

4. Last week I lamented to my Sportzfan radio colleagues that Vinnie Grella seemed more intent on leaving studmarks on opposing players’ knees than winning the ball in midfield and breaking up opposing plays – a role that is so crucial to the way Verbeek’s side operates and that Verbeek ought to rein him in or drop him. Against the Germans, Grella appeared slow, lost and overawed by the occasion. That showing earned him “the early Shower award”.

I can only hope Pim Verbeek gave him the “hairdryer” treatment afterwards…..

And what of Harry Kewell? He had trained fully for a week and Verbeek himself was saying for days it was a straight fight between he and Kennedy for the lone striker’s position.

Both were on the bench.

And neither were introduced as substitutes!

With Saturday’s game against Ghana now rendered a must-win and Cahill suspended, Kennedy, Bresciano and Kewell (the latter duo who have both barely played all year due to injury) could have all benefited from a 20-minute cameo against the Germans.

Instead, defensive midfielder Mile Jedinak and inexperienced, rookie striker Nikita Rukavytsya were handed run outs. Jedinak, at 0-4 presumably as an act of damage control and Rukavytsya presumably to….. (I’ll have to get back to you on that one).

From start to end, Verbeek’s decisions were ridiculous and illogical.

But let’s not take anything away from an excellent and flawless German performance. I regularly said the Socceroos’ best hope against the Germans was a draw but in all likelihood, we would lose.

By one or two goals.

But 4 zip?! C’mon………Aussie, c’mon.

Yes, we may have still lost the game but had our best and strongest line up started in their familiar positions, I doubt we would have lost by such a margin. Moreover, we would have lost honourably.

Whilst many may be surprised by the Socceroos’ showing against the Germans, in some ways the loss was four years in the making.

The signs have been there for some time, but were papered over by hope, optimism and a relatively straight forward qualifying campaign along with a number of positive friendly results against reputable international outfits.

Under Pim Verbeek, the Socceroos have not played a decent game since last August’s 3-1 win over the Republic of Ireland.

Nearly 1,000 minutes of football have been played since then. The embarrassing loss we saw at the hands of the USA last week was a long time coming and provided the reality check we needed. Pity it didn’t come earlier…..

Whenever I have been asked about the Socceroos on Sportzfan Radio, I have consistently argued:

1. Pim Verbeek’s game plan was and still is one dimensional, the modus operandi being all about scoring first, shutting out the opposition and then winning a game by that one goal margin. All well and good against the likes of Qatar and Bahrain but what are the chances of going ahead against the likes of German and assuming we do, keeping them out?! Further, I have voiced concerns about Pim lacking a plan ‘B’ and queried whether the Socceroos could adequately respond tactically during matches. We all saw that (non existent) plan B against the Germans.

2. Argued the Socceroos’ current starting eleven is in many ways a carbon copy of the class of 2006. The problem of course is that the players are four years older and (with the exception of Schwarzer and Cahill), are no longer playing at the elite levels they were four years ago. Did Verbeek bother to look at and ‘blood’ any other players?

3. Argued there are many players in the Socceroos’ squad and worse still, the starting eleven, based on their reputation, rather than form and have done little to justify their continued and unchallenged place within the Australian set-up. For instance, I have regularly argued our central defensive duo of Craig Moore and Lucas Neill are slow and old and (especially in the case of the former), “past it”. That is why Captain Socceroo no longer plays in the English Premier League – it is arguably too fast for him. And as for Craig (what club does he play for again?), need I say “Moore”. All this whilst Verbeek constantly overlooked in-form defenders Eddy Bosnar and Sasha Ognenovski. In fact, they played no part whatsoever in the qualifying campaign. A travesty. And don’t get me started on former Socceroo and Joe Marston medallist, Simon Colosimo.

Some of you reading this may think I am too pessimistic (especially considering I tipped the Socceroos to lose or at best, draw against the Germans). The worry for me was not the loss, but the lack of creativity, passion, motivation and above all, the magnitude of the loss.

Further, we now have to take on the Ghanaians and Serbians with the tried and ‘tired’ formation, no plan B, an out of form Kewell and absent our best player.

Am I conducting the post mortem too early?

….Or perhaps too late?

Endnote – If you haven’t read my previous blog – “The World Cup Form Guide”, please do so. One thing you will glean from it is this – idealism is a personality trait I have in abundance. In relation to the Socceroos’ fate I say this. Pim will leave his post for the street stalls of Marrakesh soon enough, but the clear out should not and will not end there. Whether it be Ruud Gullit, Frank Rijkard or Marcelo Bielsa, the new gaffer should be judged by one K.P.I. and one K.P.I. only in his first 6 months at the helm, “You don’t need to win the Asian Cup. But don’t play not to lose. And above all, be Australian. Be Fresh, Brave and Bold”.

It could be one of the best things to happen to Australian football for a while.

And gave the best country on earth a second chance at the best game on earth.

 “The F Word”

Sportzfan Radio 158.2

13 June 2010 158.2 – a search party is sent out for Mark Fiorenti… the Professor and Sean discuss Steve Strasburg’s debut for the Washington Nationals and wonder if the “Stras” has tried to do a deal with Don Smallgoods… the Panel discuss World Cup coaches that look like James Bond villains – Pim Verbeek won hands down, while where at it tackling the big issues- Pim change your hairstyle…it is bad hair day for you everyday!  Fiorenti says bidding for the 2018 World Cup has damaged Australian soccer’s credibility… Dalligan says Gold Coast will have no room to hide Karmichael Hunt on his poor showing in the VFL yesterday and NSW to beat Queensland 16-10 in State of Origin 2.

Until next week blow that VUVUZELA 😉

Tell us your weird/strange sporting superstitions. #superstitionsinsport for next week’s show…

Here are some from this week’s show…

RT @SportzfanRadio: #Superstitionsinsport@danieleade says he won’t eat Subway before a game on @sportzfanradioSun Jun 13 04:26:09 via web


RT @SportzfanRadio: #Superstitionsinsport@seancallanan says he ate Mars bars while doing warm ups for basketballSun Jun 13 09:56:30 via Twitter for iPhone


@SportzfanRadio speaking of the commish, I showed him the shoes I was wearing, because I’d have to wear them til the Titans lost again.Sun Jun 13 02:50:52 via UberTwitter

Sportzfan Radio 157.2

6 June 2010 – Part 2 – Hear Nicole query the honesty of Melbourne Storm players over signing multiple contracts.  She says Dalligan is mistaken if he thinks they didn’t know something was wrong.  Fiorenti talks about the World Cup and the Socceroo’s 3-1 defeat at the hands of the US. The Panel discuss Jason Akermanis’ newspaper article and query whether the Bulldogs penalty is too harsh.  The Panel also muse on their favourite movie coaches of sporting teams and discuss listeners tweets with Hoosier’s coach, Norman Dale getting the most support.