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.