Tag Archives: tony-popovic

Tuesday musing – Farewell Ange and Aussies off to a bolter in the Ashes

I have been a longtime supporter of Ange Postecoglou and was especially pleased when he was appointed as Socceroos coach to replace Holger Osieck. There can be no doubt that Ange has turned the team’s fortunes around as at one stage the Socceroos had slumped to number 100 in the FIFA world rankings but he now has them back at 39 after qualifying for the World Cup. Ange also managed to win an Asian Championship along the way so he is definitely leaving the National team in a lot better shape than when he took over. Given that success I was most disappointed that he decided to pull the pin on his time as the manager of the team. A bit like David Gallup, I am puzzled as to why you would walk away after having scaled the mountain the hard way. It reminds me of David Hall, who was the original trainer of Maykbe Diva. After the first Melbourne Cup win he went overseas to pursue a training career leaving the Diva with Lee Freedman to chalk up two more wins. At least he had the first win! The search is now on for a new manager and I have heard many names mentioned including current Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold, Brisbane Roar coach John Aloisi, former Western Sydney Wanderers coach Tony Popovic, Melbourne Victory’s Kevin Muscat and, in a blast from the past, Aussie Guus Hiddink. I hope the powers that be stick with a well credentialled Aussie coach. Personally I think Arnold has the ability to do the top job. He already knows the difficulties having been the Socceroos coach from 2006-2007 and he has been a success in the national competition with his A League side currently holding all three trophies.

Great to see the Ashes series has started as it is the most anticipated series in world cricket. In the recently completed First Test, the Australians gained the ascendancy after being able to scratch out a slim first innings lead then managed to take some crucial, early second innings wickets. The Aussie speed trio of Hazlewood, Cummins and Starc were wonderful and had the English on the back foot in both innings. Providing the three can stay fit, they will be more than a handful for the English over the final four tests. A special mention to the skipper too. Steve Smith’s innings was the real difference between the sides and the only reason the Aussies had a first innings lead. Without his contribution we would have been facing a sizeable deficit to make up and that would have completely turned the tables. Our top order needs to take a leaf out of Smith’s book and seek to occupy the crease rather than go after quick runs all the time. After all it is a ‘Test’ not a 20/20 game.

Mark Fiorenti on the search for the Socceroos coach

Jan 23 2011 Studio Picturies 040Whilst it was a good result for the Socceroos against Canada, I am not sure we can read too much into this result for the following reasons:

1. The players were always going to be fired up after Holger Osieck was sacked and the shellacking’s the media has served up to the them in the last few days.

2. Canada haven’t qualified for the World Cup so are they a worthy opponent?  Would the Canadians have taken this game as seriously as the Socceroos given the events of the last few days?

3. Canada is nowhere near the calibre of football team that Brazil and France are.  In hindsight, I Holgerconsider Osieck shot himself in the foot opting to play friendlies against these two nations, especially considering: (a) Brazil never take friendlies easy, especially ones they play at home (their fans expect to win all the time!) and moreover, they don’t have to qualify for the World Cup as they are hosts and (b) France were shooting blanks up until last week so the Aussie game would have given them and their strikers, particularly Karim Benzema (who hadn’t scored for the French national team in over 1,000 minutes) some good shooting practice.

I still believe and moreover, am concerned that our national team is in danger of embarrassing itself next year.  Luckily, we have eight months to try and steady the ship and get the broom out to clear some old wood. Lucas Neill and Brett Holman immediately come to mind – they could still be handy squad players, but not starting players in my opinion. The new regime should blood some youngsters like Rogic, Davidson, Lowry and Williams and take a serious look at the problem left back position. McKay is a midfielder and not an option whilst Carney is a shambles.  Lowry and/or Davidson are good options.

Finally, the coach, whoever it is, can start to bring back the competitive spirit and self belief our players have been lacking in recent months.

As for the coach, it looks like it will be a local appointment and moreover, over a five year period.  It graham-arnoldappears the FFA has learned the lessons of the past and the new appointment will incorporate next year’s World Cup, the Asian Cup in 2015, qualification rounds for the 2018 World Cup and the 2018 World Cup, assuming we make it!.

The most likely candidates are Ange Postecoglou, Graham Arnold and Tony Popovic.

tony-popovicPoppa had a great year at the Wanderers last year, especially considering their limited budget and experience and it was in their first season!  Nevertheless, I feel he is still a little too raw.

I don’t warm very well to Arnold, but in his defence he has done wonders at the Mariners considering their limited funds and constant sales. This has forced him to regularly re-invent the team.

I like Ange.  When he joined the Roar they were a shambles – they allegedly had a culture unsuited to top level sport and a number of egos ruled the roost.  He eradicated the culture and cleared out the dead wood in his first season, remembering he was appointed mid way through that season. He then won the minor premiership and Grand Final in his second season and the Grand Final in his thirdange-postecoglou season.  A fine effort!  He then joined Victory and implemented his plan and did very well considering his ideas were quite foreign to the team. Victory are now favourites for this season’s A-League flag.  I also like the style of play his teams adopt.

For me, it should be Ange but I wouldn’t lose sleep if Graham Arnold was appointed.

Professor’s rant – Osieck over and out!

HolgerOn a recent Sportzfan Radio show we discussed at length with our soccer expert, Mark Fiorenti, the notion that the Socceroos coach should be appointed for a period well beyond the next World Cup. The rationale behind such an appointment was to encourage the coach to rejuvenate the playing squad at regular intervals with younger players so as to not be left with what we have now……a lot of players that are past their use by date.  The average age of the team that lost 6-0 to Brazil several weeks ago was 32.7 years. The average age of the Brazilian team was 26.3.

In fact, the Sportzfan Radio panel has been discussing the average age of the Socceroos players since the qualifying rounds for the last World Cup and said way back then that youth needed to be infused. This didn’t happen and now we are left with the sad reality that, whilst Australia is going to the World Cup, we look like we are simply making up the numbers.

Who then to appoint to replace Osieck? This will depend on whether the FFA has learnt anythingschwarzer from the current situation. I have heard calls to bring back Guus Hiddink or to insert a credentialed coach from Europe. Both suggestions are not the answer. Guus at 66 years of age (67 when next year’s World Cup is on) is yesterday’s man and also past his use by date. He will only be thinking about achieving something in the World Cup (like Osieck) that will not take care of the Socceroo’s future. Same could be said for any profiled European coach.

I am all for giving one of the current Australian A League coaches a shot with the mandate to coach for the future of the Socceroos and not be blinkered to think the future only extends as far as next year’s World Cup. As an example, look at the great building job Tony Popovic has achieved at Western Sydney Wanderers in one season.

The FFA needs to insert KPI’s into the contract that reflect the need for identification of young talent and the need for youth to be injected into the squad. Only then, will the national team be capable of approaching the past glories that the Australian public has become accustomed to!