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.
This time last year the Fremantle Football Club were the only undefeated team in the AFL, this year they are the only team not to win a game. What has happened? One of the reasons is personnel, they are an aging list and some of their key players are injured, but the main issue looks to be a change of game plan. It would seem they are trying to play more in the Hawthorn style, but unfortunately they don’t have the skill to execute that type of play. Their negative, lock down style of play got them to a Grand Final and save for a bout of stage fright and poor umpiring, they could easily have won that game, why change? I think they should revert to the style of football that made them successful. It may not be pretty, but it worked.
I have also got to have a say about the scheduling in the A-League. Melbourne City were scheduled to play after a five day break and while the best team on the night won the match, the fatigue factor certainly influenced the margin. Then you had Brisbane who had played on the previous Friday playing on the Sunday. Why didn’t Brisbane play on the Friday and Melbourne on the Sunday which would have been the fairest outcome. To compound the issue, the grand finalists have also been mismatched by the schedule with Adelaide playing at home on an eight day break playing the Wanderers on a six day break. At least in the AFL each side gets a seven day break leading into the final match of the season. How do you take a competition seriously with scheduling like that for a marquee game? By the way, I don’t care who wins this final.
I know that a lot of other people have commented on Mick Malthouse’s comment that Alex Rance should have been let off by the AFL Match Review Panel on the basis of his good character, but I could not let it pass without comment. What Rance did may have been out of character, however, he still did it and it was intentional. To excuse someone in that situation would be a total miscarriage of justice. Did it deserve 2 weeks? Maybe one would have been sufficient on the basis of impact/injury, but a suspension was definitely required. Good character may lead to a reduced sentence, but guilt is guilt.
Have a great weekend!
On 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 anything 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!
07 October 2012 266.2 – Daniel continues with his preview of the NBL season. He thinks Sydney Kings will finish on the bottom and Perth Wildcats will win the title with the Adelaide 36ers being the big improvers. Mark Fiorenti previews the A League season. He sees a wide open season with Brisbane Roar winning the minor premiership and Western Sydney Wanderers being wooden spooners. He also briefly looks at the Premier League with WBA being the surprise packets so far. The Panel have no real interest in the Bathurst 1000. Paul Dalligan wraps up the NRL season with some comments on last week’s Grand Final between Melbourne Storm and Canterbury-Bankstown. Gelding queries the biting incident involving James Graham and Billy Slater.