The Professor and the panel of the Gelding, the Judge, Coutta and Paul Dalligan talk about the Socceroos making the last 16 at the World Cup, the AFL releasing round 1 of their 2023 fixture at the same time as kick-off in the Australia v Argentina match and the AFLW CEO strangely absent during the Grand Final presentations. Paul gives his NRL wrap-up for 2022 and Gelding talks yesterday’s racing at Sandown and gives some tips for today’s Bendigo & Sha Tin race meetings.
The panel of the Professor, the Gelding, Coutta, the Judge and Paul Dalligan discuss the AFLW preliminary finals and preview the Grand Final to be played at Springfield. Paul Dalligan reviews the Jillaroos and Kangaroos wins in the Rugby League World Cup finals. The panel looks hard at the World Cup to start in Qatar this week. Just how many games will the Socceroos win? The AFL and Tasmania reach an in principle agreement about the commercial terms of a deal….but just what does that mean?
I read that Football Federation Australia (FFA) Chief Executive, David Gallop said there had been ‘huge’ amounts of interest in the
Socceroos coaching position from local and overseas candidates. One wouldn’t need to be a Rhodes scholar to understand such a level of interest in the position recently left vacant with the resignation of Ange Postecoglou. After all, the hard work has already been done given that the Socceroos have already qualified for the 2018 World Cup.
With at least fourteen candidates on the list of potential coaches, I note there are only two Australians – Graham Arnold and Tony Popovic. Aside from Postecoglou, the Socceroo’s recent past is littered with International coaches such as Guus Hiddink, Pim Verbeek and Holger Osieck. The difference between Postecoglou and the other three is that Postecoglou cared about the future of Australian soccer, the Socceroos and the A League. To the others is was just a job with one simple task – to qualify for the World Cup with no real interest in much else.
Talk has it that Dutchman, Bert Van Marwijk is a short priced favourite for the job. Van Marwijk’s recent claim to fame is coaching Saudi Arabia to qualification for this year’s World Cup. He is back on the shelf after the Saudi Football Federation couldn’t agree with him on the terms of a new contract.
For Australian soccer’s continued growth, the FFA need to appoint a
local person and Graham Arnold would be the perfect choice. He has the qualifications for the job. For a start he has already been in charge of the National squad back in 2006 and 2007. He has gained more experience in the intervening ten years and is currently the coach of the very successful Sydney FC. Postecoglou proved conclusively that Australian coaches are up to the task of coaching at International level so there should be no impediment to appointing Arnold.
However, I have no confidence that the FFA will get this most important of decisions correct. After all this is an organisation that squandered $45.6 million of Federal assistance in an ill fated (some would say impossible) attempt to convince FIFA to award the 2018 or 2022 World Cup to Australia and we all know how that turned out.
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.
It was great to watch the Socceroos qualify on Wednesday for the World Cup in Russia. I didn’t think they played that well, but deserved the win and deserved the free kick and penalties which resulted in the goals. It is hard to fathom how the Honduras captain could come out and suggest the referee was on the take! While I didn’t think the Australians played to their potential, the Hondurans were very ordinary. Australia’s big problem is the best finisher in the side is Tim Cahill and he is now 38 years old. Cahill himself wants more game time for Melbourne City to hone his skills for the World Cup, but at 38 he doesn’t get to as many contests as he may have in his prime. His finishing against Syria won the game for Australia, but his contribution between goals was negligible. This is a delicate balance because they need him in and around the team. I do not envy the task of Melbourne City manager, Warren Joyce.
Also great to see Elyse Perry get a 200 for the Australian women’s cricket team. She is a genuine all-rounder in all forms of the game and a match winner. I doubt Australia has produced a better all-rounder in men’s or women’s cricket. Not only that, she has also represented Australia in women’s soccer. What a player!!
Speaking of cricket the men’s squad for the first test was announced today with a few surprises. Shaun Marsh being re-called for an 8th time was a big shock, but Cameron Bancroft almost picked himself with his recent record. Also out of left field was the selection of Tim Paine as the keeper. Before he started breaking fingers he was the heir apparent to Brad Hadin, but Paine isn’t even the first choice wicket keeper for Tasmania so what do the Australian selectors know that the Tasmanians don’t? While it was out of left field I support the move because he is a very good keeper and a very accomplished batsman. Marsh effectively taking Glenn Maxwell’s spot is the real bolt from the blue. Maxwells’ shield form has not been that bad with a couple of 50’s and a 45 not out in the most recent game so his form had been okay compared to Matt Renshaw. I have questioned the selectors before and most of the time they seem to get it right, but Marsh has more often than not been a disappointment when selected for Australia so I can’t agree with them there.
Have a great weekend!
One of things I want to discuss is the tragic passing of Drew Morphett. Drew was one of those classic ABC commentators who was comfortable commentating on anything from football to athletics to tiddlywinks. He was always interested in presenting the picture to the audience and not pumping up his own tyres. In a pretty cut-throat industry I think he was universally liked by his peers. He will be missed.
I was also pleased that Nathan Buckley was reappointed as Collingwood coach for another two years as this will consign Collingwood to another two years out of the finals. It has to be good for the competition.
It was interesting to see that three of the banned Essendon players made the All Australian team with Hurley the only player to have made the team previously. Unfortunately for Essendon, Paddy Ryder (Port Adelaide) and Michael Hibberd (Melbourne) no longer play for the club. What it does show is that a year out of the game is not fatal for a player in his 20’s, but perhaps once you get to thirty it is not a positive experience.
Chris Scott took Geelong into another finals series last night and his fellow coaches recently voted him as the hardest coach to coach against. He certainly has had a lot of success since taking over from Bomber Thompson, however, his finals record needs some scrutiny. Since the 2011 finals series where Geelong won three games, including the premiership, but with the loss to Richmond, he has now contested a further nine finals for only two wins and one of those wins was over Hawthorn last year when Isaac Smith had a shot after the siren that could have taken the game away from Geelong. I think a few questions need to be posed as to Scott’s finals coaching record.
Speaking of coaches I cannot believe that Ange Postecoglou has come under so much pressure recently. He got the Socceroos an Asian Cup and in the current qualifiers the Socceroos have only lost one game. They do have an issue with scoring, but I put that down to personnel, not system. His system creates scoring chances, but we don’t seem to have the quality of strikers to put the goals away and this was no more evident that the recent game against Thailand. I think Tommy Juric is a good developing striker in the Mark Viduka mould, but we need a Harry Kewell or Tim Cahill at his best to compliment Juric. This is not Postecoglou’s fault, he has tried to develop players, but Australia just does not have genuine strikers playing at the highest level. Let the World Cup campaign pan out and reassess at the end.
Have a great weekend!
Whilst there was not all that much to tweak my interest this week, I did think Tom Hawkins was dead set stiff for copping a suspension when his hit was quite minor compared to the Cotchin, Cunnington & Jones hits of the previous few weeks. Having said that, you would think with all the publicity attached to those recent hits, he wasn’t using his brains to grab a jumper and then punch someone. The AFL were going to make a stand at some stage and Hawkins was the first one to be subject to the Match Review Panel’s crack down.
I was pleased to see that Josh Schache re-signed with Brisbane. Brisbane have coughed up a lot of players over the last couple of years and it is good to see one of their top draft picks choosing to stay. It’s about time things started to run their way.
It was also good to see the Socceroos succeed against Saudi Arabia on Friday night. Despite an indifferent performance they got the win and evened up the points with the Saudis and now only trail by goal difference. The pressure is on this team to make the World Cup finals and, if they make it, it will be a testament to the coaching of Ange Postecoglou. From what I see this current Australian team is a bit short on talent compared to more recent World Cup campaigns and while they have not yet confirmed qualification for the World Cup, they are still the only team in the group to be undefeated. Clearly, the match against the Blue Samurai in Japan in August will be crucial to qualification for both teams. Japan has the harder draw as they then play Saudi Arabia away in their last game while the Socceroos play bottom of the table Thailand in Australia.
Have a great weekend!
The Australian cricket team sank to a new level this week with another comprehensive defeat at the hands of the touring team from South Africa. This is an absolute embarrassment to go down so meekly on home soil. I don’t think I have seen two consecutive implosions like this in Australia since the rampant West Indian teams toured here in the 1980s. It has got a lot to do about the quality of our batsman. The South African bowlers have been good, but not that good.
We now have the chairman of selectors, Rod Marsh step away from his position and I think scrutiny needs to go onto the coach as well. Darren Lehman was brought in at a time when the team needed to relax a little after the regimented approach of Mickey Arthur’s, but it seems to have gone too far and batsmen don’t seem to know how to work through difficult periods of play. To me this is a coaching issue.
The bowlers have been okay, but I could not see how Joe Mennie deserved a spot ahead of Jackson Bird, with Bird being on his home track. I am also a bit surprised by the lack of success by Nathan Lyon. Lyon usually picks up his 2-3 wickets an innings, but he has had a poor run recently and will probably be dropped for the next test as long as someone else puts their hand up in this weekends Shield games. It also is a bit strange that Victoria has won the last two Sheffield Shields and yet cannot get anyone in the test team. Admittedly Peter Siddle was injured and may have been picked and the same could be said for James Pattinson, but surely someone is doing something right to win twice in a row. Peter Hanscomb with a century in the current Shield game is surely staking a claim.
There was more bad news for Australian sporting teams with the Socceroos only getting a draw in Thailand. This puts Australia back in equal third position behind Japan & Saudi Arabia and in danger of missing out on the next World Cup. Thailand were on the bottom of the table with only one goal and no points before the debacle the other night. There is still a bit to play out and Australia is the only team in the group without a loss, but they really can’t afford to drop any more points if they want the direct pathway into the World Cup.
Have a great weekend!
Well the 2nd Test in Perth petered out to a draw with some monumental batting displays from both teams. Steve Smith was criticized for the timing of his declaration not dangling enough of a carrot for the Kiwi’s to chase. I thought the timing of the declaration was based on the fact that his bowlers had toiled in the stifling heat for two days and could not be expected to front up again “full of beans” unless they got a decent break. In the end, the Australians held the whip hand and I would be more critical of the defensive fields set by Brendan McCallum instead of Steve Smith’s declaration. In his defence, it also should be remembered that Steve Smith has declared in each of Australia’s innings so far this series.
The second Test also saw the last match for Mitchell Johnson and while he has been a great servant for Australia I don’t think we ever saw the best of him for long enough. A lethal unplayable bowler one series and cannon fodder the next. I am a fan, but not with blind faith and I think he chose the right time to go. James Pattinson has been chosen to replace him and I am a fan of his, but I do feel a bit sorry for Peter Siddle. Siddle was Australia’s best bowler in the last Test in England and has not bowled badly in the Sheffield Shield so far this season and can count himself as unlucky. I can’t wait to see Mitchell Starc, Patrick Cummins and James Pattinson in full flight bowling for Australia.
Good to see the Socceroos go to the top of their group in the World Cup qualifier during the week. Tim Cahill was on fire with a hat trick before half time. With Jordan losing and Australia still with two games at home, the Aussies should finish on top of this group and progress to the next stage quite comfortably.
Finally, good to see Adam Scott away to a good start at the AustralianMasters. He has had a poor year to date by his standards and needs a win to build his confidence going into 2016. Given the field, it would be a big disappointment if he couldn’t end up leading at the end of day four.
Have a great weekend!
Well after six long drawn out weeks we are down to the last two teams in the ICC World Cup and it involves the two co-hosts. The only host team to win on their home turf was India in the previous World Cup. Sri Lanka won as a co-host in 1996, but the final was played in Pakistan. I think Australia should start favourite entering their 7th final, whereas New Zealand are playing their first game outside New Zealand in this tournament, in their first final.
Australia are also playing on the MCG and the Kiwis have not played there for quite some time, so the visitors will be out of their comfort zone. If it is a close game, I think New Zealand could come out on top as they have found a way to win the close ones, but if one side wins comfortably that is more likely to be Australia. I will be at the game on Sunday, so I would like to see a close game with Australia winning!
Turning to domestic cricket it was great to see the Vics get up in the Sheffield Shield during the week, but you have to question the tactics adopted by Western Australia. The WA team had to win the game, however, not only did they not declare towards the end of the fourth day and have thirty minutes at Victoria, they also continued to bat and knock up a further forty to fifty runs on the last day. They had the upper hand and didn’t push their advantage. They had to bowl Victoria out to win the Shield, but did not give themselves every chance to do so. All in all the Bushrangers were a worthy winner.
Looking at the EPL, with Manchester United beating Liverpool during the week, the top four is almost set with eight games remaining. In the next round Arsenal play Liverpool at home and should Liverpool lose that would put them almost out of contention despite their very good form since the new year. Go the Gunners!
On the international stage, I didn’t see the game, but it was great to see Australia draw 2-2 with Germany in the friendly the other night. Maybe they are starting to turn the corner and be in a position to replicate their 2006 results at the next World Cup. Fingers crossed.
Finally, I watched the Golden Slipper last week and without any luck in the running and an average ride from the jockey, Vancouver proved that he was the best 2yo in Australia being able to draw away from the field in the final 50-100m. It was not an easy run and if I was one of the connections I would not be in a hurry to risk him in the Sires Produce Stakes next week. He is a magnificent looking animal and would have breeders licking their lips, so I would be putting him away until the spring.
Have a great weekend!