Postecogolu must be gone for the World Cup

Ben Scotti Roar Rookie

By , Ben Scotti is a Roar Rookie

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    After Australia’s unconvincing 2-1 victory over Syria on Tuesday, Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou is set to announce that he will step down after the final qualifier against Honduras in November, regardless of the result.

    While the timing does seem odd, as Australia may well have qualified for Russia, supporters of the Socceroos should not ‘look a gift horse in the mouth’. Postecoglou has done a wonderful job since taking over the role in 2013, with qualifying for the 2014 World Cup and winning the 2015 Asian Cup the highlights.

    However, his stubbornness in regards to tactics and selections have drastically hindered the Socceroos’ performances throughout this qualifying campaign. The Socceroos went from champions of Asia to not even gaining direct qualification (top four).

    Why is this? Ange Postecoglou.

    When he took over the team I was excited. Postecoglou introduced the passing style of play that he had done quite successfully at Melbourne Victory and it paid dividends. Australia performed admirably in the World Cup and dominated Asia and it looked like the beginnings of a golden age for this country’s football program.

    What happened next was a lack of willingness to adjust to changing circumstances. The quality of players available to the Socceroos is not on the level of countries like Germany or Spain, who have perfected passing football. Therefore, when teams in Asia worked out what Australia’s tactics were it was quite easy to counter.

    The opposition would sit deep, let Australia pass around the back four and slowly try and transition into some form of attack. When Australia eventually slipped up, the opposition launched counterattacks. That’s how Iraq and Thailand were able to get draws against us and how Japan defeated us 2-0.

    Similarly, over the course of qualification, the Socceroos have had to play on some questionable pitches. When the ground is uneven passing won’t work, yet Postecoglou has refused to adjust his philosophy and do what needs to be done – play the long ball.

    Tim Cahill

    (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

    It’s not the prettiest style of play and by no means should Australia go into every game planning on hoisting in crosses. But the Socceroos need a coach who allows the players more freedom, the freedom to whip a long ball to Tim Cahill or Tomi Juric, the freedom to run at the opposition rather than play it back to the centre-backs, the freedom to adjust to the game as it progresses.

    I was very critical of Robbie Kruse in the game against Syria, however when Nikita Rukavytsya was brought on he too continuously played balls back to the defence rather than play a ball into the box. It was clear that Ange has hammered into the players that they should never launch ‘hit and hope’ balls into the box but rather take their time and find the right ball.

    Once again, there is nothing wrong with this when appropriate, but when we needed a goal before extra-time, the players were still tapping around at the back. That is exactly the time to put Juric and Cahill in the box and make the Syrians defend in the box.

    If Australia do defeat Honduras in the final qualifier, there is more than enough time for a new coach to come in and familiarise himself with the players. Postecoglou had previously said he will leave the coaching role at the end of this World Cup campaign anyway, so why let him take our national team into the biggest tournament in football?

    Postecoglou has nothing to lose, so it’s extremely likely he will stick to his unrealistic philosophy that was exposed by the likes of Thailand and Iraq, and which will be ripped to shreds by teams such as France, Argentina and other top sides.

    The nail in the coffin for me was Postecoglou’s decision to drop Aaron Mooy, the man who has starred throughout the qualifiers and is probably our best player. While Australia were favourites going into Tuesday’s game, it was by no means a dead rubber and by dropping Mooy to the bench he was disrespecting Syria and the player himself.

    Mooy is an essential cog in the Socceroos and while Mark Milligan did have a genuinely impressive qualifying campaign, he is not of the same quality and this was exposed in the lead-up to Syria’s goal on Tuesday.

    Whoever leads the Socceroos into the World Cup (again, should we get there) has to be someone willing to trust his players and be prepared to pay ugly football to get a result. This man is not Ange Postecoglou.