Let’s use this momentum and build a better future for football

Mike Tuckerman Columnist

By , Mike Tuckerman is a Roar Expert

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    Congratulations to the Socceroos and Ange Postecoglou, who united a nation – for one night at least – and belatedly booked a ticket to the World Cup in Russia after 22 gruelling games.

    Having worked so hard to qualify, it would be a travesty not to see Postecoglou pacing the technical area with a trademark scowl on his face in Russia.

    This is his team, and despite all the criticism about tinkering with formations and personnel, it’s a team that was good enough to take one of just 32 places on offer at the World Cup finals.

    It’s not every day that countries like Italy, the Netherlands and Chile would do anything to trade places with Australia, and the significance of the Socceroos qualifying for a fourth successive World Cup shouldn’t be underestimated.

    As we saw with New Zealand’s disappointing defeat to Peru in Lima, reaching the World Cup finals is much easier said than done.

    But where does the game go from here, now that the hard slog of actually reaching Russia has finally been accomplished?

    The first thing Football Federation Australia needs to do is sort out Postecoglou’s future.

    David Gallop and Steven Lowy were quick to make themselves seen in the post-game celebrations, but maybe what they should have been concentrating on was patching things up with Postecoglou instead.

    Ange Postecoglou Football Australia Socceroos 2017

    That’s because there’s not going to be a better coaching alternative available who understands the Australian game and is willing to take charge at reasonably short notice.

    And Postecoglou himself would do well to remember what’s at stake here.

    He may well have already lined up a club gig in Europe, but then he may also never get another chance to do exactly what he said he would do – namely turn the Socceroos from a team just happy to be at the tournament into a genuine World Cup force.

    The FFA should also strike while the iron is hot and line up a big name European nation to take on in Australia’s pre-World Cup farewell friendly.

    England has already announced it will play both Italy and the Netherlands in World Cup warm-up games, and they’re the pedigree of opponent the FFA should be looking to entice to Australia – not just to give the Socceroos a decent test, but also to help replenish the coffers through ticket sales.

    To that end, the $10 million cheque FIFA will hand over to the FFA just for qualifying for the finals should help a governing body said to be running worryingly low on cash.

    Where on earth does all the money generated by football in Australia go?

    That’s a question all ten A-League clubs have been asking for quite some time now.

    Their mood won’t have been helped by the astonishing news that Western Sydney’s clash with Wellington Phoenix at Spotless Stadium on Saturday afternoon has been postponed.

    A press release which landed in inboxes at 5:30pm yesterday afternoon blamed the postponement on the failure of the stadium’s grass to grow – seriously! – but as some Wanderers fans pointed out on Twitter following the shock announcement, Spotless Stadium is also set to host a music festival next week which will reputedly take a week to set up.

    And herein lies one of the biggest problems facing the game today.

    It’s not just that A-League clubs are forced to play out of multi-purpose venues – and are consistently treated as second-class citizens for the privilege – it’s the fact that very few in the Australian game seem to have the right connections and requisite gravitas to stand up for the sport.

    Postecoglou has it, yet he’s just spent the better part of two years at war with his own employers for daring to speak out of turn.

    The FFA Congress on November 30 may ultimately separate the wheat from the chaff.

    ‘Normalisation’ is something many are hoping for, but right now we’d all simply settle for a little bit of momentum.

    Mike Tuckerman
    Mike Tuckerman

    Mike Tuckerman is a Sydney-born journalist and lifelong football fan. After lengthy stints watching the beautiful game in Germany and Japan, he settled in Brisbane, and has been a leading Roar football columnist from December 2008.