Holger Osieck is the new Socceroos coach, and those wanting a change from the conservative football of Pim Verbeek will be sorely disappointed. At one stage in charge of the Canadian national team, the 61-year-old German is perhaps best known as a two-time coach of Urawa Reds.
Osieck’s last spell in charge of the Reds ended in ignominy, after the Saitama giants showed him the door just two games into the 2008 J.League season.
The Homberg-born tactician guided Urawa to a much craved AFC Champions League crown, but their spectacular capitulation just weeks later saw the Reds throw away the 2007 J. League title.
A final day defeat to relegated Yokohama FC cost Urawa the championship, and Osieck looked like a dead man walking when he took charge of the Reds at the 2007 FIFA Club World Cup.
The Reds were knocked out of the Club World Cup by a Kaka-inspired Milan, and Osieck had his defensive lynchpins Makoto Hasebe and Keita Suzuki working overtime to try and subdue the powerful Rossoneri midfield.
Perhaps there’s hope for Carl Valeri to establish himself under the Osieck regime, but in truth the German’s appointment is unlikely to placate those critics who insist the Socceroos should play a more attacking style.
In fact, Osieck was criticised in Japan for employing an overly defensive style compared to his predecessor Guido Buchwald, who won the J. League playing a swashbuckling and thoroughly enjoyable brand of football.
Osieck lifted the 2000 Concacaf Gold Cup when in charge of Canada, but stepped down just three years later following an apparent player revolt, with whispers coming out of the Canadian camp that the players did not enjoy his strict disciplinarian style.
With a CV which also includes managerial stints at VfL Bochum, Turkish giants Fenerbahce and the lesser known Kocaelispor, Osieck’s signing is not quite the high-profile appointment many expected Football Federation Australia supremo Frank Lowy to unveil.
The new coach will naturally be judged on his performances, and if history is anything to go by, the Socceroos are likely to rely on solid and unspectacular football to grind out results.
That’s something Pim Verbeek was heavily criticised for towards the end of his reign, but we can probably expect more of the same from Osieck – who incidentally has been out of the managerial game since his sacking by Urawa in 2008.
An underwhelming choice, or a fresh new start for the Socceroos? Only time will tell, but so far all signs point to the former.
Holger Osieck’s coaching career:
1977-1979: Assistant coach of the Canadian national team
1979-1990: Youth coach at the German Football Federation and assistant coach of the German national team
1990-1991: Assistant coach of Olympique Marseille
1991-1992: VfL Bochum
1993-1994: Fenerbahçe Istanbul
1995-1996: Urawa Red Diamonds
1998-2003: Canadian national team
2007-2008: Urawa Red Diamonds
Holger Osieck’s FIFA profile.