Wise men say, only fools rush off

Vince Rugari Columnist

By Vince Rugari, Vince Rugari is a Roar Expert

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    Once upon a time, young Australian footballers would book the next available flight at the very mention of the word ‘Europe’. But not anymore. Not quite.

    Together, the eleventh-hour backflip from Tom Rogic and Mathew Ryan’s suspicious ‘shoulder injury’ this past week feels like something of a touchstone moment for the A-League.

    Rogic was on the brink of a transfer to Premier League relegation dogfighters Reading, while Ryan was en route to Glasgow for a trial with the reborn Rangers, who are in the fourth division and cannot sign any new players for months.

    Strange ones, to say the least. The Central Coast Mariners pair might have dodged a bullet each, depending on who you ask.

    Was the rough-and-tumble Championship – Rogic’s likely eventual home – the right place for the first proper No.10 Australia’s had in years?

    And surely the A-League is better than the dungeon of Scottish football where the Rs currently reside?

    Both Rogic and Ryan, newly-minted Socceroos, have designs on being in Brazil in June next year – and not for a holiday.

    Moves overseas and a full, proper-length season in a competition at least one level up from the A-League remain in their best interests.

    But one wrong call or a slice of ill fortune and either of them could be labelled ‘damaged goods’ in a split second and forced to fend for themselves in football’s unforgiving wilderness. Dramatic, but true.

    The trouble is, waiting for the perfect transfer to come along is far easier said than done – particularly when a team in the Premier League or with Rangers-level prestige knocks on the door and offers four or five times your current wage and a life you once dreamed about.

    That’s just internal pressure. What about outside of what the players want?

    First, there is the agent.

    One thing most young journalists learn when they begin to cover football is that few things, if any, are exactly as they seem in this game. Particularly in Australia.

    Usually if something doesn’t make sense on face value, it’s because there is a string-puller in the background who knows a guy at one club, or has ties in another country, or there’s a clause in a contract somewhere.

    It’s not as if there is a big computerised list of players looking for a move that is visible to every club in the world, Football Manager-style.

    As idealistic as a shift to a ‘technical’ country like Germany or Holland might be, it’s people and connections that invariably determine where and when players go.

    Why Rangers for Ryan, and why now? Because his contract allows him to trial overseas at any time, and Central Coast can’t stop him. Plus, in Lawrie McKinna there is the Scottish link.

    Why Reading for Rogic? His agent, Andy Bernal, used to play for them.

    Not only are the men behind the men offering their ticks of approval for clubs they might have a vested interest in seeing their clients play at, but invariably there is a gentle nudge towards the door from the selling club.

    This is an imperfect A-League where transfer money is an important source of rolled gold revenue for clubs that, even given the recent boom, struggle to make ends meet.

    Central Coast, with a long list of debts that need servicing, stands as a case in point.

    Rogic and Ryan will go soon, obviously. They are too good not to. But the Mariners would feel foolish to see them do so without at least a six-figure parting gift.

    Meanwhile, as the player grapples with a sense of loyalty to his club – and perhaps an inner desire to deliver that transfer fee before bidding farewell – his agent advises not to sign any long-term deals in Australia so that options are kept open.

    These are the thoughts that swim inside a player’s head when a prospective move overseas presents itself.

    A confusing and perhaps concerning cocktail of emotions and pressures for a young man to deal with, but one that it’s important we realise can now be quelled quite easily.

    How? Because the A-League is no longer detrimental to one’s development – if it ever was, thank you very much Pim.

    We know that the A-League is gathering pace on and off the park, but that can sometimes feel like fluff until we can sense actual footballing benefits as a result.

    This is one of them – there is no longer a rush to go. At least, there shouldn’t be.

    If this was two or three years ago, for instance, Rogic would already be wearing Reading’s blue and white hoops and Ryan would be tucking into the first in a long line of haggises for tea.

    But now, our own competition can offer more. And it will continue to offer more, until the day that a young player is so dominant they can turn up to a match and know for certain that if they put in their best they will go home with the match ball.

    That’s not yet for Rogic, who is yet to even complete a full season. Don’t forget, he started this one poorly and is learning a hard lesson at the moment via suspension.

    As for Ryan, well, practice makes perfect for goalkeepers. A wunderkind like him can’t be rotting on a bench or in a fourth division. He can afford to wait.

    There have never been more eyes fixed on Australia’s league – both inside the country and the kind of “curious eyes” from elsewhere that Alessandro Del Piero once spoke about.

    That makes the A-League the perfect holding bay for both these players, and for many more in the future.

    It is time for all parties – the players, their parents, their advisors and their clubs – to take a deep breath in among the madness of the silly season and appreciate this.

    Vince Rugari
    Vince Rugari

    Vince Rugari is an Adelaide-born journalist who cut his teeth on the sporting graveyard of the Gold Coast. He fancies the round ball and the Sherrin, and used to be a handy leg-spin bowler before injury curtailed a baggy green push. A Port Adelaide fan by birth, he now is a sports reporter for Australian Associate Press

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    The Crowd Says (77)

    • January 9th 2013 @ 8:12am
      JAJI said | January 9th 2013 @ 8:12am | ! Report

      There have been some vert sensible transfers over the years out of Australia – Brett Emerton, Jason Culina, Brett Holman, Adam Sarota and Tommy Oar. There have also been countless disaster transfers – David Carney to about 10 clubs, Nathan Burns, Bruce Djite, Ruben Zadkovich, Matt McKay to Rangers

      I still believe a player heading to Holland and Germany is the way to go rather than Asia or the Middle East. Even the Championship, Neil and Cahill aside, has been hit and miss for many Australians

      Problem for Mariners is Rogic contract expires soon and they need $$$$

      • Roar Guru

        January 9th 2013 @ 9:30am
        Cameron Kellett said | January 9th 2013 @ 9:30am | ! Report

        You may believe and may be correct JajI but as pointed out within the article, it was the people these players knew who could provide the contacts. If there are no contacts or a FIFA 2013 game with a vast array of players to choose from then the question should be asked how do we develop contacts for the benefit of our players and our league? – only time will tell.

        As for the article Tony, I enjoyed it. Opened my eyes a little more to the world of football and transfers.

        I hope for the mean time the correct decisions have been made and that someone will still come knocking on Australia’s front door.

        • Roar Guru

          January 9th 2013 @ 9:39am
          Cameron Kellett said | January 9th 2013 @ 9:39am | ! Report

          My apologies, auto correct on the phone – meant to be Vince!

    • January 9th 2013 @ 8:21am
      Dave said | January 9th 2013 @ 8:21am | ! Report

      Good article. Agree with all of it. I suppose that it might be an argument for continued foreign socceroos coaches, that they have the overseas connections to help get young Aussies good moves? Not sure if Holger has done anything in this regard?

      Not a big reason for continued foreign coaches but a small one perhaps.

    • January 9th 2013 @ 8:28am
      pete4 said | January 9th 2013 @ 8:28am | ! Report

      With these 2 players you also have the fact the Mariners are on top of the ladder and have another ACL campaign coming up.

      But I think generally if you look at the number of Aussies playing abroad which equates to over 170 players these days as the A-League continues to evolve more players will be looking to come home because it’s a very good option.

    • January 9th 2013 @ 9:27am
      nordster said | January 9th 2013 @ 9:27am | ! Report

      A Danish club are keen for Ryan…scandinavia could be his path to a bigger english club as they follow those leagues. If its a mid size team there he will probably play straight off. I think Covic was in sweden for a while. Go nord haha…

    • January 9th 2013 @ 9:39am
      Valleys Diehard of Brunswick st said | January 9th 2013 @ 9:39am | ! Report

      I agree with Mark Bosnich that the top flight SPL is not as good as the A-League. Without Rangers it’s a one team league and Celtic are a “barely there” chance at any of their UEFA games. So why do we keep sending our best and fairest to dodgy European Leagues? We do need to accept that our A-League is at least a “3rd tier” Association Football Competition: It’s in line with Asia’s best, a step below the Dutch,French and most South American competitions, at least a penalty kick from the EPL, Serie-A and Bundesleague but above almost all Eastern European (Croatia, Ukraine etc) the US MLS comp and Euro leagues whose national team does not usually make WC qualification. My assumption is that agents want their player to receive some exposure and then get a nod from the big end of town. However….. Like the author alludes, careful which league you choose. Just ask poor old Matty McKay.

      Comment left via The Roar’s iPhone app. Download it now [http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/the-roar/id327174726?mt=8].

      • January 9th 2013 @ 10:39am
        Steve said | January 9th 2013 @ 10:39am | ! Report

        MLS is better then the A-league. The A-league is not better then MLS, we struggle against the J-league. The J-league is not better then Liga MX, which is the only club MLS hasn’t really beaten yet. The MLS gets young central and south Americans.Nor are we better then the SPL, the A-league is of poor quality. The SPL is still better then the A-league. The A-league is league 2 , in England, at best.

        • January 9th 2013 @ 10:48am
          pete4 said | January 9th 2013 @ 10:48am | ! Report

          Steve – quick question how many English League 2 games have you watched?

          • January 9th 2013 @ 11:30am
            Adrian said | January 9th 2013 @ 11:30am | ! Report

            only people who watch Eng League two, are people who dad, and grand dad support the club over the last 50 years, or people who know and understands what Asian Hcp is 🙂

        • January 9th 2013 @ 10:58am
          fadida said | January 9th 2013 @ 10:58am | ! Report

          Nonsense. A-league is similar to MLS but miles head of English lower leagues.

          • January 9th 2013 @ 11:07am
            Steve said | January 9th 2013 @ 11:07am | ! Report

            I’ve seen the J-league, and the J-league is not better the Liga MX, with along the Brazilian league, have tons of money. The A-league is poor, which is should be you are young, theMLS is at least championship quality, but still will lose 6-0 to top clubs in Europe. The A-league is growing, but its is not close to the SPL nor any European league.

            • Roar Guru

              January 9th 2013 @ 2:00pm
              Fussball ist unser leben said | January 9th 2013 @ 2:00pm | ! Report

              The little I’ve seen of J-League, K-League, SPL and MLS – I do NOT agree with your assessment.

              • January 9th 2013 @ 2:26pm
                fadida said | January 9th 2013 @ 2:26pm | ! Report

                SPL minus Celtic is at best a-league quality. It’s faster because of the weather but that’s it.

            • January 9th 2013 @ 2:32pm
              Adrian said | January 9th 2013 @ 2:32pm | ! Report

              Steve , on what bases do you say this..it just a opinion, because you can give no fact to back up on this opinion..lets try to put some fact to this opinion

              Start with mexico Liga MX..Now we have a form line, because Mexico Liga MX teams , play both in Copa Libertadores and CONCACAF Champions League..we can see over the many years, that brazil Serie A,teams do better then Liga MX in Copa Libertadores and Liga MX do better then MLS teams in Champions League

              so brazil Serie A is likely to be better league then Liga MX, and Liga MX better then MLS….there some form there, with many matches played over many years

              we can say J-League is better then A_league base on ACL matchers over the last 5 years

              in Europe we can use UEFA coefficient to see the ranking of the league, which is based on Champions League and Europa League matches over 5 years… Scotland is ranked 24th league in Europe (not counting ENG,SPA, GER, ITA) behide Cyprus in 13 Czech Republic 18, Poland 20. Belarus 21 …One team doesn’t make a league

              the fact Scotland national team ranked 50th by ELO (New Zealand is ranked 58th) and out of those 50 players called up to play for Scotland over the last year , only 15 of those players, may say SPL

              But now it the hard part, how do you rank league when they have no cross over from line… i think the only fair way is to look at the Internationale players playing in those leagues , and which countries those players play for…and gudge it on that

              if you would like to do this Steve , that would be great…or you can just do what all the rest does, give your opinion with out any facts 🙂

              • January 9th 2013 @ 3:06pm
                Steve said | January 9th 2013 @ 3:06pm | ! Report

                Wait you take Fifa rankings seriously? I’m English and I even disagree we shouldn’t have been ranked as high as we were. They drop Brazil out of the top 10, does that sound right? Fifa rankings are a joke, just like their corrupt organization. As for how you judge Leagues I look at salary, and structure of the league. I also look at the quality of the product. MLS is of higher standard, the sign better players from Argentina and have connections with clubs in Europe, that A-Leagues clubs do not. The also are buying younger players from central and south america, that’s were the talent is. Their Domestic players are also getting better and better. They are also creating a structure similar to German, where their reserve teams will play in the USL, similar to how German have their reserves playing in lower divisions, Which will further the gap between the A-league and MLS. MLS youth teams are now on a 11 month schedule. The NASL the second division is growing, Little by little they are building a Pyramid. The A-league is not building that Pyramid, you only have 10 clubs, and we are not seeing lower divisions, start to form under you. The A-league also doesn’t play enough games, so your Domestic players are continuing to fall behind the rest of the world. So the fact they are able to buy better players and the fact that their overall salary cap is higher,which mean a team like NYRB, could end up paying 16 million in total salary, because you have ways around the salary cap,means they have a better league. The same Goes for the SPL, yes Celtic spend a lot more then other clubs, however Other SPL clubs also spend more then any A-league club, which means that the SPL is better.

              • January 9th 2013 @ 5:40pm
                Adrian said | January 9th 2013 @ 5:40pm | ! Report

                Steve..i didn’t say Fifa ranking, i said ELO ranking ..i believe ELO is better…but on Fifa ranking , yes they are wrong, just as a 7 day weather forecast is wrong , but it sure beats putting you head out the door and saying, “I think the weather in 7 days time will be ?”

                as for creating a structure similar to German,. then this should show up in team USA raising in the rankings , along with the other great young Central american players, going on to play international football for there countries , and with those countries also raising in the rankings

                as for “Australian Domestic players are continuing to fall behind the rest of the world” please give some fact to back this up?

                money can be a guild to a league strengths and weakness, but the fact show, and NY Red bull and LA payments are over $10 million ,but the fact are , that A-League team wagers are about the same as the other 17 MLS aat round $3 million USD..also A-league team only have 22 players , would mean the average player salary in the A-league would be higher then the average player salary in MLS

                yes, Argentina many very good players, and i’m sure all 5 Argentina players in the MLS would bring joy to many fans

                one thing, you forgot to point out about MLS, is the average crowds of 16,000 per game…that mean more people go and watch MLS matchers , then people go to watch , which would be on par with Eredivisie

              • January 9th 2013 @ 6:07pm
                Steve said | January 9th 2013 @ 6:07pm | ! Report

                HG(academy players0 players don’t count against their salary, which means they spend more Money. Also MLS get 18,000 plus a game, making them top 7 IN the world. Look ,the A-league is growing, However right now the MLS is better and likely would get even better. However so will the A-league, however till you guys play more games and start to have more clubs, I think it would be hard for you to became as great, as MLS might be in the future. That German like reserve system, will be slowly worked in in 2013 and fully in 2014, for MLS. The A-league could do the same thing. The Big advantage leagues like yours have and MLS, that my league, the EPL doesn’t,is you could tinker with the system. I love my league, the EPL is the best league in the world, however we are not developing enough English players. That’s why the Bundesliga might become the best league in the world. I love their system the MLS is copying, so should Australia. Also what I see happening in your league, is a lack of partnerships with European clubs, that would make you league improve faster as well. Partnerships can get you, young talent on loan.

              • January 9th 2013 @ 11:30pm
                Realfootbal said | January 9th 2013 @ 11:30pm | ! Report

                This word you keep using, Steve, “better”. You need to do better than that, to borrow the same, overused word. “Better” is so vague as to be almost meaningless. Better how? In what way? In what areas? Stadiums, players, supporters, tactics, training methods, technique. Not helped by some very haphazard grammar, sentence structure, punctuation and capitalisation.

                Suggest you take more care with the written expression and please give the A League bashing rest. It’s getting very boring.

              • January 10th 2013 @ 8:11am
                Steve said | January 10th 2013 @ 8:11am | ! Report

                Boring, but the truth.

              • January 9th 2013 @ 11:23pm
                Realfootbal said | January 9th 2013 @ 11:23pm | ! Report

                Sorry, don’t see how your last sentence follows at all. “They” spend more money so the “SPL is better”? Who exactly are “they”. You can’t just make sweeping statements like that with no facts or figures to back you up and expect to be taken seriously.

                I have no idea as to the standard of the SPL. I don’t watch it, nor do I have any interest in doing so. However, my impression is that all you want to do, really, is hammer away at the credibility of the A League.

          • January 9th 2013 @ 11:54am
            clayts said | January 9th 2013 @ 11:54am | ! Report

            Agree. With the MLS I have watched, it has not been noticeably better than watching A league IMO. Same with SPL. Championship football is definitely of a higher quality, but I haven’t seen any lower league games so can’t really comment.

            • January 9th 2013 @ 12:04pm
              Steve said | January 9th 2013 @ 12:04pm | ! Report

              The MLS and SPL is better, the A-league is league 2, which is not bad, for it’s age.

              • January 9th 2013 @ 5:12pm
                pete4 said | January 9th 2013 @ 5:12pm | ! Report

                Steve – I sit next to a massive Rangers fan here at work. He claims the SPL is a great league too. He also claims he’s never watched a single A-League game in his life. I assume this type of personality that don’t watch and make judgements is bogus.

        • January 9th 2013 @ 5:15pm
          Wanderer said | January 9th 2013 @ 5:15pm | ! Report

          It’s like this really, a dominant team not just good but absolutely ruthless a la Brisbane Roar of 2010 – 2012 would be equivalent of a championship team, and not one that would be ready of the Premier League, mid-table at best. A decent team in the A-League would struggle in the championship but would have no qualms in League 1 or the SPL. And everyone else who doesn’t meet the aforementioned is mid-table League 1. Definitely not League 2 however.

      • January 9th 2013 @ 12:46pm
        vinie said | January 9th 2013 @ 12:46pm | ! Report

        People here over rate our players like they should be playing in the big leagues, if they were good enough they would be spotted and would be paying millions to the a-league clubs, obviously they dont rate.

        theres so much bias here, just because they look good in the a-league doesnt mean they are world class players

    • January 9th 2013 @ 10:10am
      midfielder said | January 9th 2013 @ 10:10am | ! Report

      Interesting call. By many that a current epl club where you will get he time is not good enough . Me thinks maybe some have over rated our league…

      • January 9th 2013 @ 10:41am
        fadida said | January 9th 2013 @ 10:41am | ! Report

        Soon to be a championship club, fighting it out in a frenetic generally long ball league which won’t suit him. This is our concern. An established EPL side like Fulham might be more acceptable but Rogic style is perfect for Holland/Germany

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