Del Piero, Heskey and Ono just the beginning

shane Roar Guru

By shane, shane is a Roar Guru

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    England's Emile Heskey. AP Photo/Tom Hevezi

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    Championship-winning coach Graham Arnold believes there are too many foreign players in the A-League, warning their prevalence is hurting the Socceroos.

    Admittedly it has a slight impact, but it’s only one of many bigger components that need ongoing management.

    From the costs of playing at the grassroots level through to our previous and current national coaches who have had very little impact in the running Australian football from the ground up, the question of too many foreigners gets lost somewhere in between.

    Arnold isn’t the first and sure as well won’t be the last to fuel this particular debate; a debate that rages on in many leagues around the globe; and a debate that brings even the most patriotic footballer to their knees.

    Patriotism is one thing though, nativity is another.

    We, the game, have to be humble and realistic enough to recognise and embrace those overseas influences that will benefit football in Australia, integrating such qualities with our existing strengths in order to enhance our own identity.

    Sure, early on you could argue that A-League clubs were importing low-level, poor imports – those players who are no better (or in some cases a lot worse) than the local players they replaced. A quantity rather than quality approach.

    Those low-level purchases will always be queried and no doubt they could harm football in Australia if not properly managed.

    Now, on the back off arguably the best season since its inception, the A-League is slowly getting to a place of quality rather than quantity. A good mix of local youth and class foreigners. The game is not there yet though. There’s still a way to go before the argument of too many foreigners has any credibility.

    For months, instead of indulging in a social life like the majority of people my age, I undertook what quickly developed as my Saturday ritual, A-League followed by more A-League. I suspect that I’m not the only one.

    Obviously the acquisitions of Alessandro Del Piero, Emile Heskey and Shinji Ono have been massive draw cards for supporters. However, these guys are developers of talent as much as they are players.

    You only have to watch a few of the games to see how their prowess and heightened skill levels rubbed off on teammates and opponents alike, improving the overall class of the competition as a result.

    It’s quite simple really. The more quality the A-League attracts, the more our young players can learn. Playing alongside or against the best can only make you better.

    The ongoing challenge for any competition around the world influenced by the brilliance of imports is to ensure they also develop and retain individual strengths that will distinguish them from the rest.

    In saying that, like in many walks of life, balance is the key.

    At this point in time, there is only one conclusion. There are not enough top-class foreigners in our league. The likes of Ono and Del Piero and co will always be a welcome addition.

    Bring on the 2013/14 A-League season!

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    The Crowd Says (22)

    • Roar Guru

      April 30th 2013 @ 3:01am
      Harsh Sinha said | April 30th 2013 @ 3:01am | ! Report

      A- League emulating MLS Soccer. Who else can be the potential target to play in A League? Wesley Sneijder won’t stick around with Galatasaray for a long time. Wouldn’t mind seeing the talented Dutch.

    • Roar Guru

      April 30th 2013 @ 6:28am
      sheek said | April 30th 2013 @ 6:28am | ! Report

      I think in this instance Arnold is wrong. His argument might have some traction if most of our leading players were participating in the A-League, but they’re not.

      Right now, the standard is middle of the road & we need the imports to help lift the standard & impart their skill, experience & knowledge on our up-and-comers. As local standards improve we might need to rely less & less on imports.

      But right now we need them, especially of the standard & personal calibre of Del Pierro, Ono & Heskey.

    • April 30th 2013 @ 6:59am
      Johnno said | April 30th 2013 @ 6:59am | ! Report

      Agreed if the USA soccer in the 70’s was able to get Pele and Beckanbaur at the Cosmos, we can have stars like that in the A-league the very best, we can have Pele, n our A-league why not. If US soccer in the 70’s could get there guys in there North American league we can get player’s like that in our A-league. Messi, Ronaldo, Rooney, Pele types.

    • April 30th 2013 @ 8:01am
      Towser said | April 30th 2013 @ 8:01am | ! Report

      “Blood on the Wattle” Arnie wears his heart on his sleeve,nothing wrong with that, but patriotism does tend to blur reality at times.
      I mentioned a while ago about the “twitch & squirm ” test when watching the A-League.
      So the more I twitch & squirm in my seat at a Roar match or at home in the armchair watching the A-League generally,the less I am watching professional football in comparison to Overseas leagues.
      This can also be applied to individual players in any A-League team.
      So we’ll add to the T& S test the “Jump of the seat test” or Jump test for short.
      So the more I jump from my seat the more I relate the play to professional football in Overseas Leagues.
      Which players then in proportion to numbers in the league currently give you “The Jumps” & which players make you T&S.
      For instance at the Roar Broich gives me more TJ’s than any 4 Australian players ,closely followed by Berisha(if he ever receives the ball in a favourable position).
      When ADP’s on I become a Pogo stick & Ono gives you the occassional trampoline bounce into the stratosphere.
      Heskey will deliver if he gets the right service.
      Even unknown Hersi is like Van Persie when compared to his Aussie teammates.
      When the JT favours the Aussies in the A-League the T & S test will be almost obsolete, but the game heres a long way off that yet if ever & ADP,Ono ,Broich & the like will always be needed.

      • Roar Guru

        April 30th 2013 @ 9:53am
        Ben of Phnom Penh said | April 30th 2013 @ 9:53am | ! Report

        A dose of worm tablets before dinner should deal with that little ailment, Towser 🙂

        • April 30th 2013 @ 10:29am
          Towser said | April 30th 2013 @ 10:29am | ! Report

          If only it was so little. Whats the cost of pharmacy in Phnom Penh?
          If its cheap maybe you can wander up to the nearest one with a wheelbarrow ,fill it up & send the tablets to me.
          I’ll pay the postage dont worry.

    • April 30th 2013 @ 8:05am
      Ballymore said | April 30th 2013 @ 8:05am | ! Report

      Protectionism has no place in HAL. If a young player loses his spot to a ‘mediocre’ foreigner he isn’t Socceroo standard anyway.

      Comment from The Roar’s iPhone app.

      • Roar Pro

        April 30th 2013 @ 12:38pm
        Football United said | April 30th 2013 @ 12:38pm | ! Report

        Yep hit the nail on the head. Youngins should not get it easy. The higher we raise the standard, the better the youngsters have to be and that is good for the NT. This is why it is good we have the NPL going, the player who won’t make into the top tier can always work their way up through there

    • April 30th 2013 @ 9:25am
      striker said | April 30th 2013 @ 9:25am | ! Report

      I think Arnold has a point in regards to a marquee in Central coast wouldn’t have the same effect as a marquee in Sydney or Melbourne would and i tend to agree on this.

      • April 30th 2013 @ 9:35am
        Johnno said | April 30th 2013 @ 9:35am | ! Report

        Arnie please”. Get out of the white bread suburb’s.
        Have you Arnie hear dof big fish in a small pond. Look at Andrew Johns and SIlverchair in Newcastle, massive.
        Andrew John’s used to talk about it all the time, and how he finds sydney so much easier as he is in a big city he just blends in more, but if your star in small town you stand out big fish in a small pond.
        Also Gary Ablett senior and junior at Geelong. Gary Ablett senior before internet and that, he was the whole town Gary Ablett senior was Geelong.
        Imagine if Harry Kewell in his prime was at the Mariner’s he would of been massive.

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