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Socceroos need change to save World Cup embarrassment

Australia's Tim Cahill, right, reacts after head coach Holger Osieck, left, substituted Cahill from the game against Iraq. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)
Expert
8th September, 2013
148
3320 Reads

It’s not too late. Frank Lowy, David Gallop and the rest of the FFA must act now and change the Socceroos manager, saving us from the looming embarrassment that will be Brazil next June.

The FFA heads have to show leadership, making the type of tough call they were reluctant to with Pim Verbeek and have so far dogmatically refused under take against Holger Osieck.

But yesterday morning’s embarrassing 6-0 defeat in Brasilia should serve as the perfect evidence of why change is necessary, and now.

This looked a team with no purposeful plan, a collection of our most experienced players thrown out by a manager disposed to relying on these veterans to work it out for themselves.

Yes, there was something resembling a plan, and that was to sit back and try and limit the damage.

Right from the opening few minutes it was clear that the Roos looked happy to drop off to their 18 yard box and give Brazil the ball.

The decision to effectively sit and counter can be an effective tactic if the team has been set up with the right instructions, balance of players and, more importantly, the right frame of mind.

That’s the key point here.

For whatever reason it didn’t appear that the players yesterday believed they could do anything to contain or hurt a Brazil side that admittedly is looking great ahead of a home World Cup in less than nine months.

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There looked to be very little urgency or organisation in the defensive game-plan.

When Neymar got the ball down and ran at right back Ryan McGowan, ducking back on the inside to find space for the cross that led to the opener, there was no-one doubling up with McGowan to block Neymar’s avenue.

He had all the time to dink a cross over that exposed Matt McKay for Bernard to volley against the post and Jo to follow-up.

The classy Brazilians exposed every aging weakness in this Roos side, moving the ball crisply, winning it swiftly, stretching us by utilising the flanks and exposing every gap on the Roos structure.

The Socceroos were both unable to put up an effective barrier of resistance or sustain anything resembling a passage of possession.

Only when we won a succession of corners and aimed them at the likes of Sash Ognenovski, Josh Kennedy and Mile Jedinak did we look anything like a threat.

This was a team that looked frightened, the type of characteristic that is often said to be associated with younger sides.

Yet here was a side featuring a spine full of players in their mid-30’s.

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Rather than be emboldened for the challenge, they look like a team afraid to take a risk and make a mistake.

In many ways, yesterdays performance and result seemed an inevitability. One that has been years in the making.

Perhaps it’s the type of result the powers that be needed to see.

Surely now there can be no doubt that the national team, under its current leader, with a team far beyond its used-by date, will struggle in Brazil.

It’s unlikely the likes of Lowy and Gallop will hear too much of a clamour for change from the dressing room. Why?

The reality is that Osieck has extended the national careers of most of the players on show yesterday by at least a few years.  

Change would bring them much uncertainty.

It’s not often you’ll hear me agreeing with John Kosmina, but for once I found myself nodding with his post match suggestion that the Roos should start building towards a home Asian Cup in 16 months.

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Out with the current manager and a bevy of players and in with a fresh man able to inspire a change in the national team’s psyche.

Right now it looks a team being administered its final rights.

What it needs is a manager strong enough to come in and make the tough calls to resuscitate, just as Guus Hiddink did in 2005.

Whether there is a suitable candidate overseas depends on the strength of the FFA’s scouting network. He must be a manager who has clearly demonstrated an ability to build a competitive team, on the up, in a short period.

We’re not looking for one that’s going to win the World Cup, but one that’s at least competitive in the first stage, and on the rise towards January 2015.

If no suitable candidate is available, the FFA should have no hesitation in going for an Australian.

To my mind there are two managers most suited, Ange Postecoglou and Graham Arnold.

The latter comes from the position of having worked closely with Hiddink in 2005 and 2006 to bring significant structural change in a short space of time.

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Since then he has clearly demonstrated, at A-League level, that he can build something.

The question the FFA would need to ask
is just how much Arnold has learnt from his previous national team experience and what he would do differently.

Primarily, Arnold would need to show he can distance himself from the friendships he forged both as a teammate and manager of many of the current crop.

Postecoglou comes from not having worked in the Socceroos set up.

Therefore it may be easier for him to take a more umbrella approach, distancing himself from the current batch, allowing him to make the tough calls needed.

While his experience with the A-League All-Stars wasn’t exactly the perfect interview, he has demonstrated, with the Brisbane Roar and Melbourne Victory, he has the strength to do things his way.

Irrespective, either man appears capable of getting more out of our World Cup campaign and building towards the Asian Cup than Osieck. It’s time for FFA to bite the bullet.