How Postecoglou is keeping his players on their toes

Tony Tannous Columnist

By Tony Tannous, Tony Tannous is a Roar Expert

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    Tommy Rogic is one of Australia's European success stories. (Photo: Paul Barkley/LookPro)

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    With little hype and fanfare ahead of tonight’s World Cup qualifier in Adelaide, it makes it hard for Ange Postecoglou to get his players up and in the right frame of mind to get the job done.

    At home, against lower ranked opponents in Tajikistan, these are the games the Socceroos are expected to win.

    But the manager won’t want that sort of complacent thought process creeping into the minds of his players.

    Which is why he has been quick this week to remind them that they have a job to do at the Adelaide Oval.

    He won’t want his players thinking too far ahead to the game next Tuesday night at the SFS against Jordan.

    Any slip-up and Jordan are likely to take advantage and go top of the group when they play Bangladesh in Amman a couple of hours after the Roos game.

    As Tajikistan proved in Dushanbe six months ago, where they frustrated Australia for almost an hour, they’re not complete pushovers.

    But if Postecoglou has the likes of Aaron Mooy, Tom Rogic, Mat Leckie and Tim Cahill performing anywhere near what they are capable of, and have been showing of late, then the Roos should be too strong.

    But getting his players in the right frame of mind to perform has been the trick, and to do so Postecoglou has used a couple of tactics.

    For starters he has dangled the carrot to the Adelaide football community, imploring them to cancel training tonight and come out and really get behind the team. More Roos games in Adelaide is the prize, he says.

    No doubt he wants this to mean something to Adelaide and Australia, and he’s right.

    But beyond trying to get the public up and backing the Roos, his biggest play has been to his players, reminding them that no-one has a divine right to the new all-gold Socceroos strip that has caused plenty of debate this week.

    “I have consistently said to the players, you don’t sign a contract with your country for 10 years,” he said.

    “Every time you are selected it’s for those games, that’s it. There are no guarantees beyond that apart from your own performance and the way you present yourself.

    “I don’t think anyone should go round thinking they have a right to an Australian shirt for any length of time beyond what they are selected for.”

    And what’s more the manager has been true to his word, consistently chopping and changing his squad, bringing players in to assess them in the environment, and then seemingly looking at other options next time around.

    It is a strategy designed not only to find his best options, but to keep everyone on their toes, driving for ‘better’.

    Of particular interest has been his work at fullback, both left and right, and the manager has been open about his search for long-term solutions in both spots.

    When the Socceroos beat Bangladesh 4-0 in November, James Meredith and Jason Davidson were used at left back.

    This time around he’s brought in Brad Smith and Alex Gersbach.

    It wasn’t that long ago that Aziz Behich and Tarek Elrich were a regular part of things.

    Now it looks like Josh Risdon is the incumbent at right back. But Jason Geria has been brought in for his first taste of the Roos environment. Gersbach is in the same situation, and Postecoglou wants them to seize their chance.

    The other area he is still seeking solutions is up front, at number nine, where he has been reliant on Cahill and Tomi Juric, when the latter hasn’t been injured.

    Here he has given an opportunity to Apostolos Giannou, a left-field option he says he knows well and believes can be an asset for the Roos.

    While admitting that he continues to keep Jamie Maclaren on the radar, this is an opportunity for Giannou to prove he has the ability to combine with the likes of Leckie, Robbie Kruse, Mooy and Rogic, and prove there is light beyond Cahill.

    By bringing him in, Postecoglou also sends a message that he’s prepared to look high and wide if it means moving the national team forward.

    The manager’s work has been a fascinating watch over the past two years, and credit to him for proving you can build depth and grow the team, and do it by not sacrificing results.

    Tony Tannous
    Tony Tannous

    Follow Tony on Twitter @TonyTannousTRBA

    The Socceroos' hopes of qualifying from the group stage at the World Cup are hanging by a thread after a 1-1 draw against Denmark. See how the match unfolded with our Australia vs Denmark match report, highlights and result.

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    The Crowd Says (61)

    • Roar Guru

      March 24th 2016 @ 8:41am
      Rick Figjam said | March 24th 2016 @ 8:41am | ! Report

      Yep…I’d agree with most of that.

      More importantly though, he’s been a great ambassador for the game. He’s well spoken, highly intelligent and gets the job done.

      What more can you say about the man…

      “For starters he has dangled the carrot to the Adelaide football community, imploring them to cancel training tonight and come out and really get behind the team. More Roos games in Adelaide is the prize, he says.”

      Not sure I’d classify this as a tactic to pump his men up for a low profile game; more marketing of the game in general one suspects.

      My home town of Adelaide will hopefully put on a great spectacle, especially at the best sports ground in Australia now. Let’s hope the surface is up to scratch.

      • March 24th 2016 @ 1:01pm
        Ian said | March 24th 2016 @ 1:01pm | ! Report

        Best sports ground for AFL……..and with a bad surface = best sports ground in Australia……..

        • Roar Rookie

          March 24th 2016 @ 1:21pm
          Horto Magiko said | March 24th 2016 @ 1:21pm | ! Report

          This is not a football venue. Hate Adelaide oval. (Love Hindmarsh)

          • March 24th 2016 @ 2:33pm
            Ian said | March 24th 2016 @ 2:33pm | ! Report

            Yes, Hindmarsh is a good venue

          • March 24th 2016 @ 5:45pm
            Martyn50 said | March 24th 2016 @ 5:45pm | ! Report

            It’s a football venue. The Crows and Power play there. Nothing wrong with the surface. Cricket players never have a problem. A cricket ball is more prone to a bad surface than a soccer ball

            • Roar Rookie

              March 24th 2016 @ 7:09pm
              Horto Magiko said | March 24th 2016 @ 7:09pm | ! Report

              It’s not a football venue. It’s an oval (which in and of itself completely destroys any kind of hope of an atmosphere as the crowd is 500km away) and it has a strip of turf in the middle. (Is it cricket season now?) Besides, the surface is horrible for football. When MV played AUFC there, the ball ricocheted around like a rubber superball. It’s conducive to players getting injured also.

              Its unsurprising that football illiterates like yourself aren’t aware of the importance of a pristine surface .

              Unskilled meat-head collision sports like AFL can be played anywhere.. And I can’t comment on, nor care about, cirque du sol-cricket.

              • March 24th 2016 @ 7:36pm
                Batou said | March 24th 2016 @ 7:36pm | ! Report

                Gold

              • March 24th 2016 @ 10:45pm
                Evan askew said | March 24th 2016 @ 10:45pm | ! Report

                I love cricket but I take your point.

              • March 26th 2016 @ 12:38pm
                football said | March 26th 2016 @ 12:38pm | ! Report

                Brilliant smackdown

            • March 26th 2016 @ 1:27pm
              Uncle Junior said | March 26th 2016 @ 1:27pm | ! Report

              “A cricket ball is more prone to a bad surface than a soccer ball”

              That would have to be the most ridiculous comment I’ve read on a sports forum.

              But, I don’t much cricket so can you explain why would a sport that involves a ball being hit by a bat need a pristine surface? Apart from a small area on the cricket pitch, where the bowler aims the ball (that area would be a maximum of 2m x 2m wide in 2 areas of the pitch – i.e. total 8 sq metres) where else does the ball make contact with the surface for it to be important?

              • Roar Guru

                March 26th 2016 @ 11:13pm
                Rick Figjam said | March 26th 2016 @ 11:13pm | ! Report

                “But, I don’t much cricket so can you explain why would a sport that involves a ball being hit by a bat need a pristine surface?”

                *sigh* What a horrible sentence.

                “where else does the ball make contact with the surface for it to be important?”

                I don’t know…perhaps when the ball is being fielded? You know, after the ball hits the bat and often goes to ground. The fielding team needs to ‘field’ the ball, which more often than not requires the ‘fielder’ reaching down to pick the ball off the ground.

                You’ve never played or watched cricket have you?

                Damn…I come back to this thread after two days to read this garbage.

    • Roar Rookie

      March 24th 2016 @ 9:10am
      The Phantom Commissioner said | March 24th 2016 @ 9:10am | ! Report

      There’s too much depth and quality in and around the squad right now for any player to be complacent, no-ones spot is safe.

      • March 24th 2016 @ 12:11pm
        Freycinet1803 said | March 24th 2016 @ 12:11pm | ! Report

        I think he has done a great job of encouraging this too … you are only a sure pick if you are performing week in week out. No longer do reputations alone get you into the team!

        Read an interview with Risdon a few months back and he said having his first taste with the Socceroos an d Ange’s words since have really pushed him on to keep improving his game week in for Glory. It sounds like Ange not only has encouraged competition for spots but also the ambition of players to be better for their club and country.

    • March 24th 2016 @ 9:14am
      whiskeymac said | March 24th 2016 @ 9:14am | ! Report

      “credit to him for proving you can build depth and grow the team, and do it by not sacrificing results”

      Exactly.

    • March 24th 2016 @ 9:44am
      Fadida said | March 24th 2016 @ 9:44am | ! Report

      I miss the Holger’s days of guaranteed selection, regardless of form 🙂

      • Roar Guru

        March 24th 2016 @ 1:27pm
        Griffo said | March 24th 2016 @ 1:27pm | ! Report

        Reading between the lines I bet you’re missing the better kit short design and fashion sense, too. 😉

      • March 24th 2016 @ 1:53pm
        Realfootball said | March 24th 2016 @ 1:53pm | ! Report

        Regardless also of whether playing or not.

        • March 24th 2016 @ 2:16pm
          Fadida said | March 24th 2016 @ 2:16pm | ! Report

          Which explains Carney’$ 50 caps!

    • Roar Guru

      March 24th 2016 @ 10:11am
      Kaks said | March 24th 2016 @ 10:11am | ! Report

      What an appointment he has been. Refreshing tactics, modern ideas, entertaining football, depth of talent. This team may not have the same calibre of players as the golden generation, however they are stronger as a team and Ange must take credit for that.

      And to think it was approx 9 years ago that Ange went toe to toe with Foster.

      On another note, what is the marketing for tonights game like in Adelaide? It frustrates me how little marketing the FFA do with any football match in Sydney, let alone Socceroos matches. Surely they have some money somewhere that they are able to invest in anything other than an Instagram post which you would only see if you follow them on Instagram?

      • Roar Rookie

        March 24th 2016 @ 10:48am
        The Phantom Commissioner said | March 24th 2016 @ 10:48am | ! Report

        I’m sure whatever marketing their doing its better than what it was in Perth, pay disputes certainly draw attention though!

    • Roar Guru

      March 24th 2016 @ 11:15am
      Bob Brown said | March 24th 2016 @ 11:15am | ! Report

      http://www.fourfourtwo.com/au/news/league-viewership-soars-fans-switch-over-epl#:q9Ovdytlo4ZXsA

      There’s a lot of competition for places and that should help improve performances, but we are nowhere near the glory days of 2005-2006.

      We have a great chance to make it four World Cups in a row, but we have little chance of progressing past the first round.

      We need some real investment and innovation in the game to break back into the top 32 in the world.

      • March 24th 2016 @ 11:34am
        Punter said | March 24th 2016 @ 11:34am | ! Report

        This is why they are called the golden generation!!!!!

        However, football has changed a lot since those 2005-06 days, there are more Africans, Sth Americans & even Asians playing at the top tiers in Europe & maybe many of those players in 05-06, would also struggle to get a run in the better teams.

        Have a look at the team in WC06, the football style has changed, the current Socceroos would pass that team off the park. But no doubting there is no Kewell or Dukes in the current Socceroos lineup.

        • Roar Guru

          March 24th 2016 @ 11:50am
          Kaks said | March 24th 2016 @ 11:50am | ! Report

          “Have a look at the team in WC06, the football style has changed, the current Socceroos would pass that team off the park”

          Exactly, we are a much better squad now than we were in 2005/2006. The players in that era were regarded as high calibre players compared to todays players, yet I dont think I have seen a stronger Socceroo’s outfit in my time. This team legitimately excites me, they legitimately give me a feeling that they can beat anyone on their day. The 05/06 team did not.

          • March 24th 2016 @ 2:01pm
            Sleemo said | March 24th 2016 @ 2:01pm | ! Report

            A better squad now than 2005/06? Are you for real?

            Schwarzer, Neill, Cahill, Culina, Grella, Kewell, Viduka, Bresciano…all at the peak of their powers. Skoko, Aloisi, Popovic couldn’t even get into the team.

            The current squad is by no means bad but it is not anywhere near as good as the team from ten years ago. Just compare the leagues each squad’s players were playing in for the most stark comparison. Two thirds of the squad were playing regularly in the EPL, Eredivise, Serie A or La Liga. We could only dream of those sorts of numbers now.

            • Roar Guru

              March 24th 2016 @ 2:21pm
              Kaks said | March 24th 2016 @ 2:21pm | ! Report

              You clearly didnt comprehend what I said.

              We currently have a better squad.

              The 05/06 team had better individuals, but as a squad they were not better than what we have now – as is evident by the lack of trophies.

              A champion team beats a team of champions etc. etc. etc.

              • March 24th 2016 @ 3:23pm
                Sleemo said | March 24th 2016 @ 3:23pm | ! Report

                Comprehended what you said just fine, thanks.

                A quick look at the competitive results of the 05/06 team: beat world-class Uruguay across two legs to make a World Cup, destroyed a strong Japan team 3-1 (would have won 5-1 with another ten minutes), matched the best team in the world for half the game in losing to Brazil 2-0, drew with a world-class Croatia and if the referee had been doing his job properly (missed penalties, three yellow cards, calling fulltime as the ball was crossing the goal line), lost to the eventual 2006 world champions in the 95th minute by a single goal.

                Now let’s look at the result of the current vintage from the 2014 Cup onwards: matched Chile (generous) and Holland but couldn’t get a point off either, comprehensively beaten by a Spain side resting 5-6 key players, won an Asian Cup at home by only managing to beat the one side that gave us any genuine competition all tournament in extra time, beating a bunch of average at best Asian teams (Tajik, Krygyz, Bangladesh for crying out loud) in World Cup qualifiers, losing to Jordan who we should not have lost to.

                Teams are judged on their results. The thrust of your comment was that the 05/06 team is inferior to the current team. The results above suggest otherwise. There is still time for my view to be proven wrong but at the current point in time, no.

              • Roar Guru

                March 24th 2016 @ 4:13pm
                Kaks said | March 24th 2016 @ 4:13pm | ! Report

                You’re kidding right?

                Wow. I dont know why I’m going to waste my time debating you as your comment just showed how little you know, and how you cherry pick your statements, but here goes nothing.

                Uruguay were not ‘World Class’. They had Recoba who was world class but the team itself was nothing special. A handful of their players played regularly for their team’s in Europe. The rest? Either played in South America or were bench-warmers for their clubs in Europe.

                Japan were not a strong global team, they were a strong Asian team but that was it, thats why they only managed a single point in the group.

                Croatia were not ‘World Class’ in 2006. They are stronger now than they were then and they’re not even considered ‘World Class’ now. However in 2006 Croatia were nothing other than a good team, just like us.

                On top of that, you’re trying to say that a group consisting of Japan, Croatia and Brazil in 2006 is considerable against a group consisting of Chile, Netherlands and Spain in 2014. That is a joke in itself. Only one out of the three opposing teams in 2006 was a ‘World Class’ team, 2014 arguably had three if not two.

                ‘matched Chile (generous)’ generous? Did you watch the game?

                ‘comprehensively beaten by a Spain side resting 5-6 key players’ – convenient you dont mention that we also played a with a makeshift team, Taggart was the starting striker for crying out loud LOL

                ‘won an Asian Cup at home by only managing to beat the one side that gave us any genuine competition’ – I dont even need to say anything about this statement, it is so moronic that I couldnt help but laugh

                ‘beating a bunch of average at best Asian teams (Tajik, Krygyz, Bangladesh for crying out loud) in World Cup qualifiers’ – you know this is the first stage of world cup qualifiers right? You do know that we are forced to vs these teams as we are in Asia right? You do know that in Asia, you dont get to vs teams like Germany, Argentina, Spain etc. on the way to qualifying right?

                ‘losing to Jordan who we should not have lost to’ – so you see a single loss to Jordan in our whole campaign as a negative? Losses happen champ and we’re still first in the group!

                “Teams are judged on their results. The thrust of your comment was that the 05/06 team is inferior to the current team. The results above suggest otherwise”

                You have legitimately contradicted yourself in this last paragraph LOL. Teams are judged by their results, the current Socceroos are currently top of their group in the WCQ and have actually won a tournament. The Golden Generation did not win anything.

                I love the 05/06 team, what they did for football here is incredible, but I also know that they could have dont a lot better than they did with the team they had. The fact they didnt will always place an asterisk against their name, while the current team is doing better than anyone ever expected.

            • March 24th 2016 @ 3:48pm
              marcel said | March 24th 2016 @ 3:48pm | ! Report

              Sleemo….its often forgotten that our “golden generation” were a complete rabble under Farina…..that they excelled under Hiddink…..and then returned to poor and disjointed performances after he left.

              • March 24th 2016 @ 6:19pm
                Tim said | March 24th 2016 @ 6:19pm | ! Report

                Postecoglou has done a very good job, but let’s not overglorify the accomplishments of this team. Under his tenure, the only World Cup tournament level team Australia has beaten is Korea. It’s still very much a work in progress. Losing 3 games and conceding 9 goals in a world cup group stage is still a big blemish.

                Football has changed a lot since 2006, so a like for like comparison between teams is futile. It’s better to look at Australia’s relative position in the world, and in that regard, i don’t think Australia has improved. Australia had the quality in 2006 to make the last 16, whereas I remain skeptical on whether this generation can repeat that in 2018 (draw depending).

                In my books, beating a Uruguay team over 2 legs is a bigger achievement than winning the Asian Cup. Yes, that Uruguayan team was not world class after finishing 5th in South America. However, we are still talking about Uruguay, a team that is always difficult to beat for anybody, anywhere. It is still a team that is stronger than any opponent Australia has beaten in recent time.

      • Roar Rookie

        March 24th 2016 @ 11:59am
        Horto Magiko said | March 24th 2016 @ 11:59am | ! Report

        “but we are nowhere near the glory days of 2005-2006.”

        WTF?!?!?!?!

        We are ASIAN CHAMPIONS. Remember? Id say the glory days are back.

        “We have a great chance to make it four World Cups in a row, but we have little chance of progressing past the first round.”

        What??? How do you know? Why would you say something that you couldn’t possibly know for sure? You and mister football should go bowling together.

        • Roar Guru

          March 24th 2016 @ 12:03pm
          Kaks said | March 24th 2016 @ 12:03pm | ! Report

          It is baffling isnt it. I mean, we gave it a very good crack against the (at the time) world cup holders, the champions of South America and a team that made it to the semi-finals yet the team isnt good enough.

          This team probably has a better chance of going past the round of 16 than any other team.

          • Roar Rookie

            March 24th 2016 @ 12:29pm
            Horto Magiko said | March 24th 2016 @ 12:29pm | ! Report

            Agree Kaks. The unluckiest draw in our WC history IMO. Especially when considering the environment and state of affairs with the NT at that time.,.then to be pitted against the defending champs and 2 other tournament finalist favorites….(yes sth American champs!)

            And even then, the Dutch were lucky to come away with that win. And they knew it. An unforced GK error was pivotal in them regaining a foot hold in that game..

            This is the squad/age where I too believe we can finally get out of the group.

          • Roar Rookie

            March 24th 2016 @ 12:31pm
            The Phantom Commissioner said | March 24th 2016 @ 12:31pm | ! Report

            ..and the squad is even stronger than the side that performed so well in Brazil. There was no Kruse,Mooy or Rogic an Loungo has stepped up since then too, we look much stronger at the back also, particularly in the full back positions. By the time Russia rolls around this squad will be at their peak age as footballers and i’m sure we’ll see some more exciting talent emerging by then as well.

            • Roar Guru

              March 24th 2016 @ 2:02pm
              Kaks said | March 24th 2016 @ 2:02pm | ! Report

              Precisely Horto and Phantom

              I mean every way you look at it, the team is getting better! Our centre back pairing has been sorted, our midfield has been sorted (we finally have a couple of genuine no. 10’s instead of using an ageing Bresciano) and our team has now been together for more than 6 months!

      • March 24th 2016 @ 1:54pm
        Realfootball said | March 24th 2016 @ 1:54pm | ! Report

        You have a very low bar for “glory days”, Bob.

      • March 25th 2016 @ 12:35pm
        Barca4life said | March 25th 2016 @ 12:35pm | ! Report

        Why are some of you need to compare to two different teams and two different eras, enjoy the current the team for what it is and focus towards the present and future.

        Unless you guys have a chip on your shoulders…

      • Roar Guru

        March 25th 2016 @ 2:22pm
        Bob Brown said | March 25th 2016 @ 2:22pm | ! Report

        Sure, we can’t get the team of 2005 to play the team of 2016 to see who’s better.
        Sure we’ve improved, but the rest of the world has improved too and at a faster rate.

        I don’t agree with the notion that because Ange has more players at his disposal, we have a better squad.

        Sure I enjoy my Socceroos, I was at every Sydney Asian Cup game including the memorable final.

        I’m talking about what they achieved, making it to world cup through a tough qualification campaign.
        Making the last 16 and only losing to the eventual world champions to a dodgy penalty in the last minute. What if the referee hadn’t given a penalty and it went to extra time?

        These guys qualified the tough way, not some easy tailwind passage through Asia.

        Would the current squad beat Uruguay or Argentina home and away to get to Russia 2018?

        My heart races when I hear we have to play Takjikistan to get to the next round of qualifications . . .

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