Football is a game of opinions – that’s why so many care about it

Mike Tuckerman Columnist

By Mike Tuckerman, Mike Tuckerman is a Roar Expert


93 Have your say

    It was nice to see Australia’s under-23 team get off to a winning start in China, on the same night Robbie Slater unleashed a stinging critique of the FFA.

    It’s that yin and yang that makes football in this country such a compelling proposition – one moment the game is up, the next minute it’s down.

    Kudos to coach Ante Milicic and his young charges for getting off to a professional, if at times nervy-looking 3-1 win over Syria at the AFC U-23 Championship in chilly Kunshan.

    Although the game was streamed live on the Fox Sports website and the Asian Football Confederation’s YouTube channel, I only watched the second half because I tuned into Just For Kicks beforehand.

    And that was no doubt the whole point of screening the second half of the Olyroos game on the back of Fox Sport’s regular programming – to capture a few more viewers who might otherwise have neglected to watch Just For Kicks.

    Sound enough logic, I would have thought, but tell that to Fox Sport’s genial executive producer Murray Shaw – who copped a flurry of Twitter abuse after announcing the network was to broadcast Australia’s opening game from what one A-League chief executive had earlier called “a meaningless tournament”.

    But wait. Are they the Olyroos, or aren’t they? Kind of.

    Perhaps our most famous Olyroo of all, Ned Zelic, wondered himself why certain players were picked despite being too old to represent Australia by the time the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo roll round.

    Turn’s out Football Federation Australia wanted to expose a broader group of players to international football, and was worried about potential seedings for the 2020 Olympic qualifiers. Fair enough.

    But that’s something a few more Australian fans might have realised if the information wasn’t buried on the suite of FFA websites, with fans paradoxically having to navigate to the Socceroos page to read news about the under-23 side.

    Which brings us to Slater’s remarks about the FFA.

    “The farcical pursuit of a national coach is ridiculous and embarrassing,” Slater thundered on what is usually a light-hearted program.

    “We do not have a national coach – we’ve got a friendly in March, we’ve got a World Cup in six months. Pick a national coach.

    “We’re using consultants, and I’m hearing – and I’d like this confirmed – we’re paying money to consultants. I’ve heard of Gerard Houllier, I’ve heard of Andy Roxburgh.

    “Why? What are they going to tell us about what we need? Don’t we have a technical director… Eric Abrams? That’s his job to do that, along with Luke Casserly.

    “These are the faceless men leading us on a farcical pursuit of a national team coach. We need one, and we need one now. We don’t need one now… we needed one a month ago.”

    Tell us what you really think, Bulldog!

    Slater’s abrasive style can sometimes rub fans the wrong way, but as a former Socceroo and one-time winner of the English Premier League, he’s more than earned the right to express his opinion.

    And he saved his most withering barbs for last:

    “Ange Postecoglou left in November. It’s not good enough on all levels. The FFA, lift your game or change your game.

    “People are under pressure at the FFA. They closed their offices over Christmas. Open on the eighth of January.

    “Not good enough – it’s our busiest time of the year!”

    Touché. But if you believe some online critics, he shouldn’t have said it because it’s negative.

    The truth is there’s no such thing as ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ coverage from Australia’s football media coverage – there’s just coverage. And those who care passionately about the game – like Slater or Zelic or Murray Shaw – are always going to comment on the topics of the day.

    That’s all part of building a football culture.

    We should embrace it and be thankful for it, because without it, the game would simply be all action and no talk.

    Mike Tuckerman
    Mike Tuckerman

    Mike Tuckerman is a Sydney-born journalist and lifelong football fan. After lengthy stints watching the beautiful game in Germany and Japan, he settled in Brisbane, and has been a leading Roar football columnist from December 2008.

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    The Crowd Says (93)

    • January 12th 2018 @ 7:55am
      Buddy said | January 12th 2018 @ 7:55am | ! Report

      I’ve always held that the beauty of sport is that two people can sit and watch a contest and at the end of it hold vastly differing opinions as to what took place. Isn’t that why everyone loves referees so much? Subjectivity dominates the skyline. Current debate over whether the 2017 SFC team is better than Ange’s Roar side of a few years ago? On the field, there is so much that is played out in the head, not mind games, just the psychological angle. The best coaches can extract huge performances from players when they tap into the right areas and get the player buzzing in the right mode. Meanwhile on the terraces, the grandstands, the bars and the loungerooms the fans debate / argue and sometimes fight over what is after all something totally subjective. Only the result is conclusive which is why so many, when fced with a sledge or an argument, contradiction etc just point at the scoreboard because technically you can’t argue with it even though we have all watched matches where we consider the better team lost.
      As for Fox and Mr Slater, I kind of switch off to his rants these days as they have become too frequent – almost “boy who cried wolf” syndrome so I’m not convinced that he really believes and is passionate about his subject matter. Listening to Les Murray over the years and Johnny Warren, we heard passionate arguments articulated in a very different fashion and they held much greater sway. It is often said that it isn’t necessarily the message being delivered but the way in which it is delivered that counts and there are plenty of excellent examples of where that rings true. However, what Imenjoy in 2018 over 1998 is that there is debate / colour/passion and an interest in this sport that wasn’t there only a few decades ago, or at least, had little voice, so let’s keep debating, arguing and contributing to the noise.

      • January 12th 2018 @ 9:33am
        mattq said | January 12th 2018 @ 9:33am | ! Report

        great comment Buddy. The other thing with Slater, he is so in bed with Arnold, it is difficult to take anything he says on this topic without a hint of cynicism.

        • January 12th 2018 @ 9:53am
          Fadida said | January 12th 2018 @ 9:53am | ! Report

          Exactly mattq. Slater and Arnold sitting in a tree K.I.S.S.I.N.G

    • January 12th 2018 @ 8:03am
      Kangajets said | January 12th 2018 @ 8:03am | ! Report

      I liked what Robbie Slater said last night

      And I liked what Archie Thompson said abt those young…… coming through the ranks .

      • January 12th 2018 @ 10:34am
        Realfootball said | January 12th 2018 @ 10:34am | ! Report

        Agree, K.

        Good on Slater for saying it. God knows, someone needs to.

    • January 12th 2018 @ 8:13am
      Kangajets said | January 12th 2018 @ 8:13am | ! Report


      The good thing about football discussions is some balance .
      Not just constant negative narratives

      Slater had his say abt the Ffa , which a lot of people agree on. His rant lasted 1 minute .

      Skaters other discussion for 40 minutes was all about the games the players etc

      It’s called balance .


      I really hope you are enjoying watching the games.

      On Monday you criticised the midweek scheduling , well this midweek round had 4 really good games of football . Including a pulsating derby

      I hope you enjoy watching the games this weekend . Good luck to your team .


      • January 13th 2018 @ 11:54am
        Footoverhand said | January 13th 2018 @ 11:54am | ! Report

        Balanced means you get to hear both sides of a story, we never hear from the FFA on anything, just delays.
        That’s part of the problem, the FFA don’t encourage discussion.
        Oh and yes, the football has been good so far this week.

    • January 12th 2018 @ 8:50am
      Waz said | January 12th 2018 @ 8:50am | ! Report

      “The truth is there’s no such thing as ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ coverage from Australia’s football media – there’s just coverage“ …. Bingo!!

      The caveat to that statement is there isn’t enough coverage and the truth being, we don’t generate enough content either for news departments to take us seriously outside of a World Cup – bring on HAL expansion, W-League expansion, division 2, pro/rel, transfers and loans asap

      • January 12th 2018 @ 5:24pm
        LuckyEddie said | January 12th 2018 @ 5:24pm | ! Report

        Not sure about that. Quite simply if the media does not wish to cover HAL they will not. The problem, as has been pointed out numerous times, is that the media own certain sports and they cover the sports they own. For instance, if HAL drew 80k to a game in Sydney that ended 4-3 channel 7 seven would still lead in with Tennis. Similarly, Ten would lead in with Big Trash and nine would lead in with cricket. Their ABC would cover the LGBTQWXYZ curling titles.

        People do not understand that if the media do not want to cover something they just don’t. I remember in Brisbane years ago Roar played SFC and the crowd was well over 20k and it was a great game. Now there was no other sport of any consequence going on in Brisbane that weekend or anywhere in Australia. The game got about 10 sec at the end of the news and 8 pages in from the back on the sports part of the daily rag. It’s that simple and that flows across all coverage including politics.

        Fox did not buy football and leave it floundering in summer to make football a big sport. They bought football to fill some space in summer to protect their big winter products AFL and NRL. Fox did not buy football to promote it they just need to make sure no one else got a chance to actually promote football.

        Get it to winter for better weather and promote is to clubs that are playing in winter or accept it is going no where.

        • January 12th 2018 @ 5:45pm
          Waz said | January 12th 2018 @ 5:45pm | ! Report

          Agree there’s some resistance to covering football, but that’s not the entire picture.

          News organisations need content more than ever, and they need it 24×7 which soccer doesn’t do a whole lot to contribute.

          The WC gets the coverage, because it’s intense but the NPL, FFA Cup and the HAL aren’t. There’s not a lot we can do to change it other than make more of everything

          • January 12th 2018 @ 6:21pm
            LuckyEddie said | January 12th 2018 @ 6:21pm | ! Report

            The WC gets coverage because their are big bucks involved across the World for about 2 weeks. For us the media feel they have then done their bit and then ignore football for another 4 years until they can make a few bucks out of the next WC.

            The media in Australia cover what they own or what they have invested heavily in and they have no interest or respect for the ave football club/supporter. In fact they treat football like dirt and until we get a real football person in charge of football nothing will change.

            We must be the only league/sport in the world to have had CEO’s from the opposing codes, one Union, one AFL and the current one from NRL. I think if you want any evidence of how we have been stitched up this highlights it perfectly.

            The deal with FOX would not only require the failing summer comp, terrible scheduling but also that they have a major say in who runs FFA. So far we have just brought in high paid lackeys from other sports.

            I’m astounded that when people/journalists write articles about football and why it has plateaued off they never mention the obvious – we have never had a football person in charge of Football.

            • January 13th 2018 @ 11:57am
              Footoverhand said | January 13th 2018 @ 11:57am | ! Report


        • January 12th 2018 @ 11:22pm
          Chris Wright said | January 12th 2018 @ 11:22pm | ! Report

          Its going nowhere.

    • January 12th 2018 @ 9:02am
      chris said | January 12th 2018 @ 9:02am | ! Report

      Robbie Slater stated what a lot of us are thinking and that is FFA are simply dragging their feet on many issues.
      Mike you are right in saying that Slater has earned the right to express his opinion and last night he did just that and I found myself nodding with his every statement. And he got applause from the studio audience as well!

      • January 12th 2018 @ 9:25am
        Waz said | January 12th 2018 @ 9:25am | ! Report

        Agree up to a point; that point being Slater believes Arnie should have the job which appears not to be an opinion shared by the FFA. So Slater I think is right in his sentiments but his solution would be to apoint Arnie tomorrow, which would be wrong imo. And looking at some of the foreign coach names appearing in the press (if these are genuine) the FFA deserve some time to evaluate options.

        • January 12th 2018 @ 10:19am
          Kris said | January 12th 2018 @ 10:19am | ! Report

          Yep Waz, that is the subtext. Anything other than appointing Arnold 3 weeks ago won’t be enough to make Slater happy.

          Personally I believe the appointment is irrelevant. The team will be eliminated in the group stage, won’t win a game and might struggle to score.

          I think the bigger question is do we make a 6-month appointment or do the hard yards and try and find a manager for a 5 year appointment looking forward to the next WC?

        • January 12th 2018 @ 12:57pm
          chris said | January 12th 2018 @ 12:57pm | ! Report

          Waz one thing I will say is that whilst Robbie S is correct in saying we need a coach and we needed one yesterday, its not the FFA’s fault that Ange decided to walk so late in the piece.
          How many countries that have qualified for the WC have had to contend with that!

          • January 12th 2018 @ 1:21pm
            Waz said | January 12th 2018 @ 1:21pm | ! Report

            Well, I’m not agreeing with everything Slater is saying but in terms of whether it’s the FFAs fault Ange left, those in the professional football community are saying it is the FFAs fault and that Gallop/Ange’s relationship broke down over the public humiliation (in his eyes) from the PFA dispute two years ago, hence he left.

            So we don’t know it’s a fact that is is the FFAs fault, nor that it’s a fact it’s not the FFAs fault either .. and until someone in the know writes a book I suggest we don’t know as well.

            Personally I’m happy with the way the ffa are going about this, Arnie is the only Aussie choice but they must evaluate international options before deciding on either Arnie or someone else.

            Worst case is they can always ask someone to be caretaker coach (Arnie?) for the WC.

            Best case is they get the right man before the end of this month.

            • January 14th 2018 @ 8:31am
              j,binnie said | January 14th 2018 @ 8:31am | ! Report

              Waz – On the 17th of November (2 months ago) I was in the company of a man who works among the top people in Australian sport and is also on first name terms with AP.
              He told me then,in some degree of confidence, that AP had received “a life changing offer ” (his words) and would be officially announcing his departure from the Socceroo job in the near future.
              Now as we are all aware that is exactly what happened..
              Life goes on but as you can see ,much goes on that we,as fans, are not always party to. Cheers jb.

          • January 12th 2018 @ 1:39pm
            Kris said | January 12th 2018 @ 1:39pm | ! Report

            I think a lot of people have forgotten that Holger Osiek was sacked in October 2013 ahead of a June 2014 World Cup. Postecogolou had only 9 months and 3 games to prepare. So not only is it pretty common, it happened at the last World Cup too.

            • January 14th 2018 @ 8:59am
              j,binnie said | January 14th 2018 @ 8:59am | ! Report

              Kris – Talking about former Socceroo coaches.
              Verbeek actually supervised 27 Socceroo matches for a success rating of 55%
              Osiek was there longer supervising 44 matches for a success rating of 52%
              Ange actually supervised 49 Socceroo matches for a success rate of 45%

              Those figures (which included World Cup games) actually highlight any differences that may have occurred over the last 10 years and,lets be honest, they don’t show a huge differential.

              This leads us to the question, do we really need a high profile coach,hired at great expense for a short term, to take our team ,which Ange has cut back to a workable 30 players, to Russia,, when we have so many people involved in coaching jobs at FFA level.?? jb

              • January 14th 2018 @ 10:00am
                punter said | January 14th 2018 @ 10:00am | ! Report

                Verbeek played to get results only
                Osiek also just played to get results
                Ange played to a principle, totally against how we have always played (Robbie, put in the ringer Slater).

                This the difference.

              • January 14th 2018 @ 6:15pm
                j,binnie said | January 14th 2018 @ 6:15pm | ! Report

                Punter – In all my years in the game I have thought managers /coaches were employed to “get results”. Obviously I was wrong so thanks for pointing that out, Cheers jb.

              • January 14th 2018 @ 7:07pm
                punter said | January 14th 2018 @ 7:07pm | ! Report

                JB, don’t worry yourself, you are still correct.

                Some will get results anyway possible like Mourinho, others have a style or plan they play to like Pep. My point being Verbeek & Osiek more like Mourinho, while Ange more like Pep, please not staying same level, but more he had a game plan that was heavily criticised, rightly or wrongly, for another time, but he did & that did take it’s toll as change is sometimes difficult as we see in football around the world.

    • January 12th 2018 @ 9:14am
      Bruce said | January 12th 2018 @ 9:14am | ! Report

      Mike , it’s good to have a variety of opinions.

      I enjoyed what Slater said , his one minute rant was better then 20 negative articles.

      The other argument is that Slater talked about football, players and tactics for the other 50 minutes.

      Good to have some variety and balance in opinions.

      I hope you enjoyed the midweek football and good luck to your team .