Australian football needs better coaches

Beardan Roar Guru

By Beardan, Beardan is a Roar Guru


59 Have your say

    Australian football’s poor crowds and TV ratings have been spoken about time and again, but the A-League’s managers have not come under much scrutiny.

    Are these ten managers good enough to provide fans with the best possible quality football to watch?

    Let’s start with Perth. Kenny Lowe’s playing style was learnt in the halcyon days of the 1980s, where flying tackles and long balls were the craze. He has forgotten time has moved on. What’s more, his lack of respect for officials was seen when he came on the field in 2016 to abuse a referee.

    Speaking of someone who can’t keep his cool leads us to Adelaide coach Marco Kurz – another hot-head who struggles to maintain composure on the sidelines.

    Only an irresponsible coach would make a comment saying a game was “10 against 12”. If he wants an open discussion with referee, he should save this type of comments for then.

    John Aloisi will forever be a hero in Australian football, but as a coach, he is more caught up in panic than tactics. His short-lived stint at Melbourne Heart ended in a sacking, and although he has made it to the finals twice for Brisbane, they have struggled this season.

    Paul Okon is similar to Aloisi – a talented footballer doesn’t necessarily make a talented coach. More time will be given to Okon, but he doesn’t come across as if he is going to be anything but the next John Aloisi.

    Kevin Muscat has had a talented roster over the last four years and has won a grand final with it. But angry coaches have a shorter lifespan in the job than calm ones and his time may be ending at season’s end if Victory results don’t improve.

    The downside for Warren Joyce at Melbourne City was losing Tim Cahill, something that should have been avoidable. The Wellington coach is relatively unknown in Australia, though his results aren’t exactly sparkling.

    That leaves us with Graham Arnold, Ernie Merrick and Josep Gombau – three managers who are flying the flag proudly in Australia.

    Arnold has had Sydney playing magnificent football over the last two years. His attacking philosophy and playing his strongest side against Shanghai midweek should be applauded. It was a great game, and Sydney deserved more than a point.

    Gombau showed at Adelaide he is a people’s man and a quality manager. He doesn’t have a great roster at Western Sydney, but recent results hold some promise for the mid-table team.

    Merrick has lifted Newcastle right up to second place this season. He assembled a strong midfield and installed an attacking mindset, which has the Jets playing consistently attractive football. We need more of this.

    Australian football needs quality coaches – we must ensemble the best possible. At the moment, we simply have not achieved that.

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    The Crowd Says (59)

    • February 24th 2018 @ 6:41am
      Buddy said | February 24th 2018 @ 6:41am | ! Report

      That’s a pretty bleak picture and somewhat dismissive, and perhaps a bit lightweight too. Surely there is more to be said about Warren Joyce’s tenure at Melbourne City than he shouldn’t have let TC go?
      Poor behaviour on the touchline is hardly confined to Adelaide or Perth. Mr Muscat didn’t rate a mention and we have seen rants and fire and brimstone from Graham Arnold and Ernie Merrick. There are no saints in that department. Surely they take their cues from the likes of Mourinho, Zidane and co who use the world stage for their own amateur theatrics and toddler style temper tantrums.
      With a salary cap and limited funds, we see an enormous amount of recycling in the A Legue. I am sure someone will have statistics on the subject; just what is the average number of clubs a player typically represents? I’m guessing 3 maybe 4? There are times when I look at how a player is performing at his 3rd A League club and can’t help but think it must be down to the coach. Take Nigel Boogaard for instance. He has really shone this season and he isn’t being sent off for badly timed tackles. I put that down to Ernie Merrick – or is it just coincidence and the arrival of NTS as a partner?
      Lots to explore in this area, let’s be less dismissive or at least provide more than a sentence before consigning our coaches to the proverbial rubbish bin please.

      • February 24th 2018 @ 11:10am
        Beardan said | February 24th 2018 @ 11:10am | ! Report

        Bit of nonsense. Graham Arnold and Ernie Merrick arent exactly ‘fire and brimstone’ coaches. Even last week when Merrick got dudded with the VAR, he was fairly calm in the press conference. Arnold keeps his composure far better than Muscat, Kurz or Lowe.

        The reason I didnt expand too much on point is I dont like to labour on points, its not my style. I give the reader some credit that they have seen the sport we are discussing.

        • February 24th 2018 @ 1:57pm
          Buddy said | February 24th 2018 @ 1:57pm | ! Report

          Don’t disagree that they are not all fire and brimstone but I have seen Graham Arnold rant and rave and in Merrick’s days at MV he was a little less placid shall we say.

        • February 24th 2018 @ 2:08pm
          i miss the force said | February 24th 2018 @ 2:08pm | ! Report

          the reason you dont expand is because you have no point. youjust write cliches and bizzwords which have no real meaning

          • February 24th 2018 @ 2:26pm
            Beardan said | February 24th 2018 @ 2:26pm | ! Report

            Where are the cliches? If I wanted to write a cliche I would write ‘Kurz shows the passion that has led him to coach over 300 matches in Germanys top two competitions’. There you go. Here is another one ‘Lowe is a wily old fox who has spent many years applying his trade’. They are cliches…

    • February 24th 2018 @ 7:39am
      Nemesis said | February 24th 2018 @ 7:39am | ! Report

      I could just as easily say:
      – AFL needs better coaches/players
      – NRL needs better coaches/players

      The truth is football & basketball are the only major team sports where coaches in the domestic competitions can be judged against peers on a global scale.

      If Australia were the only nation on earth to play football, our ALeague coaches & players would be rated “best in the world” like the AFL & NRL coaches & players.


      Because, they would be the only coaches & players in their field & ignorant, insular Aussies think that equates to “best in the world”.

      • February 24th 2018 @ 11:13am
        Beardan said | February 24th 2018 @ 11:13am | ! Report

        No no… RL will address someone who may not be up to coaching. Look at Mick Potter, he got called out when he didnt address the Benjo Marshall controversies there a few years ago. Some coaches dont survive cause they just arent cut out for it, ask Terry Lamb or Paul Langmack or Laurie Daley or Brad Fittler or Mick Cronin or Andrew Farrar… the list goes on.

        • February 24th 2018 @ 11:42am
          Nemesis said | February 24th 2018 @ 11:42am | ! Report

          Not sure if your ALeague research went back to 2015, but Kevin Muscat coached MVFC to win all 3 trophies that season.

          Now, 3 years later, he’s struggling.

          In 2009, Ernie Merrick coached MVFC to win the Double in ALeague.

          2 years later, Merrick was struggling & he was sacked.

          That’s the nature of football coaching.

          • February 24th 2018 @ 11:56am
            Beardan said | February 24th 2018 @ 11:56am | ! Report

            Muscat is an angry style of coach, these are the ones im really addressing. These old style angry coaches (I knew id have to spell it out for some people). These are the ones that are not helping Australian football (why do i always have to spell it out for some people??)

            • February 24th 2018 @ 12:03pm
              Nemesis said | February 24th 2018 @ 12:03pm | ! Report

              Maybe, if you follow football across the world, you’d have a broader understanding of the different types of personalities in the technical area.

              You probably aren’t aware of the incident after the FA Cup Clash with Guardiola?

              • February 24th 2018 @ 1:11pm
                Beardan said | February 24th 2018 @ 1:11pm | ! Report

                I mainly tune in to EPL and A-League. I dont exactly know what your point is with Pep, but he is an outstanding manager.

            • February 24th 2018 @ 1:27pm
              i miss the force said | February 24th 2018 @ 1:27pm | ! Report

              please spell it out. i would love to know your warped reasoning?

              • February 24th 2018 @ 2:33pm
                Beardan said | February 24th 2018 @ 2:33pm | ! Report

                Spell what out? That Pep can coach? You can’t see that?

            • February 25th 2018 @ 8:03am
              Kangajets said | February 25th 2018 @ 8:03am | ! Report

              Sir Alex Ferguson was angry .

              That doesn’t mean he couldn’t pass on incredible knowledge to his players.

              2 champions leagues plus 13 premier leagues .

              Coaches presenting an angry persona to the media is not what goes on behind close doors

              Have a think about rugby league Wayne Bennett if you must

    • February 24th 2018 @ 8:20am
      Waz said | February 24th 2018 @ 8:20am | ! Report

      This is one of those articles where I can agree with the headline but not the article that follows it.

      The article really adds nothing to the debate and hopefully a more skilled writer picks this up and runs with it in the close season, at least that would be one less expansion article that always dominates the 6 months of hell that is winter without football.

      We do need better coaches and the debate should be, how do we get them?

      Aloisi, Muscat and Okon are young and struggling and survivors of a trend to appoint young Australian coaches that has chewed up and spat out Moss, Stubbins and Miller to name a few. But Muscat has shown he can win, and Aloisi didn’t just make finals twice he placed third twice coming within a whisker of the title once.

      How are these guys being educated? What relevant experience do they get before landing the big jobs? Who’s mentoring them when they do get the jobs? We need Australian coaches, the question is how do we get better ones?

      • February 24th 2018 @ 8:38am
        Nemesis said | February 24th 2018 @ 8:38am | ! Report

        I have little time for such analysis. It’s always analysis given with the benefit of hindsight.

        When Muscat won 3 trophies in 12 months, he was being projected as a future National Team coach. Now, he’s a dud.

        When Popovic won the ALeague in his first year, then won the Asian Champions League at his first attempt, he was King of the Aussie Coaches. Now, he’s unemployed.

        Arnold was a dud after Asian Cup 2007 failures. Now he’s the best in Australia. A week ago he was out of his depth in Asia.

        History is littered with examples of football coaches, CEOs of companies, who can be great, & then a failure, within the space of 12 months. No better example than Claudio Ranieri at Leicester City.

        • February 24th 2018 @ 1:29pm
          i miss the force said | February 24th 2018 @ 1:29pm | ! Report

          you are being very polite by referring to this piece of work as “analysis”

      • February 24th 2018 @ 11:16am
        Beardan said | February 24th 2018 @ 11:16am | ! Report

        Addressing the solutions is to expand on it. Why dont you do it Waz? You have some half decent ideas there. I was addressing who we have, and pointing out that 70% of our coaches, in my opinion, are not of the quality needed. Finding the solutions is for the reader, like you, to do.’Education’ is the greatest myth in football. I’ll tell you where i got my education in football… going with my Dad as a 7 year old watching John Kosmina and Marshall Soper play. That’s where education starts… not when you are 45. what a load of nonsense… education.

        • February 24th 2018 @ 12:36pm
          Waz said | February 24th 2018 @ 12:36pm | ! Report

          Historically England had a resistance to educated coaches preferring storied ex-players over qualifications. Only recently has that attitude changed with a resulting improvement in quality.

          Education isn’t the answer but I believe it’s part of it. Then, as jb says elsewhere, we had a situation where former Socceroos were appointed to coaching positions they were ill qualified for and that, I believe, is responsible for a fall off in quality in the HAL this year (despite talk in some quarters to talk it up).

          This is a fundamental question for the ffa – another reason why we need a change at the top, the programs for bri gong coaches through needmore thought than we have today

          • February 24th 2018 @ 1:14pm
            Beardan said | February 24th 2018 @ 1:14pm | ! Report

            We havent had more education in coaching in the sport than there is today. We just need to find the right people. How did Kevin Muscat get to the top of the tree in Aus football. We need proper coaches like Ange and Josep. These are football coaches. Not Kevin and Kurz.

            As for England’s results improving… maybe you can point out to me where it’s improved? Was it the loss to Iceland you are talking about? Or perhaps Sam allyrdyce’s undefeated record in charge of them?

            • February 24th 2018 @ 1:45pm
              shirtpants said | February 24th 2018 @ 1:45pm | ! Report

              Or you could look towards the unrivalled success of England’s youth teams.

              • February 24th 2018 @ 2:34pm
                Beardan said | February 24th 2018 @ 2:34pm | ! Report

                Im talking serious football…. not youth football.

              • February 24th 2018 @ 3:25pm
                Waz said | February 24th 2018 @ 3:25pm | ! Report

                It is the youth teams I’m talking about, Winning junior World Cups (and in style) is a significant development.

                We will see whether their system can now translate that capability to senior international level.

                You seem to like single topic ideas; education is one facet of this (not too much, not too little), experience would be another – what did Aloisi have before City? Okon?

                And where do they go when they fail and get fired – The Fox Sports couch it seems which is not good enough. It’s another reason why we need a national second division to create more full time coaching opportunities.

                A national second division and eventually p/r to reward the best coaches and punish the worst.

              • February 24th 2018 @ 4:33pm
                Beardan said | February 24th 2018 @ 4:33pm | ! Report

                On the right track here Waz. We do need a place for coaches to go if not ready. Fox lounge is not ideal. Not really is whatever state leagues or 2nd tier leagues. But i dont think Aus football is ready for 2nd division. We arent exactly doing it that well in 1st division at the moment.

            • February 25th 2018 @ 8:07am
              Kangajets said | February 25th 2018 @ 8:07am | ! Report

              Do you think Muscat is an angry ant behind close doors with his players….of course not .

              I give you sir Alex Ferguson
              Or Wayne Bennett

              Angry persons on the outside, but what goes on behind the scenes is football education without all the Agro

        • February 24th 2018 @ 2:07pm
          i miss the force said | February 24th 2018 @ 2:07pm | ! Report

          and what an education that was. you probably spent most of your time staring into space.

          best comedic writer on the roar. opinions with no substance or evidence

          • February 24th 2018 @ 2:35pm
            Beardan said | February 24th 2018 @ 2:35pm | ! Report

            I am not concerned about criticism from someone who is into star wars. Im am only concerned with sports people here.

      • Roar Rookie

        February 25th 2018 @ 12:27pm
        At work said | February 25th 2018 @ 12:27pm | ! Report

        I agree Waz, would love someone like Tim Palmer to pick this up and go in a little more depth.
        Such as why coach A is rubbish from a tactical standpoint but excels at man management, or why coach B is strong tactically but lacks self control for example, and how these different skills sets work or not on the teams their manage.

        • February 25th 2018 @ 10:46pm
          Kangajets said | February 25th 2018 @ 10:46pm | ! Report

          How much about coaching is about creating self belief in players , why does Merrick have that skill to make individuals better and to create cohesion and confidence.

          It’s quite possible that Kevin Muscat has great man management skills , but 4 years at one club is an eternity these days .

    • February 24th 2018 @ 8:23am
      j,binnie said | February 24th 2018 @ 8:23am | ! Report

      Nem – This explanation is just too simple to be credible.
      Some four or five years ago our “rulers” in Sydney sent out instructions to do one or two things, (1) Try a local national coach, and (2) create opportunities for ex Socceroos to stay in the game in some form or other, be it as coaches,pundits ,commentators or advisers.
      Now you know and I know that you won’t find those directives in any boardroom minutes but one would have to be a complete idiot to ignore what has happened to our game since.
      Today we have 4 ex-Socceroo coaches plying their trades in the HAL, some reasonably successful others not so successful but one thing has emerged, up till a few months ago the national coach was undoubtedly being consulted when coaching positions in the top tier became available.
      Lately we have noted a slight change on this status quo ,not only at national team level but also at HAL level so it could be assumed that that “experiment” ,as has been conducted over the last 4 years. has perhaps been “shelved”?
      At this late stage of the season it could be said that the jobs of Aloisi, Muscat and Okon are under some threat ,as it appears that franchise owners tend to favour blaming coaches for results rather than the players playing for their teams.
      Time will tell but it must never be forgotten that five of our undoubtedly successful national sides were coached by men who all had one common denominator, Rasic,Arok, Hiddink, Verbeek and Osiek were all “imported”.

      With the recent appointments of BVM , Gombau,Kurz and Kalezic are we heading back to that scenario? Cheers jb.

      • Roar Guru

        February 24th 2018 @ 10:04am
        Grobbelaar said | February 24th 2018 @ 10:04am | ! Report

        The A-League clubs have imported coaches from the earliest days, there are a long line of names, all meeting with mixed success.

        • February 24th 2018 @ 10:58am
          j,binnie said | February 24th 2018 @ 10:58am | ! Report

          Grobellar – For your information since the HAL began there have been 55 coaches employed by the Australian teams in the league.
          Of those 55 positions ,23 have been filled by ex Socceroos,Of those 23 positions filed .15 of the “holders” are no longer employed as coaches in our top league.
          Don’t these figures tell you a tale ????? Cheers jb.

    • February 24th 2018 @ 9:03am
      Nemesis said | February 24th 2018 @ 9:03am | ! Report


      Football has only recently become a professional sport in Australia. It will take time before coaches & those who teach the coaches can be on the same level as their peer in Europe.

      I’ll be extremely disappointed if we are still having this discussion as Australia prepares for the 2030 World Cup in Argentina/Uruguay. But, in 2018, it’s not a surprise if local coaches can be a bit fickle with their form.

      Even the best national coaches in the world, eventually get sacked. Look at Scolari. A world champion coach in 2002. 12 years later, he’s coached his nation the most embarrassing performance & result in World Cup Football history.

      • February 24th 2018 @ 9:22am
        Waz said | February 24th 2018 @ 9:22am | ! Report


        “It will take time before coaches & those who teach the coaches can be on the same level as their peer in Europe”

        Agree entirely, it’s the same with referees too.

        “I’ll be extremely disappointed if we are still having this discussion as Australia prepares for the 2030 World Cup”

        If we don’t have the discussion now we just might be.

      • February 24th 2018 @ 9:57am
        peeko said | February 24th 2018 @ 9:57am | ! Report

        i concur with all your comments here. basically htis article is an opinion piece by someone that has no idea about the qualities of the coaches mentioned and probably wouldnt know them if they passed in the street

        • February 24th 2018 @ 11:20am
          Beardan said | February 24th 2018 @ 11:20am | ! Report

          Maybe you can tell me about the qualities of Lowe and Kurz than peeko… instead of just making a statement with no substance at all…

          • February 24th 2018 @ 1:53pm
            peeko said | February 24th 2018 @ 1:53pm | ! Report

            just like your entire article

            • February 24th 2018 @ 2:36pm
              Beardan said | February 24th 2018 @ 2:36pm | ! Report

              For example? What issues do you have ?

      • February 24th 2018 @ 11:07am
        j,binnie said | February 24th 2018 @ 11:07am | ! Report

        Nem – It is an old story but there are 2 things inescapable in life , that is “death”, and that “football coaches will be sacked”
        I have long believed ,and have never hidden from the fact, that I consider coaching positions as they stand today, are positions that warrant far more attention and publicity than they deserve.
        After all ,if a coach is to be praised or criticised for his team’s performance it is all so much rubbish.
        Coaches don’t play ,win, or lose games,it is players who do that and the coach is only to be praised or blamed for his efforts in trying to put a successful team together.
        After that is done to the best of his ability ,he simply becomes an adviser to the players, whether good or bad is all in the minds of his employers. Cheers jb..

    • Roar Guru

      February 24th 2018 @ 10:02am
      Grobbelaar said | February 24th 2018 @ 10:02am | ! Report

      The Mariners did not attract less than 5,000 last night because Paul Okon is a poor or indifferent coach, nor will he be the main reason why the ratings will be miserable (I haven’t seen them yet, but I would already be guessing that they are miserable, and I’m odds on to be correct).

      • February 24th 2018 @ 10:55am
        Waz said | February 24th 2018 @ 10:55am | ! Report

        The Mariners attracted less than 5,000 last night because they hadn’t won in eleven games and were facing arguably the worst side in the competition. It’s the same the world over (even NRL was copping 5k crowds in Sydney last year and AFL on the Gold Coast has some shockers).

        Okon has a part in that, this is his second season, it’s his team, and they’re not very good. That’s why less than 5k turned up.

        • February 24th 2018 @ 11:20am
          j,binnie said | February 24th 2018 @ 11:20am | ! Report

          Waz – It has to be remembered that Okon does not stand alone in this area of criticism.
          Up to last night the aggregate average attendance’s for HAL games this season was showing a decline of nearly 215,000 compared with the same figure last year. At a rough $25 entry this represents a “loss” of 5,367,500 dollars in gate revenue. a drop of some 17%.
          Now if that factor alone doesn’t drive some sense into our “leaders” .whether it be at FFA level,or HAL level, I don’t know what will. Cheers jb.

          • February 24th 2018 @ 11:23am
            Beardan said | February 24th 2018 @ 11:23am | ! Report

            Even if it was a bit of a wooden spoon clash, the ppl on the Central Coast I think should get behind their team a bit more. What else could you do on a summer Friday night up there? Go out, catch a bit of football. Take home 3 points. My son and I were watching it on TV and all he could do was talk about the hopeless crowd and the enormous sauce bottles.

            • February 24th 2018 @ 12:08pm
              Nemesis said | February 24th 2018 @ 12:08pm | ! Report

              Why is the crowd number so important to your son? When I was watching football with my dad, back in the day, neither of us cared about crowd numbers.

              So much can be learnt from father/child interaction when watching sport together.

              My dad taught me to observe, study & appreciate the technical attributes of players. He’s the 1st person who made tactical information easy to understand. He’d show which players ran to the right spots & we’d then start predicting which decisions would be made – before they were made.

              Far more instructive than contemplating the crowd size.

              • February 24th 2018 @ 1:54pm
                peeko said | February 24th 2018 @ 1:54pm | ! Report

                apple doesnt fall far from the tree, Nem

            • February 24th 2018 @ 12:18pm
              j,binnie said | February 24th 2018 @ 12:18pm | ! Report

              Bearden – Your son,in his innocence, probably touched on 2 simple factors.
              Normally at that stadium the crowd appears to favour the stand that is not subject to sunshine,hence on TV you only see what you describe as a hopeless crowd for the TV experts also appear to favour filming a game from the heavier populated grandstand.
              Now there is an important lesson to be learned from your youngster’s other observation,he noticed the big colourful sauce bottles.
              Why was that?.
              The answer is in the description,they are big and colourful and maybe that is the way our HAL clubs are going to have to start and project themselves to their local community,be “big” and “coourful” ,in other words ,get noticed. Cheers jb.

              • February 24th 2018 @ 4:37pm
                Beardan said | February 24th 2018 @ 4:37pm | ! Report

                Nemesis is talking nonsense again, so i will only say one thing. Making an abservation about the paltry crowd is a valid one. Ray Gatt was all over it on twitter. So were many others.

                I am not sure the solution J.Binnie. More families should be out at the football in my opinion. What else could you possibly do on the Central Coast on a Friday night if you had kids? The teens probably can find something to do that is hopefully legal, but would be great for more families to be out there supporting their local team.

            • February 25th 2018 @ 8:12am
              Kangajets said | February 25th 2018 @ 8:12am | ! Report

              Why didn’t you tske your son to the central coast game ??? See your part of the problem too.

              It costs a lot of money, not everyone can afford to tske a family.

              There is a lot to do on the coast , beautiful place . That’s why half of Sydney move there to live .