I’ll support the Socceroos no matter who they select – including Tim Cahill

Mike Tuckerman Columnist

By Mike Tuckerman, Mike Tuckerman is a Roar Expert

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103 Have your say

    There’s a trend in Australian football right now to want to be seen as a contrarian, so it’s no surprise that so many fans are bagging Tim Cahill.

    Let no one suggest the former Millwall man can no longer create a headline.

    There were howls of disbelief from certain sections of the Socceroos fan-base when Cahill was named in Australia’s provisional 26-man World Cup squad – supposedly at the expense of in-form Hibernian striker Jamie Maclaren.

    And Football Federation Australia didn’t help things when, in typically ham-fisted fashion, they launched a promotional campaign with naming rights sponsor Caltex to rebrand five petrol stations as ‘CAHILLTEX’ on the same day.

    It lead to suggestions that Cahill’s selection was nothing more than a commercial arrangement, with interim coach Bert van Marwijk said to have had his hand forced by a need to include arguably the Socceroos’ only genuine household name.

    Couple that with the fact that Cahill played just 65 minutes in total for Millwall and there’s a basis for legitimate concern.

    However, as is becoming the norm in debates around Australian football, many fans chose to focus on only one side of the story.

    Want the simplest explanation of why van Marwijk will take Cahill to Russia? Because he thinks he can score goals.

    Tim Cahill sad

    Tim Cahill (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

    There was plenty of sympathy for dropped defender Bailey Wright – who had an outstanding campaign as captain of Championship side Bristol City – but a more instructive comparison can be made with surprise selection Brad Jones.

    Why did van Marwijk prefer Jones over incumbent second choice goalkeeper Mitch Langerak? Because he knows him.

    Faced with having to choose between a goalkeeper who van Marwijk would have seen play for Feyenoord and one currently playing in Japan for Nagoya Grampus, the Dutchman picked the player he knows.

    So why pick Cahill? Because he’s scored 50 times for Australia, including goals in each of the past three World Cups.

    He scored the two goals that saw off Syria in the Asian playoff, and prior to that came off the bench to score the only goal in a vital 1-0 win over the United Arab Emirates as well.

    In fact, Cahill scored an astonishing 11 goals on the road to Russia, making him the equal-third top goal scorer in Asian qualifying.

    How many international goals did Jamie Maclaren score during that time?

    The outcry over Maclaren’s omission is perhaps made more understandable by the fact the Socceroos don’t exactly possess a surplus of attacking talent.

    Along with Tomi Juric – who struggled for form and fitness over the back end of the European club season – Cahill is the only attacking player who regularly finds the net.

    And given that he’s unlikely to play a full 90 minutes in Russia, he looms large as Australia’s entirely predictable Plan B.

    Meanwhile, van Marwijk will run his eye over the rest of the squad at a training camp in Turkey, and with three more players set to be cut, he’ll no doubt take a closer look at Nikita Rukavytsya.

    Bert van Marwijk

    Bert van Marwijk (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

    The Maccabi Haifa flyer undoubtedly has pace, but plenty feel he was fortunate to be named in the provisional squad – particularly given Maclaren’s omission.

    Yet as others have pointed out, Maclaren didn’t exactly take his chance in his five Socceroos outings to date.

    More importantly, it’s questionable whether a pure goal poacher would fit into the type of system van Marwijk intends to play.

    And those spitting venom across their keyboards about the choice to pick a player who has scored 50 goals for the national team over a player who has scored none, could do with a dose of perspective too.

    It’s all well and good to plan for the future, but the World Cup is not a development league.

    It’s the here and now. And right here and right now, the coach of Australia thinks selecting the nation’s record top goal scorer is a safe choice.

    So do I.

    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 since December 2008.

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    The Crowd Says (103)

    • May 18th 2018 @ 7:19am
      Buddy said | May 18th 2018 @ 7:19am | ! Report

      How do you feel about the Socceroos selecting a 78 year old though? – From The Guardian this morning. I believe it to be serious!
      It’s been a tough week for the flamin’ bosseroos of Football Federation Australia (FFA), who’ve had to interrupt brunch at least once in order to intimate that critics can rack off. Those critics got all obstreperous on Tuesday when it was announced that Tim Cahill is part of the country’s pre-Ethics World Cup training squad. The player has been terrific in the past but he’s 78 years old now and his recent preparations for the World Cup have involved studying Steve Morison’s galumphing technique from a bleak observation post on Millwall’s bench. Which is why many fans couldn’t help wondering whether Cahill’s inclusion in their 26-man squad was in any way connected to the fact that he was revealed on Monday as the figurehead of an expensive marketing campaign run by a fuel company that happens to be the main sponsor of Australia’s proud and totally sacrosanct national team, the Caltex Socceroos.

      • May 18th 2018 @ 7:32am
        jupiter53 said | May 18th 2018 @ 7:32am | ! Report

        If you read that section [the Fiver] of the Guardian website regularly you would definitely not think the piece was serious.

        • May 18th 2018 @ 7:38am
          Buddy said | May 18th 2018 @ 7:38am | ! Report

          I read it occasionally. On this occasion it just felt like a very well placed typo! – made me laugh anyway.

    • May 18th 2018 @ 7:37am
      Buddy said | May 18th 2018 @ 7:37am | ! Report

      As most competitions wind up during May, attention begins to switch to The World Cup – well every fourth year at least. The football news is peppered with stories about who is and who isn’t being selected for each country. Only this morning I read that Martial and Lacazette have been left out of the French squad and I was wondering if we could offer them both citizenship before the end of the month? The English media is churning over Mr Southgate’s decision to take a pretty young and inexperienced squad to Russia with just four players who played in Brazil.
      It all makes for good reading, healthy debate and importantly for me, stops me from hibernating during the long months between seasons. There will be supporters and detractors regardless of who gets and doesn’t get picked….. all the fun of the fair but nobody surely lends conditional support? Having said that, I have witnessed players being booed by their own country’s fans due to their playing for a particular club side. There again I think I might boo if Kevin Muscat was ever put in charge of the Socceroos!

      • Roar Guru

        May 18th 2018 @ 8:00am
        Griffo said | May 18th 2018 @ 8:00am | ! Report

        Being on the news and endless speculation!

        Interesting choice for England. Past World Cups seemed to be filled with stars and names.

        Perhaps they are going to make use of their youth world champions next as they have, well, experience winning a tournament. 😜

        • May 18th 2018 @ 9:01am
          Buddy said | May 18th 2018 @ 9:01am | ! Report

          I listened to an extensive interview with Mr Southgate on talksport last night. The message was clearly in the direction you are suggesting. Get the youth players working well and performing in competitions and then move them up to senior level together with some tournament experience behind them and a fair bit of bonding from playing regularly.
          Interesting piece by Rio Ferdinand who said that his club rivalry seemed to prevent a really talented bunch from really bonding as they were frightened of giving away too many secrets to their rivals in the league. He was referring to the likes of Terry, Gerard, Lampard and co. When you look back at Manchester United’s success in the 90’s and first decade of this century, you see a string of players that all grew up together, trained, played and sweated for each other and Sir Alex got the most out of them. A good formula or what?

          • May 18th 2018 @ 9:39am
            Kangajets said | May 18th 2018 @ 9:39am | ! Report

            I’ve been at England gsmes where the English fans booed every man utd player and sung stand up if you hate Man U ..

            Bizarre support for their own country

          • May 18th 2018 @ 9:55am
            Fadida said | May 18th 2018 @ 9:55am | ! Report

            Rio was wrong though wasn’t he? Spain had a team comprised of mainly Barca and Real players who had serious grievances with each other. They went on to become one of the great international teams. Germany had a team of home based players, all at rival clubs. It never hurt them.

            The problem for England was the players weren’t nearly a good technically as they needed to be, and tactically they were naive and limited.

            • May 18th 2018 @ 10:41am
              Swampy said | May 18th 2018 @ 10:41am | ! Report

              Lol Germany’s players all come from the same team – eventually…

              • May 18th 2018 @ 10:50am
                Brian said | May 18th 2018 @ 10:50am | ! Report

                True Ramos and Pique ability to trade social media insults for 10 months and then play together is masterful.

                Italy and Germany are a bit different in that they are somewhat Bayern v Juventus

              • Roar Guru

                May 18th 2018 @ 1:41pm
                Griffo said | May 18th 2018 @ 1:41pm | ! Report

                Brian – I read not so long ago that Pique, Ramos and some of the other Real Madrid and Barca members of the national team had a social media group.

                They trade barbs and banter during the club season – Pique was particularly enjoying it due to Barca’s good form this season, although the Real Madrid guys do the same but were ‘particularly quiet’ this time round…

                Given the clubs histories they must be keeping it real when in national team.

                Says a lot then when Mourinho stoke the club rivals fire when he was with Real Madrid that it did affect the national team a little.

                Perhaps social media was the therapy they needed for the national team.

            • May 18th 2018 @ 11:03am
              Buddy said | May 18th 2018 @ 11:03am | ! Report

              Fad – I’m not sure he was wrong as such. All he was really saying was that the club rivalry overshadowed the team and as a result they didn’t achieve as much as they should/could have. When you look back at sides full of gifted and talented players you do wonder just what prevented them from really achieving. Many things come into play though.

              • May 18th 2018 @ 12:27pm
                Fadida said | May 18th 2018 @ 12:27pm | ! Report

                Buddy, they weren’t as gifted as talented as they were hyped to be. They could barely keep possession at major tournaments. Miles behind the better teams

              • May 18th 2018 @ 12:46pm
                Kangajets said | May 18th 2018 @ 12:46pm | ! Report

                Paul scholes was a better player then Lampard and Gerrard and they couldn’t pick that the right combo
                The Beckham send off in the Michael Owen game was a opportunity missed in 98 for that era

              • May 18th 2018 @ 1:57pm
                Redondo said | May 18th 2018 @ 1:57pm | ! Report

                Lampard and Gerrard were typical English hero footballers – like Bryan Robson.

                Scholes on the other hand was a great footballer, and recognised as such by non-English nobodies like Xavi and Zidane.

                It’s too bad Eriksen was coach when all 3 played for England – he may have been Swedish but he had the football brain of an Englishman and stuck Scholes on the wing.

              • May 18th 2018 @ 2:31pm
                Kangajets said | May 18th 2018 @ 2:31pm | ! Report


                Scholes had the football brain and passing ability that England craved , but totally wasted by English coaches

                If sir Alex was coaching that England team , very likely a World Cup final in them

                Anyhow, let’s hope our Socceroos can produce some Paul scholes type players .

    • Roar Guru

      May 18th 2018 @ 7:50am
      Rick Figjam said | May 18th 2018 @ 7:50am | ! Report

      It is what it is. I suggest we all move on and get behind our boys 100 percent!

      For the record: I actually finally agree with Mike on something. Cahill will be used as a pinch-hitter. I doubt he’ll start in any matches, nor play more than 20 minutes.

      He won’t be used against France under any circumstance – I’m assuming Bertie will structure for a draw. It’s what I would do anyway.

      Denmark will be an interesting one. Should the Denmark-Peru match end in a draw, I’d suggest Bertie structure for a draw against them with Cahill entering the equation only if we’re down. If Denmark wins, it’s going to come down to goal difference, in which case mitigation against France will be paramount along with sound defence.

      Peru is where we need to attack. Cahill to start if we need goals. Hold him back if we need a draw. Bring him on late if we need the win.

      He’s an ancient weapon – but a Katana can still kill you in a gun fight, especially at close quarters, which is where Timmy excels.

      Go Roos!

      • May 18th 2018 @ 9:27am
        Ian said | May 18th 2018 @ 9:27am | ! Report

        Mike must feel relieved, or he might now question his article based on that you agree with it.

        • Roar Guru

          May 18th 2018 @ 10:37am
          Rick Figjam said | May 18th 2018 @ 10:37am | ! Report

          The only thing Mike will be worrying about is that my comment won’t be generating 100+ clickbait comments… with the exception of you.

          If he keeps pumping out these mundane articles, I fear this forum may very well be disbanded.

          Expect a good codewar response, next week, from Mike.

          • Columnist

            May 18th 2018 @ 11:14am
            Mike Tuckerman said | May 18th 2018 @ 11:14am | ! Report

            Who are you again?

            • Roar Guru

              May 18th 2018 @ 12:41pm
              Rick Figjam said | May 18th 2018 @ 12:41pm | ! Report

              I’m the guy who manages to entice a comment out of you each and every time I pass judgement on one of your articles.

              Considering I rarely comment… well let’s just say it’s a kick in the nuts to your more regular followers who deserve your time.

              Get your act together for them during the World Cup at the very least.

              • May 18th 2018 @ 12:47pm
                Ian said | May 18th 2018 @ 12:47pm | ! Report

                “pass judgement” “kick in the nuts to your more regular followers”

                Sometimes it is too easy to generate a reaction from you.

              • Columnist

                May 18th 2018 @ 12:49pm
                Mike Tuckerman said | May 18th 2018 @ 12:49pm | ! Report

                Given that I was writing for this website long before you blew in, I suspect you’re the only person who cares about any comments you make.

              • Roar Guru

                May 18th 2018 @ 12:54pm
                Rick Figjam said | May 18th 2018 @ 12:54pm | ! Report

                I wish you wouldn’t use the word ‘write’ to describe what it is you do.

              • May 18th 2018 @ 1:06pm
                Kangajets said | May 18th 2018 @ 1:06pm | ! Report


                Grow up

    • Roar Guru

      May 18th 2018 @ 8:06am
      Griffo said | May 18th 2018 @ 8:06am | ! Report

      Yep no matter what the National Team gets my support regardless who the final 23 are.

      Whatever I thought may have happened to Cahill by now I just hope he does score in a fourth straight World Cup.

      Then we can speculate on him making a fifth 😁

    • May 18th 2018 @ 8:06am
      Jack said | May 18th 2018 @ 8:06am | ! Report

      I am not sure people are annoyed by Cahill being selected to be honest.
      My personal complaint is trolisi and naboutt over Maclaren but off course I will support whoever goes .

      • May 18th 2018 @ 9:56am
        AGO74 said | May 18th 2018 @ 9:56am | ! Report

        Nabbout has shown form over the entirety of the last season. Mclaren only the last 3 months. And you have to question the quality of the Scottish game. Couldn’t get a game in Germany.

        • May 18th 2018 @ 12:47pm
          Kangajets said | May 18th 2018 @ 12:47pm | ! Report

          Cahill and Nabbout are both worthy imo

          Mc claren maybe should have stayed at Brisbane this season

          • May 18th 2018 @ 8:39pm
            pacman said | May 18th 2018 @ 8:39pm | ! Report

            So should have Bratten a couple of years ago. A phone call to the ATO would have ensured his overdue superannuation payments were quickly brought up to date. Nothing like a good football player manager!

        • May 18th 2018 @ 9:42pm
          stu said | May 18th 2018 @ 9:42pm | ! Report

          not again…and oh dear….rogic extends his contract with celtic and a ranger defender is named in the portugal wc squad. i forgot, we in australia know it all.

          • May 19th 2018 @ 3:11pm
            Evan askew said | May 19th 2018 @ 3:11pm | ! Report

            Lustig is a regular swedish international to?

      • Roar Guru

        May 18th 2018 @ 1:45pm
        Griffo said | May 18th 2018 @ 1:45pm | ! Report

        Bert has seen Nabbout play in the flesh for the Jets. He likes the direct power and style.

        Nabbout could fill the striker or wide attacker role well. And he was scoring amazing goals for fun.

        • May 18th 2018 @ 4:07pm
          shirtpants said | May 18th 2018 @ 4:07pm | ! Report

          Nabbout could be a bit of an x factor for us.

    • May 18th 2018 @ 8:07am
      shirtpants said | May 18th 2018 @ 8:07am | ! Report

      The outrage over selections is great; it shows passion. But as pointed out, we could all do with a little perspective.

      Bert has the knowledge and experience and made decisions based around what structures and game plans he will impose.

      It’s hard to do anything but have faith that we have the right man at the helm.

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