Football in Australia is in desperate need of change

Mike Tuckerman Columnist

By Mike Tuckerman, Mike Tuckerman is a Roar Expert

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    The worst thing that can happen for football right now is nothing. The status quo has taken the game this far, but both the Socceroos and A-League need a revamp.

    It’s ironic that the most insightful voice on Australia’s three-game trip to Russia is one that will be largely ignored.

    “By 2017, I came to the realisation that in fact, rather than me riding on a tidal wave of change, I was in essence on a personal crusade,” wrote Ange Postecoglou for Players Voice of his time as Socceroos coach.

    What Postecoglou means is that he assumed he had the backing of his employer to make the changes he felt necessary to transform the Socceroos from a team that tries hard but loses courageously, into a genuine international force.

    But when change didn’t happen quickly enough, and with Football Federation Australia no doubt concerned by the prospect of missing out on millions in tournament revenue, suddenly plans were made for a World Cup without Postecoglou in it.

    Many see his decision to resign as a betrayal to the cause, and will dismiss Postecoglou’s opinion because of it.

    Others – including a few critics of mine – are tired of the FFA being blamed for everything, and have convinced themselves that those who write about mistakes being made do more damage to the game than those who actually make them.

    Still others are alarmed by Postecoglou’s propensity for plain speaking, and will ignore his views because they believe the way he speaks means he is egocentric.

    But the reality is that the one person who had a clear vision for football in Australia – whether it was the right one or not – stepped down as Socceroos coach before the World Cup because he felt like he had no support.

    Regardless of what you think about the FFA or Postecoglou, is this really where football in Australia should be in 2018?

    Ange Postecoglou Football Australia Socceroos 2017

    That the Bert van Marwijk era ended so predictably arguably works in Graham Arnold’s favour.

    Depending on who you talk to, van Marwijk either did an outstanding job in his seven-game stint as Socceroos coach, or simply an adequate one.

    My sentiments lie somewhere in the middle. Van Marwijk did well to offer his team some defensive solidity – but as Postecoglou pointed out, the Socceroos have always had that.

    But there was only so much he could do with players whom – unlike Arnold – he was largely unfamiliar with.

    Next year’s Asian Cup will be a serious test of Arnold’s coaching skills, but in the meantime the FFA have got more pressing concerns.

    Today – a mere 19 days after their own June 11 deadline came and went without a word – the FFA will announce its shortlist of potential A-League expansion clubs.

    It’s expected eight clubs will be on the list – which sounds like a lot, considering the FFA have already stated that only two new clubs will be admitted in 2019, assuming Wellington Phoenix retain their place.

    And there may be more meaning behind such a long list of candidates than is first apparent.

    By the end of next month, the Congress Review Working Group led by independent chairwoman Judith Griggs will have submitted its proposal to FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation for a new composition of the FFA Congress.

    It’s taken an eternity – and FIFA intervention – for the penny to drop, but the FFA have finally realised they can no longer ignore every stakeholder in the game if they wish to remain in power.

    It’s in their best interests not to alienate even more voices by summarily ignoring expansion plans.

    Four new teams, not two, is what the A-League really needs. And a regeneration of the Socceroos while we’re at it.

    Because the worst thing those who run football can do right now is stand still. The game has been stagnant for too long, and what has it got us?

    Ten unhappy A-League clubs and one point in the World Cup.

    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 (170)

    • June 29th 2018 @ 6:33am
      Fionn said | June 29th 2018 @ 6:33am | ! Report

      As but a casual fan of football it’s sad to see how the last few world cups have turned out for Australia.

      We’re not playing great football and we don’t seem to be producing the calibre of players we did in the 00s. What’s changed? Is it poor administration? Poor coaching? Bad luck?

      I would love people more familiar with the game in Australia to help answer these questions for me?

      I know Craig Foster isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but he has been quite critical of how things are too.

      • June 29th 2018 @ 7:39am
        nickbrisbane said | June 29th 2018 @ 7:39am | ! Report

        Considering the ranking of the teams we played it shouldn’t have been a surprise to come last in the group.

        • Roar Guru

          June 29th 2018 @ 9:44am
          Chris Kettlewell said | June 29th 2018 @ 9:44am | ! Report

          That can’t be used as an excuse if we ever want to get anywhere. The only way to get our ranking up is to beat teams currently ranked above us. We will always be the fourth ranked team in the group until something massive changes, meaning that technically any win would need to be an upset. But as the rankings are specifically stacked against nations outside of Europe and South America, the relative rankings won’t necessarily be entirely reflective of quality also.

          But the big difference between the Aussie team and these teams that they faced in their group was the ability to finish, to find the goal in general play. Through the middle we could match pretty much any team, but in the end that doesn’t matter. You can have 80% possession and still lose 3-0.

        • June 30th 2018 @ 3:15pm
          Alan Cirson said | June 30th 2018 @ 3:15pm | ! Report

          So has the #1 ranked team always won the World Cup? Bit pointless playing at all then nickb.

      • June 29th 2018 @ 8:33am
        vin said | June 29th 2018 @ 8:33am | ! Report

        yep Fionn its bad administration and they should be held accountable for the results of our youth teams, olympic teams and world cup team just as much as the players and coaches do. So they should resign now.

        with the FFA taking over everything in 2005 a lot of good things come out from that but the promise of improving the national teams has be a failure.

        the removal of coaching styles we had success from such as the German Les Sceinflug and sth american Raul Blanco were debunked, juniors are forced to play a certain way from a young age rather than allowing kids to express themselves individually, its all missing now.

        ive been a broken record of this for 10 years on this forum because im watching it happen and everyone is ignoring the issue, people are sick of me.

        • June 29th 2018 @ 9:49am
          Kangas said | June 29th 2018 @ 9:49am | ! Report

          Is this Dutch curriculum that we follow?

          Sorry but the Dutch last golden generation were at their end about 8 years ago . It seems like the Dutch might have to adjust their curriculum.

        • June 29th 2018 @ 11:22am
          Lionheart said | June 29th 2018 @ 11:22am | ! Report

          not sick of you vin
          keep talking

        • June 29th 2018 @ 12:13pm
          Fionn said | June 29th 2018 @ 12:13pm | ! Report

          Thanks for the response, mate, I appreciate it.

        • June 29th 2018 @ 1:02pm
          scouser4life said | June 29th 2018 @ 1:02pm | ! Report

          vin – i assume that you are saying that under the curriculum that kids are not allowed to express themselves individually. i do not think that your assertion is correct in that respect.

          • June 30th 2018 @ 5:26pm
            Vin said | June 30th 2018 @ 5:26pm | ! Report

            Daniel arzani did not come through any system we have, he learnt his trade getting chased and kicked in his daily soccer game in his backyard
            I remember the pressures of taking a penalty in an under 11 grand final , now I can’t wait for my son to play next season because in his age group they don’t have a table, no semis no finals, it’s bs, and it’s all set by the ffa

        • June 29th 2018 @ 6:32pm
          punter said | June 29th 2018 @ 6:32pm | ! Report

          We are creating better technical players now then we did in the pre 2005 days, apart from Viduka & Kewell.

          • June 30th 2018 @ 5:29pm
            Vin said | June 30th 2018 @ 5:29pm | ! Report

            Whos come through the million dollar ciriculum.
            Rogic played futsal his whole junior life
            Arzani played backyard soccer and then a local club called Coogee utd

            • July 3rd 2018 @ 6:16am
              John said | July 3rd 2018 @ 6:16am | ! Report

              And lots of Futsal with Mascot Vipers in Sydney!

        • June 29th 2018 @ 8:59pm
          Graham said | June 29th 2018 @ 8:59pm | ! Report

          Agree with Vin on the individual talent being removed by having to play in a certain way. But not just an Australian problem. Please name me a goalie that Liverpool have produced and used out of their multi million dollar academy and there is no shortage of talent in Liverpool believe me. It’s not like Perth where soccer is competing with AFL. Yet Bayswater/Armadale have produced a Liverpool goalkeeper (Brad Jones).

      • June 30th 2018 @ 7:36am
        Pig shooter said | June 30th 2018 @ 7:36am | ! Report

        We’ll never be any good at soccer. All our best athletes are in the AFL

    • June 29th 2018 @ 7:14am
      cruyff turn said | June 29th 2018 @ 7:14am | ! Report

      Mike,

      While Postecoglou had a clear vision, I disagree with your assertion that the FFA didn’t support him in helping to change the national team. The fact that they offered him a contract until the end of the 2018 WC demonstrates the faith they had in him to do the job as he saw fit. And not for one moment do I believe the FFA told him how the Socceroos should play.

      After the Asian Cup success, the national team became flimsy in defence, and ponderous in attack. We were half a goal post from getting knocked out by Syria in the qualifiers! The team had lost its way, and that’s not the FFA’s fault, that rests with the coach and the players, who as we have seen, lack the necessary quality to be as attacking as Ange had hoped for.

      • Columnist

        June 29th 2018 @ 7:52am
        Mike Tuckerman said | June 29th 2018 @ 7:52am | ! Report

        I think that’s a fair comment, and although I was an unabashed fan of Postecoglou’s, I think that’s how most Socceroos supporters viewed the end of his era too.

        But I should just point out I believe it was Postecoglou who felt like he lacked support, as opposed to just me.

        • June 29th 2018 @ 8:20am
          cruyff turn said | June 29th 2018 @ 8:20am | ! Report

          Fair enough, Mike.

          I too was a fan of what Ange was aiming to do, but as time went by, it just seemed like he was trying to force a square peg into a round hole, refusing to alter his tactics depending on the game, the players he had, the conditions, or the opposition. In a way, Ange reminds me of a batsman who always wants to ‘play his shots’, irrespective of the state of the pitch, the opposition bowling, the state of the match. He just wants to attack, and if he gets out, well …. too bad. That’s the way he plays!

          I also grew tired of his snakiness to the media. He always said we should have more discussion about the game, yet when anyone asked him a football question – such as playing with a back three – he got tetchy. The man was so inconsistent.

          • June 29th 2018 @ 9:19am
            Mark said | June 29th 2018 @ 9:19am | ! Report

            There is a part that shows how fatally flawed Ange’s ‘vision’ was:

            “Our game was designed so that we could be effective on good pitches, in good weather against opposition that wouldn’t sit back – at a World Cup!”

            Firstly, there is no point devising a game plan for the World Cup if you can’t qualify for it. We qualified by the skin of our teeth. Looking at our result against Peru at the World Cup, we were lucky that the draw took us through North America, rather than South.

            Secondly, the last Euros and this World Cup show that teams much more skilled than us are perfectly happy to sit back, absorb pressure and hit teams on the counter if they think that presents them the best chance to win.

            The line that sums things up best is that as the team struggled through qualification, he lost the mandate for change. That is the way things work for any position of leadership in the workplace. If you struggle to deliver, people question if you’re the right person for the job.

            The reality of the situation is the FFA needs the money from qualifying for World Cups and can’t afford to throw it away for one man’s personal crusade.

            • Roar Rookie

              June 29th 2018 @ 9:32am
              The Phantom Commissioner said | June 29th 2018 @ 9:32am | ! Report

              I always think of Anges time in 2 stages

              Pre Asian Cup Ange- Very Good
              Post Asian Cup – Very Ordinary

              • June 29th 2018 @ 11:20am
                Midfielder said | June 29th 2018 @ 11:20am | ! Report

                Phantom

                Astute comment and I agree

              • June 29th 2018 @ 11:23am
                Redondo said | June 29th 2018 @ 11:23am | ! Report

                Agree – he got lost somewhere between the 2 stages.

            • June 29th 2018 @ 12:06pm
              AusSokkah said | June 29th 2018 @ 12:06pm | ! Report

              Was it flawed or did the other countries in Asia suddenly accept us as a giant in the Asian Confederation?

              More and more countries Asian countries were organising themselves to sit deep, defend in numbers and attack on the break as opposed to being more open and willing to take us on in the past. Even Japan became completely defensive and counter attacking against us in their final qualifier.

              It is something that I think any coach would have had trouble overcoming given the lack of technical players in our attack.

              We struggled in Asian qualifying but were more free flowing and dangerous in the confederations cup against teams that didn’t sit back.

              My only real criticism of Ange was that his reaction to this change in approach of the Asian nations didn’t result in him searching for more technically capable attacking players and bringing them through, just as he had rejuvenated the team after the Pim/Holger years.

              • June 29th 2018 @ 2:03pm
                Mark said | June 29th 2018 @ 2:03pm | ! Report

                I didn’t notice any change in approach from the Asian teams, except for Japan. The others have always sought to defend in numbers and counter attack with speed, particularly away from home. That reflected the strengths of their players (small and quick) and their limitations (they didn’t have the skills to play a possession based game).

                In relation to Japan, their change of approach reflects the point I was making about teams in the World Cup, that Ange’s assumption good teams won’t sit back is wrong. Japan have plenty of skilled players and could have played a possession based game if they wanted to. However, they knew we would try to hold possession, but struggled to break down organized defenses, and were vulnerable to quick counter attacks. So they sat back and waited for us to present them with a chance.

                It’s all well and good to talk about developing more technically proficient players, but it’s difficult for national teams to do that when they work with the players once every three months or so. Unfortunately, those players just aren’t there for us at the moment.

            • June 29th 2018 @ 1:07pm
              scouser4life said | June 29th 2018 @ 1:07pm | ! Report

              mark – you are spot on here. maybe we bring Ange back when we have players that have more technical ability which i think is our biggest problem at the moment. we should study belgium’s rise – they developed players and as a result their world ranking increased and did it over a relatively short time period.

      • June 29th 2018 @ 8:11am
        shirtpants said | June 29th 2018 @ 8:11am | ! Report

        I’m not really sure why so many use the “half a post away from being knocked out” when we hit the post multiple times over the two legs. It’s irrelevent how many times you hit the post

        • June 29th 2018 @ 9:30am
          Rocco said | June 29th 2018 @ 9:30am | ! Report

          Ok so the talk is tactics, coaches, FFA and more, and while the arguments are sound and need addressing, the reality is that we can’t score goals
          3 men at the back, 4 or 2 wouldn’t change this problem.
          Van Marwijk simply squeezed the gap between goals for and against with his conservative approach and made us look competitive
          5 goals against in 3 games requires at least 8 goals if we want to win all 3 games.
          We scored 2
          This has always been our problem for as long as I can remember, even in 2006 when we could not create a chance to score against a 10 man Italy
          Score goals, that’s what wins games, the team with the most goals are declared winners after 90 odd minutes

        • June 30th 2018 @ 9:11pm
          chris said | June 30th 2018 @ 9:11pm | ! Report

          Yes football is a game of inches and it certainly is pointless talking about “a post away from not making it”. How many countries at the WC can say the same thing? Football is not like other codes where hundreds of points are scored and the margins of error are huge. There is always “a post away from this” or a “dubious call from that”.
          Australia v France. A dubious penalty and an own goal that was a millimetre away from not crossing the line. If we’d gotten a point in that game no one would have said we didnt deserve it.
          Australia v Denmark. We dominated that game and were unlucky not to get 3 points.
          Australia v Peru. Again, little in the way of luck going our way. Peru score from the first attack after we had dominated for the first 20 mins.
          We are novices at WC finals. We will learn from this and be a better nation going forward.

    • June 29th 2018 @ 7:21am
      Conan said | June 29th 2018 @ 7:21am | ! Report

      The Socceroos played fantastic football at the World Cup. It is now clear that Australia will be favourites to win the next World Cup and rightly so. I refer of course to the cricket World Cup in England next year.

      • Roar Rookie

        June 29th 2018 @ 7:37am
        Waz said | June 29th 2018 @ 7:37am | ! Report

        lol – Australia just got whitewashed 5-0 by England …. maybe they didn’t tamper with the ball enough 😂

      • June 29th 2018 @ 10:43am
        13th Man said | June 29th 2018 @ 10:43am | ! Report

        Ummm no it’ll be a miracle if we win that on current form. England and India would be favorites.

      • June 29th 2018 @ 3:50pm
        LC said | June 29th 2018 @ 3:50pm | ! Report

        That’s what Noel Gallagher said when he mocked us in the British press a few years ago. “Stick to Commonwealth sports like Cricket and Rugby because you Aussies don’t have the nous for a global sport like Football.”

        Glad you agree with him. We can’t even beat a few ex colonies without cheating it seems.

    • Roar Rookie

      June 29th 2018 @ 7:36am
      Waz said | June 29th 2018 @ 7:36am | ! Report

      The FFA could do a lot worse than look at what the Icelandic FA did, what has happened in Icelandic football is not a fluke but the result of a systematic implementation of a plan.

      And with a population of only 330,000 it debunks the myth that Australia is not big enough (as do Portugal and half-a-dozen other small nations).

      • June 29th 2018 @ 8:21am
        BrainsTrust said | June 29th 2018 @ 8:21am | ! Report

        WHo paid for all the full size indoor grass pitches they have in Iceland, who paid for all the other indoor grass pitches from half pitch size downwards, who paid for every school having at a least one indoor pitch.
        It wasn’t the local FA, and now we have to rob our local FA of its own revenue to pay for A-league clubs supported by fools like you and all the journalists.

        • June 29th 2018 @ 9:11am
          AGO74 said | June 29th 2018 @ 9:11am | ! Report

          The pitches were built because of the environment which is not an issue for us. We have the pitches.

          I think the general point Waz is making is about overarching philosophy and the systems/pathways to execute it.

          • Roar Rookie

            June 29th 2018 @ 11:00am
            Waz said | June 29th 2018 @ 11:00am | ! Report

            Pretty much this.

            And on the question of “who pays” the FFA would do well to work with various levels of government on funding, something the AFL does really well.

            The main point is Iceland, who were an absolute nobody in European football, executed a bold plan which overcame their local constraints and improved significantly to become really competitive

            If a country the size of Newcastle can do that, what might we do?

          • Roar Guru

            June 29th 2018 @ 1:22pm
            Griffo said | June 29th 2018 @ 1:22pm | ! Report

            True although it should be something that works for us.

            Is it the number of highly trained coaches they have at grassroots? Does geography and population size help? Public school -based curriculum and play?

            What use to work here and what didn’t? What is working now and what isn’t?

            As alluded to with funds at various levels below: is there enough happening at state level giving funding available? Should it be centralised more?

            No easy answer but something that needs a revisit over the apparent ‘we got a curriculum she’ll be right, wait and see in 20 years’ that doesn’t appear to evaluate the future.

            Notwithstanding what can be done in the short term to bubble up some players or abilities to be more effective in front of goal (as one seemingly identified criteria from the recently completed World Cup campaign).

        • Roar Rookie

          June 29th 2018 @ 10:56am
          Waz said | June 29th 2018 @ 10:56am | ! Report

          Brainstrust

          Grassroots football raises over $300m every year through registrations, a large portion of which goes to State FFAs and a small portion to the FFA itself.

          The A League raises $80m of which $40m goes to the FFA and NO revenue comes to the professional game from grassroots.

          So your assertion is just wrong I’m afraid.

          • June 29th 2018 @ 11:25am
            Redondo said | June 29th 2018 @ 11:25am | ! Report

            I agree Waz. It’s strange people keep saying something that’s plainly not true.

            • June 29th 2018 @ 11:42am
              Mark said | June 29th 2018 @ 11:42am | ! Report

              If anything it’s the opposite. The A-League is subsidizing youth international teams and junior football. That’s one thing, among others, that many of the owners are complaining about.

          • June 29th 2018 @ 3:20pm
            pete4 said | June 29th 2018 @ 3:20pm | ! Report

            Interestingly FIFA is expecting to rake in about $6 billion in revenue from the 2018 World Cup (up 25 percent from the previous tournament) which is probably why the FFA isn’t really a high priority item for them

      • June 29th 2018 @ 8:42am
        AGO74 said | June 29th 2018 @ 8:42am | ! Report

        I agree with this – and as I note below I’d suggest if Ange truly wanted to change the way things are done here he should have taken on board a technical director role rather than national coach. You can’t deliver change in football top down. The most successful examples – Germany, Iceland, France, Belgium – even England now with their youngsters has all been bottom up.

        • June 29th 2018 @ 10:40am
          Redondo said | June 29th 2018 @ 10:40am | ! Report

          Exactly. Doing it top-down with players who are not technically suited is counter-productive.

          I think Football’s current malaise is partly down to the dreary, ineffective football the national team played under Ange.

          And the poor football was mainly because our current batch of players are not technically proficient enough to play Ange’s style effectively.

          The national team style should evolve in tune with the players we have available. Player development is critical.

          • Roar Rookie

            June 29th 2018 @ 11:01am
            Waz said | June 29th 2018 @ 11:01am | ! Report

            Agreed.

            Ange was well intentioned but in the wrong job for his vision.

          • June 29th 2018 @ 11:32am
            Lionheart said | June 29th 2018 @ 11:32am | ! Report

            “Football’s current malaise”
            Firstly I disagree that there is a malaise currently, but if there is it is due to bowing out of the World Cup without winning a game or scoring a goal in open play.
            But personally, I’m really looking forward to the next A league season and FFA Cup round of 32, am ever watchful of the NPL at present, can’t wait to see what Arnie does as national coach and dying to get to France for the Women’s world cup 2019.
            malaise? you’re kidding right?

            • June 29th 2018 @ 11:47am
              Redondo said | June 29th 2018 @ 11:47am | ! Report

              You might be positive (as am I) but you only need to read the articles and comments on this tab over the last 12 months to see widespread disenchantment.

              • June 29th 2018 @ 11:53am
                Lionheart said | June 29th 2018 @ 11:53am | ! Report

                oooh, that malaise. Yes I see that, the old FFA’s screwed up trick. Let’s hope that’s solved very quickly.

        • Roar Guru

          June 29th 2018 @ 1:36pm
          Griffo said | June 29th 2018 @ 1:36pm | ! Report

          AGO74 et al – when Eric Abrams was appionted, his TD role was cut almost in half as he only had to be concerned with U16 development down. Ange had the overarching national teams aspect, to implement a style of play from U17 and up.

          Not enough was asked about Ange’s work or role in this area.

          It seems in the end he probably couldn’t implement due to lack of support (as he indicates) and/or the World Cup campaign took too much energy and focus in the end, at the detriment of this other TD aspect – something which affects future youth World Cup campaigns.

          Certainly the comments on Ange having a TD role rather than coaching role sits well, but may not yet for Ange with coaching goals still to realise.

          We had Romeo Jozak (former Croatian TD) itching to do the role, but couldn’t accept half a role that was a step down from what he had done previously.

          I can’t find references as to whether this was an FFA decision (on TD split) or influenced by Ange’s vision for Australian football (with FFA aligning to suit).

          With Ange leaving, and Eric Abrams almost invisible how much this period will cost our development and focus is hard to say but can only be speculated, considering what Jozak may have brought to the FFA in lieu of Abrams (and if FFA would supported such work).

          Click the link for a couple of articles on the AIS/CoE closure and contrasting opinions…

        • June 29th 2018 @ 4:18pm
          Nephilim said | June 29th 2018 @ 4:18pm | ! Report

          Agree

      • June 29th 2018 @ 8:54am
        Kangas said | June 29th 2018 @ 8:54am | ! Report

        Small populations in Portugal and Uruguay allow the best kids to play agdinst each other from an early age , enhancing their improvement

        Iceland have hundreds of specialist indoor centres I believe where they play football year round from a young age

        England has benefited from mutilcultirism and 30 years of kids and coaches growing up seeing the premier league evolve from a long ball to a passing and more skilled competition

        Small populations like Belgium have benefited hugely from African migration , as have France ,where soccer was second to rugby until recently.

        Australia could do all of the above, but to get the best kids from a young age one location is costly for families…. maybe a football lottery could be set up to support .

        • Roar Rookie

          June 29th 2018 @ 11:04am
          Waz said | June 29th 2018 @ 11:04am | ! Report

          Kanga,

          England have not benefitted from kids watching the EPL rather they put in place a bottoms up development plan centred around coaching.

          And Australia does benefit from immigration, more than any other country, Arzani is a perfect example. And why do indigenous Australians excel in every other football code but not soccer?

          • June 29th 2018 @ 11:57am
            Kangas said | June 29th 2018 @ 11:57am | ! Report

            Yes waz

            I agree it’s not just watching the epl , that was a lazy comment from me , but the exposure to better players and different styles certainly is benefited the grass roots local coaches and kids . I caught the early progress of this when I taught there

            Of course we benefited from migration , and will benefit even more in the future .

            The indigenous question is maybe football hadnt done enough work in this development or maybe people are following their idols who play league and afl

          • June 29th 2018 @ 3:44pm
            Brendan said | June 29th 2018 @ 3:44pm | ! Report

            Yes and No
            Its the details that make the difference. In England now even 6-7 year olds are being identified out of local clubs and been asked to be a part of Premier League academies.

            These really young players train 2-3 times per week in a immersive culture where the parents drop them off they train/play for 2 – 2.5 hours and then have dinner at the academy. They travel around the country playing other academies in mini tournaments. The talented ones graduate to the true club academy.

            Our size as a country and lack of elite programs at the very young level holds us back imo. Really do our very best play against each other and needs to change if we want to really develop juniors.

            • June 29th 2018 @ 5:31pm
              brian drian said | June 29th 2018 @ 5:31pm | ! Report

              the english fa also has a shit ton of money. which they poured into a national academy at st georges park.

      • June 29th 2018 @ 10:20am
        RandyM said | June 29th 2018 @ 10:20am | ! Report

        Netherlands, Belgium, Croatia, Serbia, Switzerland… all with lower populations than Australia and obviously Iceland which has the population of Newcastle.

        • June 29th 2018 @ 10:51am
          Mark said | June 29th 2018 @ 10:51am | ! Report

          For those countries, it helps that they are smaller than Victoria. It’s much easier to run national programs and bring talented kids together from across the country when they’re all within a few hours drive of each other.

          • Roar Rookie

            June 29th 2018 @ 11:07am
            Waz said | June 29th 2018 @ 11:07am | ! Report

            “bring talented kids together from across the country when they’re all within a few hours drive of each other“

            2 million people in Perth.

            2 million in Adelaide.

            2 million in Brisbane.

            5 million in Sydney.

            5 million in Melbourne.

            One program executed in just five locations would cover 16 million people. It’s not that hard – we have to stop making excuses.

            And if it is that hard, just pick one city and do it well there for crying out loud.

            Iceland = Newcastle’s population so just do it in Newcastle.

            • June 29th 2018 @ 11:40am
              Mark said | June 29th 2018 @ 11:40am | ! Report

              It’s interesting that you raise Iceland so often.

              I’m not passing comment on whether their approach is good or bad, but their approach is the complete antithesis of the direction that Ange etc. want to take the game in Australia.

              Their approach is based on recognizing the limited resources at their disposal, that they will never be able to compete with the big nations by playing ‘beautiful football’. There are no lofty ambitions of winning the World Cup or the Euros. Instead, they aim to get the most they can out of the limited resources they have and what they see as their natural advantages, playing with a tough and compact defense to absorb pressure and looking to hit teams on the counter.

              • June 29th 2018 @ 11:50am
                Redondo said | June 29th 2018 @ 11:50am | ! Report

                Our population is so much larger our pragmatism can be proportionally more positive.

              • June 30th 2018 @ 2:02am
                Beny Iniesta said | June 30th 2018 @ 2:02am | ! Report

                Honestly. Hitting teams on the “Counter” is a pathetic mentality to adopt. It signifies no honour and derring-do.

                If Australia wants to play a long-ball or counter-attacking form of play they will kill the sport in this country – or at least considerably marginalise it into irrelevancy.

            • June 29th 2018 @ 11:40am
              Lionheart said | June 29th 2018 @ 11:40am | ! Report

              come on Waz – QLD population passed 5 million last December, and the majority of them, approaching 4 million, live in the South East corner.

            • June 29th 2018 @ 3:57pm
              Brendan said | June 29th 2018 @ 3:57pm | ! Report

              I would love to see a location like Newcastle, Canberra or similar cut out and a differnet approach taken.

              I personally think the national curriculum is fine but we have lost out way with its implementation.

              It would be a Interesting Exercise to take a Newcastle and implement the following.

              1. All junior registration capped at $300, Miniroos at $150
              2. C Licence Coaching courses offered for $200
              3. Region Based Junior Coaching mentors, independent of clubs (who also take the SAP programs)
              2. All junior football graded in a pyramid (From U8 right through to U18) and complete for pro/rel
              3. District Wide Skills Test that players complete each quarter
              4. Region Based SAP programs for extra training for talented players in U8-U15 age groups
              5. SAP to be invite only and be no additional cost.
              6. Regular SAP tournaments
              7. A extensive primary school infrastructure program to implment “A pitch at every school”
              8. Primary School and High School Cups to encourage schools to be part of district development

              Money is one issue but the will to implement it would also be challenging

      • June 29th 2018 @ 12:05pm
        Kris said | June 29th 2018 @ 12:05pm | ! Report

        I think what Iceland did was come up with an approach that worked for THEM, and their unique circumstances. What Australia remain insistent on is trying to import a German, or Dutch, or Icelandic solution and never coming up with something tailored to our realities of geography, being in a competition for players and resources, remoteness etc.

        Most of the Icelandic players are from the capital and so while they have a small base – they had those juniors playing against each other week. In contrast we essentially have 6, 7, 15 (?) different junior competitions with the best players in Qld almost never playing against the best players in WA and the best players in Country NSW barely playing against anyone.

        We also have to be cautious because Iceland may well be having a golden generation of their own, they may never produce another Sigurdsson.

        • June 29th 2018 @ 1:44pm
          AusSokkah said | June 29th 2018 @ 1:44pm | ! Report

          Yes but what was most important about the Icelandic approach had nothing to do with systems or facilities but coach education.

          They increased significantly the number of educated coaches they had in the country and ensured that even at junior levels of 5 and 6 years old that the coaches had to have their qualifications including access to UEFA A and B licensed coaches.

          In our quest to improve football, it boggles my mind that the cost of coach education is so prohibitive when surely we would want to up-skill as many coaches as possible. C license here is about $1000, B is about $2000 and A about $3000.

          I’ve attended license course here and the C for example covered basic coaching structures and curriculum ideas but lacked a lot of the details that I think are necessary for coaches trying to develop youth players. And that is where a lot of our problem lies, we can run drills well and set up sessions but do our coaches really know what to look for and how to improve deficiencies if they’re not being taught it. And additionally if the costs prohibit more coaches from taking the courses.

          • June 29th 2018 @ 1:56pm
            Redondo said | June 29th 2018 @ 1:56pm | ! Report

            The licensed coach to player ratio in Iceland was pretty central to their current success.

            From: https://www.dw.com/en/euro-2016-the-numbers-behind-icelands-surprise-success/a-19361967

            ‘Nowadays, UEFA courses are being run locally in the Icelandic capital, Reykjavik. The result is more than 800 coaches with UEFA licenses – and 185 of those hold the prestigious A license. In a country of 330,000, this means a ratio of one A-licensed coach per 1,793 people. In contrast, England, who has lost to Iceland in Tuesday’s last-16 match, has an A licensed coach for every 44,537 people.’

      • June 30th 2018 @ 12:43am
        Graham said | June 30th 2018 @ 12:43am | ! Report

        So what you are pointing at is that smaller nations are better at pulling together talent. E.g iceland, Portugal, Croatia etc.. I agree. Look at England massive failure since world cup began really (1966 was at home). In summary FFA not that bad really as Australia achieved same as world championships Germany …….more people need to get their kids off the pedestal and help out the local clubs and stop whinging…..!

        • June 30th 2018 @ 2:39pm
          Beny Iniesta said | June 30th 2018 @ 2:39pm | ! Report

          The fact is a small country population wise like Australia just can’t hope to compete with the powerhouses of World Football.

          For instance, when was the last time a country as small as Australia won a World Cup?!?!? You are looking at decades and decades ago.

          1950 perhaps?

    • June 29th 2018 @ 7:42am
      DP Schaefer said | June 29th 2018 @ 7:42am | ! Report

      Not a dedicated watcher of soccer (football) but the time under Postecoglou was a disaster. Couldn’t buy a goal and the Jillaroos were more entertaining and exciting to watch. And more successful. I’ve not seen anything to suggest we should be missing Ange and the World Cup campaign was equally disappointing. I wish Arnold the best. We have some very good players and a quality striker or two short of a competitive team.

      • Roar Rookie

        June 29th 2018 @ 7:58am
        Waz said | June 29th 2018 @ 7:58am | ! Report

        “a disaster” ….. apart from winning the Asian Cup in style you mean

      • June 29th 2018 @ 8:13am
        shirtpants said | June 29th 2018 @ 8:13am | ! Report

        Football is just about the only sport Australia aren’t in the top few in the world. A lot of casual fans are under the impression that we should be as good as every other country just because we are a gifted sportinf country. Not the case

        • Columnist

          June 29th 2018 @ 8:53am
          Mike Tuckerman said | June 29th 2018 @ 8:53am | ! Report

          Good point, shirtpants.

        • Roar Guru

          June 29th 2018 @ 9:34am
          Matt H said | June 29th 2018 @ 9:34am | ! Report

          I’ve rarely seen or heard anyone suggest that we should be in the top few in the World. Top 15-20 is a realistic goal I believe for a relatively wealthy and well organised country. Which would generally put us close to making the round of 16 and maybe one of the better teams to miss out. Which is exactly where we are. (Ok maybe we are middle of the road in the teams that missed out – I think we could take Panama).

          • June 29th 2018 @ 12:18pm
            Nemesis said | June 29th 2018 @ 12:18pm | ! Report

            “Top 15-20 is a realistic goal I believe for a relatively wealthy and well organised country.”

            This is the flawed analysis that leads to unrealistic expectations. There is absolutely no correlation between success at international football and the wealth or administration of that nation.

            The top 10 nations in the world by GDP per captia (using CIA Factbook)
            1) Liechtenstein
            2) Qatar
            3) Monaco
            4) Macau
            5) Luxembourg
            6) Falkland Islands (or Islas Malvinas) *
            7) Singapore
            8) Bermuda
            9) Isle of Man *
            10) Brunei

            * Not FIFA members

            Rather, I’d look at nations like: Iceland, Croatia, Belgium, Uruguay .. small populations who perform well at the world level. What do they do well. What can we learn from them?

        • June 29th 2018 @ 9:49am
          Steve said | June 29th 2018 @ 9:49am | ! Report

          We should be in the top 20 in the world. A wealthy nation, good climate, plenty of decent pitches and areas to play the sport as well as a decent sized playing population.

        • Roar Guru

          June 29th 2018 @ 9:52am
          Chris Kettlewell said | June 29th 2018 @ 9:52am | ! Report

          I think the point isn’t expecting we should just be among the best like we are in sports where we are one of the small handful of countries that play it professionally. But rather looking at this as the true test that it’s worth investing in to work out how we can develop a team that can be among the best.

          We shouldn’t give up on the idea of trying to one day win the World Cup just because it’s the hardest world cup to win. We need to come up with a plan and a system built around trying to get us there and do what it takes to try and make it happen.

        • June 29th 2018 @ 10:42am
          Caltex & SBS support Australian Football said | June 29th 2018 @ 10:42am | ! Report

          Football in all other countries, enjoys the good will and support from other codes. Unfortunately, here in Australia we have administrators of other codes, who are hell bent trying to suppress every good initiative Australian Football tries to implement.

          • June 29th 2018 @ 11:29am
            Mark said | June 29th 2018 @ 11:29am | ! Report

            In the vast majority of countries, football is so dominant it doesn’t have to care what other sports do.

            • June 29th 2018 @ 5:41pm
              brian drian said | June 29th 2018 @ 5:41pm | ! Report

              +1

          • June 29th 2018 @ 12:48pm
            Sam said | June 29th 2018 @ 12:48pm | ! Report

            Not that excuse again!! Blame everything except the game itself. Football is not owed anything.

        • June 29th 2018 @ 3:57pm
          LC said | June 29th 2018 @ 3:57pm | ! Report

          We don’t do well in any global sports? Football, Basketball, Athletics & Tennis? That’s where all the global superstars of sport are, not in Commonwealth sports. We’re a sporting backwater and proud of it. No one outside of Australia watches AFL or NRL and Blind Freddy can see that only a tiny number of ex colonies play Cricket. We live in the digital age now and pretending we’re ‘world beaters’ is getting a little ridiculous. Try and stay off YouTube.

        • June 30th 2018 @ 10:01pm
          chris said | June 30th 2018 @ 10:01pm | ! Report

          shirtpants which sports are you referring to ?
          Tennis – No
          Basketball – No
          Volleyball – No
          Athletics – No
          If you meant Commonwealth sports (ie Rugby and Hockey) – yes.
          And yes to swimming.
          So yes to a few but certainly not “most” as you state shirtpants

          • June 30th 2018 @ 10:14pm
            chris said | June 30th 2018 @ 10:14pm | ! Report

            Apologies LC. Didnt see your comment but you are spot on.

      • June 29th 2018 @ 11:44am
        Lionheart said | June 29th 2018 @ 11:44am | ! Report

        jillaroos?
        do you mean the Matildas?

    • June 29th 2018 @ 8:37am
      AGO74 said | June 29th 2018 @ 8:37am | ! Report

      Mike – a couple of comments on Ange.

      He was in charge frOm 2014-2017. For the first 3 years he was well regarded and delivered good to excellent results as he combined a defensive solidity with attack that complimented playing in an Australian way of having a go (noting that is a somewhat interpretive term). In short he was delivering what he was employed to do.

      At the start of the final group stage of qualifying we picked up 7 points out of a possible 9 to put us in a strong position to qualify automatically. However in the last 12 months the defensive solidity you Ange refer to as “having alwaybeen there” was not there and was lost because of his insistence on playing 3 at the back and puttING in place a system we were clearly not capable of implementing. The defensive struggles filtered through to general confidence issues in attack.

      When things didn’t improve Anges only plan B solution was too do plan a better (Anges words not mine).

      The suggestion that FFA were looking to replace Ange is unconfirmed but let’s assume that is true. If it is true then it is entirely reasonable- in any professional organisation, when a person of senior responsibility is not delivering the results then their perform is discussed. This is entirely normal.

      As it is Ange was retained and given every resource to deliver the end result desired by all. We got there and he could have gone to Russia but for his own reasons he chose to walk.

      Lastly on Ange and his “personal crusade” as he refers to it I would suggest that if he really wanted to deliver on that then he was in the wrong role. To truly deliver on something like that you need to be in a Technical Director role. Others may disagree on this point but that is my view.

      Lastly I concur on your broader sentiments on the FFA and A-League expansion. The time for change on that front is well overdue.

      • June 29th 2018 @ 12:25pm
        Kris said | June 29th 2018 @ 12:25pm | ! Report

        Postecoglou prefers 4 at the back, he is playing with 4 at the back now, he won stuff with 4 at the back. He started the qualifiers with 4 at the back.

        But then we drew against Saudi Arabia, Japan and Thailand in the qualifiers and were facing elimination. The formation was changed because we had centre backs and no fullbacks. We used Milligan, Smith, McGowan, Deginak. Even going into the WC we were still desperately searching for a right back and only settled on Risdon in training camp.

        You just can’t insist on a tactical approach when you don’t have the players.

        • June 29th 2018 @ 1:48pm
          AusSokkah said | June 29th 2018 @ 1:48pm | ! Report

          I think more specifically we didn’t have full backs able to play Ange’s preferred pressing game and not get caught out at the back whilst also being technically capable in the front third.

          Ange went with Davidson, Smith, Degenek, Risdon who all looked decidely shaky when our press broke down and they were exposed.

          So yes Ange went with 3 at the back because it gave more protection against counters.

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