Friday Night spelled the end for Ange Postecoglou’s club coaching career, at least for the time being.
The Melbourne Victory ran out 1-0 winners over Postecoglou’s former side the Brisbane Roar thanks to a James Troisi goal. It was a clash between two of the sides considered genuine championship contenders, but all of the talk leading into the match was about the appointment of Ange Postecoglou as new coach of the Socceroos on Tuesday.
It had been a long time in the making.
Under the tutelage of Holger Osieck, the Socceroos had scraped through to qualify for the 2014 World Cup, but the mood surrounding them wasn’t the same. Teams that the Socceroos would usually put three goals away against and record an easy win, would be scoring themselves and pushing and sometimes beating the now 57th ranked country in the world. Why was this happening?
Was it Osieck’s negative game style? Was it the younger generation? Was it the golden generation? Were the other sides genuinely that good?
Truth be told, it was a combination of all four. The Australian national team had been losing their pride, and it had been occurring ever since that penalty in Germany on 26 June 2006.
Guus had gone and Graham was groomed. The current Central Coast manager, Arnold, was made interim coach of the national team for the 2007 Asian Cup and despite going into the tournament as one of the favourites, the Socceroos were embarrassed as they went down to Iraq in the group stage before being eliminated after a penalty loss to Japan in the quarter finals.
The media were circling after this poor showing and suggested some players had lost faith. The FFA had taken over 6 months to find a new manager who they found fit for the role.
After a few hiccups, they thought they had finally found their man in Pim. Over the qualification period, more and more of the golden generation players were replaced and the Socceroos breezed through the AFC, booking their spot in South Africa. Hopes were high for a repeat of 2006 with a second-round appearance, but these were dashed almost instantly when Germany romped to a 4-0 win in the campaign’s opening match.
Verbeek was criticized for not having enough faith in the ability of the side as he did not play a recognized striker, and yet the Socceroos still were on the end of a hiding. The tournament ended on a bittersweet note with a win over Serbia, but it was time for a new approach.
Enter Holger Osieck. The German started his stint with an Asian Cup final but ended it with two consecutive 6-0 drubbings. Over his tenure, he was continuously criticized for the style of football his side produced and his preference to continue to play the remaining members of the golden generation instead of blooding much-needed youth.
Team unrest was also at an all time high, with no better example than Lucas Neill and his criticism of the younger generation after Osieck’s sacking.
This is where having an Australian manager, and particularly one of Postecoglou’s calibre, is imperative.
Twice has he taken over sides that could be described as a ‘rabble’ in the Roar and Victory. With both clubs he galvanized the group at his hands and turned them into a sides to be feared. With this ability, Postecoglou will certainly not be out of his depth in Brazil next year.
For once, we could actually learn something from our friends across the ditch. They were the only side not to lose a game in 2010 at South Africa, despite having a vastly inferior squad. They achieved this because of their pride in the name on the front of the jersey and their legitimate respect and faith in their Kiwi manager, Ricki Herbert, and teammates.
You can never write off an Australian sporting team. Time and time again teams from our country have stood up to achieve the impossible, but it appears that the ‘never say die’ attitude may have faded among the Socceroos. Postecoglou is here to fix this.
Obviously nobody expects Ange to go out and win us the World Cup, as it is something this country may never achieve. However, all we ask for is that the players to play for their country and just give it all they can. Play the world game the Australian way.