Friday, August 04, 2006


A Cool Head on the Coast

As my fellow tragics would know by now, Tony Vidmar has returned to Australian football after more than a decade abroad.

He has arrived at the ideal time, and at the ideal club; the Central Coast Mariners were in need of a versatile defender, and an experienced campaigner to balance the club’s preponderance of youthful players.

Every Australian fan rejoiced with Viddy as he put away that penalty in Sydney. Written off as too old and too slow towards the end of the Farina era, Vidmar played superbly throughout the two legs against Uruguay, with the determination of a man who had been denied his ticket to the World Cup on three previous occasions.

It made his later, inevitable withdrawal from the World Cup squad all the more poignant, for the fans as well as Vidmar himself. No player would have taken the field to more raucous cheers in Kaiserslautern, had his heart condition not intervened.

In many ways, the club he has left, NAC Breda, has been the salvation of Vidmar’s career. After an abortive first crack at Europe, during which he spent most of his time on the bench at Ekeren in Belgium, he crept back to Adelaide City. It was NAC Breda – then the home of Graham Arnold – who brought him back to Europe, on the recommendation of his compatriot. And he thrived.

Towards the end of his European stretch, Vidmar was indeed looking tired and unconvincing in his Socceroo appearances. His stints at Middlesbrough and Cardiff City were marked by long periods on the outer, and his lack of match sharpness was all too apparent when he donned the Green and Gold.

Then came NAC Breda again.

Vidmar moved back to Holland in 2005, and gained form and confidence at his erstwhile club. Australia’s new manager, despite howls from the fans that the old defensive brigade needed to be ditched without delay, kept faith with his Dutch-domiciled left-back. He was to be repaid in spades on the 16th of November.

Returning now to the matter of the Mariners. Their defensive options, as I mentioned earlier, were limited; Vuko Tomasevic, the nominal left-back, may well prove better suited to a midfield role, and the centre of defence looks somewhat flimsy in the absence of Beauchamp.

An experienced defender capable of playing either on the left or in the centre is a godsend.

No-one is ever too keen to cheer for members of opposing teams, but let’s hope Viddy is given a warm reception on his first visit to each of the A-League’s home grounds.

It is the least he deserves.

Best of luck to Viddy. CCM could have done a lot worse. His experience will be valuable with Beauchamp and Heffernan gone to Germany.

P.S. Mikey I am enjoying your blogs.. top stuff. This obsession of yours must drive your wife crazy :)
Thanks Armin. Actually, she's pretty happy about it...there's now an outlet for my football-related ravings, so she doesn't have to cope with them any more. ;-)
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