Monday, November 13, 2006


Tinkerman the Second

So farewell then, Miron Bleiberg.

It seems strange for a coach to resign when his team is occupying a place in the top four of the competition, but things have just not been clicking for Queensland of late. Perhaps it’s for the best.

What has stifled Queensland this season more than anything else, I feel, is Bleiberg’s insistence on experimenting. Claudio Ranieri won the nickname “tinkerman” during his final season at Chelsea, when he constantly changed his personnel so as to keep the egos in his multi-millionaire team under control, but such a sobriquet more properly belongs to Bleiberg.

Ante Milicic, the best finisher at the club, has been in and out of the team, and often quite unwisely deployed. Simon Lynch, whose early-season performances surely merited a regular starting place, has also been bouncing between the first team and the bench. The forward in whom Bleiberg seems to place the most faith, Reinaldo, has blown very much hot and cold – as Hamish at Football Down Under has recently pointed out.

Then there has been the positional confusion.

Andrew Packer has been bizarrely deployed at left-back, while Matt McKay has shifted between the left and the centre. Stuart McLaren has popped up in a few different positions. Spase Dilevski has popped up almost everywhere.

The Roar take the field in orange, and the frequent tactical changes adopted by Bleiberg have certainly added spice to last season’s Brisbane Hollandia jokes.

Bleiberg’s media manner will be missed, though. I commented with awe on his refreshing tactical explanations after the game against Sydney at Aussie last month, and his on-camera rant after the Roar had thumped Newcastle late last season has already entered Australian football folklore.

And Frank Farina as replacement?

It wouldn’t be a bad choice at all, in my view. Although Farina often looked out of his depth in the Socceroo job, his relatively brief coaching stint in the old NSL was a palpable success.

One hopes that, should Farina get the gig, his media manner will improve from the shocking low he reached towards the end of his national team tenure. The fact that he will be dealing chiefly with Fox rather than SBS augurs well in that respect, of course.

Yeah, it's difficult to make a clear cut opinion of Bleiberg's overall worth. They are still my favourite HAL team (as a neutral) since the competition was established.

It was easy to blame last season's woeful composure in front of goal on the mental fragility and lack of experience of the players, but that is no excuse this year. I just think the fact that the coach was so keyed up to win at home for the club's wonderfully loyal supporters as well as his employers, put immense pressure on the players. If the coach is panicking, you can expect the players to become too eager.

On the whole, I still think his stint has been a positive for the league, because his heart was undoubtedly in the right place.

Some are already knocking Farina, but long-time observers of the game will remember that he was perfectly adequate at a domestic level in this country. The football won't be as easy on the eye as Bleiberg's teams, but the Roar management could do a whole lot worse than signing FF.

What is the job of a coach? To think out and do the best possible thing for the team in your charge? That's one way to spin it anyway.

And Miron was, as you point out Mike, always the inventive, experimental one.

It might have been a final act, but maybe his resignation was a final act of coaching. Maybe he even drew some inspiration for his experiment from the Newcastle Jets, who didn't actually change their (quite sound) game plan after the sacking of Nick Theodorokopoulos, but for some reason found some extra something.

I think Miron's quite mad. I also think he's a good man. I think he thinks he knows what he's doing, in some perverse, selfless way. I also hope like hell that he's right.
How can a team unable to finish continue to leave Ante Milicic, one of the best, if not the best, finishers currently playing in Australian football on the bench or in a withdrawn role is quite simply beyond me.

All this talk of Miron's inventiveness and ingenuity quite literally amazes considering he can't get the basics right. Leaving Dilevski persistently out, Packer at LB etc. Just ridiculous rubbish that has led to Roar's, imho, underachievement
Best overall squad in the league, missing only one key position (an out-and-out left winger, though McKay filled in there quite well in pre-season when I saw them on the Gold Coast).

His tinkering has cost him, it's that simple.
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