Thursday, February 01, 2007
Ronaldo is hardly the most popular figure in world football these days, and in Italy, his move away from Inter following the 2002 World Cup still rankles. Milan's fans seem to have reacted to his arrival with some cynicism, and it's hard to blame them. He was clearly overweight and living on his reputation at the World Cup, and Fabio Capello had little time for him in Madrid.
All the best back at the San Siro, Ronnie, but be prepared for plenty of jeers everywhere you go.
Lucas Neill's lucrative move from Blackburn to West Ham engendered much gnashing of teeth, no doubt from punters who would never dream of accepting a more generous salary package from a less glamorous and respected company. In truth, it doesn't look like a good move in football terms, as Neill is unlikely to get an extended run in his ideal central defensive position. West Ham is crawling with centre-backs at the moment, with Matthew Upson now arrived from Birmingham as well.
It's another move by an Australian which perhaps provides the most salutary message of the current transfer merry-go-round.
Nick Ward followed his superb season for Perth Glory in 2005/06 with a move to English Championship (insert laugh here) side Queens Park Rangers. QPR are currently struggling in the English second tier. Ward found it hard to get regular game time.
He's now gone on loan to Brighton and Hove Albion, who are struggling in...the third tier.
Once again, the choice of a lower-league English club over a continental outfit has probably been detrimental for the career of a young Australian player. By contrast, Luke Wilkshire, who moved from Ward's new stamping ground to the Dutch Eredivisie after the World Cup, has enjoyed a continued run in the first team at a club competing against the likes of Ajax and PSV.
Food for thought.
My thoughts exactly.
This obsession with playing for an English club, any English club, has hampered many an Aussie career. It's OK for players suited to the rough and tumble of the Championship, but you didn't have to be a footballing Einstein to realise that Ward's game (along with notable earlier moves by Paul Okon and Ned Zelic) was more suited to European football.
It's interesting to hear that Wilkshire has been playing on the right at FC Twente, which I reckon could be a godsend for him. His stamina would be utilised more fully in that position than in the middle IMO, and would give him a genuine chance to further his recent improvements under Hiddink. Every squad needs a genuine utility, and Wilkshire could become that man.
Getting back to the Dutch experience, I thought Australia was well served in the early to mid 90s by players plying their trades at Dutch and Belgian clubs. The likes of Arnold, Farina, both Vidmars, Van Blerk, and Okon were not only starring in these leagues, but they were given genuine footballing development instead of becoming journeymen after failing to make the top level.
When you think about it, England has been something of a graveyard for the careers of young Aussie players, with only a few exceptions. The ones who succeeded were either exceptional players, or had that bit of 'persistent bastard' about them.
I've lost count of all the Aussie journeymen wasting away in the English lower divisions.
Kenendy is another to do his time and have it turn out for the best. But unfortunately for Nick and Perth Glory - its not the best option for Australian football. I can see Nick getting frustrated fairly quickly.