Monday, February 25, 2008

 

Up Before the Beek

SBS's Sunday afternoon World Game show doesn't often provide much to stir the interest, given that the views expressed are becoming comically predictable. But once or twice there is a segment genuinely worth watching, and yesterday's interview with Pim Verbeek was definitely one such.

Affably fielding the Dorothy Dix-style questions lobbed at him by Messrs. Murray and Foster, he resisted the implicit invitation to take another swipe at the local game (I get the impression that the reaction to his earlier comments may have chastened him slightly); instead, he offered some worthwhile observations on the A-League, the role of a national manager, the Dutch "style", and the difficulties of Asia.

His gentle allusion to the one-footedness of some local players will have brought a smile to the face of my Well-Informed Covite friend, who often bemoans the fact that some otherwise impressive A-Leaguers possess so little power in their weaker feet. Of course, one-footedness is not necessarily an impediment to a top-level career (just ask David Beckham, or Ferenc Puskas for that matter), but it does hamper a player's tactical flexibility to some extent.

As to his observation that "the game is more open here", it's one that I've also heard from others who understand the game well. The gap between defence and midfield in this year's A-League was often so large that building the play up from the back became problematic at best...hence, I feel, the tendency of some teams to search for the heads of the strikers more that was perhaps advisable.

But the most interesting part of the interview, for me at least, was Verbeek's discussion of the difficulties of the Asian qualifying path. His account of the unusual parabolas performed by the ball at altitude will sound familiar to anyone who has seen footage of the two Mexican World Cups, and it was comforting to hear that he had already designed a strategy of sorts to accommodate it.

As for the big question...did he feel he had a role beyond the Socceroos?

The answer was essentially no, and I'm glad that it was. We already have a technical director (who is keeping something of a low profile at the moment), and Verbeek has been hired with a specific aim in mind - getting us to South Africa. He will be working mainly with those who have made their mark in European football already, and his main aim in keeping in touch with the youth teams will be the identification of future national team "prospects".

Again, he will be judged ultimately by his results...but my gut feeling is still that we've gotten ourselves the right man for the gig.

Comments:
Hi, I hope you don't consider this spam but I just did an article on youth players in the A-League, a must read as they are the future of Australian football:

http://australianfootball.wordpress.com/

A link to my blog would be highly appreciated.
 
Mike

Great blog - keep up the good work.

Wanted to get your opinion on something you didn't expand on. It seems Rob Baan is keeping a very low profile. Are you a bit surprised by this, especially in light of Fozzie's recent criticism of him? Are you also surprised that no-one (to my knowledge anyway) has really come out to defend him, or at least explain what he's been up to?

For the record, I've been pretty impressed with the way Baan has conducted himself throughout his association with the FFA.
 
Hi anonymous, thanks for the wrap!

...Wanted to get your opinion on something you didn't expand on. It seems Rob Baan is keeping a very low profile. Are you a bit surprised by this, especially in light of Fozzie's recent criticism of him? Are you also surprised that no-one (to my knowledge anyway) has really come out to defend him, or at least explain what he's been up to?...

IMO the problem here is that his role wasn't clearly defined when he came here. If his role was partly to keep the profile of the game (particularly at youth level) high, then perhaps he should be getting about a bit more, but if his post-Olyroo job was meant to be mainly administrative, then it's hard to know whether he's doing his job or not. He may be doing great work for all we know, but it's a pity that we didn't have a clearer idea of his remit.

...Hi, I hope you don't consider this spam but I just did an article on youth players in the A-League, a must read as they are the future of Australian football:...

PC, a little tip.

Coming unannounced (and unknown) onto someone else's blog and immediately describing a piece of yours as a "must read" does not tend to endear you to all and sundry.

In fact, it comes across as downright bloody arrogant.
 
I also agree that Verbeek sees his role just to coach the National Team is a good thing.

However if he is successful, I'd hope that he may want to stay beyond the World Cup finals.

I think the fact that we had such a high profile and relative success with Hiddink, and then such a vacuum when he left wasn't good for the sport.

People may have different views about Arnold, but he was really left in an uncomfortable position having to take charge of the National Team, knowing that the FFA were looking for someone to replace him. We need to do well at the Asian Cup.
 
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