Monday, January 19, 2009


The Indoroos

The Socceroo squad for the Asian Cup qualifier against Indonesia has been announced, and it looks a fairly good one on balance.

Pim Verbeek's decision to favour club partnerships in attack makes sense. Certainly Archie Thompson and Danny Allsopp showed all their old understanding in the latter stages of Friday's game again the Mariners, who have also provided the group with a striking pairing. Although Dylan McAllister has gone off the boil a little, Matt Simon's selection is expected and pleasing.

Simon has surprised many. When he first turned out for the Mariners, he looked physically imposing but technically very poor, often squandering opportunities in front of goal with wretched first touches. But he has clearly worked on this aspect of his game, and has matured into one of the most dangerous strikers in the domestic game. His physical, aggressive style has already brought some success against Asian defences, too.

Joel Griffiths was perhaps a bit unlucky to miss out on a striking spot, but he hasn't quite regained peak form since his injury. It is a shame that Nikita Rukavytsya is otherwise engaged in Holland, but the attack should still have enough pace to worry the Indonesians at times.

It's difficult to identify a true leader in midfield (Mile Jedinak would surely have been the first name on the list but for his move to Turkey), but with Paul Reid, Matt McKay and Matt Thompson in the mix, there is enough grit and nous in the engine-room. Travis Dodd must consider himself very unfortunate to miss out, however, especially given that the squad is otherwise short of players who can operate effectively on the right. Shannon Cole is a strange choice at first glance, but perhaps Verbeek has been impressed by his dead-ball prowess; he might offer an alternative to Reid in that department, in positions that would favour a delivery with the left foot.

Sasa Ognenovski's decision to throw in his lot with Macedonia is disappointing, but a centre-half pairing of Craig Moore and Roddy Vargas looks solid enough. The selection of Robbie Cornthwaite and Nikolai Topor-Stanley as understudies is bizarre, though; both are capable in the air but very ordinary otherwise (Cornthwaite hasn't earned his nickname of "The Shin" for nothing). More worthy candidates, in my view, would have been Andrew Durante (who has, admittedly, suffered from hamstring trouble lately), or even Luke DeVere.

Looking further ahead, it's interesting that Verbeek has singled out Scott Jamieson for praise ahead of the game. For all the A-League's achievements, none of the players "nursed" in the new domestic league has looked a certain future Socceroo regular, but with Scott Chipperfield on the wane and David Carney still not quite adequate defensively, Jamieson could indeed play an important role in the future, in what has been a problem position for the Socceroos whenever Chipperfield has been away.

The really scary thing is the prospect of Graham Arnold being in charge of the team, from (according to a commentor) two hours before the game until after the game is over (apparently this is the rules for a suspended coach).

This is scary for me for three related reasons.

1) He's had his chances and failed. Surely he's not going to coach a national side again.

2) He will be managing a team in an environment where the fans hate him virtually unanamously, and where far from having a reasonable too-and-fro type relationship with the fans and media, he has not actually faced the music, at all, since the Olympics. This has got to be weird for the players as well as everyone else.

3) The event that Pim is excluded from the sidelines must surely be seen as an opportunity to test some talent under pressure - some talent for the future that is. Once again, surely, SURELY, Arnold is not going to coach a national team again, or at least for a very long while.

I think fan-outrage should be loud and long. I'm (in an admittedly early rage) tempted to boycot the game against Indonesia entirely in disgust.

It's just wrong.
Unfortunately, Hamish, my sources tell me that Arnie (who speaks Dutch, of course) has ingratiated himself with the Dutch mafia to such an extent that they are prepared to trust him with jobs like this despite everything.

He's certainly proven beyond doubt by now that he doesn't deserve to be part of the national setup, and that he ought to go out and get a real job for a while. But he has a contract until 2010, and you can bet your life that he'll see it out.
I agree that it's strange that Travis Dodd was left out of the squad, even though his current form and fitness may leave a little to be desired. There does seem to be a real lack of a genuine right winger - it may be that we see Elrich played in a more advanced role?
hmmm, over time perhaps a clearer picture is coming together of what kind of players are pim players, and which aren`t.

in the full strength NT, nick carle isn`t a pim type player. and in the a-league strength version, travis dodd isn`t included. not a pim type player? elrich pushed up into right midfield? i`d take dodd meself ...

i`d have mass murdocca as my second choice for right side mid (but a roar fan) ...

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