Tuesday, September 22, 2009

 

Local Options

It's a pity that Branko Culina's undignified, self-serving comments at Sunday's press conference have served to obscure the fact that he does have a point. He developed that point somewhat truculently in his "clarification" today, pausing for a moment to offer Vitezslav Lavicka a well-deserved apology.

Those leading the "our coaches aren't good enough" bandwagon tend to ignore two important points: first, that at national team level, foreign recruits have been given the sort of logistical assistance that local incumbents only dream of. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, it isn't always the best local candidates who snag the high-profile coaching jobs.

Culina mentions the case of Graham Arnold (probably referring to the Asian Cup debacle), but he could just as well have cited the current preparations of the Australian Under 20 side. Compare these to the slapdash schedules provided for Ange Postecoglou in the past, and it's clear that there is an issue here.

Foreign (well, Dutch) coaches within the national team setup are one thing, but let's consider the records of foreign bosses in the A-League for a moment. It doesn't make for pleasant reading; the various British cast-offs hired in the A-League's first season failed to make any impression, while Terry Butcher, a fine player but a mediocre coach, won few friends in Season 2.

Impressive attempts have been made to put a positive spin on Pierre Littbarski's earlier stewardship of Sydney FC, but fans with clear memories know very well that much of the football played by the A-League's inaugural champions was dismal. Several players were repeatedly played out of position, and the long ball reigned supreme for considerable periods.

I still feel that one of the problems with the appointments of both Littbarski and Butcher was that they were known primarily for their playing records, rather than their acumen in the dugout. Lavicka represents a refreshing change in this regard, although it's far too early to assess his contribution.

This fondness for past on-field stars brings us to the appointment of the locals in the A-League. Craig Foster and his ilk like to complain about the shunning of former Socceroos when it comes to coaching positions, but in reality such former internationals, often neophyte coaches, have been actively favoured in recent times.

Think Aurelio Vidmar. Think Graham Arnold, whose failures at Northern Spirit did little to diminish his standing in the eyes of some.

And more recently, think Paul Okon, who has clearly been earmarked for coaching stardom. I too believed that such a thoughtful, elegant player had the potential to be an excellent coach, but some of the details of his blink-and-you'd-miss-it period in charge of APIA-Leichhardt earlier this year have come to my ears, and believe me, they don't reflect at all well on the former Socceroo captain's ability to handle the pressures of coaching.

Once again: you don't have to have been a player on the very top rung to be a successful coach. There are plenty of decent coaches out there, but the A-League shows every sign of being a closed shop up to a point.

Comments:
Hi Mike...sorry...and nothing to do with this particular post, but thought you'd be interested in this...
http://www.gulfnews.com/world/South_Africa/10351104.html

The US Embassy and all of its consulates in Sth Africa have been closed. As a regular business visitor to Africa, I cannot implore our supporters strongly enough, to go with a tour group, rather than alone.
Cheers...Dan WILKINSON
 
Mike

I'm intrigued at the continued criticism of Littbarski by many Sydney fans. Given the garbage that has been played since he and Yorke left, time for revisionism.

He won the title. No other Sydney team has done this.

He had Yorke in the centre of midfield in many games, and Yorke played beautifully, pulling the strings on many occasions with football rarely seen in the A-League since; certainly not seen under any of the other Sydney Coaches bar Branko in the ACL on occasion.

Many Sydney fans criticised Yorke as well.

Yorke or Tezza, Yorke or Kisel, Yorke or Musialik?

Butcher in fairness had many many injuries but still managed to get the team to the finals although he was perhaps treated a tad harshly by you know who.

Kosmina, Viteslav, and dear old Branko have all tried but with a limited player pool particularly where the beautiful football is played..in the final third what can you expect.

Zdrillic, Aloisi had know pace or real wizardry to make a beautiful game in their ageing years and the front man is crucial in any team.

The current Coach even waters the pitch...do the players train on a wet surface...it doesn't seem to help them.

Easy to criticise our A-League Coaches but only Vidmar with Bruns and Djite..at times, Van Egmond with his talents and Merrick under Fred have come close to matching Sydney under Yorke...seems to be the players ability is more important than the Coaches in our league if we want beautiful football...whatever that is btw.

Maybe time to review Littbarski's performance.

Although last time I looked this current mob are top of the league.
How did that happen?

That water business must be the key. Guess it rains a lot in Europe so Aussie Coaches could never think of that.

Keep up the good work Mike, Eamonn
 
...Given the garbage that has been played since he and Yorke left...

There was a great deal of garbage played while they were here as well.

...He won the title. No other Sydney team has done this....

He won the championship after finishing the regular season miles behind Adelaide (far further off the pace than anyone who's won the toilet seat since then).

...He had Yorke in the centre of midfield in many games, and Yorke played beautifully, pulling the strings on many occasions with football rarely seen in the A-League since; certainly not seen under any of the other Sydney Coaches bar Branko in the ACL on occasion. Many Sydney fans criticised Yorke as well....

OK. Yorke played well in midfield at times, but at other periods he was just resting on his laurels, particularly mid-season. When he was in the mood he was the finest player in the league by far (Steve Corica in 2nd place, BTW), but he didn't always put it, which was why he was sometimes criticised.

About "football rarely seen in the A-League since"...I couldn't disagree more. Melbourne, Adelaide, Newcastle and even QR at times in the second season produced far better football than Sydney in V1.

Like I say, the Littbarski era is viewed through rose-tinted specs nowadays. Opinions of him and SFC at the time were considerably different.

....Although last time I looked this current mob are top of the league
How did that happen?...

Luck's been on their side so far, to an extent. Bit too early to make a call on Lavicka just yet, but the signs are good.
 
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