Wednesday, October 14, 2009
The Socceroo performance wasn't quite as bad as their last outing against Oman, but there were long periods of the game where Australia were dreadfully uninspired. And, let us remember, Oman were denied what looked like a plain penalty a few minutes from the close.
Plenty of work still to do, in other words. But at least we are now on the move in what should be a straightforward Asian Cup qualifying group.
Talking of mobility, one of the more interesting aspects of the game was the way the Australian midfield improved after the first substitution, when Carl Valeri made way for Dario Vidosic, allowing Luke Wilkshire to move into the middle.
I've long felt that central midfield is Wilkshire's natural position, however capably he has been performing at right-back. He looked surprisingly assured up against Simone Perrotta at the World Cup, and in the recent friendly against Ireland he put in another good shift, alongside Mile Jedinak.
It is not for nothing that Valeri has earned the nickname "mini-Vinnie"; like Vince Grella, he rarely gets forward, and can be clumsy in the tackle (as can Wilkshire, at times). As Kevin Muscat noted at the half-time interval, what Australia really needed was more drive from the central midfield area; Valeri and Jason Culina, as usual, were reluctant to make forward runs or provide any real penetration with their forward passing.
When the far more mobile Wilkshire joined Culina in the middle, that area suddenly began to click. Vidosic, too, made a good impression on the right, playing somewhat better than he did against the Netherlands on Saturday. Disgracefully, by the way, he was forced to wear the number 101 on his shirt. Whoever was responsible for that deserves some time in Room 101.
Pim Verbeek appears irrevocably committed to his double midfield screen, however much support this tends to take away from the long-suffering Josh Kennedy. At the moment, his first choices are invariably Grella and Culina, but we have often seen (in the recent friendly against South Korea, for instance) how insipid this combination can be. Should Wilkshire be considered there instead, despite his continuing improvement at right-back?
Also, if we ever get Emerton and Bresciano both fit, how do we get both players on the field? Surely you can't keep Bresciano on the bench?
A 4-2-3-1 system seems appropriate. And for goodness' sake, end this infatuation with Holman.
p.s. innovative Dutch coaches my foot!