Thursday, April 15, 2010


Spider Bites

A bomb disposal squad would be required to defuse the various explosives lobbed at the A-League by Zeljko Kalac in this "exclusive".

Kalac has quite a history of, to use a polite term, frankness. Long-term followers of the Socceroos will not have forgotten his self-serving, unprofessional digs at Mark Schwarzer just prior to the 2006 World Cup, which rebounded on him spectacularly in Stuttgart.

Now, apparently, Sydney FC's players are "brain-dead", A-League coaches "have no idea", Branko Culina (among others) is "paranoid", and, wouldn't you know it, players would "kill" to have the likes of himself in charge. Not that there is any opportunism involved in his scattergun diatribe, of course.

The condescending attitude shown by Kalac towards domestically-based players has already been evinced by two former Socceroo colleagues of his, Paul Okon and David Zdrilic, at state league level. And this goes to the heart of Kalac's argument that ex-Socceroos with impressive Euro club resumes should be given preferential treatment: in the first place, this is already happening, and in the second, it occasionally blows up in the face of their employers.

When one examines the recent history of Australian football properly, Kalac's complaints are shown to be frivolous. Paul Okon is not the only recently-retired former Socceroo to have had some involvement with the national team setup; Ante Milicic and Ante Juric have been in the mix as well. As for jobs at club level, how much coaching experience had Aurelio Vidmar gained before being plumped in the Adelaide hot seat?

Frank Farina was made Australia coach only a few short years after his retirement. Graham Arnold went straight from his first senior coaching job, an unimpressive one at that, into the Socceroo assistant's chair. After having his career curtailed by injury, Tony Popovic (perhaps the only one of the above whose coaching career has been, thus far, a genuine success) found himself a gig at Sydney FC instantly.

Former Euroroos not getting the breaks? Laughable.

Kalac does have a point when he asserts that the A-League is in need of a shake-up, but he, like the rest of the SBS crew, is barking up the wrong tree. Coaches who did not have stellar careers as players, but whose ability to motivate their charges and display their tactical acumen has been displayed at lower levels of Australian football, currently appear to have no chance of breaking into the select A-League clique.

But far from being ignored of sidelined, the returning Euroroos are habitually given a substantial leg-up. To pretend otherwise is simply disingenuous, not that this prevents certain commentators from doing so with monotonous regularity.

It is surely no coincidence that by far the most successful recent-ex-Socceroo coach in the A-League has been Gary van Egmond, who did spend some time coaching below Australian football's visible surface. The likes of Kalac could perhaps learn something from such humility.

I am sure that tact and intelligence go hand in hand, and I am certain that Spider has neither.
good players rarely make good coaches.

Van Egmond had Newcastle playing the best football we have seen but he had to follow a good coach who didn't get a fair go
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