Saturday, May 15, 2010


A Bit of Griffo

Long-time readers of this blog will know that I'm not exactly Pim Verbeek's greatest fan, but some of the criticism coming his way over the selection of the provisional World Cup squad is frankly excessive. SBS's blogger-in-chief has continued to champion the cause of Eddy Bosnar and Sasa Ognenovski in somewhat hyperbolic terms, and now we have a Milicevic-style spray from Beijing Guoan's Joel Griffiths. Maybe it's something in the Novocastrian water.

For Griffiths to implicitly accuse Verbeek of having thin skin in the midst of his rant is hilariously ironic. His strictures about Verbeek's failure to communicate with him over his non-inclusion might have had some merit were they delivered with a little more dignity, but all national coaches have been accused of this at one time or another...particularly those, like Verbeek, who are dealing with a truly far-flung group of candidates.

Griffiths may have settled well in China, but the Chinese league has had its reputation sullied badly in recent years, and its status as one of Asia's elite competitions is open to dispute, given Chinese clubs' recent indifferent form in the Asian Champions League. Add that to the fact that Griffiths is already the wrong side of thirty, and one can understand Verbeek's reluctance to rank him ahead of the likes of Nikita Rukavytsya and Dario Vidosic.

But there is a further and far more important reason why Griffiths may have been consigned to Verbeek's bad books at an early stage. A-League fans hardly need reminding of Griffiths' notorious targeting of a linesman's private parts in his last season in Australia, or his tendency to go down suspiciously easily in the box, or his occasional stoushes with members of the opposition.

He is without doubt a talented finisher and a very intelligent player, perhaps the most shrewd off-the-ball runner in the A-League before he headed overseas, but his temperament is not always to be trusted. An interesting comparison can be made with Johnny Rep, the Dutch striker of the seventies (whom Griffiths actually resembles strikingly); a gifted forward, a maverick, a subtle and sly baiter of defenders, and an occasional hothead, who was mistrusted by some of his coaches.

As a final salvo, Griffiths (like countless others) makes some cheap mileage out of Verbeek's infamous comments about the standard of the A-League. Yes, we've heard it all before. Yes, it's true, the Dutchman has been tactless and self-serving in his denigration of the local competition. But the criticism is opportunistic and, in the current case, essentially irrelevant.

In the end it comes down to this: Who out of the 4 strikers could Griffiths replace? The answer is none of them.

Kewell and Mcdonald pick themselves for obvious reasons. We need Kennedy as the plan b option (read: long balls to the strikers in the dying minutes) and Nikita is the future and needs to be blooded now.

Joel Griffiths just isn't that good. He fits the Archie Thompson mould: a good local player who clearly will not offer anything against world class opposition.

He deserves nothing. And after hearing his 'brown tounges' comment i hope he never gets another chance in the green and gold.
As I slowly come into comprehension of what is involved in a team, its selection, training and then working, I am forced to assume that not only does Pim know more than me (that's too obvious) but that he likely knows more than any of his commentariat. I also note that we are paying Pim an enormous amount of money to make these decisions, upon which his own reputation is ultimately staked.

I was pleased to see Les Murray take a sober view.

Can we Australians close ranks now, for about six weeks or so? The die is cast, and we are on the bloody stage right now.
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