Tuesday, July 27, 2010


The Succession - update

A story about the search for Pim Verbeek's successor on the SBS World Game website today attracted a remark worthy of reproduction. The article mentioned the various names canvassed by the FFA for the vacant Socceroo position, none of which show much evidence of imagination or lateral thinking on the part of the national body. One of the comments reads:

So, an Italian failure, a Dutch failure, and a German who was rumoured to have had his assistant at the helm, before subsequently being a failure at Bayern. Worry not though, we still have a failure at Cameroon, Rangers and PSV in the pipe. I'm assuming we're in for Domenech too?

Although the description of Marcello Lippi as a failure is a little harsh given his 2006 exploits, I could hardly have put it better.

The obsession with the Big European Names is misguided and short-sighted, and it is yet another indication of the lack of football knowledge at the apex of Australian football. If we look at the foreign coaches whose teams have overperformed at some recent tournaments of relevance to Australia, a clear pattern emerges. World Cup 2010: Milovan Rajevac and Gerardo Martino. Asian Cup 2007: Jorvan Vieira and Helio dos Anjos. World Cup 2002: Bruno Metsu and...Guus Hiddink.

That's right, unheralded names, all of whom had knocked around the football world below the radar for some time. Even Hiddink deserves a place of sorts on this list, given that his stocks were at an all-time low at the time he took the South Korea job, after two disastrous spells in Spanish football.

This is a period of transition for the Socceroos, in which players with unsettled club careers and limited international experience will need to be moulded into a functioning national team in the lead-up to 2014. An expensive European aristocoach whose best days are behind him, or whose chief claim to fame is a playing career rather than a coaching one, is the very last thing Australia needs at present.

Indeed, obviously the FFA's preoccupation with these types of coaches stems from a marketing point of view but I think they may underestimate the potential for a high quality but unfashionable coach to fit in nicely with our own self image in the footballing landscape.
If anything Lippi shows that a great coach is no guarantee of anything. I am skeptical of how much difference there is between coaches. I think the best you can hope for from a coach is that they pick the better players and let them play the best football they can. I think a bad coach can harm a team but when you have a competent coach it comes down to the players and luck. I think that's why we see so many names come out of no where and perform excellently.
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