Monday, September 20, 2010
Sharing the Blame
Mike Cockerill has been particularly prominent in the opinion-making over the last few weeks, and in his latest column he revisits the thorny issue of Pim Verbeek's relationship with the national competition.
There is no doubt that Verbeek's snooty derision did the A-League some damage, but Cockerill implicitly overstates the case in saying that the impact of Verbeek's criticism was "hard to measure". He does, however, have a point when he says:
Where was the FFA when they needed protection from Verbeek's damaging crusade?
See here, where I suggested much the same thing. One of the most infuriating of the FFA's current habits is their complete inability to critically examine anything that comes out of the mouths of their Dutch recruits, either in terms of motives or just plain veracity. No-one seemed to wake up to the simple fact that most of Verbeek's A-League trash talk was self-serving in the extreme.
What was more disappointing still was that certain pundits, for axe-to-grind reasons of their own, backed up Verbeek's self-exculpation. All of which makes Craig Foster's recent criticisms of the FFA in his Sun-Herald column seem belated and even a tad hypocritical, however valid.
Holger Osieck has so far made little more than motherhood statements in relation to the A-League, but he strikes most as being cut from a more polite cloth than Verbeek. Nevertheless, were he to offer any convenient criticism of the competition following an Asian tie in which he is forced to field mainly local troops, it is hard to see the FFA offering anything other than stony silence.
There are many contributing factors behind the A-League's woes, and Cockerill has managed to mention more or less all of them (save Frank Lowy) over the last few weeks. But I would like to think that Australian football fans are not fools; they know that the vast majority of the blame lies at the feet of the increasingly misguided FFA...and the man who still calls all the shots on College Street.
And when someone asked him what improvements could be made in the A-League, he replied "Do you have an hour?". That was on the record FFS.
I don't think there's much doubt that the guy was an arrogant shit. But I don't think the damage he did the league was quite as substantial as Cockerill et al. seem to think. The FFA can take the chief credit for that.