Looking Forward the Only Way for Socceroos

Mark Bosnich says Lucas Neill should retire because he’s a big part of the problem with the current national side. Lucas Neill says “football is a game of opinions. He’s entitled to his, (but) I expect better from people who’ve played the game and certainly from people that call themselves my friend,” he said.

Funny, last time I checked Bosnich is a respected football analyst, he may be Neill’s friend but when it comes to his job that shouldn’t be a consideration for him when giving the opinion and analysis he is paid for.

One of the biggest problems with the national setup is that it is and always has been a bit of an old boys club and right now the aging players, all bar Harry Kewell it would seem, hold sway.

Simply put, Neill along with a few of his cohorts have overstayed their welcome and have done so at the peril of the development of the game and the development of the next generation, who were never given a fair crack under Holger Osieck.

Prickly to the media throughout the qualifying campaign, Osieck hardly won any admirers for a number of reasons and his focus it would seem was simply to qualify for Brazil 2014 rather than to build a squad capable of challenging now and into the future, how else could the insistence on age and experience be explained otherwise?

It’s well and good for Neill to say the young players must step up, but when has he stepped up to the plate and actually played well in the last five years? The answer is rarely ever and he is now tarnishing a legacy that already had him most remembered for bringing down Fabio Grosso in the box in Germany 06’. A sad indictment on him, but it’s true.

It’s not that I dislike Lucas Neill the person, I don’t, but as a footballer he shouldn’t be saying ‘I will leave when the coach asks me to’.

He should be saying I want to see my country do its best and right now he can’t really believe he is the way for Australia to do that. Not based on results or performance as the controversial case may be. The results haven’t been there and he has not performed. Not that he is alone, throw in David Carney, Matt McKay, James Holland, Jade North, Michael Thwaite and as good as he has been for Crystal Palace Mile Jedinak, who simply hasn’t fired for his country.

As for Neill, he’s the worst of a bad bunch. A case in point in his ‘stint’ (and I use that in the loosest possible way) in the A-League; his own team had to sit deeper in defence when he played so as not to expose his lack of pace.

If you want a prime example of that, in the rout against Brazil he was ten metres off his man as he scored a goal and stood there looking at his teammates with his hands in the air. Hardly the actions of a leader.

A dose of reality is this quote:“No one outruns father time,” that comment was made by ESPN’s Bill Simmons last year when Kevin Garnett missed a dunk. That’s NBA star Kevin Garnett who has way more world sport cred than Neill ever had, but do compare the two is firstly a slight on Garnett and secondly off topic.

What is true right now is that the Socceroos or if you want ‘Shockeroos’ have been appalling of late, the coach paid with his job, someone had to and he was culpable.

Osieck was culpable of not blooding youth and culpable of playing a squad who struggled time and time again in Asia of all places – anyone who thinks the win over Iraq at Stadium Australia was a success is either blind, ignorant or both.

The result, yeah we got it, but ironically enough the performance was poor and ever since then we have been struggling.

Now there are precious few games left between Australia and what could potentially one of the most embarrassing World Cup campaigns ever and a new manager has to come in take over a sinking ship and make some changes.

As for who that man may be, well, all and sundry know Ange Postecoglou is the front runner due to the cost of paying out Osieck’s contract, if not him maybe the tactically astute Graham Arnold, who certainly has similar traits to Ricki Herbert, the man who took New Zealand’s All Whites to an undefeated FIFA World Cup campaign. Both have relationships with some of Australia’s best up and coming players through the A-League and neither are beholden to any of the old firm, but Postecoglou might bring Harry Kewell back, which if he can show some of the flair he had at the end of his Victory stay won’t be a bad thing.

Of the international options Guus Hiddink and Sir Alex ferguson are some of the more fanciful names being thrown around, neither of them will do it, and nor should they. The risk to their legacies are too great and neither man needs the job.

Some other names are Roberto di matteo, martin O’neill, Frank Rijkaard and Marcelo Bielsa. I’d also like to say Paul le Guen, who did an amazing job with the Omani team, but is probably considered too low profile after a string of failures in Pim Verbeek and Osieck.

So what do the Socceroos need? Simply put a coach with a strong personality capable of changing things and quickly implementing a style that works. As such it’s why Arnold or Ange would be good choices, they know Australian football and would hopefully have the guts to make changes to our side.

There are players right now who are asking for a call up at home and abroad and it’s a shame Mitch Langerak had to have his name associated with a 6-0 thumping. Without him the score would have been over ten and non-football people are wondering if the kid is any good.

Truth is, he is very good. You don’t play for Borussia Dortmund in Germany, arguably the home of some of the best keepers ever without being excellent, so are many of our other youngsters.

Tom Rogic is more than ready for a consistent role and Tommy Oar is as well. Robbie Kruse is there now and while James Holland hasn’t been great you can’t deny the much maligned Brett Holman’s ability to score a goal when it is needed.

Of the older brigade keep Tim Cahill, Mark Schwarzer as a back up and Josh Kennedy as a target-man and sure take Kewell because he has class but it’s time for a change and that change starts at the back.

Trent Sainsbury is more than ready. He has shown it for more than two seasons now and deserves his chance. Matt Spiranovic if fit is an ok pick as is Robbie Cornthwaite. The real issue is still left back, especially after Adama Traore was denied his citizenship, but picking these players is a start and one a new coach should look to make immediately.

We simply need a coach who isn’t afraid and doesn’t rely on the reputations of those who have been there and done it before, because with the exception of Cahill and Schwarzer the rest can’t get it done anymore.

For the record my preferred Australian XI: 4-4-2

Mitch Langerak, Matthew Spiranovic, Robbie Cornthwaite, Trent Sainsbury, Chris Herd, Tom Rogic, Mark Milligan, Brett Holman, Tommy Oar, Tim Cahill, Robbie Kruse

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