I must admit I was skeptical of the Socceroos hiring Ange Postecoglou. Don’t get me wrong, I like Ange and I do rate him as a coach, but I was of the opinion that we should hire one more foreign coach to take the team to the World Cup and maybe the Asian Cup and then hand the keys to either Ange or Tony Popovic.
Once it was confirmed they were hiring an Australian and then more specifically hiring Ange, I got on board with that, because clearly Ange has been successful in the A-League and also demands his team play a style which every football lover appreciates. Postecoglou teams always play to win and think they can control the ball regardless of opposition.
Tuesday night against a half strength Costa Rica was the first chance we would get to see what impact Ange had already had on the squad. I was very concerned when Lucas Neill was allowed to keep the captaincy and named to start. As I’ve said numerous times, Neill should no longer be anywhere near the Socceroos. His play at all levels has declined to the point where his name value should not hold enough value to keep him in the team.
I also don’t believe we should continue to play Bresciano, but I knew Postecoglou loves him and I also know that if the team is able to execute the game plan, Bresc does fit in with that style, so his selection wasn’t a surprise to me.
But with a four month suspension hanging over his head for an illegal transfer that might be the last we see of Bresciano for a while.
I was desperate to see Tom Rogic start, but given his lack of game time at Celtic I understand why he came off the bench.
Besides that I was quite content with the team Ange chose. It was a lot of youth mixed in with just a couple of veterans and whilst I am a huge advocate of playing the kids, you do want some veterans around them.
The performance itself was impressive. Whilst the opposition clearly weren’t at their best, they still are no joke and at full strength are a better side than we have. The team took a few minutes to settle but then started playing “Ange-ball”. There were patches where the accuracy of the passes fell away, but the fact that they kept trying to pass and move and attack is all that matters to me.
I would rather go to Brazil and get smashed trying to win and create chances than to lose anyway whilst trying to minimise the damage. I am confident now that Postecoglou agrees with that.
Jason Davidson was impressive at left back and he looks to be the answer to one of the biggest question mark positions in the squad. Rhys Williams also seems to have cemented himself a spot in the centre of defence. I personally would play him with Sasa Ognenovski but we will see what Ange does with Lucas Neill long term, especially after Neill got into it with the crowd during the game.
The game changed when Rogic and Oar (The Tommy Guns?) were introduced and that comes as no surprise. The Tommys and Timmy are critical to the team and I would be starting them all. I would have Kruse on the right, Oar on the left, Rogic in the middle and Cahill up top unless they go with Kennedy.
Milligan and Jedinak do their job in midfield and I would keep them there to do that dirty work. James Holland shouldn’t go anywhere near the starting team and Matt McKay at this stage of his career shouldn’t be in the squad, even if he is an Ange favourite.
I imagine several defenders will be given a chance to earn the starting job in Brazil, but at least Davidson and Williams look good enough to hold their spots.
Ryan and Langerak have a great battle going to be the keeper and I am fine with either option. They both have great futures and we are in safe hands at the back.
What was more impressive though was that in such a limited time the team were able to implement the system we will be playing going forward. Sure there were hiccups, as there will be, but the team played hard and played in a manner that represents what Australian sport is. We play to beat you and believe we can.
I still don’t expect to do that much in Brazil, but I am more confident that it won’t be embarrassing. If we can be competitive in Brazil, win or go close in the Asian Cup and then start looking towards Russia 2018, then Postecoglou will have been a huge success as manager.
We have the young talent to be optimistic about the future of the team and we have a manager willing to play a style that can utilise that talent. The gap between the Osieck team and the Postecoglou team was noticeable from minute 1 (or maybe minute 5) and that alone speaks volumes.
I hope guys like Rogic and Oar can get real playing time the rest of this season to earn a starting spot and keep their form up, because in this system, guys with that talent are dangerous.
At the end of the day though, we scored with good Ol’ Faithful. Timmy Cahill on a header from a corner. The more things change, the more they stay the same.