Sunday, March 08, 2009

A view on the Socceroos from our man in Japan

The last month as left me a bit flat. But our man in Japan is only getting started. Here he is with some of my comments added later.

'I could be wrong on their part timer status, but they (Kuwait) came to play, didn`t they? (John: yes they were here for a while. They couldn't believe how friendly Australia and New Zealand was to them. This wouldn't happen to the Socceroos in the middle east.)

Iraq also love playing us. Bahrain, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Oman ... pretty much anyone in west asia loves a chance to play against asia. I`m loving it. This is not oceania. (John: actually the officials in Kuwait have said some very nasty things about Australia being accepted in Asia. They want us out. I think Kuwait see the Socceroos as stealing their World Cup and Asia Cup spots. That is why, after Kuwait lost their first game at home against Oman, they knew they had to beat Australia.)

To be honest I`d prefer a bit less drama pre and post game. I can't quite shake the feeling that the A-Leaguers are being hung out to dry. First by their coach, then by the media. (John: the other codes are in deep financial trouble - and NRL a new player behaviour story every day).

No plan b eh? Lack of preparation is a choice, not a fact of life. If the club's have won a secret club vs nation battle, then the FFA has a lot to answer for. If Pim just couldn't be arsed bringing these guys together to prepare beforehand, then ditto. These games didn't come up a week ago; we knew they were coming, and we didn't prepare. (John: we should have brought the Europeans in for the cool climate games. I am not convinced they can beat Asian teams in 100% humidity and 50 degree heat).

Slagging his starting strikers beforehand, and all the smug talk about the A-League ... I used to think he was a straight talker, but now I see a politician. Getting his excuses out before the team he doesn't believe in goes out and loses. (John: I agree this is Pim's career too. He wasn't that successful in Korea. Archie said something like: 'I am going to train hard Monday. By Wednesday I should be hopeless. By Thursday, really hopeless.'). Handing someone a #107 jersey is also a great motivational tool.

Hell, even after the match, when he tried to talk nice (I`m thinking on instruction from his bosses), it sounded plastic and he still got a backhander or two in on the A-League (something like "we have players who should be in bigger and better leagues in this group"). (John: I think that Pim is making the job Frank Farina did - with no money and no help - for 6 years look like a great success).

And while I'm on such a great ranting roll, one of his A-League complaints is the openness of the game. May this never go away. Aussies don't go for the draw. We go for the win, and we accept the risks that come with that. OK the environment doesn't allow for promotion/relegation (and the pressures that come with that), but I think going for the win and taking risks is part of the aussie mindset. Does he "get" us Aussies? (John: I agree football can't afford a 'boring' tag here in Australia. But read this month's Soccer World - they are calling for rule changes to get the interest back in the game. Draw tactics are mature. Just about anyone can do it. And if you go for a draw, you could frustrate the opposition into losing ie Socceroos v Kuwait.)

I'm gonna stop before i get started on the talent he won't use. Nick Carle can't make a 40 player camp? Travis Dodd isn't in a 20 player a-leaguer squad? He doesn't trust anybody with x-factor? Barbiero for Zullo when you`re chasing a game? Heff in midfield ... he loves grafters.

Well, for better or for worse, he`s our coach. But he needs to buck up. (John: He has one job: qualify for the World Cup. FFA are reporting to be getting cheesed at the prospect of not qualifying for the Asia Cup given that they want to host it in 2015.)


ps. I wanted Troussier

pss. Could another game like this one at home lead to the dreaded 'you don't know what you are doing?' chant? Coaches love that one. (John: fortunately or unfortunately, as the game was on Foxtel very few people even knew it was happening. FFA has got that message and they are looking for a TV rights chance, at least for some games, post 2012).

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