I get the hate for Graham Arnold.
I recognise the resentment over the way he was appointed, his style of football and the concerns over his past performance as Socceroos boss…and that much of the love and hate follows tribal lines of club allegiance.
But the moment Aaron Mooy crocked his knee and Martin Boyle followed soon after, the crosshairs came off Arnold.
With the X-factor of Daniel Arzani already ruled out, Leckie injured, Rogic under a cloud, and no Mile Jedinak or Tim Cahill at an international tournament for the first time in a football generation, the excuses were already there.
You can also throw in the short preparation time Arnie chose to have as coach, when he opted to stay with Sydney FC for the Premiership before taking the reins of the Socceroos instead of leading the Roos to Russia.
No matter what happened in the UAE, Arnie was ultimately off the hook before a ball was even kicked.
The bottom line is that anyone who expected us to go to the Middle East with what is at best a B team in transition and expect us to return Asian Champions are being as arrogant as Arnie was with his misguided “we expect to win every game” prediction.
There are still issues that need to be addressed.
Arnie’s media presence has improved dramatically since the days of 2007, but that doesn't mean he’s not without fault. His “expectations” never matched reality, and they insulted, empowered and inflamed our rivals without showing even a skerrick of humility.
Hubris is not a virtue…and frankly ridiculous when our competitive goalscoring record is as appalling as it has been recently.
Sure, no team should ever take to the pitch expecting to lose and self-confidence is vital – but so also is recognising the opposition’s strengths and acknowledging the challenge we face in overcoming that.
Prior to the game against Uzbekistan, Arnie came out with the Trumpian: “I probably know more about Uzbekistan than they know themselves.”
Afterwards? “Their tactics surprised us…” That sound you hear is Australian football facepalming…
Arnie’s overconfidence is a blight and an embarrassment when we can barely find the back of the net and give away amateur hour goals. If he’s saying that in public, what’s he saying in the dressing rooms?
And then there were those tactics against Jordan in the opener which were all but unforgivable.