Okay, first the positives. I was very pleased when I saw Bert van Marwijk appointed Socceroos coach. He’s had fabulous experience, knows how to succeed at the World Cup, and got the best out of a Saudi Arabia team from whom we took four points home and away.
Even better, the appointment was just short term, to achieve a particular task. It would have been unfairly disruptive to wrench Arnie out of Sydney FC at this point, although if you look at recent results – maybe they have been disrupted by all the speculation surrounding him?
The rest of the league will be crying tears of blood for Sydney.
But back to van Marwijk. I started to be a little concerned when he was so (apparently) dismissive of our league and domestic players. It looked like Pim Verbeek all over again and as I started to bridle, was forced to remind myself that Verbeek was actually pretty successful.
We qualified easily under Pim and only missed out on progression in South Africa on goal difference after getting thrashed by Germany – the same Germany that also thrashed England and Argentina.
So another pragmatic, results-driven Dutchman is clearly what the FFA want – and I guess that’s fine, but why are they always so surly? Ange wasn’t surly. He was always very cheery, happy to be interviewed and always keen to share his thinking – at least on Australian Story.
On reflection, it strikes me there may have been some clogs under the bed somewhere in Ange’s lineage.
But back to Van Marwijk.
I’m troubled by the squad he’s picked. For a start, the defence picks itself. Whether he wants three at the back or four (I’m guessing four in a 4-2-3-1 system), the guys who did the job for Ange will be going to Russia. That means Ryan plus two others; Trent Sainsbury, Matt Jurman, Bailey Wright, Aziz Behich plus three others.
I’m not worried about the defence, especially as both Mark Milligan and Mile Jedinak can fill in there if needed. It’s the attack that concerns me. Let’s assume Millsy and Jedi are in the team, so that makes 12, with 11 more spots for the other midfielders and strikers.
There will definitely be spots for Aaron Mooy, Tom Rogic, Massimo Luongo, Tim Cahill and Jackson Irvine. That means there are six spots left for midfielders and strikers. Who is going to score (or set up) the goals we’ll need to get out of the group.
Robbie Kruse? Mathew Leckie? Jamie MacLaren? Tomi Juric?
For me, there are few more frustrating players than Kruse. Yes, he’s got pace, but his first touch is rubbish. If he could just control the football he’d be…well, he’d be a footballer.
Juric is another frustration. Does some great things but lots of dumb things also – and the sitters he’s missed! You can’t miss chances from a metre out and go on getting picked in international sides. A bit slow for a striker also. Like Kruse, if he was more consistent he’d be a very decent player.
Leckie is (apparently) doing well at Hertha Berlin and I think his performances for the Socceroos have been on the upswing, so let’s say he gets a shirt. My jury is still out on Maclaren. Two great years for Brisbane but has done little overseas yet. Really needs to kick it up a gear – not least as I don’t think there’s much difference between the A-League and the SPL.