Holger gone, but the problems remain

After yet another abject and insipid performance this morning against France, Socceroos boss Holger Osieck has been sacked. FFA CEO David Gallop has launched an immediate review of the teams

Gone (Getty Images: David Rogers)

Gone (Getty Images: David Rogers)

performances in the latter phase of the 2014 World Cup Qualifying campaign, while Assistant Coach Aurelio Vidmar will take over in an interim basis. Removing Osieck from the job however only fixes one of the sides problems, and I wrote about why he had to go after the Brazil game. The problems this morning were endless and across the entire side, with only Langerak putting in anything resembling an impressive performance, and that was after he conceded 6 goals. The problems this morning in a nutshell were:

-Completely incapable of keeping the ball under pressure.
-Too slow in the transition from defence to attack. Preferring to play across the defence and the midfield, rather than play the ball forward.
-Playing players out of position (e.g. Holland, Carney)
-Incapable of getting the ball into attacking positions
-Defensive organisation, and defending in general
-Lack of confidence throughout the squad both in themselves and seemingly the coach.
-Failure to regenerate the side

Some of the individual performances this morning were abject to say the very least, particularly in the defence once again. I’ll give James Holland a pass despite being torn apart by Ribery; he’s not a full back. Neill however was poor to say the least and Mark Bosnich’s FT summation that a lot of the defensive problems are related to the veteran isn’t far off the mark. On the left Carney was awful as well, although there were some decent signs from Williams and HT substitute Jason Davidson. In midfield Jedinak worked hard but in a defensive capacity Bresciano is a huge liability. In order to keep him in the side, there needs to be either a change in role for the veteran, or a change in formation. McKay worked hard but was largely unsighted cutting inside on the right, while Wilkshire offered little help to the French bombardment down the right side of our defence. Upfront Kruse and Cahill were quite, but what do you expect when you cant get the ball.

All of these are not new problems and have been discussed ad nauseam, so I won’t go through all of. Again id refer you to the above post about why Osiek needs to go. There has been a complete failure to regenerate the side ever since 2006, which leaves the national team relying on the golden generation whose best days are well behind them. All of that leads to the sort of performances that we’ve seen in recent times, and nobody should be surprised at his departure. Changing the coach however doesn’t automatically fix all of the above problems. The majority of them are long term problems and will need time to fix. For example, the fact that we’ve clung to the golden generation for too long isn’t going to be fixed purely on the back of a new coach.

While sections of the media will clamour for the likes of Tony Popovic, Ange Postecoglou or Graham Arnold to get the job, im expecting a more short term approach to be taken, especially if the FFA’s track record is anything to go by. The media will also continue to link former Socceroos boss Guus Hiddink to the role, especially after he showed a level of interest through his agent recently.

Things are definitely at a cross-road right now, with two directions available for the FFA. They could either decide to go with the short term expedient option in order to put in a solid showing at the World Cup next year then go fully into the rebuilding phase, or alternatively they could begin it now and build for the 2015 Asian Cup along with the Russia 2018 campaign which begins in just under 2 years. Here’s just a short list of those who could get a phone call in the coming days:

Guus Hiddink:
The bookies favourite for the job has already said through his agent that he intends to be at the 2014 World Cup, and would consider a return to the Socceroos setup. His agent Cees van Nieuwenhuizen has said that Hiddink definitely has plans to coach again at World Cup level and has fond memories of his time with Australia. Apparently he’s in France atm so I wonder if he was in the crowd last night.

Marcelo Bielsa:
The 58 year old Argentine has a host of experience at the highest level leading his homeland to the 2002 World Cup Finals before taking Chile to the last 16 in South Africa. He wanted to continue on after the 2010 showpiece in order to see out what he had as a 5 year plan with both the senior side and the u/20’s but left due to politics in the Chilean FA. From there he lead Athletic Bilbao to the Europa League final beating Manchester United, Schalke and Sporting Lisbon before losing the final to Athletico Madrid.

Gerard Houlier:
The 66 year old Frenchman has already reportedly been in contact with FFA in relation to the coaching position, however it’s understood they’re asking him for opinions on candidates. He would however make a solid coach with his extensive experience most notably with Liverpool.

A-League Options:
There has already been a clamour for the likes of Graham Arnold, Tony Popovic and Ange Postecoglou to get the job after their stellar coaching performances in the domestic league. Arnold has Socceroos coaching experience, however the most likely of the trio would be the 2 time champion Postecoglou. Any of these would likely indicate a longer term strategy building more for the home Asian Cup in 2015 and the 2018 WC in Russia. Of the 3 I would say that Ange and Arnold are the more likely, with the younger Popovic more likely to stick to club football in the immediate future.

This is unquestionably the most pivotal decision in relation to the Socceroos since 2005 when Frank Lowy bit the bullet and replaced Frank Farina with Guus Hiddink. 8 years later there’s a drastic need for change, starting with the coaching position and then a revamped playing squad. With the World Cup around the corner along with a home Asian Cup a little over a year away, coupled with the overdue need to regenerate the team, the FFA must absolutely get this decision right.

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