'Egotistical' Ange should commit to Socceroos or be sacked, says Ognenovski

Former Socceroos defender Sasa Ognenovski has branded Australia coach Ange Postecoglou "egotistical", insisting he should declare his on-going commitment to the national team or be replaced before next month's World Cup playoff against Honduras.

Ange Postecoglou

Ange Postecoglou Source: Getty Images

The 2010 Asian footballer of the year, one of a number of veterans discarded when Postecoglou took charge just under four years ago, claims the coach has turned the Green and Gold into a "personal project", placing his desire to create a "legacy" ahead of the greater goals of the national team.

Postecoglou will lead Australia into their home and away duels against the central Americans amid revelations he intends to quit immediately afterwards, whether Australia qualify for Russia 2018 or not.

The reports have not been denied by either Postecoglou or his bosses at the FFA, with a dysfunctional relationship with CEO David Gallop, a possible club opportunity elsewhere and a torrent of criticism over his tactics cited as contributory factors.

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It's a situation Ognenovski, who accumulated 22 caps after making his Socceroos debut at the late age of 31, finds destabilising and unacceptable.



"If Ange can't come out and clear up all the uncertainly and say whether he intends to stay or go, he should be moved on before the games against Honduras (November 10 and 15)," said the 38 year old former Seongnam and Sydney FC stopper.

"He has turned coaching the Socceroos into a personal project to further his own ambitions.

"It's an egotistical approach, when you put yourself ahead of the team like that.

"But no football team is about one coach or one player. It's about the collective - and the collective goal of World Cup qualification.

"If Ange has ambitions to leave and plans to go imminently, FFA should step in now, and bring in a new coach to lead us into the World Cup.

"If we qualify, there's then the 2019 Asian Cup (in UAE) after that.

"The uncertainty needs to be cleared up.

"Maybe because he got a free ticket to the World Cup in 2014, when he replaced Holger Osieck who got us there, Ange doesn't see going to another one as such a big deal. I don't know.

"But at a such a critical stage of qualifying it should not be all about the coach."

Ognenovski, who won the 2010 AFC Champions League, contends that the sideshow of Postecoglou's future is an unwelcome distraction for the players.

"They should be focused solely on getting past Honduras, not worrying about answering reporters' questions on the Ange situation and how it will affect their approach and mindset going into those games," he added.

"Ange is about creating a legacy with the style of play he's adopted, when what really matters is getting to the World Cup.

"Whether you do it ugly or pretty, it doesn't matter.

"We did it ugly under Osieck but at least we got there. You just need to be there ... and we need to be in Russia next year."

Ognenovski believes Postecoglou was fortunate to have survived after failing to secure direct qualification with ostensibly the same set of players who won the 2015 Asian Cup.

"In truth, that alone, would probably have cost a lot of coaches their jobs, considering we came into the campaign as the top team in Asia," he added.

"No disrespect to the other teams in our group, but we really shouldn't be in the position of having to battle through the playoffs. It should have been signed and sealed long ago.

"We've not played well in the second half of the campaign, dropped unnecessary points and made it hard on ourselves."



The genesis of Australia's troubles, according to the now retired Ognenovski, came when Postecoglou ditched his four at the back formation and introduced a 3-2-4-1 set-up at the midway point of the campaign for the 1-1 draw with Iraq in Tehran.

The rationale was to shoehorn more midfielders into the starting line up.

But Ognenovski noted: "The players looked bemused and confused by the new system and it definitely caught them by surprise.

"Few, if any of them, play that way for their clubs and even now they don't look comfortable with it.

"You need a certain type of player to execute that system and I don't think we necessarily have them.

"It's ironic that Ange employed the system to promote a more attacking style because, in my eyes, some of the football we've been playing of late has been far from attractive, as well as not bringing the results we all want.

"It was an unnecessary gamble because we were cruising in the group at the time.

"Maybe it was a bit of arrogance, maybe a bit of complacency."

Ognenovski believes Postecoglou's "pride" will not allow him to change course tactically now.

"Ange has been criticised by people who know what they're talking about, ex-Socceroos who have a credible voice," he added.

"But he's not been able to take the criticism well at all and has just been digging in and persevering with a system which hasn't been delivering."

The irony of Postecoglou and Australia having to still rely on aging grand master Tim Cahill, who turns 38 in December, is not lost on Ognenovski.

"At this stage of his career it's not right that we still need him to get us out of tight situations we shouldn't be in in the first place," he said.

And leaving Aaron Mooy - arguably Australia's best player - out of the starting team for last week's 2-1 extra-time play-off win against Syria left Ognenovski scratching his head.



"When I was at Seongnam we always played our best team in the big games, Ange didn't do that. It was baffling," he said.

"He got a get out of jail free card when Brad Smith went injured in the 11th minute and he then brought Mooy on early.

"But what kind of message does not picking him in the first place send out to this teammates. For me, it creates confusion.

"Players know who should be playing ... and I'm sure a couple would have looked at each other in the dressing room and thought "What's the boss doing here?"


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6 min read
Published 16 October 2017 at 11:32am
By Dave Lewis