FFA delay in selecting coach will hurt Socceroos

Football Federation Australia are being too slow and blase about the selection of the Socceroos coach with less than six months left for the kickoff of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Bielsa Van Gaal Rangnick

(Left to right) Marcelo Bielsa, Louis van Gaal and Ralf Rangnick Source: Getty Images

At the moment all we have is a select group of former Socceroos stars helping FFA sift through a list of contenders. High-profile Dutchman Louis Van Gaal is believed to be one of them.

It was a welcome move to have guys like Mark Bresciano, Stan Lazaridis and Mark Schwarzer involved in the selection process but it comes two months too late.

The Socceroos coach to take the team to Russia 2018, or even beyond, should have been appointed by now and ready to start work immediately after the new year to prepare the World Cup campaign.


Instead the FFA have said they prefer to take their time in finding the right coach because the next Socceroos game will be in late March so there is no urgency.

No urgency! They've got to be kidding.

I'm sorry, but this is not a very professional way to go about the matter.

Any organisation that is serious about giving its national team the best opportunity to do well on the world stage would act differently.

The FFA knew officially a few days after the final qualifier against Honduras in November that coach Ange Postecoglou would break contract and abandon the team.

Reports about Postecoglou's desire to walk away from the job surfaced immediately after the penultimate qualifier against Syria in October, so the FFA should have had a proper mechanism in place soon after in case the selection of a new coach became necessary.

Of course, their latest stance comes as no surprise, because over the years we have come to expect our game's governing body to be reactive rather than pro-active.

Some countries are organised and try to nip potential problems in the bud but that's not the way we do things in Australian football, unfortunately.

So why is it so vital that the Socceroos have a coach as soon a possible?

The most important reason is the simplest: the more time one has to prepare for a new job the better, especially if the chosen one is a foreigner.

Any club or national coach in the world needs a period of 'acclimatisation' after taking up a position.

So having a Socceroos boss in place early in the new year would have given him the opportunity to get the necessary 'running in' period out of the way before things get serious in March.

As we all know, managing the Socceroos squad that comprises players from all four corners of the world can be rather challenging.
The next Socceroos coach also would have appreciated the chance to have a proper look at prospective Socceroos players, who could make up the squad for Russia.

Giving him the job close to March would virtually deprive him of that luxury and force him to rely on information gathered from domestic sources, not first hand.

The same applies for players from France, Denmark and Peru, who will face the Socceroos at the World Cup.

This is not exactly the most ideal scenario for anyone who wishes to devise and execute a plan for Australia.

Failure to have a coach on the job as early a possible would also crush any hopes of having an informal familiarisation get-together somewhere in Europe for our elite footballers, even though this might prove rather challenging because there is no international window in January and February.

Leaving the selection of national coach so late also could encourage panic on the part of the FFA, with the risk of a hasty or costly decision and a wrong choice.

If you take the FFA's rhetoric out of the equation I don't think the suits at headquarters fully realise that the Socceroos are facing the prospect of getting to the World Cup with an unsatisfactory preparation.

I can guarantee that any player with an ambition to be in Russia in six months would appreciate the naming of a new coach as soon as possible to give the whole squad the best preparation for the game's biggest challenge.

It's so frustrating that the FFA do not appear to see it this way.

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4 min read
Published 26 December 2017 at 7:23am
By Philip Micallef