Head-strong van Marwijk won’t be swayed by calls for Cahill

Bert van Marwijk is set to stay true to his favourite motto amid the cacophony of calls for Tim Cahill to be resurrected as Australia’s FIFA World Cup saviour.

The long-held mantra of the 66-year-old Socceroos coach, a saying well known to those in his inner circle, is: “If you’re a coach you have to influence people, but you never let people influence you.”

The Dutchman has never had a better reason than now to recite his psalm as a social media crescendo, including the voices of several ex-Socceroos, question the veteran striker’s non-appearance off the bench in the 1-1 draw with Denmark.

The incredulous pick-Cahill lobby are demanding a “please explain” from van Marwijk and clamouring for the 38-year-old to be elevated up the pecking order for Tuesday’s win-or-bust clash with Peru, in the light of first choice striker Andrew Nabbout’s tournament-ending dislocated shoulder.

Van Marwijk is aware of the Cahill whirlwind blowing out of Australia as he prepares his team for a tilt at three points which might keep them alive in the tournament, assuming France also beat Denmark.

But he’s as likely to bend to the will of the throng as he is to offer condolences to his former team Saudi Arabia over their premature World Cup exit.

“Bert won’t be losing one second of sleep over all the noise in Australia over Cahill,” said long-time van Marwijk watcher and confidant Martijn Krabbendam, of Football International magazine.

“I’m sure he’s aware of what people have been saying about ‘why didn’t Cahill come on when Australia needed a second goal against Denmark?’, and that he should play against Peru.

“But, the reality is, he couldn’t care less what they think. He’s not somebody who will be pushed into any decisions that are not his own.

“He does things his way and no other way, and his way has proven to be a good way over his career.”

Krabbendam, who is in Russia following van Marwijk’s Socceroos adventure, has known the often terse but always thoughtful fellow Dutchman for 18 years.

And like Margaret Thatcher, he is not for turning.

“Bert is not silly and if he thought that Tim Cahill was ready he would already have used him already,” he added.

“He knows all about his history as a great goalscorer for his country but to this point, on working with him every day at training, he has put him behind Andrew Nabbout and Tomi Juric.”

There is a feeling that van Marwijk views Cahill as more of an emblem and sage influence off the field, rather than on it.

“He’s very important in the dressing room, is good with young players like Daniel Arzani and has a special role in the Australian camp,” Krabbendam said.

“Bert is very happy with the way he’s handling that. I’ve heard everybody complaining about Cahill not playing except for Cahill himself.

“He knows his role and he’ll be hoping to come on against Peru and do something special, just as he hoped to come on against France and Denmark.

“He can still be the hero of Australia.”

It’s almost certain that van Marwijk will promote Juric as his starting striker ahead of Cahill, and fourth choice Jamie Maclaren in Sochi, as he follows his normal policy of first striker out, second striker in.

He has no particular interest in adding lustre to Cahill's legacy by giving him the chance to become only the fifth player to score at four successive World Cups.

Van Marwijk’s only imperative is what he believes is best for the team.

“Bert won’t feel it’s appropriate that the vacancy will pass through Juric straight to Cahill,” Krabbendam said.

“That’s not the way he does things.”

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4 min read
Published 22 June 2018 at 8:44pm
By Dave Lewis