The curious case of Kruse and charge of the spite brigade

Footballers are used to being on the receiving end of accolades and tirades, tributes and tantrums from those who idolize them one instant, revile them the next.

Robbie Kruse

Robbie Kruse Source: Getty Images

But there’s one Australia international whose mere presence in the Green and Gold triggers a raucous gathering of the clans of cat-callers and critics.

Winger Robbie Kruse seems only to have to twitch a muscle, make a dash into space or tumble to the turf, to find himself the target of the social media assassins who have turned the 29-year-old into their favourite whipping boy.

The keyboard cacophony from the Kruse baiters is curious in that the winger, of all the 23 players rubber stamped for Russia by Socceroos coach Bert van Marwijk, has survived - and now thrives - after being dealt a hand of adversity that would have prematurely ended the careers of individuals of lesser character and bloody-minded survival instinct.

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But the sneer leaders ignore the fact that Kruse has overcome two savage injury blows in a career which was destined for greater heights, but still exceeds most of his generation.



In 2014 it was a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament injury which forced him out for 10 months, just when he was about to break into Bayer Leverkusen’s UEFA Champions League starting team.

Just four months after his return, a serious ankle injury sustained during the AFC Asian Cup final sent him back to the surgeon’s table and cast doubts over his future before a miraculous return some five months later.

Kruse night not be operating at quite the altitude his pace and uncanny ability to get in behind defenses once promised. Who would, after the storms he’s weathered?

But seven goals in 29 starts for sixth-finishing 2. Bundesliga club Bochum this season speaks of a player still able to deliver in one of Europe’s tougher stages.

It must also be noted that van Marwijk, who coached Hamburg in the Bundesliga for a season and is all too familiar with the level needed to survive in German football, hasn't picked his World Cup squad on sentiment.



The fact 63-cap Kruse was one of the favoured sons of the Ange Postecoglou era is of no consequence to the Dutchman.

He took a good, hard look at Kruse - and what he can still offer - and decided, without pre-conception of prejudice, to give him the chance to make up for missing out four years ago.

If he thought he had a better option for the wide left position that Kruse occupies for his country, he’d have taken it without a moment’s hesitation.

While consistency still evades Kruse, his movement and boundless energy are enduring features of his game.

And he showed van Marwijk - and even his most ardent detractors - what he can accomplish with his clever control and cut-back to Mathew Leckie for Australia’s opener in last Friday’s 4-0 romp over the Czech Republic.

It would be a deliciously ironic if Kruse went on to turn Russia 2018 into a personal triumph.

Maybe then the snipers might finally be silenced.


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3 min read
Published 3 June 2018 at 9:53pm
By Dave Lewis