Van Marwijk has more belief in Luongo than Postecoglou, says star's mentor

Massimo Luongo’s mentor has hailed Bert van Marwijk as the right coach to fully exploit the abundant gifts of the Socceroos midfielder.

Massimo Luongo

Massimo Luongo, centre, in action for the Socceroos against Colombia Source: AAP

Unsurprised by Luongo's man-of-the-match majesty in Wednesday’s (AEDT) goalless draw against world number 13 Colombia in London, ex-Tottenham and Queens Park Rangers scout and technical analyst, David Magrone believes the Hoops' linchpin was too often played out of position by van Marwijk’s predecessor Ange Postecoglou.

Or, worse still, parked on the bench when he could have been "bossing the midfield in a box-to-box role".

The 25-year-old, in the absence of the injured Aaron Mooy, not only started against Colombia for his 34th cap, but starred in what Magrone said is his natural position as a free-ranging number eight.


Magrone, who discovered Luongo as a teenager in Sydney and paved a path for him into Tottenham's youth academy, said he should be the "first player named on the Socceroos team sheet".

He also believes he is poised to reprise his 2015 AFC Asian Cup most valuable player form, under a coach "who understands how, and where, to deploy him to best effect".

"Mass was pretty much running the show for Australia against Colombia and was tactically on top of everybody," Magrone said.

"Under Ange, he never had that backing because he preferred Aaron Mooy and Tom Rogic, and you'd often see him with the shackles on as a number six, and that's on the occasions when he did get to start.

"Bert van Marwijk played him as an eight, with Mile Jedinak behind him, so he could get forward without worrying too much about cover, should brings break down.

"It's good to see Mass finally getting used in the right way for Australia.

"I think the indications are we'll see more of that at the World Cup. That's when you see him come into his own.

"Postecoglou liked Mooy and Rogic better, and in many of crucial qualifiers he simply ignored Mass altogether.

"How do you go from Asian player of the tournament, an outstanding playing in the pocket, to not playing much at all?

"Mass certainly didn't get worse, he's only been getting better. I never got that. For me, Ange never used Mass properly, apart from at the Asian Cup.

"I don’t think Ange got to see anything much of Mass, other than what he saw in the games, because his training sessions didn't ask enough of his players.

"That’s definitely not the case with van Marwijk."

Magrone, who was Spurs' chief European scout, under Andres Villas-Boas and then Tim Sherwood, moved to Loftus Road as head scout where he was reunited with Luongo.

"With Mass, you've got let him run around, tackle, build from the back, and get him in and around the box," he said.

"Sometimes it takes people a long time to realise what they've got when dealing with Mass.

"It's taken QPR a while to realise ‘look we have to build our team around this guy’.

"At the start, he was in and out and playing in the wrong positions."

Goals have been the elusive ingredient for Luongo, until recent weeks with three in his last five games for QPR.

There could have been many more, with Magrone saying: "He's not doing anything differently.

"At the start of the season he was hitting the post, and keepers were getting fingers to them. He could easily be in double figures, but it hasn't clicked until recently.

"Against Colombia he created Australia's best chance for himself and then had another from distance.

"But if you keep playing him the way van Marwijk did then more chances will come,"

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4 min read
Published 29 March 2018 at 1:31pm
By Dave Lewis