With the world’s eyes on Brazil for the eagerly anticipated World Cup draw I can’t help but think our eyes should be elsewhere.
Like a husband being distracted by the presence of an attractive blonde at the pub, we seem to have forgotten something very important; our wife is at home, and she’s not very happy.
The more interesting thing for me as a football fan, is to see what style the Ange Postecoglou Socceroos embrace heading into the World Cup.
The last two performances under the Osieck reign as Socceroos coach were the most embarrassing and heartless performances’ I have seen 11 Australians execute since the group auditions of X-Factor.
The score line is irrelevant; anyone who knows football knows the difference between a gutless 6-0 defeat and a team that was just out-classed and unlucky.
We were the former against France and Brazil.
Osieck never seemed to understand the Australian way and the sort of style our football is played.
He would often set up with 10 players behind the ball and a lone striker, sometimes Josh Kennedy; who isn’t a target mans shoelace.
There is no shame in admitting that you’re technically deficient when it comes to comparing yourself to the big boys and opposing that by playing to your strengths in order to compete.
But ‘Aussie Holger’s’ biggest flaw was that he set out not to win these games, but not to lose them by too much.
In doing this, he nullified what has been our biggest asset since gaining a sporting identity shaped by many great Australians in all different sports – the contest.
It was plain to see from the way the team was set up and their perceived attitude that they were conditioned to think; “if we concede less than 10 here, we have done well”, and by conceding six on both occasions they achieved what they set out to do.
Ultimately, Osieck was bundled out in straight sets but it gave us a chance to rebuild; not our style or our confidence, but rebuild a culture and mentality based around the fierceness of the contest.
Ange, despite being born in Greece, is Australian.
He understands the subtle hint of flair mixed with a game based around physicality, devotion, physicality, hard work, physicality, tenacity, physicality and…did I mention physicality?
In essence he understands how we need to play in order to give the teams of the world a scare.
Not the sort of scare to induce nightmares and bed wetting, but enough to make opposition teams fear playing the ‘uncomfortable’ Socceroos.
The recent game against Costa Rica was bitter sweet.
The result was good, the application was good, but the style was not.
The players seemed to respond to the occasion and unlike recent games, they actually looked like they wanted to win and looked determined to show Australia that they were worthy of the jersey.
But what needs to be understood by the public is that we cannot play that style in Brazil.
Playing to our strengths is our best chance of any sort of success in the World Cup.
If we go out there and try to play a possession based game with the worlds’ best, we may as well stay home because we will just embarrass ourselves in what could be described as Brazil/France Version 2.0.
We need to be compact, organised and brutal in defence, coupled with a clinical counter attacking menace.
There is no shame in absorbing attacks and looking to hit teams on the counter, it is an effective strategy employed by some of the best teams in the world; Chelsea won the champions league playing this way!
The most important ingredient in this style is pace.
We have four players in particular who can worry any side in the world for pace: Matthew Leckie, Nikita Rukavystya, Tommy Orr and Robbie Kruse.
Playing two of these men either side of Tim Cahill: and in front of the prodigiously talented Tom Rogic we pose a genuine counter attacking threat every time we win the ball.
The ability to absorb waves of attack and break into an offensive manoeuvre inside three passes must be the way we go about playing the worlds’ elite.
Mile Jedinak and Marco Bresciano can play in the middle, assuming the dual roles of holding midfielders and attack dogs, ferociously winning the ball back and playing forward at every opportunity.
Both men are proven midfielders with the tools needed to successfully play in this way.
And the last thing you need for this recipe to work is a back four who care not if their tackling foot hits ball or shin.
Not in a dirty or dishonest way, but in a hard edged way that Australian football was renowned for; there is a massive difference.
We need teams to know that if you want to play through us, you are going to be physically tested like no other team is capable of doing.
So does it really matter who we draw in the World Cup? No.
The most important thing for Ange is how he uses the resources at his disposal to the best of his ability and makes us competitive in the samba state.
So while the distraction of the pretty blonde is upon us, sure, we will look and ogle and think dirty thoughts, but ultimately it’s the wife at home that we need to be worrying about more than the blondes of the world.
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