Breaking up is hard to do. Well, for many it is. I had a boss who used to get his secretary to dispose of any woman who became too clingy. “Dispose of” sounds a bit harsh – all his secretary did was put them on the next flight out of whatever sun-drenched hedonist outpost he happened to be holidaying in.
Football Federation Australia CEO David Gallop didn’t ask his secretary to do the dirty work with erstwhile Socceroo coach Holger Osieck; he did it himself. After Australia suffered its second 6-0 loss in a month (Brazil then France), Gallop slipped in to the change-rooms and delivered the bad news. “It’s not me, it’s you,” he probably didn’t say.
The sacking did at least sate social media’s desire for blood. Uninspiring performances by the Green and Gold during World Cup qualifying had led to rumblings for an overhaul of the national team. Australia’s German coach had relied on a core of tried-and-tested internationals, with very few younger players making it onto the pitch.
Qualification for the World Cup finals was secured, although perhaps not in the most convincing fashion (a 1-0 win over Iraq in Sydney). Osieck had done what he had been paid to do, but there was a feeling that this wasn’t enough. And here’s the problem: Australia is still in love with another coach.
It’s true. Despite helping Australia achieve only its fourth appearance at the World Cup Finals, the country was thinking of a Dutchman. I’m not referring to dour coach Pim Verbeek (best known for reviving the short-sleeved shirt with tie combo) who oversaw the Socceroos’ 2010 World Cup campaign. No. It’s Guus.
We didn’t break up with Guus; Guus broke up with us. It still hurts, and the nation still pines for him.
So it was that when Osieck’s demise was announced, speculation of Hiddink’s return started almost immediately.
Returning to my old boss for a moment, his secretary also used to procure his girlfriends. How exactly I’m not quite sure – a high-priced escort agency perhaps. One way or another, though, his secretary would find women prepared to jet off to join him on a beach somewhere.
Sadly, this multi-talented secretary is not handling the search for Australia’s next coach. How we could do with her services now.
FFA Chairman Frank Lowy has said that the next Socceroo coach will most likely be an Australian. This would suggest that an A-League club will lose its coach to the national team – with the domestic season one game old – and that Guus isn’t in the frame.
Perhaps it’s for the best. Don’t reheat cold porridge, or whatever the saying is. We have to come to terms with the fact that Guus has gone, and that it’s not 2006 any more.
We can find happiness with a new coach. We are a strong, independent-ish nation and we don’t need Guus.
A new coach is one thing, so what about the players? Outspoken former Socceroos have called for certain players to retire from the national team. The leprosy of time has spared none of them – even the living legends – their achievements notwithstanding.
There is much conjecture as to the strength of Australia’s younger players. The Young Socceroos recently lost 5-1 to Vietnam in the AFC U19 Championships, sparking much wailing and gnashing of teeth from some pundits and shrugs of indifference from others.
If rejuvenation is out of the question, then should Australia invade a successful football nation (a small one, close by, with no army would be best) and annexe their best players?
For the time being, Aurelio Vidmar is the caretaker coach and oversaw the match against Canada – 53rd vs 106th in the world.
“We want to have a credible performance at the World Cup and win the Asian Cup,” said Frank Lowy this week. He may as well have added, “And we have to forget about Guus.”
Words by Ian Kerr. Photo by Tom Griffiths.