AUSTRALIA’S 3-1 loss to Chile in their opening Group B game the other night bore out pretty much everything our Aussie correspondents had to tell us about their team in the last few weeks. I asked TAW regular Andy Gargett for his take on things after the game.
Roy: Glorious failure is something a Scotsman recognises when he sees it Andy. How did last night go down with the Australians at home? Hard to swallow? Or portentious of green shoots for the future?
Andy: You have to respond positively to a performance like that. I actually thought we started OK for the first 5 minutes or so. We looked up for it… then collectively nerves kicked in and we were at sea. When its 2:0 down after 15 minutes against a superior side you fear you’ll get embarrassed, badly. To the players credit the opposite actually happened – Australia got back into the game and arguably deserved a point or more. We got back into the game via physicality. We started winning tackles and as we did the nerves subsided.
Cahill’s goal was case in point, Franjic won the ball aggressively then whipped a superb ball in and the human jumping machine did the rest.
Second half I thought we were the better side, playing an interesting brand of football. Postecoglou wants to Australia play footy, he wants us to use the ball, but the players in the current squad lack technical ability. We have power, pace, height and Tim Cahill as the avenue to goal – so it was a combination of trying to keep the ball then break hard and fast and get a ball into the box.
I think this is how Australia will translate the expansive style of football. High aggression and intensity, be able to keep the ball and play out from the back, but look to break at pace. I’m looking forward to seeing this side in 2-3 years where this can hopefully develop and the technical errors which let us down at times can be addressed.
The late third goal was cruel and ensured the result flattered Chile but that takes nothing away from the performance.
Roy: Yeah, the Beausejour goal was the result of your having to force it late on. I think you’re spot on, and again, I think the analogy between Ange Postecoglou and Rodgers holds true. From half way through his first season, Rodgers had both the tools and the gaps squad wise that led him to a more direct brand of football, but it’s a transition to a broader repertoire, isn’t it? I think the same transition will apply with yourselves, and will depend to some extent on the calibre of player you can rear into the setup. The first two Chilean goals were pretty tidy though – good examples of maybe the kind of football Ange wants to end up with, would you say? And how have the papers and media been with it all?
Andy: I think you are correct. The end game is very different to what we are doing now. We are getting so many crosses in because our best way to goal is Cahill.
The next generation is important for Australia. I subscribe to the view that we held onto our so-called “golden generation” (Kewell, Lucas, Cahill et al) for too long and that it hindered the progress of the next crop of players. Postecoglou, again like Rodgers, has the tools to get the most out of players.
The first two Chilean goals were very good, fluid and attacking football. Although, defensively for the 2nd Australia got bewitched by Sanchez and about 6 players were drawn to him after his brilliant turn. I think that is the sort of goal we’ll score but I doubt we’ll ever have the same technical ability so goals might involve slick football but still have more an element of power and athleticism than subtlety.
The media took it really well – very positive. The media, and the nation, loves an Australian team with a fighting spirit and that was on display in spades.
Roy: What about the in-game commentary? Craig Foster, your Lawro effectively, gets stuck into big Ange, doesn’t he?
Andy: Craig Foster… He’s many things but he’s not Lawrenson. 1) Lawro was a superb footballer and Craig was a plodder. 2) Lawro seemingly hates/tolerates footy. Foster on the other hand is passionate about it, you can accuse him of much, and I certainly do, but you can’t say he’s indifferent.
Foz and Ange have history, well publicised history. My view is that Foster was out of line. And Foz, despite being said plodder, thinks he’s the oracle of football knowledge in Australia. Anyway when Foster talks many, like me, switch off. He moralises styles of football (if its not “pure football” something is wrong with it). The reality is there are many ways to win and many “legitimate” styles of football, as long as your style isn’t “the Hodge”. On this, my dislike of Foster stems from his negative Rafa agenda when he was in charge of Liverpool. Sure it wasn’t always pretty but it was effective, Foz. Djimi won a European Cup.
Back to the game, I tend try tune out when Foster commentates. As above he divides views, those who like his passion like him, those like me well… Having said that, from the bit I did listen to him, I thought he was actually quite fair to Australia and Ange and recognised the effort, fight and performance.
Roy: It’s a weird one – on that showing, you have a purist manager with a nice hint of honest-to-goodness pragmatism about him. I’ve really warmed to him. Do you think the Aussie public like him as much as I do? And do you think he’ll make any changes ahead of the next one?
Andy: Postecoglou is highly thought of in Australia. His achievements in the A-League have ensured he’s widely seen a Australia’s best homegrown manager. He has a good combination of intelligence, girt and as you say pragmatism, all of which should mean the Aussie public will get right behind him.
Re changes – obviously Franjic is in doubt going off injured. Otherwise I’d expect the same side.
Roy: Any predictions?
Andy: I’m hoping the Dutch get caught up in their victory & approach the game lightly. Reality is you can’t expect anything but a Dutch victory.
Thanks again to Andy – he’s a great follow on twitter – you’ll find him here: @agargett. And here’s to his nation’s continued progress on this journey – it’s gonna be a rollercoaster ride of the kind Liverpool fans have gotten used to this last year or so.