Osieck the Scapegoat

October 12, 2013 at 12:01 pm 3 comments

The inevitable has happened today with the FFA terminating Socceroos coach Holger Osieck’s contract. The amiable German was under increasing pressure from the minute he qualified for next year’s World Cup finals. Having achieved what many saw as a very difficult task, with an ageing squad and a lack of players coming through, there was always going to be others looking to step in and lead Australia at the World Cup Finals.

One cannot help feeling Osieck was almost ‘set up.’ As discussed on “Not the Footy Show” with Socceroos’ captain Lucas Neill, who arranges a fixture with World Cup hosts Brazil, on the back of their Confederations Cup victory over world champions Spain, when their confidence is sky high in their own back yard, when most of the Australian squad are just commencing pre-season training? Agreeing to this fixture was foolhardy in the extreme, and to most the 6-0 humiliation came as no surprise. Last night’s 6-0 loss to France showed that the Socceroos have slipped a long way in terms of talent, skill and application.

More worrying however were the performances at the East Asia Cup, prior to the Brazil game, where Australia failed to win a game. On this occasion Osieck was forced to rely on predominantly all A-League players to take on Japan, South Korea and China, as European based players did not have to be released by their clubs for international duty. Osieck also suffered from having Josh Kennedy not being released from his Japanese club, even though Japan were competing at the same tournament. As a non FIFA tournament no club was compelled to release players.

At the East Asia Cup Australia’s lack of player development was clear for all to see and without the outstanding Eugene Galekovic in goal Australia’s humiliation could have been greater. So where was Osieck to turn for players? In fact where will his successor turn?

It is somewhat ironic that when announcing the termination of Osieck’s contract FFA CEO David Gallop announced that “our new Head of National Performance Luke Casserly and the National Technical Director Han Berger the task of conducting a review of our World Cup planning.” Berger is the man who has been responsible for developing the next generation of players in Australia since 2009. He is also the man who has brought in a curriculum on player development that has failed in his own country, and one that many outside of Australia believe will actually set the game back, rather than carry it forward.

The AIS program which for so long was a conveyor belt of talent in Australia has dried up, partly due to the lower of the admission age ( Nine months to give birth to a new generation). Unless this pinnacle of development is reviewed and people acknowledge its failures, it could be a while before Australia graces the World Cup Finals again. Which in time will make people acknowledge Osciek’s achievement.

There have been certain factions in the media who have been pushing for key Australian coaches to replace Holger Osieck as we alluded to back in April. (Two P’s for Top Job) Tony Popovic is already in the employ of the FFA at Western Sydney Wanderers, Ange Postecoglou is rebuilding Melbourne Victory, but a new contender is in the mix with Graham Arnold winning the A League Championship last year. Arnold has learned a great deal from working with Guus Hiddink and Pim Verbeek and would be far better prepared the second time around to take the top job than he was the first. The question is though would the FFA listen to his demands this time as they have done with the top international coaches they have employed. Arnold would no doubt want those guarantees.

Would Popovic or Postecoglou want to lead this group of players into the World Cup? There is no doubt that it would be a huge honour, but could it also be career suicide? This current group of players will always be battling at the world cup and a poor performance could end up damaging two coaching careers which are so far looking promising. Then again once you have held a national coaching position on your resume, it does put you in a different coaching bracket.

There are many who believe that Chairman of the FFA, Frank Lowy will once again turn to Guus Hiddink to return to the job and hopefully perform another miracle. If that is the option, one thing is for sure it will not be a cheap option. One has to ask is it one worth taking when the development of players needs investment to ensure Australia qualifies for future World Cups? Would Hiddink take the position anyway? At the moment his place in Australian football history is assured and unparalleled, would he want to see that tarnished with possible failure with an ageing, squad lacking in depth of talent? Maybe he will see it as a challenge, maybe in eight months he will give players overlooked by Osieck a chance and a new breed of Socceroo will step up and be counted. Time will tell if this is the case. However Hiddink is a shrewd man and rest assured if he does take over he will want guarantees from the FFA and not just in monetary terms.

David Gallop also stated that reason for Osciek’s axing was that the “FFA has set a strategic objective of having a highly competitive team in Brazil and then handing over a team capable of winning the Asian Cup on home soil in January 2015.” The Asia Cup is 14 months away, if that strategy is in place, there has been very little evidence of it so far. The East Asia Cup was a good tournament to see where Australia’s second string players sat in terms of talent and stepping up and competing for the Asia Cup. The results were scary. If the goal set for the next Socceroo’s coach is to find a team that can win the Asia Cup in just over a year, he is going t have to hit the ground running and have an excellent scouting network around the globe to unearth new talent that has thus far been overlooked by the national selectors, or they too could find themselves out of a job in fifteen months.

They say you have never been a coach until you have been sacked. Osieck may never get the credit he deserves for steering Australia to a third consecutive World Cup Finals, but his achievement was one of which he can be proud. We thank him for what he achieved and wish him well in the future. Time will tell whether the FFA were right to terminate his contract at this point in time. We will all now have to wait and see.


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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. All white  |  October 12, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    Thank you Holger! What you achieved with the squad you had was close to a miracle. On top of that you had the pressure of the Australian public and sections of the non football savvy media (Some at Fox included!) believeing that It is Australia’s right to qualify for the World Cup.

    You were hung out to dry by people in the media pushing biased agendas, Fox again!

    Well said Ashley this curriculum will set the game in Australia back ten years as will the NPL. This is not the way to go! I heard Ron Smith on your show a week ago and he was on the money, State Leagues are not for development. He too stated how the lowering of teh AIS age has damaged the game. This man has the results in terms of development why is no one listening?

    If Hiddink comes back that will cost Australia about $2million, is it worth it when we know this group of players is unlikely to get out of their group? Let us start planning for four years time not just one year ahead!

  • 2. Paul  |  October 12, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    Good article again Ash and my sentiments exactly

  • 3. Super sub  |  October 12, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    Great piece, and having watched the Mariners v Wanderers and Heart v Victory no surprises to hear Harper and co pushing for local coaches, especially Postecoglou.

    Anyone with a brain would not take on the role while the development of young players is so poor. The Dutch system is failing miserably, the NPL will kill the game.

    Experts on fox have said the new coach should look at taking Kewell, Kisnorbo or the likes of Triosi to the world cup! Whoever is in charge of football at Fox get a grip. Your experts are idiots! The A-League is not of a high enough standard for our world cup players. The only reason these guys have come back is they cannot get the same money or a game overseas! Do you think we fans are that stupid? Fuming that you think we would think otherwise, you insult us!

    Its only round one and Fox commentary is doing my head in! So one-eyed biased, agenda-based and downright stupid!

    (Expletives removed by NTFS – please try not to swear in your comments)


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