Why Pim Verbeek is wrong for the Socceroos

Pim Verbeek assumes the mantle of the Socceroos coach in the wake of the disastrous Graham Arnold tenure which led them to crash out of the Asian Cup with reasons ranging from the dreadful heat to defensive meltdowns. Unlike the Australian cricket team, Harbhajan Singh thankfully, was not involved in this debacle and no team had to threaten to charter a flight out of Thailand.
Verbeek does the Socceroos no favours. He is not an improvement over the Arnold system. There are two very important reasons why a Verbeek management would be wrong as presently laid out.
Any manager who owes blind allegiance to a system without looking at what the players do in it should be hanged, drawn, and quartered. Yes, it might be an accurate characterization that the European leagues have a standard of training that the A-League can only dream of but it is equally fallacious to say that the players become better by simple association. So Josh Kennedy and Michael Beauchamp answer Verbeek’s call even as they struggle to play any significant minutes for their German club teams because in Verbeek’s eyes they are part of a superior system.
Second, Verbeek’s boldface assumption is the A- League is an inferior recruiting ground. This is a major slap across the face because it assumes that domestic leagues other than European ones have very little part to play in player development. The A League saw the exploits of Nick Carle and David Carney attracting the attention of the European leagues before moving on. They are presently the hottest prospects for the Socceroos.
Verbeek implicitly suggests that the A- League is less worthy than the J-League which became the primary driver for the Japanese national team under Ivica Osim. His template for success was to draw down the European based veterans and highlight the J- League through its youthful contribution. It worked well for the 2007 Asian Cup before the Iraqis stole it through a combination of pre-ordination and good soccer. But Japan was a recharged team relying less on Celtics Nakamura and Eintracht’s Inamoto, and more on Yuki Abe, who led the Urawa Reds to the FIFA CWC, and is widely seen as Japan’s future point man.
In fact, his success with the Korean national team in the 2007 Asian Cup relying on a group of domestic players further underscores his contempt for the A- League.
Verbeek’s willingness to gamble fatigue and jet lag in his European imports even with A-League players at his disposal to play Qatar is yet another indicator of his singular rejection of the A-League. It would make Hiddink blush to find that players like John Aloisi, Craig Moore, Ante Covic, and Archie Thompson who found a place in the World Cup team are being declared persona non grata simply because they returned to the A-League. This comes when David Moyes makes the usual noise releasing Tim Cahill to play for his national team.
Verbeek is little more than a band aid in the changing face of Asian soccer and his brand of soccer is very short sighted. It has gotten a lot more competitive than the time of the 2006 qualifications and the first aim of a good manager should be to get through Asia. To do that one has to understand the failures of the Asian Cup. It was the European veterans with over inflated expectations and their aging legs that failed the Socceroos. I am not sure if Verbeek understands this but as a veteran journeyman with apparently little time to turn things around, he apparently believes this is the best way to go about it. Deja vu all over again.

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