Talk of Ange Postecoglou prematurely ending his Australia tenure because of criticism has been labelled “nonsense” by former Socceroos captain Craig Moore as doubts linger over his future as head coach with World Cup qualification on the line.
Australia remain in contention to qualify for their fourth successive World Cup as they prepare to face Honduras in an inter-confederation play-off after overcoming Syria over two legs, however, talk has centred on Postecoglou and whether he will still be at the helm if the Socceroos reach Russia 2018.
Question marks remain over Asian Cup-winning boss Postecoglou, who has refused to deny reports he will walk away following the two-legged tie against Honduras, regardless of the result in November.
The 52-year-old has been criticised for his approach and philosophy, while his team selection came into the spotlight after benching Huddersfield Town star Aaron Mooy for the return leg of the AFC play-off in Sydney, leading to speculation the ongoing scrutiny could be behind Postecoglou’s possible early exit.
However, 52-time international Moore – who was part of Postecoglou’s staff for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and the triumphant Asian Cup campaign the following year – is adamant critics will not force the former Melbourne Victory boss out the door.
— Caltex Socceroos (@Socceroos) October 15, 2017
“If anyone thinks Ange is potentially leaving his job earlier because of critique, than they obviously don’t understand the world of football,” Moore told Omnisport.
“Obviously something that hasn’t been mentioned in the media has happened behind the scenes. And not today, yesterday but over a period of time. There’s a huge part of the story missing.”
“I don’t see the personal gain as a country who are desperate to be involved in the World Cup, the media madness that is going on,” Moore said. “The end of a campaign, whether you qualify or not, you assess. If you don’t qualify, we ask where we went wrong and how can we improve. If you qualify, obviously you have an opportunity. There’s enough time to get prepped and ready for the big dance. When you get there, you can assess how you’ve done, what the gap is, if there’s a gap, with the bigger nations. It certainly doesn’t happen now. [But] that siege mentality might actually bring the squad closer. A bit of us versus them.”
Moore, who helped guide Australia to the World Cup for the first time since 1974 by reaching the 2006 showpiece, added: “I’m a big supporter of Ange and everything he’s done for the national team and Australian football in general.
“I’m looking more so in just being upbeat and positive about Australia qualifying for the World Cup. That is the most important thing. It’s a benefit for us all. It’s a benefit for me, you and the football people who continually try to improve the standards of our game, and increase the exposure of our team worldwide. That is the most important thing.
“Players will play for the manager they have at that particular time. I think what Ange has shown and delivered in the time in the job, he has brought a group together. He has given really good opportunities and exposures to some players. He’s had a team who have bought into what he wants to do.”
Sydney FC and A-League championship-winning head coach Graham Arnold, who oversaw a brief and unsuccessful period in charge of Australia following the 2006 World Cup, has already emerged as a frontrunner to replace Postecoglou.
But Moore – who has called for a unified and collective approach within Australia to push the sport forward – wants to know who is behind the future coaching appointment as he talked up the idea of employing an experienced foreigner to work alongside someone like Victory boss Kevin Muscat or Brisbane Roar’s John Aloisi at next year’s World Cup.
— Caltex Socceroos (@Socceroos) October 13, 2017
The 41-year-old former Rangers and Newcastle United defender – now working as Roar’s football operations manager – added: “You have all sorts of people saying it should be an Australian coach or a foreign coach. For me the question is, who is making the decision? Forget about coaches at the moment. Who, within Australian football, is making the decision? What is the process and who is involved? What is the plan behind that”
“Tony Popovic has just gone to Turkey. Domestically, out of the older generation, you have Graham Arnold. I don’t if he truly wants to be involved in the national team environment again, but I haven’t spoken to him so I don’t know. You have two younger managers who have shown that they’re more than capable in terms of natural progression with Kevin Muscat and John Aloisi. To go to a World Cup with Muscat or Aloisi, that’s something they wouldn’t have experience of. You would have many experienced managers that have worked at a World Cup that might not be in a role just now.
“It’s about having transition and forward planning and thinking. You might be able to bring someone who adds to that staff but is also there as a mentor for a local Australian coach. After this World Cup and I know we’re going into an Asian Cup cycle, the reality is we should be having a four to six-year plan. I think it’s an important question people need to ask and I haven’t heard it asked.”
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