Soccerphile columnist Marc Fox picks the bones out of Australia’s quarter-final exit from an Asian Cup debut blighted by over-ambition and arrogance.
For an exiled Englishman, the goings-on of the past couple of months have followed a painfully familiar recipe.
Step one: take a sprinkling of the highest earners from the Premiership off the back of another marathon season.
Step two: lavish with unadulterated praise.
Step three: prepare poorly.
Step four: bake in 30-degree heat until (well and truly) cooked.
The result: quarter-final elimination on spot-kicks. Sound familiar?
That the vogue in Australian football circles is to decry the incumbent English coaching style only adds salt to the wounds.
The contributing factors to the Socceroos’ early elimination are so numerous perhaps coach Graham Arnold will be a relieved man when the ruling body finally replaces him with a high-profile foreigner.
That might be as quickly as this month with all media speculation pointing towards Dick Advocaat, the former Holland and South Korea manager, taking charge at the end of his domestic contract in Russia.
“We have learned a lot in the last couple of weeks, Asia is very difficult,” Arnold predictably surmised after the shootout defeat to Japan over the weekend. “The expectations I put on the team were semi-finals minimum and so obviously it’s below expectations.”
However, as Arnold knows only too well, the results – including a 3-1 loss to Iraq during the group stage – were just one piece of the pie.
The finger has been pointed variously from the dearth of seriously competitive warm-up games to player ill-discipline, fitness and sheer willingness to graft in testing climatic conditions.
But put simply the expectations placed on last year’s World Cup Judi Online …