Nearly ten years ago following a successful period as coach of South Melbourne in the NSL Ange Postecoglou was touted as a candidate to be the first Australian coach of the Socceroos. He withdrew from the race, as at the age of 34 he felt he was too young and inexperienced. It came down to a decision between, Dave Mitchell, Frank Farina and Eddie Krncevic, one that fell Farina’s way.
While Farina was at the national helm, Postecoglou worked with the Under 20 team from 2000-2007, and during that time certain sections of the media lambasted him when the team failed to succeed. As is shown now this was a period where Australia’s player development was probably at an all time low as is reflected by the current emerging Socceroos, and Australia having the least number of players in the EPL for ten years.
At the start of the Hyundai A League, Postecoglou, Mitchell and Krncevic who had all been in the frame for the top job in Australian football were overlooked for coaching positions in the new national league. Farina was still coach of the Socceroos at this time.
All bar Krncevic have now had a crack in the A league and it looks as if Postecoglou has lost none of his ability to coach successful teams at national league level. Brisbane Roar showing that they have been coached technique as well as formation and they now play a certain brand of football. Only a few coaches in the A League have stamped their mark with a brand of football synonymous with their team, Pierre Litbarski and Ernie Merrick being two others.
What is a major concern is where are the other Australian coaches coming through? If we are to be having an Australian as national coach in the next ten years, possibly even when we host the 2022 World Cup, where is that person going to come from?
Six of the eleven coaches at the start of this A league season were Australian. Graham Arnold has had a go at national level, Dave Mitchell has moved upstairs, Bleiberg is likely to be the Brian Clough of Australian football upsetting the powers that be; Leaving Culina, Merrick and Postecoglou.
Postecoglou would have to be the favourite, and by 2022 would have the maturity in a football sense he felt he was lacking last time around.
There has been plenty written by players returning from overseas stating that they should be given a chance, but is Australia going to benefit from a Kalacs or Moore coaching in Australia? Surely we would be better off with them staying and coaching in Europe and then bringing that experience back to Australia?
Some fans are begging for more foreign coaches to come into the A League, but is the cost of these coaches worth it? Most of these coaches are demanding twice what their Australian counterparts are earning, and in some cases more than double. Are they helping carry the game forward?
Sure we may have up and coming coaches as assistants, but surely when we appointed Han Berger as technical director we should also have requested the placement of up and coming coaches in the Dutch system, so that we can advance this level of the game.
The FFA have insisted that both the first team coach and the assistant must have an A licence in the A League. Which makes sense as it reduces the number of wannabe coaches applying for A league positions. But it is also hampering some of those wannabe coaches who may be just what we need in the A league.
In Western Australia, there is no A Licence coach in the State League set up, so even if the Glory wanted to give a local man a chance assisting Ian Ferguson, they can’t. But what is the incentive to a state league coach to go and get his A Licence? The cost is between $3500- $5000 dependent on whether he lives on campus for the course. That is a great deal of money, and you can add another $1000 for the air fare, can he justify such a cost to his wife and family on the possibility that he may get the chance to coach at the top level?
This really needs to be looked at. Maybe the FFA could subsidise a course each year for the coach of the year from each state? It would give the coaches an added incentive and would reward them in a way that will mean far more than a trophy; at the same time it is giving us a chance to improve the standards of local football.