When Frank Farina was coach of the Socceroos they were very different times. There was not the money or the support mechanisms in place that Ange Postecoglou now has. It is fair to say that the game has moved on, and become more professional. It needed to, and to be fair to Farina he tried to drag it forward, but there just was not the money made available; it was however found the minute he was replaced by Guus Hiddink!
When Farina was the national coach he announced that he would not pick a player who was not playing regularly for his club side. This comment some took to mean that players would not be selected on reputation. However Farina may well have had that in the back of his mind, but he wanted players who were match fit. He knew how tough international football was, and a step up from club football, so needed players with games in their legs.
Yesterday Ange Postecoglou announced his squad for the World Cup qualifying game in Perth on September 3rd against Bangladesh. The game is played in an official FIFA week where those selected by their national teams can be released by their clubs and will not miss any fixtures. This is good news for players such as Mat Ryan who has only just moved to new club Valencia and is currently first choice in goal.
However it is not such good news for players like reserve goalkeeper Alex Cisak, who is yet to play for Australia. The 26 year old is a regular in goal at Leyton Orient and only just signed for them in July after a period on loan from Burnley. As Leyton Orient’s fixtures will still be played as Division Two does not stop in a FIFA week.
Massimo Luongo, Jason Davidson, and Bailey Wright at QPR, Huddersfield Town and Preston North End all play in the English Championship and like the Premier League their fixtures are suspended during a sanctioned International week.
One player who has been named in the squad who will be looking forward to a game is Tommy Oar. His selection was a major surprise and one feels that maybe he has been selected purely on reputation. The issue being that Oar does not have a club at the moment, so has not been playing regularly, in fact has not been playing at all.
Just two days ago he told The World Game: “The situation is not ideal … there’s no point in hiding the fact but I am doing everything I can to stay as fit as possible.” Oar made 102 appearances for Utrecht, but was frozen out in the latter part of their 2014/15 campaign after informing the club he wanted to leave. He is currently trying to find a club in England that will sign him. Yet with no club signing him up should he have been selected for Australia?
How would other players who are currently playing feel about being overlooked for a player without a club?
Oar has said that he may have to return to Asia, the Middle East or the A-League. With his selection for the Socceroos one feels the FFA or the coach are trying to help out a player the coach rates highly. This international match will put him in the shop window, and may help him find a club. It will be interesting to see if he is in the starting eleven. The big question is should the national team be used to help players find a club?
Fellow international Chris Herd who was ruled out of the Asia Cup due to an Achilles injury is also without a club at the moment having parted ways with Aston Villa, where for a while he was a first team regular. If the FFA are indeed trying to help Oar, why have they not done the same for Herd?
A few days ago the same could have been said for Brad Jones who parted ways with Liverpool and was looking for a club, but he signed for Bradford City for one year.
Ultimately it is a coach’s prerogative who he selects, but one does feel that the pool from which he picks his squad should actually be contracted to professional clubs.