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No surprises

The squad picked by Pim Verbeek for our friendly against Holland in Eindhoven and our crucial opening qualifier against Uzbekistan is a case of no surprises – in more ways than one.Several of those picked on rather dubious reputation are there again, including Mark Milligan, who is still yet to find a club and whose performances in China did little to inspire confidence. And what on earth is the point of including the desperately mediocre Jacob Burns when we have three sufficiently dour midfield grafters already in Grella, Valeri and Culina?

Brad Jones and Michael Petkovic, both of whom have given plenty of evidence that they are not really of international standard, get the customary call-up. Not that the reserve goalkeeping positions are of critical importance, given that Mark Schwarzer is still almost certain to start.

On the plus side, it’s good to see Scott Chipperfield back, and pleasing to note that Richard Garcia seems to have forced his way into the 2010 reckoning at long last.

But, again, was there really no room for Nicky Carle?

I would be the first to argue that some of the calls for Carle’s inclusion in the past might have been premature. However, Verbeek’s continued refusal to make him part of his plans just defies logic. He is still the only Australian player other than Harry Kewell capable of producing genuine surprises, and is the perfect man to introduce when the team is creaking and in need of a spark.

Likewise, Nathan Burns, a player with the potential to provide the sort of invention the Socceroos have sadly missed in late years, has been left out, although his erstwhile club colleague Bruce Djite makes the cut…despite his poor performance against China in June.

It’s hard to escape the conclusion that Verbeek has something of an aversion to unpredictable players. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing when it comes to selecting one’s starting eleven, but there must be a place for such players when things aren’t quite going according to plan.

Verbeek has had a pretty easy time from media and fans thus far; even his lethargic approach in Kunming in March was hailed as a tactical masterclass, which it emphatically wasn’t. The match in Tashkent will be a tough test indeed, and if Australia find themselves searching for new ideas in the final half-hour and having no-one to turn to, we’ll know who to blame.

Written by
Real Football

Published on August 27, 2008

See What Others Say
  1. Yani on August 28th, 2008 10:03 AM

    I have to agree with everything….. I hope Garcia gets a run for the socceroos, but I highly doubt Pim will play him.

  2. David on August 28th, 2008 11:24 PM

    Regarding Culina, I remember watching a TWG segment in early 2005 when he was being interviewed during his time with FC Twente, containing footage of him playing. And I’ll tell you this, judging from the highlights he was playing like an out-and-out attacking midfielder, scoring goals such as surpassing three defenders before unleashing a shot from 30 metres, another lobbing the goalkeeper near the halfway line. He had unbelievable invention, like he was Australia’s answer to Alvaro Recoba.

    Nowadays he just sits there deep in midfield helping Grella or Valeri. Ever since Guus Hiddink signed him to PSV, he is now converted into a “dour midfield grater”. Yes I may have seen only highlights, but that sort of quality I just described doesn’t suddenly disappear. What happened to this guy?

  3. clayton on August 29th, 2008 1:38 PM

    so many of our favourite aussie stereotypes are more myth than reality …

    the outback (we all live in the city)

    the bronzed aussie adonis/adonisia (we are as overweight as most other western countries)

    the laid back larrikin (isn`t he too busy pulling as much overtime as he can to – get that promotion/ stave off the sack/ pay off the mortgage/ send the kids to private school?)

    don`t worry, i am gonna get to footy eventually

    the have a go, fearless aussie (the aussie olympic finals campaign, the game in china, two defensive midfielders … you can smell the fear)

    and of course, the quirky, authority deriding aussie larrikin (none of that fancy stuff in this national team thank you very much! you there, that guy dribbling in the corner, out!)

    verbeek was given a job to do, and he is setting about doing it, his way. fair enough. but i can`t shake the feeling i may be cheering for another country at the WC finals, whether australia is there or not.

    but hey, its a free country, fans are free to obsess about results or daydream about footballing magic … whatever works for you.

    was the title “no surprises” a nod to the radiohead song of the same name? i find that song very fitting when i think about the way the NT is heading.

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