Thursday, December 06, 2007

Pim the man to pin our hopes on

SO, after all of that drama, it’s Pim Verbeek who will attempt to guide the Socceroos through to South Africa.

It’s certainly a victory for Rob Baan and Guus Hiddink, both of whom, it’s been reported, made no secret of their support for their compatriot.

Time will tell whether it’s also a victory for Australian football, but on the surface it at least appears a continuation of the Dutch theme that has been the FFA’s want of late.

For Phillipe Troussier, the much-traveled Frenchman and the other part of the two-horse race, I guess the writing was on the wall the moment the trio of FFA decision makers boarded the plane to Singapore to chat with Verbeek.

There’s no doubt Troussier has a solid CV, having guided the Blue Samurai to the World Cup in 2002 (admittedly without a qualification campaign) and the Bafana Bafana to the one before that.

But there was talk that he not only wanted to stamp his own mark on things, but that things had to be done his way or it was the highway. Word is he’d just left Morocco because he didn’t get the right support from its FA.

Patently this didn’t sit too well with the FFA and the talk that he wanted to bring in his own men would have thrown a spanner into the works given the likes of Graham Arnold and Tony Franken are contracted till 2010.

An expensive signing may have been made even more expensive if contracts had to be paid out.

Ultimately, it seems, the FFA went for the safer, more cost effective option, the one they knew most about, and the communication from the FFA was more measured than ringing;

“After very careful consideration and a rigorous recruitment process I am delighted that we have secured the services of a very experienced and respected national coach for the Qantas Socceroos,” said FFA Chairman Mr. Frank Lowy.

“Football fans can rest assured that the FFA has worked diligently to secure a coach with the qualities and enthusiasm that will give the Socceroos every chance of success.”

“Pim Verbeek has a vast range of experience he has gained over 25 years in coaching, including several stints in Asia, and we believe he is the right man for the job of leading the Socceroos to the 2010 FIFA World Cup.”

While Lowy initially wanted a big name, word is he eventually caved in to the fact we just couldn’t compete financially for the likes of Capello. The ultimate line was that he wanted someone with the relevant skills in Asia to get the job done, which brought the likes of Verbeek and Troussier into the frame.

So what to make of Verbeek as a manager?

I certainly can’t vouch for his work as an assistant to Hiddink or Advocaat at South Korea, but we can certainly judge him on his work at the Asian Cup this year, which was pretty good in the main.

Admittedly, South Korea didn’t play the most eye-catching football in the tournament, but, given the young squad at his disposal, they were very effective in making it to the semis, where they lost to the eventual champions in a penalty shoot-out.

Indeed, South Korea was probably the only team that really dished it up to Iraq, pressing them high (it is Verbeek’s modus operandi – dare I say, Pim likes to Pin teams back) and controlling the game in the middle of the park and out wide. Indeed, as I reported in my summary of that semi, Verbeek totally out-thought Jorvan Vieria on that night.

Had he had a bit of quality in the front third, someone like a Younis Mahmoud, the overall result of the Asian Cup might have been very different.

From a structural perspective, Verbeek used the Dutch 4-3-3 favoured by Hiddink, Baan and now Arnold. Always the emphasis was on an incredible fitness and workrate, solid defence and plenty of running, but often I sensed the sole striker was left isolated, despite the impressive attempts from Kin Jung-woo to link from midfield.

It was a largely cautious, results-based, agenda.

After scoring three and conceding three in the group stages, the knocks-outs saw Verbeek’s men draw all three games 0-0. That was after 120 minutes of football.

The conclusion to draw from that is that his football won’t always be easy on the eye, but it should be enough to get the job done, which is ultimately how this tricky campaign, our first in Asia, should be judged.

Who knows, with that little bit more quality in the front third that he has at his disposal, the shackles might even be released at some stage.

Whatever transpires, I think it’s fair to say we have a decent-fit manager, someone who is familiar with the recent goings-on in Asia, someone who looks to have an eye for detail, someone ready to hit the ground running.

There are questions marks, at least in my mind, about how Arnold will feel working alongside a manager that was at his same level only five months ago, but they can be address through level heads.

There are also some questions on how the odd ego within the Socceroos dressing room handles a non-big-name manager, and this could be Verbeek’s first and biggest hurdle.

But overall, it isn’t the worst appointment in the world. Let’s get the show on the road and start Piming teams back.

15 Comments:

Blogger Adam said...

You went nuts on the puns this time out TT

Thu. Dec. 06, 06:49:00 pm AEDT  
Blogger The Round Ball Analyst said...

sorry adam, been watching too much fox sports news :-)

Thu. Dec. 06, 08:39:00 pm AEDT  
Blogger Mike Salter said...

Great wrap Tony (a Pimitrating analysis, perhaps?). I think he's a good choice in many ways.

Thu. Dec. 06, 08:59:00 pm AEDT  
Blogger The Round Ball Analyst said...

Mike, nice play on words, but i'd expect nothing less from you :-)

Most of the analysis has been a little negative towards Pim, and I think that's a little unfair..Slater and Postecoglou were very negative, i thought, on Total Football, but you can probably put that down to going into bat for a mate - Arnold.

Simon Hill was a little more positive on FSN...

Like you, I see many positives. Truth be told, if i had to vote, i was leaning towards Phillipe, but i reckon it would take some time to bed-down his processes and ideas....

Pim, i sense, might be the more seamless option.

Thu. Dec. 06, 09:45:00 pm AEDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

cheers for the article and analysis

good to hear a balanced view rather than the crap usually out of fox sports

Fri. Dec. 07, 12:16:00 am AEDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Noticed Farina's take was pretty much the same as yours.

Sat. Dec. 08, 08:01:00 am AEDT  
Blogger john said...

Now we are Dutch - perhaps that nation will pin their hopes on us.

Sun. Dec. 09, 09:11:00 am AEDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good wrap, Tony.

Cheers.
Decentric

Sun. Dec. 09, 11:53:00 pm AEDT  
Blogger The Round Ball Analyst said...

Thanks all for the comments, kind words and interest...

John, you might just be right there, esp after Holland's horror draw for next year's euros.

Noticed also that Henk Duut (not sure how that's pronounced, Doot? lets call him That Henk Dude) has been hired as one of Pim's assistants, so the Dutch flavour continues

Tue. Dec. 11, 11:50:00 am AEDT  
Blogger pippinu said...

I was alerted to your blog by Jesse Fink's most recent post at TWG. Very impressive blog and some good observations on Pim - I'm sure to come back.

Wed. Dec. 12, 09:05:00 am AEDT  
Anonymous No more dick said...

Like the blog - first time reader. good insights into our man Pim. Not entirely sure why SBS have suddendly gone pro-Phillippe. Ok he has a better head coaching record than Pimmy but really, his Japan achievement was helped a bit by home town advantage. And he didn't really do that much with SA in France 98, nor Benin of late.
Pim is one of those well-trained coaches in the making. Maybe Socceroos will be his vehicle to greatness. After all he overachieved with Korea during Asia Cup

Wed. Dec. 12, 12:10:00 pm AEDT  
Anonymous sev said...

Nice analysis. Left me feeling more confident about Pim as well.

I've always thought Pim would work well with Baan, but was initally worried about how the koreans performed at the Asian Cup this year. However, after reading various articles about how bad things were for him (e.g., http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/sport/2007/12/05/talk_about_a_bad_korea_move.html ), and after reading your Asian Cup 2007 Semi-final review on the Koreans, I think he might do quite well.

Also, Fossie's opinion about Pim seems to get brighter each day. During the Liverpool v Marseille mini-analysis this morning, he commented on how he thought Pim was a good choice. I'd beginning to agree more and more.

Wed. Dec. 12, 08:55:00 pm AEDT  
Blogger The Round Ball Analyst said...

pippinu, no more dick and sev, thanks heaps for your interest and comments, and a special thanks to Jesse Fink for the mention on his HTO blog on TWG.

As I said in my piece, I can't profess to be an expert on Pim, and I know there was a few problems in his South Korea job, but I thought the Koreans improved with every game in the tournament, and their best was their last.

The team was very structured and he relied on a young back four and plenty of youth in midfield, and he wasn't afraid to freshen things up from game to game. In remember being shocked when he left Kim Jung-woo, the lanky no. 17, out of the starting 11 for the semi, but then his replacement Yeom Ki-hun had a blinder, and Pim was able to nulify the threat of Akram through Son Dae-ho.

At the back, he likes his full backs to get forward and double-up on the flanks - It's almost typically Dutch/Hiddink - all about controlling games.

A key - as many others have pointed out - will be in getting off to a good start against Qatar, and I liked Pim's comments about winning at home and drawing away - it was the receipt to the Olyroos success.

I think the thing with Troussier is that he wanted to re-invent the wheel, and take control of the technical direction of all the teams, and that, naturally, wouldnt sit well with Baan and/or Arnold and/or the FFA.

Fingers and everything else are crossed they are right.

Wed. Dec. 12, 10:12:00 pm AEDT  
Anonymous David V. said...

If we'd acted earlier we may well have had ourselves a far more proven international coach. Someone like Henri Michel, Leo Beenhakker, Claude LeRoy or Peter Schnittger who have proven track records with national teams.

Thu. Dec. 13, 06:14:00 pm AEDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nope, we probably would only have taken the dutch candidates.


To be honest i would have no problems with Troussier taking over the whole system

It would be to our benefit anyway, especially concerning our youth teams, honestly im not sure why Arnold's opinion really matters now

But i can see the conflict with Baan being a problem, and the dutch methodology.

In any case i actually was hoping Verbeek would look at our entire system....

I hope so

Sat. Dec. 22, 10:35:00 am AEDT  

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