HE'S BEEN in the job for just over a week and in the country for only a couple of days, but already there is a fair-bit to mull over when it comes to the Socceroos and their new manager Pim Verbeek.
Of course, much of that attention has centred around his first Australian press conference on Thursday and his first TV interview on Fox's Total Football
later that night, where he spoke at length to host Andy Harper and his studio guests Robbie Slater and Simon Hill.
While his body language was a little defensive early after both Slater and Hill declared their first choice would have been Troussier, overall it was a very enlightening and honest take from the Dutchman.
He admitted to knowing very little about the local league (a bit of a concern), to being undecided about whether to draft in the Europeans, to having already spoken with most of the European based players, to his admiration for Mark Viduka and Harry Kewell and the need to use them wisely throughout the campaign, about his respect for the opposition and his confidence that we would qualify for South Africa.
Overall it was a very insightful interview and answered a number of questions. But it also highlighted how little time Verbeek has to get his selection right for the first qualifier in less than two months.
No doubt his first challenges is to decide whether he relies on the A-League players alone for the first two qualifiers (at home to Qatar on February 6 and away to China on March 26) or blends in a mixture of European based players, whether they be the EPL and Serie A cream or the players from the second tier, the likes of Nick Carle, David Carney, Mile Sterjovski, Carl Valeri, Michael Beauchamp and Luke Wilkshire.
Verbeek has already admitted to being on the phone with "most of the European players" and believes that, apart from Mark Viduka, who is still "struggling after the Asian Cup" and "under a bit of pressure at a big club", they have all indicated their commitment to the campaign.
Of course, Verbeek has also admitted to knowing nothing about the local competition, so right how he's on a steep learning curve to find out whether the local lads can cut it.
If he's not convinced by what he hears and sees over the next month of so and in a muted A-League training camp in January (there is also talk of a possible friendly), then he will be left with no choice but to draft in some of the European names.
Yet the football calendar doesn't exactly come to the rescue. Verbeek has openly admitted that if a player plays on the Sunday in Europe, we mightn't expect to see him here until Wednesday, the morning of the Qatar game; too late.
So naturally, with an eye on the European fixture list, we are looking for players who either have the weekend before February 6 off or are otherwise scheduled for Friday night or Saturday afternoon fixture, which might give them enough time to make it to Melbourne by Monday at the latest.
The good news, for starters, is that there a no scheduled Turkish Super League fixtures that weekend, which might bring the likes of Carle and Sterjovski into the frame. The former, especially, could be very important, as we don't appear to have a player of his ilk (an advanced midfielder who can keep the ball, dictate the tempo and link with the attack) on the local scene.
Elsewhere, in Holland, Luke Wilkshire's Twente Enschede are scheduled for a Friday night away trip to NEC Nijmegen, meaning he could be in Melbourne in time. Whether he's needed in the centre of midfield is another thing. Here, Verbeek should keep his eyes the likes of Stuart Musalik, Matt McKay, and if they recover from form and injury respectively, the more experienced Kevin Muscat and Simon Colosimo.
Another central midfield option, Jason Culina, plays on Saturday for PSV.
Considering all Serie A games at this stage are scheduled for the Sunday, tieing up Grella, perhaps there might be another opportunity for Mini Vinnie, Valeri, who is due to play for Grosseto on Saturday.
Certainly, Verbeek has to make the decision on whether Musalik, such an accomplished performer for club and country over the past 18 months, is ready to dictate the tempo of the senior side from his quarter-back role.
Another big decision is who he has been the sticks. Local options include Danny Vukovic, who was caught out by Paul Agostino last night, Ante Covic, Michael Theoklitos and Clint Bolton, who appears to have some confidence back after a disappointing 12 months or so.
At the back, in the middle, there are less headaches, at least in my mind. A central axis of Craig Moore on the right and Mark Milligan on the left would be brilliant, Moore's experience complimented by Milligan's pace and level head.
Failing that, perhaps Adrian Leijer, such an impressive partner alongside Milligan in the Olyroo campaign, might be released by Fulham. Hopefully for him though he's a first team fixture by the time they take on Mark Schwarzer's Middlesbrough on Sunday February 3, which would count him out.
Elsewhere, Michael Beauchamp's Nurnberg play on Saturday, so it will be interesting to see where he and Josh Kennedy are at come February. Certainly, in the central defensive area, Jade North's form this season brings him into the frame as a back-up, while other versatile local options are Muscat and Nikolai Topor-Stanley, who might yet have aspirations to be the left back, given his decent work there for the Olyroos.
One of the more interesting observations from Verbeek on Thursday was his emphasis on having "attacking fullbacks, especially at home". It is very much a Dutch method and one Verbeek used for South Korea in the Asian Cup, where the left back, especially, added to their forward thrust.
Topor-Stanley and Ruben Zadkovich were certainly "attacking fullbacks" in the Olyroo campaign, while Trent McClenahan impressed when given the chance, but question marks remain about whether they are ready to step-up to the senior side.
Elsewhere, locally, because he can't have Cassio, his eyes might be fixed on Dean Hefferan, who defended well in the first half last night and then sprung to life as an attacking force in the second. Inexperienced at international level, he is worth looking at at some stage.
Pim needs to decide if that is in the cut and thrust of a world qualifier. As he said on TF; "It's not just the quality [of the A-League players] but it's also the pressure on their shoulders because they all know it's and important game [the first against Qatar]. It's not just a friendly against Argentina or Nigeria, it's qualification for the world cup."
One left sided option that has consistently stepped up to the plate of late is David Carney. At this stage though Sheffield Utd are scheduled for a Saturday February 2 game.
On the right there are also some interesting scenario's. Zadkovich and McClenahan did well for the Olyroos, and North has played there before, but seems to be more comfortable centrally these days. Reason for that is he is a more solid defender than an attacking one.
Elsewhere in the A-League, nobody really stands out at right back.
Brett Emerton made some very positive noises in this recent interview
with The World Game's
David Lewis, but the fact Blackburn have a Saturday date with Tim Cahill's Everton, might mean he misses at least the first qualifier.
But it seems he'll make himself available for the matchdays 3 to 6 mini-tournament in June, his fifth straight 'off-season' commitment to the national cause. Bravo Brett.
Seemingly a man of detail, Verbeek spoke about balance in his TF interview. If the attack-mind Carney is able to make it back on the left, perhaps the steady North is the safest option on the right. Zadkovich is certainly in the mix, but he did his chances of impressing the manager no good with his reckless lunge last week which means he misses tonight's chance to impress.
Up front, Verbeek will certainly have been impressed with John Aloisi and Sasho Petrovski last night. Both were everywhere, presenting, finishing, linking and throwing themselves about. Agostino is more a rugged option, but continues to find the net and might be value off the bench against Qatar, not a physical side when you compare them to China and Iraq.
Certainly, if Kennedy isn't available, Agostino might play a similar role to the one Kennedy did against Japan in Kaiserslautern. Another physical all-action man is Bruce Djite, who would certainly have been higher up the pecking order had injury not intervened a couple of months ago. He still has time, especially if he can rekindle his form from earlier in the season
As he showed Verbeek last night, Petrovski offers another option, subtlety and composure in and around the box.
But if Aloisi is fit, he will most certainly start, but I've always seen Aloisi at his best when he has someone sharing the load up front. In Verbeek's 4-3-3, he will need to get seamless service and support from his 'wide' men and the attacking central midfield.
One of those men around him could be Archie Thompson, who will need to transfer his good A-League form to the national side. If Scott McDonald is available and banging in the goals, he would be hard to ignore. His confidence, right now, must be sky-high.
Of the other local options, Joel Griffiths continues to make strides and would certainly be a viable wide option, while Alex Brosque has finally made a breakthrough this season. While his goal-getting ratio has improved, I've been even more impressed with his ability to compete physically in such a combative league. Once a light-weight, he now rarely gets bundled off the ball, and his pace is good.
Elsewhere, the likes of Travis Dodd and Lucas Pantelis at Adelaide have gone off the boil of late, while Nathan Burns has been burnt by a heavy schedule. Kristian Sarkies and Mark Bridge are talented but still developing consistency.
Certainly, watching Verbeek find the right combination up front and all over the pitch will make fascinating viewing. Time mightn't be on his side, but he has options, and the more the likes of Aloisi and Petrovski perform as they did last night, the less inclined Verbeek will be to look in Europe.