Friday, July 04, 2008

The heat’s on ahead of the Games

A look at Arnold’s Beijing 18

APPARENTLY Djite and Burns can’t handle the heat. Now it’s firmly on Graham Arnold.

Their omission, and that of James Holland, are undoubtedly the most contentious of Arnold’s Beijing selections, but there are numerous others.

Before delving into them, a quick reflection on the Djite/Burns saga, which has got everyone talking.

For starters, I find it hard to totally concur with Arnold’s “conditioning” reasons. There has to be more to it.

Other than for stylistic reasons (ie. the way we plan to play – more on that later), the only logical thing I can think is that it’s a strategic thing from the FFA.

Surely it’s not a vendetta? If Burns and Djite had been advised not to sign for a club prior the games, Zadkovich would also have been left out, right?

So maybe it’s strategic? Given they’ve signed in Turkey and Greece, perhaps the FFA feel they would be doing the players, their clubs and Australia's future a favour by letting them be with their clubs. The logic is it would build relations with Genclerbirligi and AEK (something the FFA under Verbeek have been really big on), allowing Djite and Burns to try and establish themselves in the first 11, thus give Australia a couple more attacking European-based weapons to draw upon in the upcoming world cup qualifiers and beyond.

The theory goes; the worst thing that could happen, both for their development and for the sake of our own player pool is that they go to the Olympics, and then spend months afterwards trying to catch up.

If that’s the case, it’s a gamble either way. What’s to say they don’t spend months on the bench anyway? Having missed the Olympics, that would be a double-whammy.

Anyway, it’s a debate that’s likely to rage, but in the meantime, there is much else to dissect around Arnold’s 18;

Thanks for playing a part; already mentioned the omission of Burns, Djite and Holland, but there are countless others, including Vidosic, Williams, Downes, Dilevski, Broxham, Ward, Zullo, Elrich, Cornthwaite, Boogard, Simon, Hearfield, D’Apuzzo, Hoffman and not to mention Vukovic. It’s always tragic to come so far and get so close, so a big thankyou and ‘keep your head-up’ to all.

Defensive selection; on the surface there appears to be far too many defenders, with central men North, Milligan, Leijer and Spiranovic complimented by wide defenders Zadkovich, McClenahan and Topor-Stanley. Factor in the two keepers and half the squad shape up deep. Ok, perhaps Milligan or Zadkovich can play in central midfield, but given the defence (especially the Vukovic-Leijer-Milligan central axis) was the strongest part of the qualifiers, surprising there are so many. Arnold has been on the record saying he needed to find some solutions in the front third, yet he appears to have stacked the back.

‘We’ve got no left sided players’; that’s been the cry for years. Yet, in this squad there are four left-sided men in Topor-Stanley, Troisi, Carney and Rukavystya, just about every left-sided player we’ve got. Perhaps first choice at this stage is Topor-Stanley at left back and Carney on the left side of attack, but given that Sarkies spent much of the quals out on the left, and appears to be an Arnold favourite (along with Troisi), did we really need four lefties?

Sarkies saved by his set-piece; speaking of Sarkies, for me he’s the luckiest man in Australia, only in the side due to his delivery from corners, which was instrumental in getting the Olyroos to Beijing, but otherwise (in three seasons of the A-League) has been underwhelming. His form for Adelaide in the ACL was poor and Arnold has to decide if he can carry him in the 11 simply for this set-pieces. Surely Holland, handy over the dead ball, would have been a better all-round option, but, of course, he’s probably “too young”, ironic considering he’s a Socceroo.

The style of play; according to Arnold, the Olyroos struggled to bag goals in the qualifiers, relying on set-pieces. He has gone for pace in the front third here, indicating that there might be a bit of counter-attacking going on. Perhaps he’s been sitting back and analysing the Euros, thus the inclusion of the quick Thompson and Rukavystya. If so, it might explain Djite’s omission, but puzzling how Burns would be overlooked from any counter-attacking template. Surprised also there is no change-up battering ram option off the bench, someone like a Djite or Simon. Arnold’s gone for mobility and adaptability all round, and that might be a clever move, especially against Argentina.

Drive out of midfield; one of the features, for me, of the qualifiers, was the drive out of central midfield. It came from the likes of Celeski, Burns and Ward. Given that Sarkies struggles to offer any drive, maybe it’s expected to come from Zadkovich, Kilkenny and Celeski, but Burns has to wonder why he’s not among them. Based on this, he feels he at least should be ahead of Celeski.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

How instructive was your linked piece in describing why Djite may have been omitted and Sarkies included. Great read.

Agree though - Sarkies has been poor of late and there have to be questions about whether he warrants a start


Sat. Jul. 05, 12:02:00 am AEST  
Blogger The Round Ball Analyst said...

James, thanks for comment, it's gonna be interesting to see how Arnie handles the shape of the squad...

Throughout the quals it was pretty much 4-3-3, with one sitting midfeilder (musialik or broxham) and two bombing on..the other thing was that the wide attackers often ducked in, allowing the fullbacks to bomb on. At times it was fluid.

Given there's different, better quality opposition, will be interesting to see how Arnie adapts tactically. On form Sarkies is no chance of starting, but Arnold does like his set-pieces. We shall see.

Sat. Jul. 05, 10:01:00 am AEST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well, you can`t accuse GA of taking the easy option. is he taking the heat for players who didn`t want to go to the olympics (but didn`t want to say it), or are we seeing round 2 of the style wars (flair players bad, strong players good!)?

who knows, but this waffle about the heat is pretty strange. and form over 2 years is more important than current form? um, no it isn`t. if an acne scarred mini-messi popped up 3 months ago (and was the best player in the a-league), you`d take him. who cares if he was playing badly/not involved two years ago?

hmmm, you could make a pretty good team out of the players not in the squad. burns and djite up front, zullo and kruse as the wingers... maybe vidosic in the midfield somewhere. or burns in the midfield and williams up front. broxham as the holding mid. the goalkeeper at liverpool (who keeps on switching between oz and greece youth teams). the list goes on.

that has gotta be a good thing. perhaps we have a little more depth in this age bracket than we did 2 years ago?


Sat. Jul. 05, 10:09:00 am AEST  
Blogger The Round Ball Analyst said...

clayton, you're right about that, great depth, without thinking too hard here's an 11 thats not going;


and then the bench; ward, cornthwaite, zullo, kruse, dilevski, simon, hearfield, hoffman, downey.

and i've probably left out another 10. it's good to have these riches, so let's hope they develop over the next few years..

how's japan shaping up? if i'm not mistaken, i read somehwere that yasuhito endo is going? if so, that's just brilliant, you know how much i love the guy...

i'm not sure about the style wars thing...burns is both an athlete and footballer, while Djite is definitely an athlete.

Sat. Jul. 05, 10:37:00 am AEST  
Blogger againstthecrossbar said...

The biggest indicator that all is not as it seems is the Celeski choice over Burns.

In any comparsion Burns wins out and if Arnold has simply chosen Celeski over Burns (I doubt we have the full story) then it is a disgrace.

The strange selection choice for me is the total lack of a target man up front. We have pace to burn but I really wonder if opposition teams are going to allow themselves to be sucked in by a team that is so obviously setup for the counter.

Sat. Jul. 05, 11:10:00 am AEST  
Blogger The Round Ball Analyst said...

Brendan, Burns' comments about Celeski indicated some tension, or at least some confusion or a lack of clarity on why he hasnt been selected...if so, the uncertainty is worrying, nothing worse for a player than to not get clarity....

The times I saw Celeski for the Olyroos, in Newcs and Gosford, I thought he did pretty well advancing out of central midfield, and from memory I reflected on his perfromances in my reports at the time.

For some reason Merrick (not surprised)sees him more as a wide player. He's not. Ah, Merrick, i hear you Melburnians sigh..

I think Celesksi deserves to go, but so does Burns and many others that have missed. Havent seen enough of Kilkenny (from my read he's a bit of a box-to-box buzzer, like Burns and Celeski), but strange that someone playing in Europe would handle the heat more than Burns.

As I suggested, a battering ram at least to bring off the bench would have been great, and thats why I would have had The Bruce in there.

Sat. Jul. 05, 11:34:00 am AEST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i saw part of an u23s friendly a couple of weeks back. maybe they were playing cameroon or ghana? i forgot.

the japan u23s didn`t look bad, but didn`t look great that game either. the younger generation have a reputation for flair on the ball, but i didn`t see it in this friendly.

i saw a qualifying match a couple of months before that. maybe against qatar. a little scrappy, but fearless play got them the 3 points on the day.

an u23s player was playing recently for the senior team. a right winger i think.

i have a lot of time for endo now i have seen him at club level. i didn`t notice him initially in the national team. i haven`t heard anything about which overage players are going to beijing. whilst endo is a great addition, i hope he doesn`t crowd out the team`s star central midfielder. one of the english language newspapers did a piece on him as someone to watch at the olypics. a central mid with very good decision making. starting in j1.

thats about all i know about the japanese u23 team. they aren`t on tv as much (at least when i am not working).

now that the senior for team`s first round WCQuals are out of the way, i am sure that the interest will ramp up.


Sat. Jul. 05, 02:51:00 pm AEST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's going on with Zadkid's hair? What a tosser.

Sat. Jul. 05, 09:33:00 pm AEST  
Blogger Mike said...

I'm going to go out on a limb here and back Arnie on the Burns-Djite omission.

He gave them both ample opportunity in the second round of qualifying and both couldn't deliver. (And they were playing at Hindmarsh - a ground you would think they'd be used to).

During the third round, neither one played a full game, but they were still given several opportunities.

Across both the 2nd and 3rd round, despite all the chances both players were given, they had zero goals to show for themselves.

Their performances didn't warrant selection.

IMO it is a much better thing for them to be establishing a spot at their new clubs than sitting on the bench in Beijing.

Sun. Jul. 06, 05:53:00 pm AEST  
Blogger Mike Salter said...

The game at North Syd. Oval on Saturday will be very interesting to watch.

I can stomach the omission of Djite and Holland; the former did well against Asian opposition in the qualifiers for obvious reasons, but he looked out of his depth against China a couple of weeks back. As for Holland...I must confess to being unconvinced as yet. Apart from a couple of good games for the Jets (which plenty of young A-League guys have had on their first-team breakthrough, even, erm, Zadkovich), has he really shown anything yet?

Mon. Jul. 07, 11:11:00 am AEST  
Blogger Mike Salter said...

I should add though that the omission of Burns is frankly ludicrous if it was for footballing reasons only.

Mon. Jul. 07, 11:12:00 am AEST  
Anonymous dasilva said...

I don't believe that it is due to giving Burns and Djite time in new club. Arnold denied it (why would he lie about it especially when he was honest about it for Mcdonald for Asian Cup) and Burns devastated reaction to it.

The biggest issue with this selection is that Arnold had autonomy over selection. When asked whether Pim had a say in squad selection he said no which is ludicrous. Pim Verbeek should have gave him a list of players that must be selected. If players are in Pim plans for WCQ which is more important than olympics then they must be in the squad.I think this must be one of the few countries in the world where the National Coach had no say in the olyroos squad. Now if Pim didn't mind that Djite and Burns and Holland didn't made the squad as they are out of his plans then I can accept the decisions (although disagree with it) but this is not the case.

However this is not completely Arnolds fault. FFA told Arnold that they are expecting a medal. This is probably why he didn't take the Soccerroos in to consideration.

Mon. Jul. 07, 02:46:00 pm AEST  
Blogger The Round Ball Analyst said...

thanks all for your comments..

clayton, tough little group japan's.

anonymous, ruben's hair, shocker!

...During the third round, neither one played a full game, but they were still given several opportunities....

Mike, from memory Burns was suspended for a large chunk of the final round, thus his absence. Otherwise, I reckon he would have been playing. And I reckon he should definitely be going to Beijing.

...IMO it is a much better thing for them to be establishing a spot at their new clubs than sitting on the bench in Beijing...

For their future Socceroos hopes, it cant hurt if they cement 1st team spots, but I still reckon Burns should be pushing for a start with the Olyroos, while Djite should have had a role off the bench. Neither should be there to make up the numbers.

Mikey, I'd have all three in, esp. Djite and Burns. Frankly I feel the squad it top-heavy with defenders and could do with more attacking thrust. Off the top of my head, Burns for a central defender (tough choice, maybe North) and Djite and Holland for Sarkies and one from Kilkenny, Celeski or Troisi.

dasilva, i agree there should be some seamless work around selections, but I'm not really surprised Arnie has gone out his own, if it's true there was no consultation with PV.

I remember writing in one of my first Pim Verbeek blogs, upon his annoucement as manager, that it was impossible to think that Arnie would be too pleased about a bloke taking over that a few months earlier was his equal.

Mon. Jul. 07, 10:22:00 pm AEST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any bloggers going to the North Sydney game on Saturday?

Tue. Jul. 08, 01:14:00 pm AEST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It's not my squad, it's the FFA's squad"

Thu. Jul. 10, 09:58:00 pm AEST  
Blogger Chade said...

Yeah, Arnold's blame shifting as fast as the holey paddle will let him...
He's making it seem like he's realised he's f***ed up big time, and doesn't have the nerve to admit it.

Fri. Jul. 11, 05:57:00 pm AEST  

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