The Socceroos Job Interview - So Sven who's your Daddy?

The Socceroos Job Interview - So Sven who's your Daddy?

by Carlos Alberto Diego

Let’s pretend for a moment. I’II be Frank Lowy and you (the reader) are a fly on the wall.

The Westfield Shopping Centre boardroom is the venue. I'm sitting at the head of my boardroom table - the site of numerous firing and hirings. In fact the blood of Pim Verbeek, John O'Neil and a multitude of shopping centre execs still still oozes from the oak. Outside in the foyer pacing and furiously swotting (googling Wikipedia for Australia, Aussie slang and Mel Gibson on their iphones) are the prospective applicants for the Socceroo coaching position.

The sweaty palmed shortlist includes Sven Goran ‘Lock up your Daughters’ Eriksson; Phillip ‘The White Witchdoctor on the Dole’ Troussier; Paul Í’ve always wanted to coach Austria’ Le Guen; Frank ‘I’m Dutch you know’ Rikjaard and Marcelo ‘It’s a little known fact but I had great, great grand dad with a little Dutch in him’ Lippi.

Let’s keep pretending that each of these Aussie coaching hopefuls knows how to coach the Diegos way – an exponent of multi-prong formation, a disciple of the free-spirited 4-4-2 or, dare I dream it, 4-3-3, and importantly a despiser of the sieve defence. 

It’s up to me to find the right man to take Aussie football, manifestly in the form of the Socceroos, to the next level – a world cup quarter final or beyond.

I have my list of job interview questions ready. Of course I’ll trot out the standard fare.....What are your hobbies? Have you undergone a police check? What position will my grandson play? Who will always be your daddy? These questions are strategically designed to lull them all into a false sense of security.

Why should I lull them in a false sense of security you might ask? I want them to drop their guard. I want them to bare their soul. I want them to shed any skerrick of pretence for when I ask them the money question ‘what are your thoughts of the Australian A-league and the players playing in it?’ I want to know what they really think.

Why is this important? It’s important because the next Australian coach has got to have faith in our boys and know how to get the best out of them irrespective of whether they play at home or abroad.

He needs to see the good qualities in the players, be excited about working with them and coach to their strengths. He needs to have an absolute faith that irrespective of the level, pedigree and celebrity of the opposition that he can find a way to win and instil confidence in his Aussie boys that on any given day, with the right preparation, coaching and circumstances they can match and beat anyone in the world.

Through his criticism of the Australian A-league and his ridicule of some of his players in the Dutch press during the World Cup it was clear that, when the blow torch was applied, Pim Verbeek had little faith in his Australian players.


I need to know that our new coach believes he can win with the players he has at his disposal. I need to know that he can build a team capable of attacking intent and not fixated on ‘parking the bus’. I need a coach who is not fearful that the team will be embarrassed if given licence to express itself.

The Socceroos gutsy draw against Ghana in the group stage, playing with 10 men for most of the game, showed what we all already know – that Australia, with its back against the wall,  is an enormously spirited group that never says die.

Our win against a very good Serbian team, when there was so much on the line for both teams, showed that we can beat highly credentialed opponents playing our own brand good attacking football. Unfortunately Pim discovered this too late.

Verbeek’s panic selection of no recognised strikers in the starting line up against the Germans in game one sent out the clear message that we could not compete with our Bavarian friends on any level.

Our coach effectively conceded the game before the ball was kicked. He showed his true colours – his thoughts that Australian footballers aren’t good enough. This was an untenable situation that can never happen again.

Terry Venables once famously said that had his Socceroos qualified for the 1998 World Cup in France they could’ve given the big guns a shake and won the competition. Deluded you might say but El Tel was a huge believer in the players and what was possible. The players loved him and played for him. It didn’t matter to him whether they were playing in the old NSL or for clubs overseas. Had it not been for the tragic events that transpired against Iran in 1997 who knows how far Venables’ faith in the players could’ve taken that Socceroos team.

I need a coach who will find a way to win with Australian players. I don’t want to hear about how things are better overseas. I don’t want to hear that we should be realistic about where we are at. The win against Serbia showed that Pim got it wrong. I don’t want limits. I don’t want boundaries. I want a coach who is absolutely convinced that he can win games and score goals with Australian players.

So Sven who’s your Daddy?


Copyright Four Diegos Media 1993