By Vinnie Venezuela
Let me say from the outset that the smorgasbord is a good, good thing and only marginally better than a buffet or a yum cha trolley. For me, the smorgasbord oozes generosity, gives you more than enough to feast on, has something for everyone and pretty much says go ahead and delight in all that I have to offer. I also like that there are no rules, it’s pretty much ‘gay abandon’ dining.
The other night after the Socceroos comprehensively beat Jordan having only a few days prior made minced meat out of Tajikistan, I felt like I had feasted like a king.
Every player brought something to the table and I was gobsmacked by the variety that was placed before us. From the Kruse, Mooy, Cahill combos to the Smith, Wright, Sainsbury, Milligan tightness or the Rogic, Giannou, Leckie and Burns forays forward, it was ‘game on’ everywhere. Yes, it was smorgasbord football.
Even Ange Postecoglou did the post game interview on Fox looking like a bloke who had just had the best time at his daughter’s wedding: the tie was undone, his voice was hoarse and he was beaming. Clearly, he had a great night too.
But Ange is not the customer who doled out his coin to partake, he is the masterchef, the architect, the visionary who decided to lay it all on the table for people to savour, just like Mr. Smorgasbord did way back when.
Quite rightly, Ange has questioned why the sport loving Australian public is not more celebratory of this squad. He points to the fears of goals drying out, of leaky defences and lack lustre build up play that have all been directed to this team. He then reminds us of just how much this group continues to achieve and evolve. And he is absolutely spot on.
People often talk of our golden generation, the squad that contained the likes of Kewell, Viduka, Bresciano, Aloisi et al and question whether we will ever again see such a skill set take the pitch all at the same time. These guys remain legends and their legacy is without question.
But what Ange is cooking up, I think, is something much greater. While the golden generation comprised individuals who carved names for themselves at the highest levels all over Europe, Ange is recognising genius even before it graces the top flights; Mooy, Rogic, Kruse, Leckie, Luongo, Ryan are players who are still on the cusp of greatness.
Like Ange, of course, many of us already know how good some of these guys are and how much more they still have to offer. What is more thrilling, however, is that he keeps finding new talent like Giannou and Smith to pop into the squad.
The games against Tajikistan and Jordan were huge not just because of the score lines but because they, yet again, reinforced the unbelievable depth Ange is cultivating. When you think of the guys that didn’t play or even get a call up: Spiranovic, Wilkinson, McLaren, Troisi, Davidson or Franjic you have to acknowledge that the Socceroos have never inhabited a territory with such a seemingly endless talent pool. The dilemma for Ange here is quite sweet.
Frankly, this is bigger than the golden generation and Ange keeps dishing up players who are rising to the opportunities he is offering. More importantly, it is not a squad built around high profiled individuals but on a philosophy of positive football and deft planning.
Not only that, the goals we have been scoring are coming from all sorts of players and places. Super Tim imposing himself or poaching, Rogic from downtown, Mooy from the edge of the box, a Burns or Leckie or Kruse burst, it is absolutely clear to me that we have a myriad of options and, quite possibly, more than the golden generation ever offered.
Listening to Cahill talk exuberantly about how Ange has moulded a team that understands not only each other’s roles, but that can fashion scoring opportunities from a number of different scenarios really is inspiring. Indeed, Super Tim’s international career is in extra time precisely because the gaffer understands how to exploit his many talents both on and off the field.
While the golden generation was dynamite, this Socceroo squad is making its own history without the household names we’re use to and that really is brilliant.
Truth be told, you may leave a smorgasbord experience feeling a little bit full and maybe even a little bit guilty because of the decadence of it all. But you are always hungry for more next time.
Me … I’m ready to make another reservation.