Top 10 reasons why Robbie Slater had a crack at Craig Foster on Twitter

A Carlos Alberto Diego Blog Exclusive II

Top 10 reasons why Robbie Slater had a crack at Craig Foster on Twitter

1.       Juanita was the love of his life.

2.       As a dead set Ranga, Robbie hated how Craig wouldn’t wear sunscreen and still get that special 'Pep' Guardiola glow.

3.       It was all an unfortunate accident – this is what happens when Bozza jabs some psychoactive medication truth serum into him for fun ...first it was Harry, now Fozz next Four Diegos. Hilarious Bozza.

4.       Slater got sick of hearing how Portsmouth of the late 90’s played a Barcelona brand of football.

5.       Robbie hated how Craig would call the Socceroo coach ‘Il Presidente’ when everybody else called him ‘The Gaffer’.

6.       Bulldog hated how Craig would put on José Feliciano to fire up the team before the game.

7.       Craig was next on the list, after Harry Kewell, of former players who would not pass him the ball. 

8.       Slater hated how Craig would want to end every team meeting with a sports update and the weather.

9.       Robbie hated how Craig would refer to his direct Tahitian opponent as Emilio Butragueño.

10.   Slats could not quite get his head around how a message on twitter revealing a ‘dark secret’ about a former teammate could be seen by millions and millions of people.



Top 10 reasons why Craig Foster was allegedly banned, never to be selected again for Australia, after a World Cup Qualifier in Tahiti in 2000.

A Carlos Alberto Diego Blog Exclusive I

Socceroo legend Robbie Slater’s attack on former teammate and media rival Craig Foster on Twitter yesterday was ugly and personal but intriguing nonetheless. What did Robbie mean when he announced to millions that Fozzie had a ‘Dark Secret’ which allegedly saw him banned from Socceroo selection forever? To answer the question the Diegos went sniffing and, in a special Carlos’ Blog Exclusive, uncovered the following:

Top 10 reasons why Craig Foster was allegedly banned, never to be selected again for Australia, after a World Cup Qualifier in Tahiti in 2000.

1.       He insisted that everyone call him ‘Xavi’.

2.       Juanita chose him rather Robbie Slater at the post match disco even though Bulldog put in all the ground work.

3.       He refused to head the ball, run hard, hoof it long, put it in the mixer, get stuck in, batter the opposition, ping it into the big lad up front, throw it long, clatter the opposition, sweat and spit and get in the bath with the rest of the lads after the game – a legacy of the British that he insisted must be stamped out of our game forever.  

4.       He insisted on giving his own half time analysis to the team putting on makeup and using a plasma and auto-cue.

5.       He demanded that the team nutritionist include tapas and sangria on the pre-match menu.

6.       He insisted on wearing a snood and woollen gloves in training and games.

7.       He demanded that a council of former Socceroo captains select the team.

8.       He wanted Australia’s nickname to be changed from the ‘Socceroos’ to the ‘Catalan Giants’.

9.       He refused to accept that ‘El Tel’ was not Spanish.

10.   In camp, he led a campaign for Portsmouth and Crystal Palace to secede from Britain and become independent republics of Spain. 

Top 10 things that Besart Berisha can never be

Top 10 things that Besart Berisha can never be 

by Carlos Alberto Diego

Brisbane Roar’s Albanian goal-king Besart Berisha is a great player and his performances for the Banana Benders this season have made him the most potent prong in the Hyundai A-League. But by ‘losing it’ on the weekend, ripping off his shirt and challenging Sydney FC’s Dutch hard man Pascal Bosschart to sort out their differences in the car park, the Diegos fear that, by his actions, the man, who scores goals for fun, has severely curtailed his future prospects.

Inciting fisticuffs, getting nude and doing it all in front of a worldwide audience sadly has its consequences and here they are....

Top 10 things that Besart Berisha can never be:

  1. Albania’s cultural attaché to the Netherlands  
  2. A UN Peacekeeper
  3. The Dalai Lama in waiting
  4. John Kosmina’s anger management therapist
  5. The ‘After’ shot in Le Tan’s next marketing campaign
  6. Twitter moderator for Robbie Slater and Craig Foster
  7. The Yellow Wiggle
  8. Chairman of FIFA Ethics Committee....on second thoughts maybe he’s a perfect fit
  9. The bloke who calms Kevin Muscat down when he loses it on the bench
  10. The good husband in Wife Swap Albania.

If you have other things that Besart Berisha can never be send the Diegos an email at or join the conversation of twitter –

Love to hear your thoughts amigos.


A Christmas ‘Andy’ Carroll…

A Christmas ‘Andy’ Carroll… 

by Pablo Cruise

The crowd at the EPL Christmas party was beginning to thin. Fergie had politely sipped his single glass of house red for an hour and was off home to pull the cork out of something a little more festive. Experience had taught him not to drink at these occasions, as it tended to result in a raging headache and a fine from the F.A. sometime in the New Year. And besides things were starting to get a little messy.

 Some of the boot studers were playing drinking games in the corner and those referees who had not already passed out were in various stages of undress. Most of the QPR boys were enjoying the better standard of hospitality on offer but Joey Barton had slipped out an hour ago muttering something about puppies and a razor.

Nonetheless, a few individuals were still milling around Santa Claus, waiting for their turn to sit on his knee and tell him what they wanted for Christmas.

“Ho, ho. doesn’t be shy, little fellow. Sit up here and tell me your name…Andy? Well you’re a big lad, Andy so you better make this quick. A time machine? Really?  ‘Dr. Who’ fan are we, Andy? No?”

Santa listened as the boy, who was also dressed in a red kit, explained that he really just wanted to travel back in time to five minutes before he signed his last contract, a time when he was one of the most feared strikers in the country.

“That may be a little beyond my powers,” explained Santa. “ I’ll tell you what, why not try these magic headphones instead. They can turn booing into applause so at least it will seem like people love you.”

Little Andy looked sceptically at the device in his hand and trudged off to goal shooting practise.

“Geez Louise, hard case.” Mumbled Santa. “ Who’s next? You there, what’s your name? Fernando. Great. What would you like for Christmas, young man?”

Fernando was a little startled and he refused to sit on Santa’s knee.

“Don’t stand there snivelling, head up, shoulders back. Where’s your confidence, boy?” chided the big man.


“Come on! Don’t be frightened everyone loves Santa Claus. Come sit on my knee.”

Little Fernando burst into uncontrollable sobs but couldn’t move.

“You’re like a rabbit in headlights! Come here!”

The boy took a few stumblingly steps but couldn’t coordinate himself and stood rooted to the floor once more.

“Oh, for God sake, get your act together, son.” Santa was beginning to yell.

By this stage Fernando had become a cowering, shivering, nervous wreck.

“Sorry, sorry.” Apologised the old man. “I’m a little frustrated and you seem very nice but you simply can’t keep on spurning the opportunities that are presented to you.”

Fernando composed himself and took a deep breath.

“Please, Santa, I just need a goal or perhaps two. Could I score two against United? Or Bolton even. Anyone really, mid-week in a cup game, just a tap in to get me started. A penalty, anything. I’m not fussy.”

Santa’s face clouded over. He longed for the old days when strikers just took what they wanted. It wasn’t the spirit of Christmas, he knew, but this lifeless, joyless specimen made him sick.

“See what I can do. Next. You. Yes, the fat kiddie with no friends. Come and talk to Santa.”

“Gimme a transfer to A.C.Milan.” demanded the boy.

“I beg your pardon…” Santa spluttered.

“Now, bubberbelly!” yelled little Carlos.’

“Perhaps you should say ‘please’, if you want something.”

This was rapidly becoming the worst gig since Santa had agreed to coach his son’s U12 football side. He wondered how he could get out of his contract. Maybe he could simply refuse to play the game. He was snapped back to the present by the shouting player.

“OK! Please give me a transfer! NOW, YOU STUPID SACK OF…”

“Do you know who I am?” exploded Santa.

“Do you know who I am?” retorted Carlos.

‘Hey! Weren’t you here last year demanding a blue football shirt? And a couple of years before that it was a red one! I know you! You’re never happy! Get lost you ungrateful little…”

Santa aimed a kick at the spoiled brat but apparently he was already on a plane to Argentina.

Santa took a moment to compose himself. He looked around hopefully and noticed a quite little fellow, red hair, unfashionably dressed, standing off to the side just making up the numbers.

“Now there’s a chap who looks like he needs a bit of Christmas cheer.” Santa thought.

“And who might you be, young man?” inquired a slightly rattled Santa hopefully.

“I might be the manager of a wildly successful football club if I just had a few things.” Replied David in a hurt little voice. “It just isn’t fair.”

“O oh, here we go.” Thought the big man. “Alright, Davey, what would you like for Christmas?” Asked Santa aloud.

“Not much, really, Santa.” David began.

“Ok. Shoot.”

“Oh no. That’s not how I coach.”

“I mean, what do you need.” Urged a patient Santa.

“I’d like a big, strong, smelly, ruthless central defender who doesn’t pick up interest from other clubs.”

“Ho, ho, ho, I don’t see why no…”

“And a tricky little striker, possibly South American.”

“Why not? It is the season for…”

“AND a left back AND a central midfielder who can play a decent final ball and take a set piece.”

“Very well…”

“And could I have a new stadium?”

“Perhaps that’s asking a little too…”

“And a little respect in this league wouldn’t go astray.”

“Now your just being ridiculous, Davey. Nobody really respects Everton. Now run along and try not to sell any more players in the New Year. I remember when kids just wanted a new pair of boots or a replica shirt. Since when did everybody get so unrealistic?”

While Santa’s thoughts drifted off to another less mercenary time little Harry Redknapp shuffled out of the shadows.

“Oh, hello. I didn’t realise there was still anyone here. No doubt there are a few things you’d like from Santa.”

“No, thankyou.” Harry said. “My Christmas has already come.”


“Ticker’s thumping along just fine and we’ve ‘ad 15 penalties since the season started. It’d just be greedy to ask for anything more.”


It’s unpalatable but Lowy made the right call

It’s unpalatable but Lowy made the right call

by Carlos Alberto Diego

Let me start by saying that FIFA is an institutionally corrupt and morally bankrupt organisation that should be blown up and rebuilt.

Sepp Blatter has overseen FIFA since 1998 and, in every way, aided and encouraged its ‘brown paper bag’ culture. He is the big brother within the crooked brotherhood and by turning a blind eye to the ways of his rotten to the core Executive Committee, has a allowed, in the good name of football, a toxic, shady world to flourish around him.   

Sepp’s resounding 186 vote to nil, one-horse race, win in the FIFA election last week showed us clearly that the overwhelming majority of FIFA’s 208 member associations support Blatter.

In the backdrop of serial scandals, World Cup bid bribes-for-votes allegations and the exposing of FIFA’s underbelly, where long time accomplices turned against each other, it was hard to believe that that Blatter could be returned so comprehensively.

Did FIFA members support him because he has been and will, in the future, be good for world football? Did they support him because a delightful brown paper bag, marked GOAL project, came their way stuffed full of Swiss francs as a reward for just being a good friend? Or did they just fear the consequences if they didn’t vote for the status quo?  

What motivated member associations to vote the way they did; only they can answer. The fact is that he is back and the dysfunctional basis on which FIFA operates remains and more worryingly, has been endorsed in celebrated fashion by the FIFA family.

The only nation I care about is Australia and the progress of its football. We, for the record, were one of the 186 member associations that voted for more of the same. Yep we supported Sepp ‘The Rat’ Blatter and good people in our game called the Lowy/Buckley decision an outrage.

Craig Foster in his Sydney Morning Herald article on Sunday 5th June 2011 - Australia not spared from FIFA's grand shame - slammed Buckley for the move.  Ray Gatt in his article in The Australian on the same weekend - Buckley’s own goal shames the game - did the same. Celebrated Australia football writer Matthew Hall beat them all to the punch and pre-empted events in his World Game blog last week. All weekend I’ve had a feisty but enjoyable exchange of views on twitter with important advocates in the game in this country former FFA Head of Corporate Affairs, Bonita Mersiadies and PFA boss, Brendan Schwab.

All good people saying we should’ve made a stand and followed England and submitted a protest  vote against Blatter’s re-election, even if it involved, as Fozzie put it, ‘a fight for reform even if it is damaging to our position within Asia and FIFA in the immediate term’.

Whoa... what was that? Did he write ‘even if it is damaging to our position within Asia and FIFA in the immediate term’?

Forgive me for being the odd man out here but HELLO does our game need more ‘pain’?

Can our game tolerate more ‘pain’? Will the many thousands of good football people in Australia who have dedicated their lives to growing the game, often for no payment, and spreading the word within their own communities and convincing the mainstream about the virtues of the game, happily embrace more ‘pain’?

How about the players? After sacrificing so much in the changeover from the NSL to A-League, are they ready now to welcome more ‘pain’? What about the FFA, state associations, clubs (at all levels), media organisations and corporates who are working overtime to bring sponsorship and investment into the game? Are they ready frolic in a meadow of continued ‘pain’? 

Here’s a hypothetical. Would our game survive, if we voted against Blatter and he orchestrated his ultimate revenge and saw to it that we were kicked out of the AFC and tossed back into Oceania? Those who think it would never happen just remember this was the bloke who gave Oceania direct entry to the World Cup in 2003 and did nothing when the FIFA Executive Committee took it away 12 months later. And do I need to remind you about Qatar winning the right to host the 2022 World Cup on the back of a space age video.

Surely the need to make a public stand for what is right against Blatter at the election and, as a by-product, be thrown into the ‘revenge is sweet’ basket with England, does not surpass the need to do everything in our power to get the game right in this country.

Everyone knows the fight to reform FIFA will be a long, frustrating and complex. Change FIFA, the game’s reform activists and a handful of football associations around the world, know that they have a huge battle on their hands. 156 member nations (or 75% majority of the football family) need to be convinced to put aside their vested interests and vote for a transparent FIFA that is true to its motto ‘For the Good of the Game’. No question this is the good fight but make no mistake, it is a generational fight.

So let’s get to the point. Should Frank Lowy (vicariously through Ben Buckley) be slammed for supporting Blatter?

By endorsing Sepp Blatter’s fourth term in office did he show a lack of courage, as argued by many good people or did he, in fact, just take steps to protect our game – a game that is fragile and at the crossroads of its development?

From a strategic point of view and given the political landscape on which FIFA exists, what benefit/s could we have gained from making a stand against Blatter at the election? 

Standing up for what is right and moral and being known as an honourable football citizen - that’s one benefit. But why can’t we achieve that by operating within the current FIFA politically driven landscape and not running the unnecessary risk of damaging our game any further?

In a long and bloody fight what was the need to disadvantage our game, maybe irreparably, by following England’s bold stance?

People have applauded England for its courage in not supporting Blatter. People have said England has stood for the integrity of the game so why couldn’t we? Yep very admirable but give Australia the riches that come with a global EPL brand and I will more than encourage Frank Lowy to tell Sepp Blatter to shove his FIFA family where the sun don’t shine.

Truth is England has nothing to lose. They have been and will forever more be detested within FIFA for their historical arrogant and patriarchal approach – a reminder to the FIFA majority of the colonial days – and the Poms know it. They have nothing to lose and we have everything to lose and that is the difference.

To do nothing to force FIFA to reform is unforgiveable but to do it at an unnecessary cost to our game is equally unforgiveable.

Voting for Sepp Blatter was unpalatable but whether we like it or not, Frank Lowy did the right thing to protect our game. What he now needs to do is use all the disappointment, embarrassment and anger of being screwed in the 2022 World Cup Bid race and campaign strongly for real reform within the corridors of FIFA.

Stand up for Australian football or stand up for world football? Call me weak. Say that I lack courage to stand up for what is right. Say that I have no gumption for a fight. Say anything you like but for me the choice is easy......its Australian football all the way ....and I don’t think that I’m the only one. 

Don’t Believe the Hype

Don’t Believe the Hype 

by Carlos Alberto Diego

Last week I met up with a mate of mine who holds a high profile managerial role at the AFL (Australian Football League) and I put to him a hypothetical scenario.

Australian Rules Football suddenly has a World Cup the size and magnitude of a FIFA World Cup (that’s why this is very fact it’s ridiculous but hear me out) and the AFL has decided to bid to host it in 2022.

The AFL also has a national team that will be competing in a World Cup the size and magnitude of the FIFA World Cup in the same year. In this scenario the AFL also has a national women’s team competing in the Asian Cup, two professional domestic national competitions to run and the implementation of associated expansion plans, numerous international youth teams (male and female) qualifying for Youth World and Asian Cups on top of the day-to-day running of a sport that has the highest participation base by double of any sport in this country. I then asked him given this scenario how would the AFL cope. His response couldn’t.

Now this is a code that has just secured a $1.253 billion TV Rights deal over the next five years. It is a code that is the best run in Australia and probably the best run in the world on a per capita basis. It has the cash, resources, networks and the intellectual wherewithal to figuratively move mountains on a national basis with media, sponsors, government and the marketplace and according to my mate they would struggle to do what the FFA attempted to do in 2010.

Since the embarrassing World Cup bid failure I have watched and read with great interest the lynch mobs going after Frank Lowy, Ben Buckley and the FFA.

Blogs and media articles have been written denouncing the FFA and decrying its incompetence. Social media, especially twitter, led by the self styled oracles of world football has fuelled fans anger and a chronic lack of faith in the governing body of our sport. It has all reminded me of another dark age – a primitive time devoid of technology – where fax and letter writing campaigns were launched against the old Soccer Australia.

Adrian Musolino’s blog on - Can the FFA Win You Back? is a piece, on the back of a 2011 Fans Census that perfectly illustrates a core sentiment at the moment.

I understand the passion of Adrian, and many others with an emotional investment in the game.

I love that we, in the absence of the media saturation that the AFL and the NRL enjoy, have an opportunity to vent our collective football spleens using the alternative social media outlets available. I love that we can force change through fan power and above all I love the fact that the masses are talking football. The problem is, in my opinion, the time is not yet right for frenzied destructive hype and baying for FFA blood.

Many of the game’s issues today, I believe, can be traced back to the huge (financial, human and emotional) investment the FFA made in its 2022 World Cup bid – a bid that we all, including the self styled oracles, universally celebrated but, as we are rapidly learning, involved a process that was so corrupt that there was no chance any other than bidders, other than Russia and Qatar, winning it.

Adrian wrote about FFA failures regarding North Queensland Fury, Western Sydney, decreasing A-League crowds and fears about the next TV deal. For another perspective let me address each issue.

North Queensland Fury was a stuff-up from the start.

I was never quite sure why a team was needed in North Queensland before Western Sydney or a second team in Melbourne. I suspect that the reason that they were given a licence was to tick off the ‘Indigenous box’ in our World Cup bid book.

If we had won the bid there would’ve been the resources available to fund the shortfall in attendances and revenue. Losing the bid however made the Fury an unviable proposition that, despite the passion of a few and I stress only a few, would’ve continued to haemorrhage indefinitely into the future.

Fury’s axing generated furious outrage within the football family and enormous backlash against the FFA. I say the outrage should’ve occurred when the licence was granted in the first place and not when it was clearly a dead duck.

It was a risk the FFA was willing to take to bring home the World Cup ‘Holy Grail’ and by not initially questioning the club’s entry we all, either voluntarily or involuntarily, agreed with it.

Frank Lowy and Ben Buckley have conceded that they took their eye off the A-League in 2010.

The marketing of the league was non-existent as an enormous amount of resources and time were diverted towards the bid. 

Club owners didn’t complain at the time because they supported Frank Lowy’s vision to ‘turbo charge’ the game.

12 years lead up to a World Cup and a chance to permanently change the landscape of Australian sport – the thought was alluring and it was a risk we were all prepared to take. I did not hear the lynch mobs baying for FFA blood back then. They stayed silent and by not initially questioning Frank’s vision we all, either voluntarily or involuntarily, agreed with it.

Whilst marketing the A-league is important it should not be the reason why we as fans don’t turn up to games. Adrian and others blame the FFA for declining crowds but what responsibility do we as fans have in supporting our teams’ week in week out.

If you are not turning up to games because you feel the FFA is not running the game competently, I contend that you are not really a fan. You are a passerby, a theatre goer not really invested in the game.

We say we are passionate, we are unique and want the FFA to listen to us yet our attendances are dropping because of apathy and indifference. It doesn’t make for a compelling argument.

Which brings me to the fears expressed by Adrian and others about the possibility of a reduced TV Rights deal in 2013. 

The answer is simple and the fans can play a huge part. The level of TV Rights money is directly reliant on whether TV broadcasters think they can sell the product to sponsors. Sponsors gravitate to sports that can attract big numbers in attendances and TV ratings. Guess who can drive these figures? We, the fans can. In essence the FFA plays a minor role. We, in big numbers, can drive the future of the game in this respect.

Finally let’s take a look at Adrian’s point about the still-born Sydney Rovers.

We all agree that this was also a big stuff up and the FFA can’t deny it.

Lucas Neill’s consortium had the money and the plan but lost out to Ian Rowden’s consortium who had no money and a plan that eventually didn’t stack up.

No one except the FFA knows why they chose a consortium of former players who had gone on to become successful businessmen over other proposals.  Perhaps the cries from the media and others to have more football people running the game motivated them to make the decision. Perhaps the lack of due diligence on FFA’s part was again due to the all consuming World Cup bid.

My point to all this is that we need to separate the hype from the reality. Its important because we need a unified approach.

The reality is that the failed World Cup bid – a bid that we all backed, has temporarily derailed our game. It was a risk we needed to take but it was a risk that backfired spectacularly on us.

The FFA and its leaders need to take responsibility for the fallout. We will soon find out through their policy, leadership and direction whether they have.

For the next four years there are no distractions. We fans, media, administrators and the FFA, as a sport, have a fantastic opportunity to get the game fulfilling its potential for the first time.

Whether the incumbents at the FFA are the right people for the job remains to be seen. I will make my judgements but for now though I won’t be listening to the hype. 

Can Mourinho really cook?

Can Mourinho really cook?

by Vinnie Venezuela

Don’t tell him I said this, but there are times when I think The Special One is awesome. Anyone who can make Marco Materazzi weep like a wee baby as he did when he left the ground after Inter’s Champion’s League win in 2010 must be special. Either that or he gave Marco the phone number of Zidane’s sister.

Jose certainly taps into the psyche of his players and gets them believing they are invincible to which they whisper something like “You complete me ...” and then go out and plunder, bringing him a carcass or a cup to help celebrate. Of course, when it comes to referees, The Special One prefers to hunt alone.

Jose is also the thinking man’s manager and though pre and post game press conferences can test a friendship, his game plans and match day team tweaks are always the stuff of legend. Like it or not, the record books will show that Mourinho gets the job done. Despite coming second, Real Madrid had a super season; Ronaldo proved again to be worth every cent, Benzema finally found form and Ozil added heaps when played properly. Even ‘Lamb of God’, Kaka came back from the dead.

The biggest challenge for Mourhino is probably the smorgasbord of choice he has at his finger tips and the pressure to win while playing beautifully. He certainly knows how to get the results, but it’s not always pretty and when players like Ronaldo voice frustration at being held back, you know that not all is well in Mourinho world.

The best game I’ve seen Real play this year, maybe ever, was that first half of the Copa Del Rey final against Barcelona. Real was rampant, it defended high, was super fast, pressured Barca for every second when it lost the ball, got it back and really had the Catalans rattled. When the teams went in at half time, it felt as if we were about to witness major regime change as Barca looked like a one trick pony whereas Real had momentum, a clear plan and a quality bench to keep the good times rolling.

Perhaps the one thing they lacked that night though was oxygen because they came out a different squad and pretty much sat back, giving Barca the chance to show that it’s ok to be a one trick pony when you have one really, really cool trick. In the end, Real did do enough to win it and De Maria’s cross in extra time to the omnipresent and pumped ‘Gelled one’ aka CR7 was spectacular. In fact, I wept like Materazzi.

History, however, will show that despite the intensity of the last four El Classicos, not to mention the ill will, send offs and nasty post game accusations, Barcelona’s mesmerising brand of football got them another Primera Liga title and a spot in the Champion’s league final.

More importantly, Barca’s success celebrates the idea that identifying a style of play and having faith in the personnel to deliver should remain every club’s objective. This team is a testament of what quality, vision and time can produce. Interestingly, while the Champions League Final pits two very clear styles against one another, Sir Alex has also forged a very consistent brand of football. That game should be a cracker.

Real Madrid is like a menu with too many dishes and I just wish Mourinho would cook something truly memorable with his quality ingredients. For me, that Copa Del Rey first half was the way forward, but we never saw it again in any of the following encounters. To give Guardiola credit, he responded by playing Mourinho at his own game, sitting back and stifling the Madrid midfield and momentum. What he didn’t do is sacrifice any of the team’s signature movements.

Real Madrid has pretty much been a team known for having players who became famous playing somewhere else but it also seems to be a club that is aware that it hasn’t delivered anything legendary for a long, long time. While Mourinho will certainly go down in history, it shouldn’t be for being a self proclaimed human headline or for winning ugly. The pressure is on him to use his time in the Madrid kitchen wisely.

Let’s hope he gives us something to savour.


Memo to A-league coaches Treat the media with contempt and you treat the fans with contempt

Memo to A-league coaches

Treat the media with contempt and you treat the fans with contempt

by Carlos Alberto Diego

Dear Coach,

I hope you are sleeping well and that the nightly dose of Mylanta and lather of Paw Paw cream has sorted out your ulcer and rash, not to mention the rash that’s on your ulcer.  

I know that you are all in the last year of your contract (it’s just that some of you don’t know it) and things can be a bit testy at times but what I’m about to tell you could well one day save you from having to rummage through a garbage bin to feed your family.


‘What? Those parasites’, I hear you say.

‘Those vindictive little people who know as much about the game as Rebecca Wilson’, you spit out.

‘Those mean spirited, smug nobodies whose sense of importance is only rivalled by their serial need to see someone sacked’, you continue to hurl.

Yep they’re the ones and here’s why.

It’s really not a difficult concept. As much as you might despise it the media is merely a conduit between you and the fans.

If you show contempt to the media by dishing up a bogus interpretation of how your team played you are in fact showing contempt to your fans. If you are terse, dismissive and defensive towards the media you are in fact being terse, dismissive and defensive towards your fans.

When you are winning this might not be a problem but when things go pear shaped it is tantamount to committing football suicide.

Whether you are Gold Coast United coach, Miron Bleiburg, who treats every press conference as if it’s his very own Tonight Show or Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick, whose meetings with media are akin to a black hole filled with inertia from which journos awaken not knowing what the hell just happened, there are some general Diego media rules you should abide by if you want to earn a semblance of respect from your fans:    

Rule No.1 Don’t pretend to be Arsene Wenger

Don’t say you didn’t see a controversial incident perpetrated by one of your players that everyone in the stadium and TV has seen and has been condemned worldwide as an act of thuggery.

Break Rule No.1 – You are treating your fans and supporters of the game with contempt. Expect to be slaughtered on talkback radio, social media forums and at office water coolers.

It’s about this time your board goes to the filing cabinet marked ‘Coaching CV’s from Holland and Czech Republic’ and starts putting together a shortlist for your replacement.

Rule No.2 – Don’t create your own reality

Don’t insist that your team was the better side and played brilliant football when they clearly didn’t.

Break Rule No.2 – You are treating your fans like idiots or worse, giving them the impression that you are clueless.

This is when they start chanting, ‘You don’t know what you are doing’.

Rule No.3 – Don’t trot out excuses  

Don’t say that you won’t use injuries as an excuse and then proceed to use injuries as an excuse.

Break Rule No.3 – Injuries and suspensions are part of football and using them as an excuse for not winning is a cop out that fans won’t tolerate.

It’s about this time when you become a Dead Man Walking and the board starts agitating to sack you for breaking Diego Rules 1 and 2.

Rule No.4 – Don’t complain about how hard things are  

Don’t complain about the long travel and fixture congestion involved with playing in the Asian Champions League unless you have the intestinal fortitude to withdraw from the competition and give another team who wants to be part of it a go.

Break Rule No.4With lives lost in floods around the globe, droughts, cyclones and mining disasters, not to mention the GFC and its destructive effects on families and communities there’s no sympathy for footballers who say they are tired or jetlagged. Get precious and you are gone.

It’s about this time fans start ripping up memberships and jumping ship to your cross town rivals.

Rule No.5 – Don’t pretend to be Sir Alex Ferguson

Don’t bully the media. Just because you’ve read Sir Alex Ferguson’s autobiography on how, throughout his career, he intimidated and used the media to meet his own ends doesn’t mean you can.

Break Rule No.5Big mistake! I wrote earlier that the media are conduits between you and the fans. Just remember a conduit scorned is the worst type of conduit.

It’s about this time when unbiased newspaper commentary about your performance has a decidedly unfavourable vibe about it and the media take ‘off the record’ calls from trigger happy board members who are more than willing to leak your imminent demise.

Rule No.6 – Don’t pretend to be Jose Mourinho

Don’t defend the indefensible ala The Special One. Do not deflect attention from your player’s actions by regurgitating free kick and red and yellow card stats perpetrated by the opposition. Jose gets away with it but he is a master. You and thousands of coaches worldwide are not.  

Break Rule No.6 – Again you are treating your fans with contempt.

It’s about this time that they’ll be standing outside your house and chanting, ‘You’ll be sacked in the morning’.

Rule No.7 – If you have a personality show it

Being a comedian doesn’t work if you can’t coach but if you can it can give you a lifeline – just ask Harry Redknapp.

In press conferences smile, laugh, crack a joke, show you have a personality and the fans and media will give you more time if your team is on a losing run. 

Break Rule No.7Pretty straight forward really - if you are not fired with enthusiasm you will be fired with enthusiasm.

There you go – seven Diego rules on how to better use the media.

The strain of having your future in the hands of 11 daft lads with varying intellect, preciousness, nocturnal endeavours and levels of integrity can be relentless, and I know it’s hard to sometimes find joy in the fine art of imparting the 4-4-2 on others but when you speak to the media remember you are actually speaking to the fans.

You are only in your job temporarily; the fans are there for life so treat them with respect because a winning run won’t be able to help you when the grim reaper of sacked coaches arrives.  

Don’t Get Angry - Spread the Love and You Will Have Your Revenge

Don’t Get Angry - Spread the Love and You Will Have Your Revenge

 by Carlos Alberto Diego


When Victoria Police Superintendent ‘Rebecca’ Wilson (real name ‘Rod’ but let’s gratuitously bring Becky into the blog just for fun) told the Herald Sun in Melbourne today that police were reluctant to cover Melbourne Victory games for fear of being assaulted by fans, I knew it was a ridiculous story but I wasn’t outraged.

When Detective Senior Sergeant Neil Mitchell was, in unconfirmed reports, heard to say, “I’d rather work undercover as a backpacker hanging out with Ivan Milat and Derryn Hinch at Wolf Creek instead of policing the soccer”, I knew it was absurd but I didn’t fume.

When Constable Peter Fitzsimmons and Hawaii Five–O Special ops Ray Chesterton said, “Let’s nuke the North End – they’re unAustralian”, I knew it was ludicrous but I didn’t hit back.  

YES it was another media beat up, YES it was designed to do the utmost PR damage going into the A-league finals and YES it succeeded in perpetuating longstanding negative mainstream perceptions about our game.

So why didn’t I want to lynch someone I hear you say? Because I have seen it all before and I reckon I have a better way of getting revenge.

Football people, have for a long time, talked about how anti soccer stories, such as the one we witnessed today, are driven by people in high places having agendas against our game. The conspiracy theories have it that these are apparently powerful, faceless men who preside over ‘big’ things. They supposedly control the AFL, the NRL, the media, the Government,  Shane Warne’s black book....really, really ‘big’ things.

For decades the Diegos dedicated ourselves to finding a way of exposing these faceless influential men. We wanted to get back at them for denying all Australians access to our game.

Our thinking, however turned around in 2006 - the year our game changed forever.

The Socceroos had captured the imagination of all Australians at the World Cup in Germany and Melbourne Victory versus Sydney FC drew a record crowd of 50,333 fans to a home and away A-league fixture.

Record TV ratings, record crowds and maximum mainstream exposure, investment and interest in the game finally gave us evidence of what was possible.

From that moment the Diegos realised that we did not have to defend our game – the game could look after itself.

What we needed to do was spread the word about why we love the game and why our mates, family and listeners should join in our weekly ‘orgy’ of football. We wanted to play our part in the revolution.

So in response to today’s latest instalment of soccer bashing the Diegos say - love the game, spread that love and you will have your greatest revenge.

Here’s how you should spread the love next season:

1. Next A-League season become a member of your local club and convince two of your mates to do the same.

Commit to turning up to every home game and suddenly the 5,000 core fans who attended Melbourne Heart, Sydney FC or Brisbane Roar games this season will increase to an average of 15,000 – 20,000. An average of 15,000 fans at Melbourne Victory games will increase to 40,000 – 45,000 fans and so on.


Show what is possible and a story like todays will be condemned to the crackpot Pauline Hansen One Nation file that no one will want to publish because no one will believe it.

2.    Protect your game next season by not allowing the anti-social minority jackass element to define what mainstream Australia thinks about our game.

I ask all organised fan groups from every A-League club to self police and have a zero tolerance to flares, racial/cultural/sexual vilification of others and general bad behaviour.

Be known for the passionate values you stand for; promote them and work with your club and police authorities to ensure that they are maintained.

Instead of being labelled as the worst fans of any sport be known as the best fans and be proud of it because you are growing the game in this country.

3.    Actively talk to non-football people about the virtues of the game.

Talk about the colourful personalities, the stars and the legends of the game. Get them excited by your passion and enthusiasm. Take them to a game now and then so they can take in the atmosphere. 

These are just a couple of things the Diegos have planned for next season.

Don’t waste your time being angry. One thing everyone, including the FFA, agrees is that the A-league, to have any future, must be FAN MADE.

Remember feel the game, spread the love and you will have your greatest revenge. 

Thug or Legend? How will Kevin Muscat be remembered?

Thug or Legend? How will Kevin Muscat be remembered?

 by Carlos Alberto Diego

It was in a former life as a school soccer coach back in 1988 when I first witnessed the terrifying psychological effect Kevin Muscat had on others.

It was half time and I was imploring the adolescent, gelled-haired Ronaldo wannabes in my team to lay a tackle on the cocky curly haired kid in the opposition who was strolling around destroying us with inch perfect through balls and impeccable reading of the play.

‘But Sir do you know who that is?’ one of my petrified over coiffed kids responded, ‘Its Kevin Muscat!’.

The horrified look in his eyes said it all.

I knew that not even my most inspirational ‘blow-dryer’ or stirring ‘I love youse guys’ pep talks was going to convince any of my boys to go anywhere near this bloke and what made it worse, Musky knew it.

Fast forward 22 years to the Melbourne Victory V Adelaide United A-league Round 22 clash at the Bubble Dome in Melbourne.

It was familiar sight. The ref brandishes a red card and an aggrieved Kevin Muscat departs the field for an early shower.

To many it was like Groundhog Day – the tense posturing, the predictable brain explosion, the infringement/maiming/bloodletting or all of the above, the ‘hold me back, hold me back’ afters, the bullied ref at the end of his tether nervously flashing his red card, and Musky trudging off with the weight of the world on his shoulders.

It was all very familiar but this time I felt something different.

Walking off, as he bizarrely crossed himself, I had a moment of clarity - not your religious ‘happy clappy’ clarity but a clarity more from the dark side. Apologies for the over dramatic prose but I was sad.

Not because I felt Kev was a victim of an injustice, as they say you live by the sword you die by the sword, but more because I was concerned that with only a handful of games left in his celebrated career, how would he, as one of our great Australian footballers, be remembered?

If you read Michael McGuire’s blog - Melbourne’s non-Victory: three cheers for justice at you might conclude that Kevin Muscat is and has always been no more than a talentless thug on the football field.

To back his case McGuire cites Musky’s crippling of English footballer Matty Holmes and subsequent payout for damages, and the ‘horrible’ injuries he inflicted on French international Christophe Dugarry and Welshman Craig Bellamy (even though many would’ve have paid big bucks to have seen the latter).

I’m sure there are a plethora of other on-field incidents that McGuire could also quote to further back his case. The evidence tells us over a long period of time that Muscat’s reputation for being a hard man, who routinely intimidates the opposition and referees to his advantage and oversteps the mark on the field, sometimes in a quite violent way, is undeniable.

Whether this makes him a talentless thug or the ultimate competitor will depend on whether you have the capacity or the want to separate his ugly on field reputation from his ability and achievements as a footballer.

At his ‘most hated man in football’ worst I am not a fan of Kevin Muscat the footballer - not so much what he does but more so why he feels the need to do it.

You see I disagree strongly with McGuire’s argument that Muscat ‘is not much of a player’. It’s ridiculous to make that claim irrespective how much you hate the guy. All you need to do is look at the facts.

This is bloke who broke into the old NSL as a 16 year old, played for the Young Socceroos in two Youth World Cups 1991 and 1993 (captaining Australia in the latter), played for the Olyroos at the 1996 Olympics, played for the Socceroos  51 times, broke into the Crystal Palace Division 1 championship winning team immediately on joining from NSL club South Melbourne in 1996, had the courage to take and score a memorable penalty at the MCG in the World Cup qualifier against Uruguay in 2001, had a 10 year career in the UK including captaining Millwill to an FA Cup final in 2004 and has been the most influential player for the most successful team – Melbourne Victory - in the six year history of the A-league. I think he is and always has been a great player.

So the question remains - Kevin Muscat ‘thug or legend’?

For what it’s worth I believe he has been too good a footballer to be remembered as a ‘thug’ but he has let himself down too often to be regarded as a ‘legend’.

How will he be remembered? What are your thoughts?

Close the Cold Case - Fossie needs to get excited about Angie

Close the Cold Case - Fossie needs to get excited about Angie

 by Carlos Alberto Diego

Whilst engrossed in the Brisbane Roar v Gold Coast M1 (aka Tropical Cyclone) derby on Boxing Day, a tight Fox Sports camera shot of Roar coach Angie Postecoglou propelled me back in time.

Flashback to 2005 - I was kicking back at home watching The World Game on SBS TV when one of the great TV interview 'assassinations' (figuratively speaking – don’t worry no one really died) was perpetrated. 

The accused was a younger, handsome, SBS appointed 'oracle' of world football - SBS chief football analyst Craig Foster. The victim - the unsuspecting, not as pretty (at best ruggedly handsome), under fire, Young Socceroo coach Angie Postecoglou. The episode came to be known in Diego circles as the Ambush of Angie and, for me, to this day this Oz football ‘Cold Case’ remains unsolved.

Those football lovers who saw it don't like to talk about it. The events that day were embarrassing at best and at worst, no classier than any of the bitter public feuds that were synonymous with the old Soccer Australia in the 80’s and 90’s.

With Angie trying to defend his record as coach of the kiddies (and his ability to coach full stop), Foster went for the jugular in a sort of warped George Negus meets Gordon Ramsay way and demanded the young coach's resignation on live TV. To Foster's indignation Angie refused and it got very ugly.

To this day 'Fossie' (see: With Ange, it's not personal – Craig Foster blog 27 October 2010) argues the attack was not personal and there is nothing wrong with what he did. For him it was all done for the good of the game and he stands by it.

No problem, as the 'oracle', Craig is entitled to his opinion. I however, as a humble football hack, disagree.

What I saw was a cheap, deeply disrespectful personal attack on a soft target that succeeded in shining little light on Postecoglou's alleged coaching deficiencies and specific tactical shortcomings.

It wasn't Foster’s relentless quest to ask the hard questions of an underperforming coach that, for me, was the issue. It was his total lack of respect in doing so that did not sit well with me especially since he more recently condemned both FFA 'Golden Tit' Frank Lowy and Fox Sports commentator Robbie Slater for not showing the requisite respect to the views of former Socceroos Les Scheinflug, Zejlko Kalac and current star Harry Kewell.

In my mind there is no way 'Fossie' would have attacked some of his Socceroo contemporaries such as Kevin Muscat, Craig Moore or Mark Viduka with the same ferocity if they had been in the same situation and with the same coaching record as Angie.

Luckily for 'Fossie' he will have the opportunity to prove me wrong as these guys embark on their coaching careers.

'Musky' is already in the system so I look forward to 'Fossie's' forthright analysis of Kev’s interpretation and implementation of a mobile, technically fluent, possession ladened Barcelona-like 4-3-3 or floating 4-2-2 formation. Heaven help Musky if he, as future Young Socceroo coach, ever loses to Laos or China. I await ‘Fossie’s’ interview with relish. I’m sure Muscat won’t take Craig forensic analysis personally.

The Diegos have interviewed Angie Postecoglou often over the last 18 years in his role as assistant coach to one of the legends of world footy Ferenc Puskas, as a multiple NSL championship winning coach with South Melbourne, as coach of the South Melbourne team that represented Oceania in the 2000 FIFA World Club Cup in Brazil, and as coach of Australian youth teams over the years. I was critical of his record as Australian youth coach and surprised when he was given the Roar job but never came close in an interview to delivering the level of disrespect shown to him by Foster.

Fast forward to 2010. Happily for Angie he, as the ‘Cold Case’ victim, is alive and well.

He has installed in Brisbane Roar’s style of play the type of beauty that is only rivalled by Craig Foster's looks. Don’t just take it from me ask the experts.

After being on the end of a 4-0 shellacking at the hands of Roar earlier this season, Adelaide United and experienced former Eredivise coach Rini Coolen, described Angie's team as playing a European standard (not brand or style – there’s a big difference) of football. This is the highest of praise for a courageous young Australian coach who, for a long time, people had little faith in.

Craig Foster in addressing the Ambush of Angie in his blog on the 27th October 2010 gives credit to Angie only for completing the coaching courses that have miraculously turned him from a supposedly dud coach into the most innovative Aussie coach of recent times.  

To me his praise of Postecoglou is underwhelming at best. Very little credit has been given to Angie for his innate ability to communicate and impart a successful style of play and get the best out of his team.

This is not something you learn merely by doing a coaching course. If it was that simple anyone could achieve what Angie has with his young team. I’m sure Pim Verbeek had all the necessary coaching qualifications and credentials and didn’t Craig want to run him out of town during the World Cup in South Africa? You either have it or you don't have it. In fact this is the difference between successful and unsuccessful coaches.

Fossie it's time to close this ‘Cold Case’ for good.

You went a long way to nearly burying the career of one of our finest young Australian coaches five years ago. He has come back from the dead and you should, as a widely read, watched and respected media professional, tell Australia that you are excited that one of our own is delivering the type of football that has put a snap in your shorts for many years. And you should do it with the same gusto that you slaughtered the guy with in 2005.

‘Fossie’ it is time you publicly hold him up as a model for all young Australian coaches to follow.

The Diegos certainly will.

Becky Wilson - Wonder Woman out to Wipeout 'Wogball'

Becky Wilson - Wonder Woman out to Wipeout 'Wogball'

by Carlos Alberto Diego

I’m not sure why I don’t know much about Rebecca Wilson. She says that she has been a sports journo for over 30 years (‘and a damned good one at that’ I can hear her scream) so you’d reckon that I, as an Aussie sports lover, would’ve heard something more about her.

I’m not familiar with much of her work but due to popular demand I’m about to bestow on her the much vaunted Four Diegos Soccer Hater of the Month Award. Forgive me if I don’t get my facts right but apparently, from what I have heard, it hasn’t got in the way of any article she has ever written about football so I guess she wouldn’t mind.

To prepare for the announcement I googled ‘Rebecca Wilson’ + ‘soccer’ and was blown away by a maelstrom of great stuff.

It was a wonderful, colourful cavalcade of reports about Bec’s hate, abuse and ill-informed comment by her on soccer; hate, abuse and informed comment by football fans about her and oh yeh …apparently she is the partner of News Limited boss John Hartigan – good career move mate…time for the Diegos to ‘turn’ for Frank Lowy.   

Those who know about our Soccer Hater of the Month Award know that we don’t just give this thing away to anyone who has an agenda against the game. We like to drill down deep to uncover the inner bitterness and resentment; the need to spew anti-soccer bile all over unsuspecting readers and of course, at its most primal level, why the winner hates ‘wogball’.

Sorry to be so frank on the last point but that’s what it’s always about isn’t it?

It’s the whole Johnny Warren ‘Sheilas, Wogs and Poofters’ thing all over again. We’ve seen it all before …an ignorant, arrogant, ill-prepared, narrow minded, ‘lemon chicken’ loving Aussie journo who wants to save us all from the evil of a foreign game that’s just not Australian … blah blah blah.   

In this respect ‘Becky’ is very unoriginal.

As a self-styled cutting edge journo couldn’t she have dug up some stories about a soccer player who had his balls licked by a dog on Mad Monday? A group of A-League player’s gang-banging a drugged up 16-year-old for fun? A scandal involving the Socceroos betting against themselves? An A-League salary cap rort or two? A peptide scandal that paralyses football? What about an A-league captain sleeping with a teammate’s missus? There’s surely an A-League player somewhere who is doing the dirty on his wife with a tacky Aussie bikini model and circulating the salacious photos on his iPhone to his mates? Now these are stories that say something about the culture of the game they emanate from.

Multicultural Australia renders Bec’s ‘They’re a Weird Mob’ view obsolete. Bec you’ve won the award but you’ve got to lift your game mate. The whole xenophobic thing is boring.

Yes Bec I hear you when you say ‘but Carlos soccer is a scary, foreign game racked with corruption, simulation and cheating - its unAustralian’ and that ‘all soccer fans are mad ethnic hooligans who, when locked up in a football stadium together, just want to cut each other’s throats’ (according to ‘Bec Wilson ABS statistics’ more people have been raped, pillaged and murdered at Australian soccer games than all of the world wars combined .... rumour is that the Aussie soccer war crimes tribunal in the Hague is Bec’s  next riveting front page story so stay tuned).

Becky, although left wanting on the creative writing front, you do beautifully meet all the award criteria:

Xenophobic – tick

Uninformed – tick

Unoriginal – tick

Journo with an agenda trying to get attention outside Rugby League heartland, Sydney– tick

Anyway Becky ‘Wonderful wondrous Wonder Woman working worldwide to wipe out wogball’ Wilson - for your fine but hackneyed work in the category of Soccer Bashing  - congratulations you are the Four Diegos Soccer Hater of the Month……now that’s done I’m off….there’s some ethnic violence I need to fuel at the soccer…Bec you want to come along? You might need your Pope Mobile.


Open Letter to Scott McDonald

Open Letter to Scott McDonald

by Carlos Alberto Diego

Dear Scott,

Hope you are well and that you’ve resisted the pre-game KFC temptation. I could’ve been anything if it wasn’t for the KFC temptation but I digress.

The real reason I’m writing is because I’m worried for you.

Not because you’re short of a quid or two. Not because you’re short of a kilo or two (thanks to that damned KFC). I’m not even worried that you are short full stop. No I’m worried because your Nullarbor sized goal drought at international level for the Socceroos may be getting to you. 

Yep 18 games without a goal for the Socceroos when you are selected in the team as a clinical goal poaching ‘prong’ is not a flash record. However embarrassing this record may be, up until recently, I have been impressed with the way you have attempted to stay positive. But I noticed in your bemused look after each of your ‘open goal’ fluffs against Poland last time out for Australia, that you might be starting to believe that your first goal may never come.

I suppose Pim endlessly referring to you as ‘Scotty Mac’ during his reign and him being wedded to ‘one prong’ up front formation is hard to put behind you. The psychological scars can linger for a long time….I know - I’m still dealing with Max Vieri getting a game for Australia and not me.

Yes I know that life has not been easy.

NIKE has done nothing to help you hide your love handles with their cutting edge, aerodynamic, ventilated and reverse ducted heated Socceroos shirts and for heaven’s sake you have to play and train under Gordon Strachan at Middlesborough on a daily basis.

For a long time the two little men your head were a cranky Scot who sees no sense in playing international football and a narrow minded Dutchman who sees no sense in playing international football with two prongs. I and the other Diegos really feel for you.

I know it’s been tough but you have to snap out of it mate.

I urge you to find the joy the in football especially when you’re wearing the green and gold. You score goals for fun in club competition so there’s no reason why you can’t do it on the world stage.

Pull out the tapes of your goals for Celtic against AC Milan and Manchester United in Champions League and play them over and over again and you’ll find the joy. Think back to your Cranbourne days when you debuted as a 15 year old and fathers were throwing their daughters (and at times wives) at you in gratitude for your goals and you’ll find the joy. Go clubbing with Wayne Rooney and the Diegos will guarantee that you find the joy.

Scott if you find the joy everything will be alright.

Let the Diegos be the little men in your head and you will be banging in the goals in no time.

Some free advice - always remember the Diegos motto: When you find goals hard to come by ….don’t freeze, inoculate against this goal disease – just score for fun and then tuck into a dozen pork buns.

No need to thank us – just dedicate your next hat trick for the Socceroos to the Diegos bro.

Love to Gordon and the boys at the Boro’.


Carlos Alberto Diego

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?


Soccer is as Australian as it gets

Soccer is as Australian as it gets

by Carlos Alberto Diego

Four Diegos 'Soccer Hater of the Month' Award goes to those in the media who the Diegos like to expose as being unashamed, overt haters of the world game.

Winners of this award tend to hold privileged positions in that they have the opportunity to shape the opinion of a radio, TV or print audience of many millions daily. Usually they get paid to fuel biases, be provocative and tap into deep prejudices all in the name of freedom of speech and the right to express an opinion.

Commercial realities dictate that these people need ratings and to peak public debate to stay relevant. Their performance and ability to keep their highly paid jobs are measured by AC Neilson media rating figures, talkback calls, emails and sms.

A favourite topic rehashed over and over by Soccer Haters in the media is that the game of soccer is 'unAustralian', 'wogball' if you like, and that it will never gain a foothold in the Australian market.  

The fact that according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Sweeny surveys and AC Neilson ratings for over a decade, soccer/football has already secured a deep and permanent foothold in the Australian market seems to have been missed or ignored by their teams of producers and researchers.

Soccer Haters in the media love the topic because it’s guaranteed to get a massive response without much work or real understanding. Big responses to this topic translate to ratings and yes more money through advertising and maybe a contract upgrade when negotiations with their employers come around.

They have no care that this debate perpetuates cultural stereotypes, feeds xenophobic attitudes and divides the public. In fact they love that it does ....very clever especially when the listener, viewer or reader numbers are down.

Our winner this month is 3AW Melbourne radio show host Neil Mitchell, author of the article JUST A SOCCER RUSE in the Herald Sun in Melbourne on Thursday July 1 2010.

In his article he argues that soccer will never become a premier sport in Australia because it does not reflect the nation's values and the unique Australian culture.

Now I as a Diego don't have Mr. Mitchell's money. I don't have Mr. Mitchell's high rating radio show or social, public or political connections. I don't have his weekly column in Australia's highest selling newspaper and I probably don't have his intelligence.

I have no right to position myself as the man of the people as Mr. Mitchell does....hell I don't even have his hair! But one thing I can match him on is that I am just as much an Australian as what he is and guess what ....I love soccer.

Strange thought that - an Australian loving soccer.

That is an Australian from Italian descent who has been a Western Bulldogs member all his life. An Australian who has worked with Indigenous Australians and culturally marginalised, new arrival and refugee groups teaching about Australian values across all sports including AFL, Cricket, Rugby, Basketball and Soccer.

An Australian who was shaped forever as a kid watching the brave 1974 Socceroos play in their first World Cup and bursting with pride at the inspirational performances of the current generation of Socceroos in both the 2006 and 2010 World Cups.

An Australian who is proud in the knowledge that hundreds of thousands of Australian families from diverse backgrounds, including an enormous number of those from anglo backgrounds, come together and unite weekly throughout the country to support the game of soccer at all levels from grassroots to the A-League.

An Australian who has witnessed the presence of great Australian values of respect, teamwork, loyalty, fair play and leadership displayed through the game of soccer daily in our schools and weekly in the many hundreds of soccer clubs throughout our nation.

Soccer ‘unAustralian’ Mr. Mitchell? There’s plenty of evidence that it isn’t. The opposite is true - its as Australian as it gets.

Hey Neil before you go with this as your next talkback topic why not venture out of your studio, the leafy suburb where you live and go and watch some soccer games. You'll find that you will encounter a cross section of the real Australia and you’ll see Australian values are thriving my friend.  

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