Australia’s campaign to Russia has taken another step in the right direction, with the appointment of new Head Coach, Bert van Marwijk.
The newly-appointed Dutchman has had an illustrious career on the sideline, coming within minutes of a World Cup victory in 2010 with the Netherlands, and winning the UEFA Cup victory with Feyenoord in 2002.
However, neither of the two accomplishments were the reasons as to why he was sought after by David Gallop and the FFA. Australia were struggling to qualify, missing out on automatic qualification and having to go through the Playoff rounds to eventually reach Russia. They can largely thank van Marwijk for that problem.
Van Marwijk was the man who guided fellow Asia-qualifier, Saudi Arabia to an automatic qualification spot in this years FIFA World Cup, making history and qualifying for the first time in 12 years.
However, due to discussions over contract negotiations between van Marwijk and the Saudi Arabian Football Federation, the FFA pounced.
Many names were rumoured to be circling the job that was left vacant by Postecoglou after the Socceroos qualified for Russia, including former Manchester City manager, Roberto Mancini and former Manchester United manager, Louis Van Gaal. However, they were seeking a manager who had proven to take a second tier side, like Australia and Saudi Arabia, rather than someone who has taken the reigns of a big name club or country.
However, former manager Ange Postecoglou has labelled the appointment ‘pragmatic’ and safe.
With only months remaining before the campaign begins, he recognised that it was a ‘logical’ appointment, analysing the group within the group stage matches of qualifying.
Previously, van Marwijk’s teams have always been hard to beat, and Postecoglou believes that’s the reason as to why he was chosen above everyone else.
“It looks likely that Arnold would leave Sydney FC to replace van Marwijk ahead of the Asian Cup in the UAE in January next year,” Postecoglou added.
A move that has been slightly criticised by the former manager, believing the best time for him to take over was now.
“I think if Graham Arnold wanted the job, I think he would have been better placed to take it now,” he said.
Van Marwijk’s era will most likely only run until the conclusion of the World Cup, before Arnold takes the reigns over the National side.
While many aren’t given the Australians much of a chance, van Marwijk isn’t here to just be at the World Cup and be competitive, telling the Sydney Morning Herald, “I want to win our matches.”
Australia begins their campaign on 16 June, facing powerhouse France, before games against Denmark (21 June) and Peru (26 June) round out the group stage for the Socceroos.