‘I was wrong’: Ange’s massive revelation
FORMER Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou has opened up on his dramatic decision to walk away from Australian football's top job just months out from the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
In a revealing personal column, the 52-year-old also hinted at his discontent surrounding the administration of Australian football and what needs to change in the Socceroos set-up right now.
Writing for Players Voice, Postecoglou has explained all his fears for the Socceroos when he walked away last year came true as the Socceroos were bundled out of the World Cup, securing just one point and finishing last in Group C.
In a column in which his critics will point out that the former Brisbane and Melbourne Victory boss conveniently glosses over the derailing impact his departure had on the Socceroos' Russian campaign, the Yokohama manager claims the Socceroos have taken a step backwards since he led them to qualify for the World Cup.
Eight months since he walked out on the team, Postecoglou believes Australia's results in Russia - a 2-1 loss to France, a 1-1 draw with Denmark and a 2-0 loss to Peru - vindicates his extreme approach to transform the Socceroos' thinking.
Most telling, however, Postecoglou has finally opened up on why he left - claiming his approach to play hyper-aggressive football saw him lose faith and friends within Football Federation Australia (FFA) circles.
Having scraped through qualifying with dramatic play-off series wins against Syria and Honduras after failing to gain direct qualification through Asia, Postecoglou's critics were growing in voice and he now claims the FFA's faith in his attack-at-all costs style was eroding.
Then he walked.
"I believed, wrongly in the end, that we had now entered a phase where we no longer had to feel underappreciated or place ourselves in that most comfortable position, the eternal underdog.
"Let's now stand up and show that we could conquer that last bastion of our sport.
"By 2017, I came to the realisation that in fact, rather than me riding on a tidal wave of change, I was in essence on a personal crusade.
"That did not sit well with me. I was in the privileged position of leading my country and while I believed it was time to change the way we are perceived at home and abroad, the voices of discontent and the feeling of isolation told me I had probably got it wrong.
"What has happened and transpired since I left the position shows me my instincts were right. We still want to be the underdog. We want everyone to know that eight times out of ten we will be beaten by the very best, but that does not mean we can't knock them off. After all we are Australians and we fear no one."
Postecoglou went on to say playing safe to avoid humiliation at the World Cup is a cancerous view that too many pessimistic Australian football commentators are guilty of.
After four consecutive World Cup appearances he says Australia can no longer play the innocent underdog card.
He still believes those views were ultimately responsible for his decision to resign.
"The final assessment was that we struggled through qualification," he said of his own tenure. "And in the process I lost the mandate for change.
"Through 22 games of the most arduous World Cup campaign ever, my blueprint had seemingly failed in the eyes of many.
"Of course we struggled. We were supposed to. That's how you improve and evolve. When we played Chile again in the Confederations Cup last year, the progress was there to be seen. Our game was designed so that we could be effective on good pitches, in good weather against opposition that wouldn't sit back - at a World Cup.
"By then, however, I was already heading for the exit."
Postecoglou also declared the Socceroos' path can remain positive if the entire footballing landscape evolves to demand something more than being competitive on the world stage and defensively stable.
He says with the likes of Daniel Arzani and Tom Rogic still with natural improvement left in their development, the Socceroos' future can be full of hope. We just have to aim higher.
BOZZA CALLS FOR CAHILL CELEBRATION GAME
Tim Cahill should be given a fitting end to his glittering international career in the form of a "massive farewell game", says former Socceroo Mark Bosnich. Cahill's decorated green-and-gold career appears over after the country's all- time top goalscorer tapped his wrist knowingly towards family members following Australia's World Cup-ending 2-0 loss to Peru.
The 38-year-old is yet to confirm this is it, having refused to comment after finally getting some minutes from coach Bert van Marwijk to ensure he played at his fourth consecutive World Cup.
But as the post-mortem begins on the Socceroos' latest failure to progress past their group in Russia, Cahill's time could be at an end.
Bosnich said the greatest servant of the game in Australia deserved to be sent out the right way.
"I think he deserves a massive farewell game," Bosnich told Fox Sports. "Out of respect it will be down to him - he may say he wants to continue. "Mile Jedinak and Mark Milligan are a little bit different, I think they can probably go on for a little bit longer.
"That'll be down to Graham Arnold, he may want their experience for that little bit.
"But we're looking forward to the next World Cup in Qatar so realistically he's got to keep that in the back (of his mind)." Should Cahill hang up his boots and Football Federation Australia agree to a farewell friendly, the earliest that could occur is the next FIFA window in September.
Former A-League coach and Sydney FC assistant Phil Moss did not rule out Cahill pushing on to January's Asian Cup but said his well-documented lack of club game time for Millwall must be rectified.
"Timmy has earned the right beyond any shadow of a doubt to call time when he's ready," Moss said.
"But obviously he's 38 years of age, the next World Cup is four years away. "The only glimmer of hope is that the Asian Cup is not too far away in the new year, but certainly he needs to be playing.
"At his age you can't just keep training without playing, you need to play games.
"But you would think at 38 this might be the final curtain."
- with AAP