The FFA says it got its first choice for the job of new Socceroos boss in Dutch coach Bert Van Marwijk.
FFA CEO David Gallop said “The good thing about the (selection) process, it allowed us to narrow things down to a target. And our number one target was Bert. As I said he’s been so successful over such a long time, been right through a World Cup campaign, taking Holland to the final, and more recently his involvement with the Saudi team meant that he and his people had intimate knowledge of our players. That was the critical factor. It wasn’t just one thing. It was a range of things.”
Speaking at his first press conference in Australia, hours after touching down in Sydney, the 65–year–old Van Marwijk said he was attracted to the job of Socceroos’ coach because having coached against them with Saudi Arabia and as coach of Holland, he was drawn to their mentality.
“The mentality of Australia is special and the sports culture is special. And I [wanted to] go to the World [Cup]. So I think that’s a good combination.”
Van Marwijk says the job presents a big challenge because he has only four–five months.
“So I have to get to know the players fairly well in a short time.”
To this aim he’ll be casting his eye over the A-League and any prospective Socceroos this weekend before turning his attention to observing closely the European-based Socceroos.
During the press conference Van Marwijk indicated that he wasn’t a great fan of friendlies, preferring to spend time training.
“Training is very important because as coach of a national team, you have not so much time. I like to train because you can improve the team and also the players. A lot of countries play a lot of friendly games. When I make a decision, I would not play a lot of friendly games. I would train more.”
Van Marwijk has been described as a pragmatic coach, giving rise to speculation that the Socceroos’ style of play may change from the high intensity, possession based style favoured by former coach Postecoglou.
“I have respect for the former coach but I will do it my way. I’m a realistic coach. I like creative football. I like to have the ball. But I also like to win. That’s the most important thing. I think it’s important that we play in a way that fits the players and also the coach,” Van Marwijk said.
“You cannot play in a way that the players cannot do and when they don’t like to play in a way you want to play, then you make a mistake I think. So it’s important for me as soon as possible to get to know the players and their qualities.”
When asked what his hopes and expectations are for the World Cup, he replied, “I go to the World Cup with only one that counts, to survive the first round. And nobody has to tell me that’s difficult because our opponents are good countries. But to me at the moment, only one that counts, and that’s the first game.”