Australian football has been shaken and stirred by news reports that emerged midweek that Socceroos boss Ange Postecoglou won’t be taking the team to Russia regardless of the result of their final qualifying play-off against Honduras next month.
The reports indicate Postecoglou will resign after the Honduras tie, after four years in the job which he took in 2013 replacing Holger Ossieck. The matches against Honduras will leave Postecoglou just shy of 50 games in charge of the Socceroos during which they were crowned Asian Champions in 2015, and competed well in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
With the reports yet to be confirmed or denied by the coach himself or the FFA, a swirl of rumour and conjecture has resulted with some reports speculating that Postecoglou is tired of the increased criticism of his tactics and selection arising from failure to qualify automatically for the World Cup. Critics point to a supposed rift with star player Aaron Mooy on his omission from Tuesday’s starting line-up against Syria however Mooy himself was quick to deny any ill-feeling on social media, saying his remarks about being angry at his non-selection were taken out of context.
Other reports speculate on tensions between the coach and the FFA executive despite Postecoglou praising the FFA for their support of the team in providing a charter flight home from Malaysia after the first leg of the qualifier against Syria.
Certainly it appears that Postecoglou hasn’t told his players about any intentions to resign. This however, may be a deliberate choice by the coach so as not to unsettle the team before the Honduras tie.
In any case, Socceroos keeper Matt Ryan told the ABC, “I’m still thinking he’s going to be there. If Ange or David Gallop tell the players something different, then I’ll know but, otherwise, I don’t think we can start thinking about ‘what’s next?'” he said.
“I’ve always loved Ange’s approach, the way he doesn’t see Australia as an underdog and how he asks the question, ‘Why can’t Australia do great things in the football world?’.
“I agree with him. That’s how you’ve got to be.”
Postecoglou’s only comments on the matter since the news broke on Wednesday was to neither confirm or deny the resignation.
In an official FFA media release, he is quoted as saying, “I am aware of reports today suggesting that I will step down as head coach of the Socceroos next month. My sole focus is on preparing the team for our final two qualifying matches. I will not let anything compromise the team’s journey on getting to a fourth consecutive FIFA World Cup.”
Likewise, the FFA has neither confirmed or denied the report with CEO David Gallop quoted in the same release as saying “Should we qualify, there is a period of some months until the World Cup and we agreed that we will need to lock in our set-up as soon as possible to maximise our preparation time.”