Bert Van Marwijk: Safe Choice, Yes. Inventive, No.

So the FFA have made their choice in Bert Van Marwijk as the Socceroos coach who will lead us to the World Cup later this year in Russia.


Undoubtably his resume is very impressive. He managed big clubs in Europe such as Feyenood and Borussia Dortmund. He lead the Dutch national side to the final of the World Cup in 2010, and most recently, managed Saudi Arabia to qualify automatically for this year’s World Cup in front of Australia who of course had to go through the dreaded play-offs to qualify.


So there are many good points in Van Marwijk’s appointment. His record speaks for itself, he has managed talented sides and sides that have had to battle, so he knows both ends of the spectrum. He is familiar with the players having played against the Socceroos while being coach of Saudi Arabia and while based in Europe, he will have easy access to our European based players who will form the majority of the squad.


While I can see the merits of the safe choice for Socceroos coach this is where I see the problem. The FFA have been playing safe for the last 2 to 3 years and frankly, the game is suffering because of it. Playing it safe has left the A-league floundering with poor crowds, lack of excitement and allowing sports such as cricket (Big Bash) and basketball (NBL) to gain strong footholds on the attention of the Oz sports lover.


There are teams clamouring to join the A-league that would give Australian Football an increased audience and interest straight away. It beggars belief that we have clubs such as South Melbourne ready and waiting to join and the FFA are sitting on their hands. Even our junior development has played it safe and now we have some of our junior national sides struggling to make the finals of the Asia Cup let alone World Cup finals. The FFA board are playing it safe by not allowing the A League clubs to have more say in how the game is governed in this country and now we are in a stalemate that has left the game with no leadership at this very moment.


It was one of the reasons Ange Postecoglou resigned as Socceroos coach.


If there is one thing I have learnt from my observations of watching sport is, in majority of cases, the innovative and boldest teams or individuals tend to be the most successful in their sport. Van Marwijk had a Dutch side in 2010 that Robben, Sneijder, Van Persie and Van Der Vaart yet Van Marwijk style was bash and crash. While this got them to a world cup final one could argue it was more the talent that got there than what the coach enforced.


There is every chance a Mooy or a Rogic might be deemed a luxury for the coach and the Socceroos will go to Russia with a bash and crash side.  If this style then delivers the same result we had in Brazil 2014, then what progress has Australian football made in 4 years?


So yes, safe can be good for short term decisions, but is this another example of FFA’s lack of foresight and a further blight on the game it may never recover from.


About Vaughan Menlove

Obsessed with Richmond, Luton Town, Melbourne Victory and Arsenal. The Dr had a soccer career hampered by the realisation he was crap, but could talk his way around the game. Co host of It's Not Called Soccer podcast


  1. I totally agree, Doctor.

    I just cannot understand the idea behind an interim appointment. What purpose does that serve?
    Would it happen in any other sport?

    I am a big fan of football (round-ball), but at this point in time I really fear for its future in this country.

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