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WhoScored: Cesc driving Chelsea on

Tactics And Analysis 1 day ago
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Oct 23, 2013

Postecoglou's challenge

The name of new Australia boss Ange Postecoglou is synonymous with clinical overhauls, attacking style and, of course, success from his time in the A-League. But in which areas will the newly-appointed head coach shake-up a stale Socceroos side?

ESPN FC looks at some of the key issues which the 48-year-old will need to tackle immediately, as Australia prepares for Postecoglou's first game in charge, likely to be against Costa Rica in mid-November.

Style

Qualification for three consecutive World Cups has done little for the creation of Australia's identity in terms of football on the world stage. While AFC rivals Japan have established a reputation as a technically-adept side, Australia has failed to develop any sense of style or character under conservative bosses Pim Verbeek and Holger Osieck. That is one of Ange Postecoglou's chief aims at the helm.

While results will clearly matter for the Socceroos, having an Australian in charge for the 2014 World Cup and 2015 Asian Cup gives the national team a unique opportunity to put its brand of football on show. In short, Postecoglou gets what Australians want to see.

What that style exactly is remains a point of discussion, but a willingness to press quickly when possession is lost, while displaying some bravery in attack surely feature on every Australian's wish-list. These have been the hallmarks of Postecoglou's Brisbane Roar and Melbourne Victory sides in the A-League, and should serve him well in the next stage of his career.

Generation Gap

Following Lucas Neill's explosive comments after Osieck's sacking, debate has raged over the selection of Australia's senior players, with many insisting a clean out -- similar to that which Postecoglou undertook at Brisbane -- is imminent.

In truth, conjecture over Neill has been simmering for years, as the defender appeared an automatic selection even at times when he did not have a club, yet Osieck would not hear of his omission.

Postecoglou will already have a plan in mind for the team, and Neill, along with goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, is most at risk of losing his place. However, replacing the older heads is not as simple as some may think. The challenge is there for anyone to step into Neill's shoes at centre-back, for example, but no single candidate stands out.

In the recent past, Postecoglou has shown great faith in selecting youth over experience, throwing the likes of Luke DeVere, Andrew Nabbout and Rashid Mahazi into the fray without trepidation. Youngsters Tommy Oar and Robbie Kruse suit Postecoglou's style and will be almost certain to lead Australia's attack from here on, but his stance on other positions will only be revealed in the coming weeks.

Leadership

The future of incumbent skipper Neill is, of course, inextricably linked to the leadership of the team. Postecoglou may opt to retain Neill at the back, meaning he will also carry on the armband.

However, if the 35-year-old is given a tap on the shoulder to stand down, one or two other senior players will need to be kept in the squad to guide the younger players. Of those, Tim Cahill, Mark Bresciano, Luke Wilkshire and Schwarzer stand out as captaincy candidates, if selected.

It was telling at the 2010 World Cup, when many of Australia's senior players appeared to be sulking after a 4-0 loss to Germany in the opening group stage match, that the first person to lift their head and thank the visiting fans was Wilkshire. Not that clapping supporters is necessarily a great sign of a leader, but the ability to respond positively in a difficult circumstance is something Australia could use at the moment.

Left-back Dilemma

It certainly has been a point of concern for Australia in recent years. A solution for Postecoglou may be to select a left-back. It's a revolutionary idea, but it may be crazy enough to work.

Flippancy aside, playing people out of position was a bugbear of many in Australia during Osieck's reign, and nowhere was it more evident than at left-back. Midfielder Matt McKay was unfortunately lumped with the responsibility for far too long, while David Carney simply hasn't played or trained enough to warrant selection in the short to medium term.

Jason Davidson from Eredivisie outfit Heracles, along with Michael Zullo and Aziz Behich -- both of whom returned to the A-League on loan from Europe recently -- provide enough quality and should be given an opportunity to show their wares.

Midfield

Arguably the area of greatest strength and depth for Australia, there is clearly something not working of late -- as evidenced in recent 6-0 thrashings at the hands of Brazil and France.

Mile Jedinak is playing well in the Premier League for Crystal Palace, James Holland has emerged as a star for his Champions League side Austria Vienna, while Mark Milligan, McKay and Bresciano can all play similar roles in the middle of the park. Yet, for one reason or another, the recipe for success in this area has not yet been found.

Playing a formation which makes the most of their talents could be key to turning Australia's fortunes around on the pitch.

Conclusion

Each nation develops over time certain characteristics which resonate within its people. There is therefore a level of responsibility for a national team to reflect this, allowing for the proud baring of their soul to the world.

For Australia, this means having a go. Tactics are crucial, the development of technique and awareness from players, coaches and the media are all equally as important. But, at the nation's core, there is a desire to see players don the green and gold and play with a sense of fearlessness.

This is where Verbeek and Osieck failed. And it is Postecoglou's first challenge now that he has been entrusted with the position.

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