The ink is barely dry on Ange Postecoglou’s contract with Football Federation Australia and the first seismic shift in his approach is being felt with the retirement of venerable goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer.
Postecoglou has opted to go with Borussia Dortmund’s Mitch Langerak, 25, and Club Brugge’s 21-year-old shot-stopper Mat Ryan to replace Schwarzer in his 22-man squad for this month’s friendly with Costa Rica.
Schwarzer has been part of the furniture in the Australian side for the past decade after debuting way back in 1993, but the writing was on the wall when he chose to tread a comfortable, well-paid path into retirement with Chelsea.
The formula for Postecoglou is simple – he is intent on building a side for the future, and the two goalkeepers he named in his first squad on Wednesday certainly point to that.
Other omissions from Holger Osieck’s final squad were Luke Wilkshire, David Carney and Sasa Ognenovski.
When Schwarzer, 41, accepted a contract from Chelsea manager, Jose Mourinho, he acknowledged he was on borrowed time in the international arena.
“By signing for Chelsea, if I haven’t played enough games or played (any) games by next month, we’ll have to wait and see what happens,” Schwarzer said in August.
“Nobody’s guaranteed a spot in the (Australian) squad. The places are very fiercely contested for. Fingers crossed that things work out.”
Clearly, for Postecoglou, things weren’t going to “work out”, and the new Socceroos boss – as is his mandate – is looking ahead, not just to next year’s World Cup in Brazil, but well beyond.
While many felt Adelaide United’s Eugene Galekovic could have been in the frame for the national side, Postecoglou has gone with two younger men plying their trade in Europe.
Dortmund’s Langerak has been tipped as the logical successor for Schwarzer’s jersey, but he is struggling for game time in the Bundesliga, making just one appearance this term.
Ryan, meanwhile, has been a regular for Belgian side, Club Brugge, this season even though some of the 21-year-old’s positioning has been suspect in recent weeks.
Ryan has conceded eight goals in his past four matches in Belgium’s top flight although, to be fair, his defenders haven’t done him many favours.
Despite those numbers, he is doing something Langerak, Reading’s Adam Federici and Schwarzer aren’t: he’s playing regular first-team football.
Whoever he opts to move forward with, Postecoglou has set out his stall early in the piece – 2006 was a long time ago, and as we have seen from his time at Melbourne Victory, he isn’t afraid to test youngsters to see how they respond.