Sport Football Why the Socceroos need to find their mongrel

Why the Socceroos need to find their mongrel

Tim Cahill
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The honeymoon ends on Thursday morning for Ange Postecoglou and his Socceroos.

In football, honeymoons last about as long as a Kardashian marriage.

Mathew Leckie posed plenty of problems for Chile. Photo: Getty

It’s the reason why Postecoglou was so genuinely crestfallen after his team’s loss against Chile in Cuiaba.

A point at the World Cup finals is precious metal. Three points for a team as low down in football’s caste system as the Socceroos would be like stumbling over the Welcome Stranger – life altering.

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That the Australians came away with their pockets empty but their hearts filled with pride means nothing to the coach. You can’t bank dignity like you can three points. And in the end, points are the only currency anyone trades in at the World Cup.

The Socceroos reward for their fruitless graft against Chile is a date with the Dutch. There’s a certain irony in all of this.

When Australian football was given it’s total makeover at the start of the last decade, it was the Dutch system we eyed enviously as a model that would pave the pathway to success.

Our torrid and brief love affair with Guus Hiddink that led to the dizzying heights of the round-of-16 at Germany 2006 only confirmed our passion for the Dutch philosophy of Total Football. The arrival of Pim Verbeek and the indifferent results in South Africa saw our love affair with the Oranj sour.

Maybe the Dutch weren’t all they were cracked up to be?

In Porto Alegre Thursday morning, the Socceroos will find out first hand.

Robin Van Persie, Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder are the most devastating three piece outfit since You Am I.

Here in Brazil the locals, who assess and consume sumptuous football like gourmet chefs judging fine cuisine, were swept off their feet by the Netherlands’ vivisection of world champions, Spain.

It was such a clinical procedure one hoped the Spaniards were organ donors as they had theirs removed with surgical precision.

Van Persie, Robben and Sneijder: Enough to give Socceroos fans a Heavy Heart. Photo: Getty

Robin Van Persie, Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder are the most devastating three piece outfit since You Am I.

And they play like rock stars as well.

If the Socceroos are to have any hope they must carry the energy and industry from Cuiaba into the game in Porto Alegre and add a touch of mongrel.

As much as Postecoglou dreams of conducting a team that plays football like a symphony, there are times where a rumble rather than a recital is required.

And we shouldn’t feel hung up on giving the Dutch a taste of streetwise football. At South Africa 2010, the Netherlands employed its own brand of Kung Fu fighting to make it to the final.

What goes around comes around.

You can beat us, but how much are you prepared to give to do so?

It’s not a question of killing the game with cynical tactics and crude tackling. Remember, this Socceroos team can play.

Being physical, uncompromising, unsociable and fierce in the tackle will send a message to a team renowned for a fragile temperament.

You can beat us, but how much are you prepared to give to do so?

Postecoglou will ask his team again to believe in what no one else will, a win against the Netherlands.

It’s only a fool who believes it possible, but no one walks out on the pitch at a World Cup match accepting their fate before a ball is kicked.

Certainly not Ange Postecoglou, the kind of fool who sometimes has the last laugh.

Ange Postecoglou pits his wits against Louis van Gaal, the new Manchester United boss and one of the most formidable tacticians in football. Photo: Getty

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