Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou has returned serve after legends Robbie Slater and Mark Bosnich questioned if he was the right man for the job.
A furious Slater took to Twitter on Wednesday morning to express his desire for change after Saudi Arabia’s 1-0 win over Japan saw Australia fail to directly qualify for next year’s FIFA World Cup.
Instead, an arduous set of play-offs is ahead for the Socceroos, who must beat Syria over two legs before facing the fourth-placed side from North American qualifying in another two-legged affair.
It means qualification for the 2018 Russia World Cup is in major doubt, and an angry Slater said “we need a new approach” after claiming the Socceroos had lost their way and were bogged down by “toxic crap” coming from Postecoglou’s siege mentality.
Bosnich was also heavily critical of Postecoglou on Tuesday evening, after Australia scraped past Thailand 2-1. But when asked to respond to his comments, Postecoglou said he didn’t “make anything” of the retired goalkeeper’s words.
“I’m not going to waste my time responding to it,” he told reporters.
“I think I said before the game, ‘I’m not everyone’s cup of tea’ … so you get on with life.”
“I’m coach of the national team. It’s a great honour. I took the role to do it a certain way and I’ll see it through … the Australian football industry chewed me up and spat me out 10 years ago, so this is nothing new.
“It doesn’t change my conviction for what I think is right for our game and our country.
“Last night, as frustrating as it was, I love watching that team play, my team play, our team play.”
Bosnich said Postecoglou’s move to use three defenders – instead of the regular four – in 2017 had “confused the players” who have “lacked clarity in so many of the games”.
“Don’t be using the national team as an experimental laboratory,” Bosnich told Fox Sports.
“It’s not there for that. It’s too important for that.”
But Postecoglou said that dissenters would not force him out of the job and that he was driven by the criticism.
“I won’t be pushed into the shadows of Australian football like others by just bowing to certain parts [of the community],” he said.
“I’ve survived much worse than this and if anything, it motivates me to keep going because I want to make sure Australian football gets on the right path.”
The Socceroos boss added that his side would “find consistency” and that his style and approach was “what works for us and what will work for us”.
Speaking before Australia’s fate was known, Bosnich said that Postecoglou was “hanging by a thread in my opinion” and that if Australia had to go through the play-offs that “serious consideration” needed to be given to “the fact we need a different voice”.
Australia will play Syria over two legs in October, with the Qasioun Eagles to ‘host’ their match in neutral territory because of the ongoing conflict in their nation.
Syria has played home matches in Oman and Malaysia throughout this campaign.