With the football world still in shock about Ange Postecoglou’s likely departure from the Socceroos, former Australia captain Paul Wade said it is an “absolute disgrace” if reports of player unrest have led to the decision.
Postecoglou refused to confirm or deny widespread speculation he was set to quit his post on Wednesday – seen as a sign of his probable exit following November’s FIFA World Cup inter-continental play-off against Honduras.
Former Socceroo Mark Bosnich said on Fox Sports that “a lot of players” were left unhappy at moments during Postecoglou’s tenure, while Robbie Slater added that there were “obviously problems” inside the Australian camp, particularly with star midfielder Aaron Mooy.
Wade said he was “really concerned” by reports Postecoglou had been undermined by his own players.
“I’m shocked, like everyone else,” he told The New Daily.
“We all knew he was going after the World Cup – but if he is being undermined by the players, it’s an absolute disgrace.
“I feel it is just so un-Australian to undermine the coach in my opinion. It’s just so wrong.”
Mooy said he was “angry” with Postecoglou’s decision not to start him against Syria on Tuesday night, as Australia battled to a 2-1 win in extra time to set up the Honduras clash.
He added that Postecoglou’s formation for the match was a “bit different” but that he believed in his coach.
“Maybe it is naivety that caused him to say what he said,” Wade said.
“But I was listening to him thinking, ‘shut up, don’t say anything’.
“If he [Postecoglou] is going to pull the plug, I can only imagine his thinking is along the lines of the lack of support from players or trouble makers.
“And I don’t blame him … if there’s two, three, four or five in the squad undermining him, I would go too.”
Ex-Socceroo midfielder Josip Skoko said the timing of Postecoglou’s likely decision baffled him.
“It’s a bit puzzling – it’s not every day that you get to go to a World Cup as a player or a coach. It’s even rarer as a coach,” he told The New Daily.
“He’s put in a lot of hard work to potentially get there. He must have strong reasons.”
Skoko would like to see an Australian coach replace Postecoglou – but doesn’t think the talk about a new boss will prove too much of a distraction for the Socceroos ahead of next month’s crucial clashes.
“Short-term, you need someone knowledgable, someone who knows the Aussie boys and the game in Australia,” he said.
“Even long-term – I’d prefer a local coach. Graham Arnold is one that has the experience.
“He’s been there before and he has developed since. He definitely has to be looked at but it depends on what the squad needs.”
Skoko, who played under Guus Hiddink when he was brought in ahead of the 2006 FIFA World Cup, said the Dutchman was also “worth taking a look at” given his varied success with short-term jobs.
Wade insisted Arnold is the right man for the job, though, giving the Sydney FC coach a ringing endorsement.
“I hope they get ‘Arnie’ in,” he added.
“He’s got Sydney FC to become the best team ever in the A-League.
“He is much liked and much respected by the players because he has done it on the park himself.
“Arnie was also with Guus Hiddink when it was happening [in late 2005 and 2006] and helping.
“There’s so much that says ‘give it to Arnie straight away’.”
Honduras won its way through to the inter-continental play-off after an upset 3-2 win over Mexico on Wednesday.
It was just minutes away from automatic qualification, though, only for a late Panama goal – against Costa Rica – to relegate it into the play-offs and send the United States crashing out of contention.