All Australian players should welcome Verbeek standard
EDITORIAL: It took a Dutchman from South Korea to hand Chris Coyne - at 29 - his first Australia cap. Now with Perth Glory, Coyne was overlooked by Pim Verbeek for this week's friendly in Ireland. But his involvement with the national set-up is part of the legacy Verbeek will eventually leave Australia.
Coyne's original call-up earlier this year was met with derision from the 'Special Ones' in the local media. A 29 year-old from Perth, who counted Colchester and Luton as his two most recent clubs, the ex-players' brigade were falling over themselves to rubbish the selection.
But Coyne's supporters knew that his debut had been a long time coming. Colchester broke their transfer record last year to buy Coyne from Luton, where he was well-established as club captain and had knocked back multiple approaches from the Republic of Ireland in the hope that his quality would eventually be recognised by Australia.
At Luton, Coyne's leadership ability helped bring through two eventual Premiership defenders in Curtis Davies (Aston Villa) and Leon Barnett (West Brom). Verbeek was aware of this and knowing that with Craig Moore's short-term retirement went his prime 'verbaliser', the Dutchman had no hesitation to call in Coyne for a training run at the end of last season as he kicked off his close-season break home in Perth.
Coyne's emergence is a great triumph for Verbeek, who has brought an approach to national team selection never before seen in Australia. No eastern state favouritism, no cliques, if you're good enough, you're in.
You always worry when players refer to their manager by their nickname. It may have been wide of the mark, but there was always the perception that Graham Arnold was too close to a clique of senior players. The reign of Steve McClaren as England manager was hit by similar issues, which was highlighted by Portsmouth goalkeeper David James in a recent column for the Guardian:
"I have had managers in the past who have been so pally-pally with the players that you question their selection. Is that a suggestion favouritism has occurred? Yes, I suppose.
"But it's not like that with Mr Capello. He's the boss but he doesn't want to be one of the lads. And I respect that. His information is brief, concise and understandable."
It's exciting to finally see a squad where you feel that every selection is their on merit.
None of Verbeek's predecessors would have jumped on a plane for Japan to shake hands with Eddy Bosnar, the JEF United defender - and not alerting pals in the media in the process.
But this is Verbeek all over. He'll meet with David Moyes at Everton to discuss Tim Cahill's situation, or dispatch his No2, Henk Duut, to Scotland to check on Celtic striker Scott McDonald and do it all quietly, without the need for public recognition.
This current squad includes a 'bolter' in the Bolton Wanderers midfielder Aaron Mooy. With zero profile in the local media, the selection raised eyebrows amongst the soccer clique. But Bolton management have been raving about Mooy for over 18 months and Verbeek will be well aware of his exciting progress.
This is the message Australian players can take from Verbeek's coaching reign. No matter who you are or where you play, if you're good enough you will get your chance. An Australian scout will find you and you will be given the opportunity to stake your claim.
This is the standard that Football Federation Australia must demand of all future national team coaches. Whether they're Australian, Dutch or Vietnamese, Australia's coaches must be prepared to get on a jet and watch a player in the flesh. And not just your Cahills or Schwarzers at the luxury clubs, but also lads like Mooy and another new cap, Oliver Bozanic, running around for little Cheltenham.
This is the standard Verbeek has set.