PLAY IT SHORT: A-League/Socceroos fall-out

REMEMBER ME?
Delighted for Paul Le Guen on Friday with his Oman beating Australia - not the least for leaving local pundits with egg on their faces.
When the Marathon des Sables veteran was mentioned as a candidate for the Aussie job, instead of taking a considered look at his entire career, the local soccer media went into overdrive doing the typical and rubbishing the Frenchman simply because of Cameroon's World Cup failure.
But the fluency that Le Guen's Oman displayed on Friday showed the Frenchman would have been just as successful appointment as Osieck. Great coach, great fella.

OSIECK A FAVOURITE IN THE ECHO
Holger Osieck was impressive with his handling of the Tim Cahill situation last week. He could have thrown a wobbler and had a pop at Everton, but chose the high road - which was appreciated by the Liverpool press. I just hope Osieck and his staff are carrying on the good work Pim Verbeek did in reaching out to clubs and players outside of Australia. There may have been some high profile complaints (politicised by a media hell bent on getting Verbeek ousted), but the Dutchman and his right-hand man Henk Duut were regulars in England, Scotland - even Japan - to meet with clubs and players to keep the international waters smooth.


THE THREE-FOR-ONE VERBEEK EARNED OZ
Speaking of Verbeek, Rhys Williams looks like getting his move to the Premier League in January. Williams captained a Wales U21 team which featured the likes of Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey and Chris Gunter before Verbeek's intervention. Australia have probably picked up a three-for-one thanks to Verbeek's efforts as brother Ryan is pulling up trees at Portsmouth and Aryn is coming through at Burnley.


WARNER A CANNY HERBERT CAPTURE
Tony Warner was magnificent against Brisbane Roar on Sunday. Schooled at Liverpool, he came to Wellington as Tranmere Rovers' No1 and is proving a great signing by Ricki Herbert. Now 37, he's practically a kid in the world of goalkeepers when you consider Brad Friedel and Mark Schwarzer! That near post super save was genuine international class, the sort of thing you won't always see in the A-League. The Scouser is a great addition to the comp.


ARCHIE IS NOT 33!
I had my doubts about Archie Thompson at the start of the season. When he was speaking out about wanting to play as a striker, I thought he was living on a reputation of two years ago. He'd hardly done anything since his knee setback in the GF. But his form is as good as anything we've seen in this competition's history. He's now 33, but I'd argue we're seeing a player at the very peak of his powers at a football age of 27 or 28. He missed that year with his knee injury - and when you consider the lack of wear and tear players enjoy in the A-League compared to the heavy programmes of Europe - Thompson really does appear to be benefiting from this. That shift he put in against Brisbane Roar was a stunner. It's really the responsibility of Victory, Foxtel and the FFA to make the sporting public of Australia know what they have on their doorstep in this bloke. We're witnessing something special.


TUMBLEWEEDS OR STAMPEDE FOR HEART?
Melbourne Heart: cue the tumbleweeds and the crickets.
Fantastic win, some great performances - is this the watershed moment? For me, the Heart's football department have been taking the mick since their inception. No targets, but 'we play football in the right way'. The 'softly, softly' approach came across as if they were covering their backsides if things didn't work out on the pitch.
But I could be completely wrong and this win may inspire more people through the gate and more to watch Heart games on Foxtel. If it does, then the Heart's football chiefs deserve all the credit in the world. But for me, no targets, no expectations, equals no pressure and little interest. The Heart need to matter to people, you don't do that by not placing expectations on yourselves.

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