Vidmar Australia U23 move massive letdown
EDITORIAL: Aurelio Vidmar's appointment as new Australia U23 coach is a massive, massive let down.
It's a nothing job. A career killer. And for the one, genuine A-League candidate worthy of recognition as a future Australia coach, it smacks of the soft option.
Of all the Australian coaches, past and present, that have worked in the A-League, Vidmar was front and centre to be our next Australian-born national team boss.
The authority displayed by his Adelaide United in this year's Champions League campaign was a sure sign of Vidmar's own coaching maturity. Sure the Reds fell short of their 2008 run to the final, but where that previous team relied on squeezing the life out of the opposition and nicking a goal on the break, the 2010 model played with a tempo and attacking confidence of a real Champions League regular. The Reds played as if they belonged at that level - and Vidmar coached in the same fashion.
Of course, the writing was on the wall that he would be leaving Adelaide after a dismal A-League campaign. But the club's ownership issues and a tiny transfer budget were out of Vidmar's hands. The problems that engulfed the club were beyond his control.
But the parting of ways should have led Vidmar to a move abroad.
With his profile at it's career height across Asia, his minders should have been sounding out K-League and J-League clubs about his availability and setting him up for a move to the Far East.
With the four-year World Cup cycle about to kickoff again, I could see Vidmar using his Champions League success and his experience at Sanfrecce Hiroshima to land himself a lucrative J-League job. The money would be great, but more importantly he could set himself four years of competing for silverware in Japan - and beyond - before returning to Australia and leading the country to the 2018 World Cup.
For any Australian, a CV boasting success in the J-League or K-League, particularly given the recognition the World Cup campaigns of Japan and South Korea have generated for both leagues, would stand up alongside any European manager eyeing the Socceroos job.
But by accepting the Australia U23 job, Vidmar hasn't even taken a sideways step. The only road open to him after this role has run its course is a Football Federation Australia 'organised' A-League post. It doesn't matter if he his coach of the U23s for one week or two years, it is worth the same in terms of career progress.
Apart from a gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics, I just don't see how the FFA could sell it to the public that Vidmar would deserve the senior job ahead of European candidates with long Champions League careers. Four years in Japan? Yes, definitely. But coaching a low-profile team for a tournament that struggles for credibility around the world? Bar a medal, I just don't see the Australian public accepting it. I wouldn't.
Yes, Vidmar will be an assistant to the next national coach, whether that's Marcello Lippi or Paul Le Guen, and the FFA will talk about a 'succession plan', but Australian football needs to be better than that. The job should go to the best qualified. End of.
An Aurelio Vidmar with four years of overseas coaching experience would have my vote everytime. But actually being taken out of the club game for the same period - and having only managed at A-League level? No chance.