Australia have to go back to the drawing board following their 4-0 drubbing by Germany last night, and Neil Sherwin believes that the buck stops firmly with the manager on this one.
Yesterday’s radiant winter sunshine in Perth has been replaced by a dark and dreary morning that perfectly sums up how the mood of Australians has changed so dramatically in the past 24 hours.
There was great optimism and excitement heading into the World Cup opener with Germany but a football lesson from a youthful side brought everything crashing back down to earth with an ear shattering thud. Pim Verbeek’s decision to abandon the tried and tested formation that got the Socceroos to the finals in favour of an ultra defensive, forward-less 4-6-0 backfired spectaularly as the German defence cruised through 90 minutes without ever being put under any pressure.
When the news broke on Twitter that Richard Garcia was to lead what little of a forward line there was, you could almost hear the groans through the computer screen. The Hull City man has never excelled at international level and is very much a squad player, yet he was given the nod ahead of the usual target man Josh Kennedy who has been amongst the goals regularly.The idea behind the switch was to presumably pressure the Germans and not allow them time on the ball, yet the complete opposite happened as their back four was given far too much time and Philipp Lahm in particular was given the freedom of the ground to do whatever he liked to devastating affect.
A suicidal offside trap further contributed to the downfall, with the Germans’ first goal coming after Lucas Neill inexplicably stood yards behind his fellow defenders, allowing to Thomas Mueller to break free down the right and cross for Lukas Podolski to finish with aplomb. Further defensive frailties were exposed as Miroslav Klose stole in to head a second and effectively kill the game before half an hour had even elapsed.
The first substitution arrived at half time but instead of turning to Kennedy or the supposedly fit Harry Kewell and Mark Bresciano, we were treated to the sight of the sub par Brett Holman who offered absolutely nothing new other than an effort which he dragged wide of the post. At least he had a shot I suppose.
Tim Cahill’s dismissal eleven minutes into the second was more than questionable but, while it did make things more difficult for those remaining in the pitch, the damage was already done two hours before kick off when Verbeek’s line up became apparent. Two further German goals compounded a night of misery in Durban.
Ghana’s win over Serbia means that the final group game game between Australia and the Eastern Europeans could well end up being the wooden spoon game, and with an already horrible goal difference, a win will be imperative if there is to be any chance of progressing to the knockout stages.
However, unless someone has a strong word in Verbeek’s ear, it’s hard to expect anything more than an early flight home.
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