For people who care passionately about football in this country it’s frustrating and sad to see the level of criticism the national team coach has endured recently.

Ange Postecoglou is trying to change the way Australia plays and thinks about football.

This is a a hard-enough process by itself, but he’s also doing it with a Socceroos squad that’s nowhere near what it once was.

This process is something footballing giants Germany went through after its dismal EURO 2000 campaign which prompted huge investments in its youth development and technical skills.

Fast forward to present and Germany, the current world champions, also lifted the Confederations Cup with starring troupe Leon Goretzka, 22, Joshua Kimmich, 22, and Julian Brandt, 21 providing shining examples of the about-turn in philosophy.

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This demonstrates that if criticism is harnessed correctly it can be tremendously productive.

The relentless scrutiny placed on Postegcoglou however, a man who’s poured a lifetime of blood, sweat and tears into Australian football is largely undeserved.

This is a man who won multiple NSL titles as a player and manager and spent over half a decade developing Australia’s future stars in various national youth teams.

This is a man who revolutionised the way football is played in the A-League guiding Brisbane Roar to back-to-back championships.

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This is a man who was given just months to prepare a Socceroos side who had endured consecutive 6-0 defeats for a World Cup “group of death”.

Finally, this is a man who twelve months later led Australia to its first piece of competitive silverware at senior level and received the PFA manager of the decade award.

In evaluating Postecoglou’s above successes a noticeable trend begins to emerge.

When Postecoglou arrived at the Roar he exchanged experienced players Craig Moore, Charlie Miller and Liam Reddy for younger talents in Tommy Oar, Michael Zullo and Adam Sarota.

Brisbane’s free-flowing possession play drew comparisons with European giants Barcelona culminating in a record breaking 36-game unbeaten streak.

Similarly, when accepting the Socceroos job he replaced stalwarts Lucas Neil, Luke Wilskshere and Mark Shwarzer with promising youngsters Trent Sainsbury, Mat Ryan and Mathew Leckie.

Australia won worldwide praise for its performance against Holland at the 2014 World Cup and went on to win the Asian Cup for the first time in its history one year later.

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Success following a focus on youth development and technical skill, now where have we heard that before?

Under Postecoglou the Socceroos have lost just one of their twenty-one match qualification campaign and sit one win away from qualifying for its fourth consecutive World Cup.

In a tenure that has admittingly not been perfect Postecoglou recently spoke of the “tremendous progress” his side has made since he took over.

The Socceroos first leg performance against Honduras exemplified his words perfectly.

Australia travelled halfway around the world to play in one of the most hostile environments on the planet on a pitch that resembled a cow paddock.

Deploying Postecoglou’s usual expansive, free flowing style Australia totally outplayed played Honduras in their own backyard.

Yet critics of Postecoglou continue to slam his failure to secure automatic World Cup qualification, a feat both his predecessors managed.

If critics are to compare the feats of managers it’s only fair we compare the quality of squads in which these managers had at their disposal.

To begin, let’s look at Australia’s starting line-ups of for the final game in the 2010, 2014 and 2018 World Cup Qualifying campaigns.

In evaluating the quality of each team, the table below contains every “A-list” player (classified by playing in the English Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, Eredivisie or Bundesliga) in each starting line-up.

2009 – vs Japan 2013 – vs Iraq 2017 – vs Syria
Schwarzer Schwarzer Leckie
Neil Cahill Smith
Cahill Kruse Ryan
Culina Oar
Grella Holman
Sterjovski Bresciano

Of Australia’s three current “A-List” players, Mat Ryan is in his first season in the Premier League while Brad Smith is largely a bit part player for Bournemouth.

Compare this to the instrumental roles Mark Schwarzer, Tim Cahill, Marco Bresciano and Vince Grella played for their respective clubs and a clear difference in class becomes evident.

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This is without mentioning Australia’s greatest ever player Harry Kewell who was injured at the time of qualification.

Kewell was not injured in Australia’s Asian Cup campaigns of 2007 and 2011 though and despite going in as favourites the Socceroos left both tournaments without the Cup.

Suddenly Postecoglou’s 2015 triumph seems even more impressive.

There’s no way Holger Osieck or Pim Verbeek would have played the same way in Honduras but looking back on the wealth of talent each had on their hands it makes you wonder why they didn’t.

Australian football has long been known for its gritty determination, never say die attitude and physical nature, traits most nations would be proud of.

To develop as a footballing nation however, The national side needs to take a page from Germany’s book and continue promoting Australia’s youth and technical skills.

This is a vision Postecoglou shares and has begun to implement on Australian football which will hopefully lay the foundation for future generations.

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Football fan and digital communications officer following Perth Glory during the 2017/2018 A-League season.