Six ways to improve the popularity of the Socceroos

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We’re between World Cups again, which means most Australians are back to not caring about the Socceroos.

With the 2015 Asian Cup approaching and national interest probably hitting an all-time low after the recent 0-0 insult to football against the UAE, somebody needs to have a crack at solving the problem – hold your overwhelming thank-yous and congratulations until the end.

Here are six ideas for David Gallop to pore over.

1. Start winning games

There are people that will tell you that winning isn’t everything, but people are stupid: winning is a million times more fun than losing.

So far in 2014, the Socceroos have won just once; a stumbling victory over Saudi Arabia in an international friendly at a stadium that’s nearly 17,000 km away from Sydney Harbour, and is owned by a club that maintains a neutral end for its fans – you’d struggle to get more irrelevant.

Of the 12 matches we played in the year before, we only managed wins over Costa Rica, Jordan, Iraq and Canada – and if we’re beating Canada, the New Zealand of the Americas, then we may as well cut out the 22-hour flight and get our kicks in Wellington.

If a five-match series against Shane Smeltz and company is required to boost our FIFA ranking then David Gallop should be on the next plane across the Tasman, though a few million dollars swung Sepp Blatter’s way couldn’t hurt either.

2. Join UEFA

Counter-intuitive to the need to win, sure, but if it’s a 3am kickoff then you’d rather lose to Portugal than Qatar, right?

We thought we hit the big time with Asia, but as long as we’re treating geographical boundaries with such loose regard then it’s probably worth calling up Michel Platini to see if we can squeeze in next to Turkey.

Asia, simply put, isn’t big enough for Australia. We want our sporting teams to be among the best, but we also want them to be underdogs – essentially, demands that can only really be satisfied by being a small fish in a big pond, where the other fish might well eat us but at least they’ll look good doing it.

We rightly or wrongly perceive ourselves as one of the best in Asia – the anti-underdogs, or the over-dogs – and UEFA is a richer, sexier, more Cristiano Ronaldo-ey challenge.

How we cope with the disappointment of losing every match after capturing the public’s imagination with fantasies of shock wins over Germany and France is a problem we can face in the future – just imagine how a World Cup qualifier featuring Wayne Rooney or Zlatan Ibrahimovic would improve a trip out to Olympic Park. Which leads to the next suggestion…

3. No more games at Olympic Park

Because it’s the worst.

4. Have better tactics

Tactics aren’t my strong point, but it’s starting to look like they’re not one of the Socceroos’ strong points, too.More passing, more shots, more diagonal runs off the ball – I’m not the manager, but if better tactics aren’t the answer then maybe more tactics are.

If Ange can’t tactic his way out of trouble, the only other reasonable option is to go full-Foz and call for a panel of former Socceroo captains to clarify decisions related to team direction.

Craig Foster, mates with Ange Postecoglou in a purely passive-aggressive capacity, qualifies for a spot in the league of legends by way of one match as captain, a friendly draw against Bulgaria in Valparaiso, Chile (almost 3-2 vs Saudi Arabia-levels of irrelevance), but can draw upon years of experience of pointing at screens and saying “Barcelona make a 2v1 here” in leading the Socceroos to World Cup glory in 2018.

5. Create a controversy

The Socceroos only get together every couple of months and they only get together in Australia about twice a year. What that means is that the Socceroos are usually only interesting to the wider Australian public once every six months, when they rock up at a Sydney Westfield to sign shirts and posters before a game.

To make the idea of the Socceroos more accessible to the masses, they need to work their way into the public consciousness on a more regular basis, and a well-publicised car crash controversy could be just that.

Taking a leaf from Wallabies – the pride of the Australian sporting sphere, supposedly fulfilling the role of hotshot underdog – rip the squad apart to revive the interest of the nation. A string of lewd and crude text messages, a staff resignation, questions over the head coach’s integrity and the end of an important player’s representative career – the Wallabies mightn’t be winning at the moment either, but at least they’re being talked about. Let me know where you’ve seen mention of the score between Australia and the UAE.

6. Bring back Mark Viduka

2640 days without Mark Viduka in the green and gold is 2640 days too many. Dukes didn’t so much retire from football as remove himself from society entirely and live as a hermit until he was recently sighted at an A-League match, but it’d only take a few like-minded progressives to bring him back to the team, if not peak fitness.

If you think that bringing an overweight, virtually immobile, 39-year-old legend back into the team after five years out of the game is a stupid idea, stop yourself and think about it for a second, then tell me that Dukes wouldn’t score with someone else doing his running for him.

Come on, we know the Socceroos are a basket case, so surely you have your own ways to improve the popularity of the side. Tweet us at @TheFootballSack and do David Gallop’s job for him.

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