Monday, 7 June 2010

Yanked back to reality

And so it comes to this. No more warm-ups, no more what-ifs, no more how-abouts. Aussie boss Pim Verbeek has declared his hand, leading out with the same starting XI for the final two hit outs against Denmark and the USA. With the average Aussie football follower now thinking - is that it?

For the cold, hard reality is this - our best is looking pretty average. Against the US, we were exposed where we feared we would all along - in the soft centre of our defence, and in our lone attack.

The preceding Denmark fixture was, in retrospect, a distraction from the conclusion. An anonymous, somnambulant ninety minutes with players drifting around the park, trying to control the ball, trying to create something. Blame the ball, blame the pitch, blame ... well just blame. And Australia coming out of it with some quiet comfort having edged the game courtesy of Kennedy's scrappy strike.

Compare and contrast the US bouncing out with open, honest intention on Saturday and the Aussies just couldn't live with it. 3-1 should by rights have been 5-1, in any case our first loss ever to the stars and stripes.

Craig Moore was exposed for the second time in three games and Pim's resolve to keep him in the starting line-up ahead of Beauchamp must be wavering. Up front, lanky Josh Kennedy's shortcomings were evident, fluffing two excellent chances to score. Tim Cahill scored a nice goal, but generally has looked ineffective the last three outings. Grella continues to be a liability.

Amid the gloom, some brief rays of light. Veteran Scott Chipperfield has added great value overlapping on the left, and game-shy Bresciano has been gathering form. Luke Wilkshire largely remains dependable.

And occupying massive column inches, particularly for the great unwashed (and for his Nine Network sponsors), is the Kewell question. Will he, won't he? Well, even the most optimistic now concede neither he nor the similarly impacted Emerton will start against Germany. I'll wager Kewell will be given 20 minutes at most.

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