ANGE Postecoglou has offered an ominously vague response to reports he’ll quit as Socceroos coach next month, even if Australia qualifies for next year’s World Cup.
The Herald Sun reported on Wednesday morning that the Asian Cup-winning will step aside after next month’s decisive intercontinental qualifying playoffs, win or lose.
The report suggested Postecoglou would have quit last month if the Socceroos had qualified automatically for Russia 2018, but the 52-year-old decided to stay on to see Australia through two must-win playoffs.
Fox Sports’ Mark Bosnich called on the Socceroos coach to address the talk urgently.
“I’ve just read the article and it’s all smoke and mirrors, none of the quotes are attributed to Ange. Ange needs to front the media and answer the questions,” he said.
“Let’s find out is it true or isn’t it true. We should be celebrating Tim Cahill today, it’s really bad timing. But there’s no use speculating until Ange or the FFA (answer it).”
Postecoglou and FFA stopped short of that in a carefully worded and vague press release later on Wednesday, acknowledging the reports but refusing to confirm or deny them.
“I am aware of reports today suggesting that I will step down as Head Coach of the Socceroos next month. My sole focus is on preparing the team for our final two qualifying matches. I will not let anything compromise the team’s journey on getting to a fourth consecutive FIFA World Cup,” Postecoglou said in the statement.
Postecoglou’s lack of denial is sure to add fuel to the suggestions his mind is already made up.
The statement said FFA chief executive David Gallop had spoken to Postecoglou about the reports but he “agreed the focus should be on the November matches.”
“Beyond that, should we qualify, there is a period of some months until the World Cup and we agreed that we will need to lock in our set up as soon as possible to maximise our preparation time,” Gallop said.
Former Socceroo Robbie Slater earlier said of the report: “I’m very surprised like everyone. I think the story is true because of the silence. What we need now is FFA or Ange to confirm it or dismiss it because it’s doing harm.
“If he has done it I wouldn't be surprised. Ange is always been his own man.
“If we did qualify I don’t understand why he wouldn’t go to the World Cup, whether it’s the pressure or the dressingroom.
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The Socceroos wrapped up a hard-fought, two-legged victory over Syria on Tuesday night and will face a CONCACAF side over two legs next month for a place in next year’s World Cup finals.
The report suggests mounting criticism of his job has played a part in Postecoglou’s decision.
“He is definitely moving on after November,’’ a source close to Postecoglou was quoted as saying.
While Postecoglou made history by guiding Australia to its first major international silverware at the 2015 Asian Cup on home soil, he’s come under increasing scrutinity during a stuttering qualification campaign.
The coach’s switch to, and persistence with, a back-three formation has been a source of frustration and criticism for many fans pundits, while others have hit out at Postecoglou’s general demeanour and reaction to criticism.
Fox Sports’ Mark Bosnich has been among the most vocal critics, suggesting last month Postecoglou’s job should be under review anyway.
“If we go through the playoff route there should be serious consideration given to the fact we need a different voice because those players, regardless of what they’re saying publicly, aren’t responding like they used to,” Bosnich said.
Postecoglou also faced scrutiny over his decision making over the shock call to leave star midfielder Aaron Mooy on the bench against Syria on Tuesday night.
Mooy later admitted he was angered at being left out but Postecoglou stuck to his guns.
Australia will face either Panama, Honduras or the USA over two legs on November 6 (away) and 14 (home, ANZ Stadium), with their opponent to be decided in Wednesday morning’s final CONCACAF qualification matches.