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"You're national coach, you stay until it's done": Former Socceroo to Ange

Soccer

Speculation Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou is set to attract a big-money offer from a Chinese club has sparked a call for loyalty.

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Former Socceroos striker Robbie Slater urged Postecoglou to see out Australia’s World Cup campaign despite reports Chinese Super League outfit Shanghai Shenhua is set to offer him a $A3.8 million deal.

“No, you don’t go there (China). You’re national coach, you stay until it’s done,” Slater told Sky Sports Radio today.

“It’s big money. If you’re that good, you’ll get another offer.

“We’re talking about our country and a commitment and you make all the statements you have, then you stay.

“Maybe he will stay, but if you are going to go, tell us. Be honest. That’s the only thing I’m accusing him of – not giving the finality of whatever decision has been made.”

The uncertainty came as Australia ironically jumped to 43rd in the FIFA world rankings – the highest ranking for Postecoglou’s men in over 12 months.

The cloud over Postecoglou’s future hangs as Football Federation Australia boss David Gallop failed to end speculation at a media conference yesterday.

Asked if Postecoglou had confirmed that he’d be stepping down after the matches on November 10 and 15 Gallop said: “No, I think he’s not necessarily indicated that he’s made a decision, he’s focused on November and that’s where we’re at.”

“Obviously I’ve spoken to Ange a number of times, a number of factors go into this kind of thing,” he said.

“He’s made no secret of the fact he wants to coach week-in week-out again, but his focus is on November and knuckling down to the task which is to qualify for our fourth consecutive World Cup.”

Reports surfaced following the last World Cup qualification game against Syria that Postecoglou would quit after next month’s playoff matches against Honduras.

It’s understood Postecoglou has set his sights on coaching at European club level amid reports he has grown tired of perceivably incessant criticism of his tactics by the Australian media.

Shenhua may not be the most attractive option considering its tough history with coaches, with former English Premier League manager Gus Poyet quitting his position in September.

Poyet was the club’s 15th head coach in the past 10 years.

Retired star A-League striker Joel Griffiths, who played at Shenhua in 2012, warned any possible stint for Postecoglou in the CSL could be short.

“(Chinese players) have a different mentality. You have to make them believe in your system to get the best out of them,” said Griffiths, who now works in the football department of former club Newcastle Jets.

“It’s not as easy as just going in there and doing tactics. There’s other layers around it.”

But Griffiths backed Postecoglou to blaze a trail for more Australians coaching in China should he choose to make the move.

“Ange has been successful wherever he’s gone. His record speaks for itself. He’s the best coach in Australia by a country mile,” he said.

“If he does it right, he’ll be okay.

“But it can be a short time if he doesn’t. I’ve seen how quickly the dressing shed can shift. You have to keep control of the Chinese boys, particularly the leadership.

“It’s a challenge, but if he can get the right people around him, I think he’ll be fine.”

Postecoglou himself has yet to address the initial report, that suggested he would pull the pin regardless of whether the Socceroos qualify for the World Cup or not.

News Corp Australia yesterday reported that Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua was preparing to offer Postecoglou a deal worth $US3 million ($A3.8 million) if he quits his role with the Socceroos, but reports have also surfaced the national mentor had tired of what he perceived to be incessant criticism of his tactics.

“I would hope it’s not player power,” former Socceroos captain Paul Wade said.

“He’s been copping from the media who are asking him to be sacked, but Ange is big enough to handle that.

“The key word for me is ‘undermined’; as a coach, if you’re being undermined by whoever, then I would find it untenable.”

Wade was frustrated by the lack of a definitive answer on Postecoglou’s future, but said he understood why it wasn’t forthcoming.

“I’d rather say nothing and get it sorted out rather than being a bitching session,’ Wade said .

“Maybe they’re letting it calm down a little bit in house and then they’re going to tell us.’”

Gallop conceded the timing of Postecoglou’s reported departure wasn’t great and stopped short of giving him total endorsement when asked if he still had faith in him as the national coach.

“Very confident in the fact that he’s focused on these games and we don’t get much time to prepare in these situations,” Gallop said.

Asked who might be contenders for the post should it fall vacant, Gallop said: “I’m not in a position to give you names but I can tell you that we’re constantly making sure that we know what’s out there and what the positions might be.”

Meanwhile, the Socceroos have jumped seven places in FIFA’s world rankings to 43rd after their World Cup qualification victory over Syria.

And it has laid the platform for an unprecedented third seeding at the 2018 tournament – should Australia beat Honduras in their playoff next month to reach Russia.

Australia recorded 1-1 and 2-1 results over the 77th-ranked Syrians this month, setting up another two-leg play-off against the Central American nation.

It’s the highest ranking for Postecoglou’s men in over 12 months.

In a timely boost, the World Cup seedings are based on the October rankings, giving rise to the possibility that Australia – if they qualify – could scrape into the top 24 nations.

At previous tournaments, the Socceroos have been rated as one of the bottom eight sides, leading to difficult draws.

None have been more taxing than Spain, the Netherlands and Chile at the 2014 tournament.

Four teams that have already qualified for Russia – Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Panama – are ranked lower than Australia.

With nine places yet to be filled, if four of those countries are also ranked below the Socceroos, Australia would be bumped into pot three for the draw – to take place in December.

Eight teams ranked below Australia remain in contention – including world No.122 New Zealand.

World champions Germany continue to top the world – a position the country has held since last month.

Germany, Brazil, Portugal, Argentina, Belgium, Poland and France join hosts Russia, the world No.65s – as seeded teams for the global showpiece.

Heavyweights Spain and England have missed out on the crucial top seeding and will enter the tournament from pot two.

Peru are into the top 10 for the first time, climbing two places to 10th ahead of their intercontinental play-off against the Kiwis.

-AAP

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