With those five words, new Socceroos coach Bert van Marwijk put his stamp on one of the most important and high-profile positions in Australian sport.-MelbourneTv
The past is done. Prepare now for five months of Bert doing it his way.
The 65-year-old, fresh off the plane from Amsterdam, spoke to the media in Sydney on Thursday afternoon, laying down the law on the challenge facing him as he begins his five-month stint preparing the Socceroos for the World Cup in Russia with a mixture of pragmatism, self-confidence and bloody-mindedness.
His goal? To get past the first round of three qualifying matches against France, Denmark and Peru.
“I go to the World Cup with only one thing that counts … to survive the first round,” he said.
But, as van Marwijk told the media, if he was not confident of the team progressing to the knock-out stage, he would not have taken the job.
“I’m a realistic coach and I like creative football, I like to have the ball but I also like to win and that’s the most important thing,” he said.
“I think it’s important that we play in a way that fits the players and also the coach. You cannot play in a way that the players cannot do.”
Van Marwijk said he could see strengths in his new Australian team gleaned from the two matches he coached against the Socceroos during the recent World Cup qualifiers when he was in charge of Saudi Arabia:
“They can play football, they try to play football, they are strong,” he said.
“Maybe we don’t have the best players but we can be the best team.”
Regarding the man he was coaching against in those games, Ange Postecoglou, van Marwijk said: “I have respect for the former coach, [but] I do it my way.”
nd that means nothing can be taken for granted, neither playing styles, nor the reputations of those players who formed the nucleus of Postecoglou’s team over the past four years.
Take Tim Cahill, who only recently signed for Millwall FC in the UK in a bid to get more game time and press for selection in Russia. Van Marwijk said it was a good thing that he signed, but he “will not say anything about the qualities of the players”.
Experienced van Marwijk the ‘consummate professional’
Van Marwijk’s immediate plan is to watch three A-League games this weekend and then try to take in as many of Australia’s international players who are playing in Europe.
Indeed, he hopes to find some new players.
That leads into two friendlies in March against Norway in Oslo and against Colombia in London. It will be the first time van Marwijk will have his entire squad together, even though the man himself is not a great fan of practice games.
“I like to train because then you can improve the team and then the players,” he said.
The situation is far from perfect for a coach who likes to groom his team over many training sessions. Van Marwijk will have as little as two days to prepare the team for that first game against Norway and get to know the players.
“I cannot change it, so I have to do it within the short time we have and that’s not easy, but at the same time a big challenge,” he said.
FFA chairman Stephen Lowy is in no doubt van Marwijk is the right man for the job.
“He’s clearly a consummate professional, a world-class coach,” Lowy said.
“Very, very experienced, been to a World Cup final [as coach of the Netherlands against Spain in 2010] and almost won.
“I think you’ve almost got to believe in fate. It’s fate that Bert is not with Saudi any more. And the criteria that we set fit the criteria like a glove.
“He wants to win. We are not going to the World Cup to make up the numbers, we are going to compete and win.”
It will be a short, sharp ride. Van Marwijk has just five months to shape a team in his image, compete on the biggest stage in the World and exit as quickly as he arrived.