Olyroos

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A glance at social media after the Olyroos' disappointing defeat to Egypt revealed a litany of unbalanced criticism directed at coach Graham Arnold, as Australia crashed out of the Tokyo Olympics.

Amazing to think we would get a result with Arnie in charge. He has clearly demonstrated again how little he has developed his thinking. Football has left him behind. We should too #AUSvEGY

— Sayings McSayings (@mrmrleonard) July 28, 2021

Awful. 3 tournaments now that Arnie has botched #AUSvEGY

— The Brain Thinker (@eamonnwarner) July 28, 2021

Time to go Arnie.#AUSvEGY

— Gino (@ginofarese) July 28, 2021

Graham Arnold is not a good coach, awful tactics, wrong team selection.

Let’s stop thinking he’s a messiah.. #AUSvEGY #Olyroos #Olympics

— - Mat - (@mat_boore) July 28, 2021

Arnold has a lot to answer for. This is seriously embarrassing #AUSvEGY

— Ari Stamatakos (@Ari_Y_Stama) July 28, 2021

Even Socceroos legend Mark Bosnich was critical of the Olyroos' tactics against the Egyptians, insisting a defensive setup by Arnold contributed to the poor performance of the team.

So in the end the opening game was wasted,congratulations Egypt...just a small observation...setting up defensively against a team who hadn’t scored yet all tournament is a recipe for sowing seeds in ur players minds that ‘we cannot be our true selves’,-leads to doubt...xmb

— Mark Bosnich (@TheRealBozza) July 28, 2021

There is no doubt that mistakes were made throughout the tournament in terms of management of the team - no coach is perfect and this piece will touch on them later.

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But some of the opinions toward Arnold are probably unfair, with biases, his previous failure with the Socceroos and his use of confident language meaning that critics come for him when things don't go right.

Arnold is a seriously polarising figure in the world of Australian football opinions, with two of the biggest A-League fan bases in Melbourne Victory and Western Sydney Wanderers taking a general dislike to the former Sydney FC coach after his incredible success with the Sky Blues.

His use of phrases such as 'they (Olyroos) are ready to shock the world' and 'expect to win' bring upon significant blow back if his teams don't manage to get a good result.

Many Socceroos fans haven't forgotten his short tenure as national team manager 15 years ago, with Australia failing to impress at the 2007 Asian Cup.

But to pin Arnold as a failure in his current role as Socceroos and Olyroos coach is short-sighted, particularly considering the positives from the recent World Cup qualifiers and what was expected from the Olyroos at the Tokyo 2020.

For a start, Arnold decided to take the Olyroos job on himself - as he felt the Australian national teams would fare better with consistent coaching, tactics across the board.

There was certainly nothing glamourous about taking on the under-23's team - especially as the amount of talent coming through initially looked bare, and there were doubts in general that we would even be able to qualify for Tokyo.

But the green and gold somehow managed to book a ticket for their first Olympics since 2008 - an achievement in itself - along with fellow Asian nations South Korea and Saudi Arabia, while Japan automatically qualified as hosts.

The Olyroos were drawn into a group of death alongside European powerhouse Spain, South American under-23 champions Argentina and African under-23 champions Egypt.

With it strikingly clear that this batch of Olyroos weren't the most gifted group of players to be produced by Australia, it was clearly going to be an uphill battle to qualify for the quarter-finals.

A factor that made Australia's Olympic expedition even tougher, is that Arnold wasn't able to select any quality overage players for the tournament - with Mitchell Duke the only one to join the squad.

Imagine an Australian team with Mathew Leckie up top, Ajdin Hrustic pulling the string in midfield and the physicality of Jackson Irvine through the engine room.

However, expectations went through the roof after the Olyroos managed to get a win in their opening group game against Argentina in Tokyo, incidentally a team that Arnold felt pre-tournament was weaker than Egypt.

While beating Argentina was a significant achievement, it was clear that this wasn't their best team, with Argentine Olympic teams of the past featuring the likes Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez and Angel Di Maria.

Next up was Spain with a squad featuring an extraordinary six players from the nation's team that made the Euro 2020 quarter-finals earlier this month, including Pedri, Dani Olmo, Pau Torres, Eric Garcia, Mikel Oyarzabal and Unai Simon, while world class Spanish stars in Dani Ceballos, Marco Asensio and Mikel Merino were also selected.

a man talking on a cell phone: Pedri Dani Olmo Spain © Provided by Sporting News Pedri Dani Olmo Spain

In any case, a crushing multiple-goal defeat against the Spaniards would have proved a huge blow to the Olyroos' goal difference, and made it almost impossible to progress with a draw against Egypt.

While a 1-0 loss to any team shouldn't be celebrated, realistically it was result against a much-stronger football nation that gave Australia a chance of reaching the last eight.

With the Egypt match, there is absolutely no doubt that Arnold got his tactics wrong in the first half - as he scrambled to replace the suspended trio of Duke, Nathaniel Atkinson and Riley McGree.

Deploying the team in an almost back-five formation, with Thomas Deng and Dylan Pierias sharing the right-sided defensive responsibilities did not work whatsoever.

The Egyptians found space in behind down the flanks at will in the first half, and it meant Australia couldn't get field position or counter-attack as intended.

With Duke's absence, Australia lacked goalscoring options off the bench to the point which Arnold was forced to bring on a defender Jay Rich-Baghuelou - who played forward in his youth days - as a striker.

Was this an oversight in the selection of the squad? Quite possibly. But it also highlights the dearth of quality young goalscorers coming through the Australian ranks - Stuttgart-bound Alou Kuol aside.

Arnold's change to the formation and style helped in the second half as the Olyroos had the majority of play and chances.

If it wasn't for Egypt's goalkeeper Mohamed El-Shenawy clawing away Deng's header or diving full stretch to deny Daniel Arzani, the Olyroos could be facing Brazil in the quarter-finals.

Graham Arnold wearing a blue shirt © Provided by Sporting News Graham Arnold

Was the Olyroos' Olympic tournament a great success? No.

But was it the almighty failure that many see it to be? Also no.

Did Arnold make some mistakes with team selection and style? Yes, and you can certainly make an argument for more usage of players such as Reno Piscopo and Cameron Devlin.

Does this tournament define Arnold's tenure and legacy as Australia's senior and under-23 coach? No, that is still yet to come.

Arnold will lead the Socceroos into battle in the third round of AFC World Cup qualifying for Qatar 2022 - with matches to take place from September through March.

While many will say the green and gold did what was expected during the recent World Cup qualifiers in Kuwait, Australia's performances were more impressive than people gave them credit for.

The Socceroos have traditionally struggled to play well in oppressive Middle Eastern conditions, and much better squads in the past have lost matches away against Jordan and Kuwait - including an Arnold-led team in 2006.

Australia efficiently and effectively got the job done despite being in a tough environment that included being locked down 24/7 in Kuwait because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

There was also several important revelations for the future of the national team during the tournament that will hold the team in good stead for World Cup qualifiers.

Mathew Leckie emerged as Australia's captain and no.1 choice as a centre forward. While the veteran has played there occasionally in the past, it's now clear his all-round attacking game is the best Australia have in a forward.

Ajdin Hrustic showed he has the potential to be the nation's next superstar playmaker, and he has taken that form back to his club, scoring a brace for Eintracht Frankfurt in a recent friendly.

a group of young men playing a game of football: Ajdin Hrustic Socceroos © Provided by Sporting News Ajdin Hrustic Socceroos

Fran Karacic's performances at right-back were extremely impressive, with the balance between his defensive and attacking game a highlight to watch.

And Kenny Dougall's elevation into the Australian midfield gave the team another steady option to select in an area left bare following the retirements of Mile Jedinak and Mark Milligan.

It must also be said that the squad was missing Aaron Mooy and Tom Rogic, two veterans who can definitely make a difference to the quality of the team.

Despite all of this, Arnold is by no means a success at his current tenure in charge of the Socceroos.

Success will be judged on whether the Socceroos qualify for their fifth consecutive World Cup or not.

Will the green and gold be able to get the job done despite the likely adversity of playing home matches on neutral territory because of COVID-19?

Graham Arnold's judgement day as national team manager will come, but it isn't here just yet.

Source : https://www.msn.com/en-au/sport/news/why-the-graham-arnold-hate-olyroos-overachieved-with-socceroos-judgement-day-to-come/ar-AAMGpLW

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