Scott Musgrave


A mostly outspoken man in light of his compatriots’ successes in Asia (Dick Advocaat – Korea Republic & Guus Hiddink – Australia and Korean Republic) Pim Verbeek has quietly entered the international arena with quite reasonable credentials.

A former Sparta Rotterdam player and manager, Pim Verbeek has since moved on to the greener pastures of international management involving stints with the Netherlands Antilles, the United Arab Emirates, the Korean Republic and now Australia. His only real success comes from leading Korea to a 3rd place at the recent 2007 Asia Cup, a feat which the Socceroos were unable to even contemplate.

The absolute failure of the Socceroos to compete in the Asian Cup forced the Football Federation of Australia (FFA) to search for a coach with Asian experience to conquer both different conditions and different opponents. The search started in earnest when luminaries such as Gerard Houllier and Dick Advocaat were discussed, even the re-signing of Guus Hiddink, the master behind the history making 2006 World Cup run, was rumoured.

However with the limited budget of the FFA and the decision of Dick Advocaat to stay with Zenit St Petersburg, Pim Verbeek and Frenchman Philip Troussier were shortlisted. It was widely believed that Troussier would end up taking the top Australian job due to his mountainous experience as an international manager particularly with Japan, but it seemed that the FFA wanted to continue the successful Dutch tradition and rightly appointed Pim Verbeek as head coach of the Socceroos.

Mr Verbeek has an impressive CV. He claims coaching status at Feyenoord Rotterdam, PSV Eindhoven, as well as the aforementioned Sparta Rotterdam. However we might be led to believe that it wasn’t his club history but his work with Guus Hiddink with the Korean Republic that may well have been in his favour and ultimately got him the job.

Amongst the good things the man has going for him is that he is Dutch and he does have vast experience in Asia although critics have begun questioning his success at the highest level of Asian competition. A 3rd place at the Asian Cup was somewhat looked down upon, as if he were a good coach he may well have won it. Particularly pertinent was the fact that former Iraq (the eventual winners) coach Jorvan Viera was also available for the Australia job.

Although, if we are to look at the squad Verbeek has at his disposal, particularly with the glaring admissions of English Premier League stars Young-Pyo Lee, Ji-Sung Park and Hi-Keon Seol due to injury he may well have won the tournament. Seol and Park are the match winners of the Korean squad, playing integral roles in the side that reached the World Cup in 2006 and were so successful on home soil in 2002.

Verbeek’s appointment may have caused a stir in the Australian media but it seems to be a wise one as he has already dedicated himself to basing his operations in Australia and not Europe as Advocaat would surely have done. There are many advantages to having a man of Verbeek’s stature, or lack thereof, in the Australian set-up.

First of all, he’ll be looking at home-grown talent which has largely been overlooked bar the Asia Cup qualifier with Kuwait. Secondly, his involvement with the infrastructure of the game in Australia can only help increase the quality available for the future. Finally he should not be biased to the big names of Europe as he will be regularly exposed to the talent of young and old A-Leaguers plying their trade in their home nation.

Australians must look at Verbeek as a developmental coach, he can improve the game in this country vastly, we just need to give him support and show a little faith.

As he has not previously coached at a World Cup it is hard to say whether he will bring in a dawn of relative prosperity for the nation of Australia, but it is quite possible, that as long as he continues to qualify for the various international tournaments he will become a mainstay of the Australian set-up.

It is not beyond the realms of possibility that the Dutchman could endear himself to Australian fans by continually doing consistently well at international level, a feat that has only ever been really achieved by Hiddink only on a short-term scale.

Let’s face it, every country needs solidarity and with Pim Verbeek at the helm it is quite possible that we will achieve this.

In this writer’s humble opinion Verbeek will be long remembered in Australian minds and will, like his predecessor Guus, be affectionately known by the prefix ‘Aussie’.

Long live the reign of Aussie Pim.