Mark Bosnich interview: Bozza picks his Socceroos World Cup squad
He sits down with NewsCorp football guru David Davutovic to talk the A-League, its future and to pick his Socceroos’ World Cup qualifying team.
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SCROLL DOWN TO SEE BOZZA’S AND DUVA’S SOCCEROOS SQUADS AND THEN VOTE ON WHICH ONE YOU THINK IS STRONGER
David Davutovic: Great to chat with you Boz. Hopefully I can get a word in.
Mark Bosnich: Marvellous to chat DD. So what are we talking about? The season. Right, so the question is … Can anyone challenge Sydney FC for the A-League title? Their dominance is deserved. But ideally someone comes forward to challenge. Who will that be?
Melbourne City have played some of the best football but let themselves down at key moments. They will come home strong. Western United and Wellington have been a revelation on the field.
The standard has improved. Some wonderful performances and great stories. Overall impressive. To balance that out, the league is pretty much over, and in a salary cap competition, that theoretically shouldn’t happen. The salary cap needs to go. And transfers between Australian clubs must come in ASAP, as is the case all over the world.
That would be brilliant. We’d be talking about it every day. And another form of income that clubs are foregoing.
It would transform the A-League, create mid-season intrigue and give the chasing pack hope. For instance, Melbourne Victory needs a box-to-box midfielder, so they target Newcastle Jets’ Steven Ugarkovic. The Jets slap a $200,000 price tag on his head, deal done. The Jets can then reinvest that.
Last January they signed Jamie Maclaren. But with no transfer fees, too few deals get done. Coaches would love to have more transfer freedom. So, which coach is under most pressure now? I’d say Markus Babbel at Western Sydney.
Yes Babbel under most pressure. “The luck” hasn’t gone his way with VAR and referee calls. It would be foolish to let him go now. Lots of coaches under pressure. Ernie Merrick is the first casualty of the season, which is understandable, conceding 15 goals in the last four games. I think he’ll be back.
You had just joined Manchester United when the National Soccer League changed from winter to summer in 1988. There’s debate now about switching back. Thoughts?
As we’re seeing around Australia and the world, the globe is heating up. There must be stringent talks at about potentially shifting at the end of current TV contract, which stipulates that it is a summer sport. Extensive research must be done by everyone involved in football then make a call after weighing up the pros and cons of moving to winter.
I’m not 100 per cent convinced yet, but there’s mounting evidence to suggest winter works. There’s a point where football must be comfortable in its own skin competing with AFL and NRL. Produce a good product, you’ll command column inches and TV airtime. Ultimately, player production is key, because if we produce another batch of Kewells, Vidukas, Cahills, Zelics, Okons and … Bozzas.
I was wondering whether you’d count me in.
How could I not? As I was saying, if we produce another generation – that will capture the country’s imagination, just like basketball is now off the back of Ben Simmons, Andrew Bogut and the plethora of Aussie stars in the NBA.
And don’t forget the fans. When it’s cold, there’s the alternative argument, there’s nothing worse than watching a game with the sun blaring down at you at 35C.
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The quality A-League would increase considerably by virtue of the cooler climate. Younger players would benefit as it would align with the Asian calendar. The Socceroos would ultimately benefit.
On the Socceroos, I’ve had WhatsApp messages from South America after the story about Graham Arnold potentially not taking the Socceroos to the Copa America. Hopefully he’s just testing the waters.
What was the reaction from your overseas pals?
Not good at all buddy. It would be a disgraceful decision not to send our best team to the second best tournament in the world alongside the Euros, behind the World Cup. Imagine the outcry is we invited Argentina here and they leave Lionel Messi and their other stars behind. I’m imploring you Graham, take your strongest team – view the invitation as an honour and a privilege, there’s a heap of travelling fans, and you’ve got a real chance of qualifying for the quarters. If want to experiment, we’ve advanced to the next phase of World Cup qualifiers, do it against Kuwait, Nepal and Chinese Taipei.
Very strong Boz. No issues with experimenting with a few spots in the squad, for instance if Al Hassan Toure, Riley McGree and Reno Piscopo continue their impressive A-League seasons or Olyroos skipper Tommy Deng is given a shot, or some other breakout players emerge from the Tokyo 2020 qualifiers, go for it. But I want to see the big boys there – Mat Ryan, Aaron Mooy, Mat Leckie, Trent Sainsbury, etc. They still have individual growth, the Copa America shop window could do wonders.
Mark Milligan had a fantastic career. Now that he’s retired, it’s a big miss on and off the park. That holding midfield position has been so important, with him and Mile Jedinak and Vince Grella previously.
Tim Cahill, Milligan and Jedinak gone in the space of a year. Who’s the next captain?
It needs to be a starter. And one of your best players. I don’t put as much stock in the captaincy as others. But I’d look to Mooy, Ryan or Trent Sainsbury.
We both had a headache putting our Socceroos squads together. For full disclosure, you requested for just two keepers to be picked, but I rejected your request.
It was tough whittling it down to 23. Some real depth emerging from the A-League.
Arnie should use March to experiment a little. Let guys like Josh Risdon, Bailey Wright perhaps even Tom Rogic concentrate at club level and experiment. Arnie knows what Mustafa Amini and Jimmy Jeggo, for instance, offer. Let’s see where James Holland and Ryan Williams are at. What about off the field Boz? What’s the future hold?
James Johnson starts as FFA chief executive later this month and he is a great appointment – he’s worked at FIFA, AFC and City Football Group, plus he represented Australia at youth level. Superb CV. I’m looking forward to the new dawn. The game must unite and the A-League clubs and FFA still must work together. But there is a massive road ahead.
Thanks for your time Boz
Happy Birthday for Friday. A lot of great people are born in January.
So I hear. Happy birthday for Monday.
Both our thoughts are with everyone affected by the bushfires.
Originally published as Mark Bosnich picks his Socceroos WCQ squad