Go abroad to see the World (Cup), says Socceroos boss

Like the creepy uncle who keeps coming back to hog the PlayStation after Christmas lunch, The dirt from Down Under returns from a brief exile to point out that all is not well in the world of Australian football.

Never mind that it’s a sentiment expressed just about every week in the A-League – the season was anything but festive for those who considered it the most appropriate time to launch another predictable whinefest.

The first to stick his head above the parapet was Gold Coast United’s corpulent club benefactor Clive Palmer, who on Christmas Eve launched his umpteenth Dr. Evil-style rant at Australia’s national coach Pim Verbeek.

The crux of the complaint – lest this matter of utmost importance failed to make the papers in Europe – is that Verbeek doesn’t much rate the A-League.

In fact, the laconic Dutchman has essentially informed any locally-based Socceroos that if they don't get a loan abroad after (or before) the A-League season ends in March, they’ve got more chance of being crowned Miss Universe than they have of going to the World Cup.

It’s this sentiment that has got Palmer ranting and raving – understandably, since he laid out the cash to entice erstwhile PSV Eindhoven and current Socceroo midfielder Jason Culina back home.

The first to take up Verbeek’s bold travel challenge was Socceroos regular Craig Moore, who had probably already finished packing by the time he delivered the age-old “back me or sack me” line to club side Brisbane Roar.

Not surprisingly, the Roar backed newly-installed coach Ange Postecoglu over the former 34-year-old skipper, who now looks set to join Scottish Premier League side St. Johnstone on loan.

His departure will have the likes of Perth Glory trio Mile Sterjovski, Jacob Burns and Chris Coyne sweating, since they’ll have to invent their own excuses to depart the West Australian club.

The animosity between Moore and Postecoglu may have been well documented, but whether Sydney FC duo Simon Colosimo and Alex Brosque exchanged Christmas cards with club officials is anyone’s guess.

The pair were bluntly informed that they would not be allowed to go out on loan during the January transfer window – slightly problematic for both, since the A-League season finishes a mere three months before the World Cup kicks off.

Whether loan moves would even help the pair’s cause is questionable, as Verbeek already has plenty of overseas-based talent to call upon.

However, the debate has brought even more attention on one of the most glaring issues of the current campaign: the bizarre scheduling which saw the competition kick off amid the finals series of more popular codes yet which finishes some three months before the World Cup takes place.

He may have been steaming about the whole debacle on Christmas Eve, but by Boxing Day the much-maligned Palmer was probably dancing the hully-gully after his Gold Coast side smashed local rivals Brisbane Roar 5-1 in the derby.

The match itself was notable for the presence of veteran Charlie Miller in a Gold Coast shirt, just weeks after he exited Brisbane in acrimonious circumstances – the first victim of coach Postecoglu’s age-based purge.

Miller was fairly quiet against his former club, as burly defender Kristian Rees and striker Shane Smeltz stole the headlines – the former scoring a brace, the latter a hat-trick – while the aforementioned Jason Culina picked up a knee injury that ruled him out of Australia’s upcoming Asian Cup qualifier in Kuwait.

Culina has at times played like a dead man walking this season, and it’s clear that he fears for his spot in the national side.

He’s a key player for both the Socceroos and Gold Coast United, but that could all change if Pim Verbeek gets his wish – one way or another.

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