As George W. Bush once famously said, “there’s an old saying in Tennessee – I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee – that says, fool me once, shame on – shame on you. Fool me – you can’t get fooled again.”
Several members of the Soceroos squad have fooled me so much that these days I tend to agree with Bush Jnr and whatever he was trying to say in his ridiculous mangling of a famous saying. The Denmark game was further proof that, despite the names in the Socceroos squad being eerily familiar to the one that left for Germany four years ago, most of the players are completely different.
Let me start with Luke Wilkshire. How. How?! How does someone who was so obviously below international standard four years ago, transform into the most consistent and reliable member of a team that is ranked 20th in the world? It truly is beyond me. It’s a shame that we don’t get the Russian league on TV here, because I’d really like to see how well he plays week in, week out for Dynamo Moscow. He has become a different player since moving from Holland, and maybe it’s a bit of a wake up call for the seemingly never-ending train of Aussie players who go to the Netherlands in the hope that it will become a springboard into the bigger European leagues.
Wilkshire was easily our best player in the friendly against Denmark on Monday. He had poise under pressure, was virtually the only player that didn’t completely miss-hit a pass, and his crosses were, as usual, deadly accurate. His defence may not be as rock solid as some other right-backs going around, but he provides a genuine attacking threat down the right that is invaluable in such a defence-minded team.
But enough about cool-hand Luke. The other stand out from the Denmark game was, in my opinion – and it pains me to admit it – Brett Holman. Yes, THE Brett Holman. The one that had a worse first touch than a man with no legs. The one that ran around the football field like a headless chook, giving away possession at will. The one whose best attribute was that he tried hard. THAT Brett Holman.
In truth, Holman wasn’t amazing in Monday’s practice game, but he was twice the player that he had ever been in Australian colours. He had several neat touches that took him past some tired Danish defenders, and created havoc in the attacking third whenever we got there (which was not very often). To be fair, the writing was on the wall when he scored the undeserved winner against the All Whites. I think it’s time to face it – Brett Holman is the new Luke Wilkshire.
And then there’s the player who has done what could be called a ‘Reverse Wilkshire’ (no, it’s not a kama sutra move, although I’d be interested to see what it looked like if it was) – he has gone from a cool, calm and sublimely skilled commodity in the Socceroos midfield to, well, old Wilkshire.
Maybe he can blame the Jabulani ball, maybe he can blame altitude, but in my mind I’ve never seen a worse performance from the man formerly known as Marco than on Monday. In fact, if we’re being honest, I think it’s fair to say that he’s never been the same player since he took some of the Ialian flavour out of his name. Marco Bresciano had a deft touch, could beat players with tricks that simply weren’t in the standard Australian repertoire, could regularly hit the target with free-kicks from 30 yards, and was probably the most consistently creative member of a very strong midfield. Mark Bresciano needlessly gives the ball away, favours the long hoof over the deft flick, and isn’t even allowed near a free kick these days.
Needless to say, now that this blog has been posted I have no doubt that Luke Wilkshire will get injured against USA and miss the World Cup, Brett Holman will get picked in the starting lineup against Germany and will subsequently score an own goal and get sent off, and Mark Bresciano will score the winner against Serbia after coming on as a 89th minute substitute.