Looking in the mirror

It’s easy to point the finger at the FFA every time there is a failure in the system, but clubs themselves need to start being run like businesses.

At the time of writing, only three coaches can be confident to be coaching at their current clubs in week 1 of the Hyundai A-League next season, namely; Ange Postecoglou at Brisbane Roar, Gary Van Egmond at Newcastle Jets, and Ricki Herbert at Wellington Phoenix.

Why the uncertainty? Although different scenarios exist at different clubs and it is hard to generalise, one common thread seems to be a lack of direction at board level.

Using the Sydney FC situation as a pertinent example, according to some reports one of the reasons behind Dirk Melton-s recent departure from his role as CEO at Sydney FC was disagreement at management level about the make-up of the next coach, with Melton publicly favoring a local candidate such as Graham Arnold, and the clubs Russian powerbrokers leaning towards a European appointment.

This goes to a bigger issue of who is making the football decisions within some clubs.

Very few clubs even have Football Directors in the real sense. Some have the title in name, but are essentially paper-pushers for either the coach and/or the board.

Only John Didulica at Melbourne Heart and Gary Cole at Sydney FC (whose presence is yet to be felt) can honestly lay claim to be being influential in establishing the direction of a club-s culture, with reference to its recruitment at least.

There have been too many issues of situations being allowed to arise where one person has too much say in a club. Rini Coolen at Adelaide Utd, and Branko Culina at Newcastle Jets are examples of where the keys to the club were essentially handed over to one person by a starry-eyed owner/board who had been sold a dream.

If clubs- chop-and-change their entire philosophy every two years every time the autocrat of the moment is turfed out, the clubs have to build from scratch all over again and cross their fingers that the next guy who comes along and sells a big idea has more of a clue than the last.

The flow down effect of constant change has a negative impact on all aspects of a club, not just the first team - the NYL plan, backroom morale and fan confidence all take a beating.

Throw in the age-old challenge of interfering investors who suddenly fancy themselves as football experts when they buy into a football club and the results can be hugely damaging.

Clubs find themselves in the situation where they try to appease the football cognoscenti with appointments that have a continental feel, that can introduce "technique" to our players who are often criticised for lacking this essential element of their game, and relying too much on their physical attributes.

The problem with this is twofold. Firstly, the quality of overseas coaches willing to come to these shores for the salary on offer is not likely to be good enough.

Were Franz Straka and Rini Coolen on the way up in their coaching careers after a peripatetic journey around lesser leagues in the case of Straka, and being relieved of his duties at a financially crippled team at the foot of the Belgian league in Coolen-s case? I think not.

The alternative is therefore to look at domestic coaches. Not recycling the familiar perhaps, but rather looking to the new breed of recently retired players who have trodden the tough path of AFC badges, assistant coach roles and state league appointments.

The likes of Paul Okon and Ante Milicic may represent gambles, but I-d much rather gamble on our own guys who at least have an understanding of the local scene than roll the dice on little-known foreigners on inflated pay packets who rely heavily on local assistants to help them with their Australian knowledge anyway.

It-s easy to point the finger at the FFA every time there is a failure in the system, but clubs themselves need to start being run like businesses, and less like old boys- club or playthings for the rich.

Corporate governance at FFA level has been a hot topic recently - maybe the focus on best practice should be switched from the easy targets at FFA HQ to club land instead.

That might actually result in the clubs solving a few problems of their own rather than blaming everyone else for them.