Socceroos boss Graham Arnold has attracted plenty of criticism for snubbing in-form goalkeeper Mitch Langerak ahead of the World Cup in Qatar – but it can now be revealed it wasn’t solely his decision.
Goalkeeping coach John Crawley – who came up with the bold idea to bring on Andrew ‘Grey Wiggle’ Redmayne to face Peru in the famous winner-takes-all penalty shootout in June – felt Langerak wasn’t one of Australia best three shot-stoppers.
He pushed hard for Mat Ryan, Redmayne and Danny Vukovic to be on the plane to Qatar – and it is no coincidence Crawley has coached the trio at A-League level dating back to 2005.
The odd man out was Langerak – despite his heroics in Japan with club side Nagoya Grampus, where he was their recent player of the year and has broken his own records for clean sheets in the J-League.
After naming his 26-man Socceroos squad, Arnold knew the questions about omitting Langerak, 34, were coming.
He was quick to stress he ‘isn’t an expert’ when it comes to goalkeepers – yet a few months ago, Arnold happily puffed his chest out when quizzed on his tactical masterstroke versus the Peruvians that ensured Australia qualified for a fifth successive World Cup.
Graham Arnold has attracted plenty of criticism for not picking in-form goalkeeper Mitch Langerak ahead of the World Cup in Qatar – but it wasn’t solely his decision
Goalkeeping coach John Crawley felt Langerak (pictured) wasn’t one of Australia’s three best shot-stoppers
Veteran gloveman Danny Vukovic, 37, jumped past Langerak and is on his way to Qatar
Mat Ryan will be Australia’s first-choice goalkeeper at the World Cup – despite shaky club form in Denmark with FC Copenhagen
‘It has been a unique and difficult qualification campaign and we now arrive in Qatar with an exciting squad which will do everything to make Australia proud on the world stage,’ Arnold said after his squad was announced on Tuesday.
‘We have worked hard to give younger players an opportunity over the campaign, to expose them to international football, to test them against the best.
‘And I’m thrilled with the development and maturity of this group who now get a chance on the biggest stage possible.’
An avalanche of criticism surrounding Langerak’s snubbing was inevitable, with former Socceroo Tommy Oar scathing of the decision.
The winger accused Arnold and Crawley of favouring players based on previous history.
Garang Kuol hasn’t started a professional match in his career – but his X-factor made him a ‘bolter’ in Arnold’s team
Andrew Redmayne was the unexpected hero for the Socceroos in their epic World Cup qualifying win over Peru in June via a penalty shootout – and he will warm the bench in Qatar
Talented defender Trent Sainsbury (pictured, right with wife Elissa) is Graham Arnold’s son in law – but family ties weren’t enough to see the 30-year-old on the plane to Qatar
‘It’s an absolute wind up,’ Oar, who made 28 appearances for the Socceroos, tweeted.
‘Takes jobs for the boys to a whole new level. He’s (Langerak) been one of our best performing players consistently for the last five years.’
Arnold did make some tough decisions – he overlooked his son-in-law, Trent Sainsbury as a defensive option.
Talented midfielder Tom Rogic also didn’t make the final cut.
But coaxing Langerak out of international retirement last year – then naming him to play two recent friendlies against New Zealand only to see the gloveman warm the bench – was mystifying.
Given Ryan’s shaky form at club level in Denmark with FC Copenhagen, some Socceroos fans felt Langerak had done enough to be the starting keeper come Australia’s opener against France.
To not even be selected was brutal – time will tell whether the Langerak snubbing was the right decision from the Socceroos coaching staff.
Australia face France in their first match in Qatar on Wednesday, November 23 (6am AEDT) before taking on Tunisia (November 26, 9pm) and Denmark (December 1, 2am.)