The best A-League talent is identified by the former Premier League goalkeeper but he thinks his country has a development problem
Mark Bosnich has criticised Australia‘s football development system for not producing as many players as it should, but has singled out some A-League talent ready to make an impact in Europe.
The former Manchester United, Aston Villa and Chelsea goalkeeper carved out a strong playing career in England alongside a golden generation of Socceroos talent that included Harry Kewell, Mark Viduka and Mark Schwarzer.
Australia has struggled to export the same level of talent in recent seasons and have failed to progress on the international stage.
Bosnich believes Daniel Arzani snubbing the development system upon his move to Manchester City and subsequently Celtic on loan shows that a rethink is needed in growing players at home. However, he outlined a few A-League talents capable of making the switch to Europe with the season drawing to a close Down Under.
“There have, there have [been some good talents coming through]. Daniel Arzani didn’t go through the system. Him and his family knocked it on his own when he was younger. Isn’t that ironic?” Bosnich told Goal.
“There are two young boys Al Hassan Toure and Mohamed Toure, who are two refugee boys who came to Australia. One is 16 and another is 18 or 19. They have just burst onto the scene and they have been amazing for Adelaide United.
“There’s a few others that we have seen in Riley McGree and Connor Metcalfe coming through at this moment in time. The problem is that do they stay here and stay comfortable or go overseas and really give it a go at a young age.
“During my time with Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka, your only option was to go overseas. Now, there’s another option to stay which is great but you pay the price for everything.
“There’s only 11 teams here playing at the top level so if you don’t get the opportunity to start during those formative years and start developing your game then it is all of a sudden you start asking what happened to that young player?”
“Daniel Arzani, Aaron Mooy and Mat Ryan as well as a few in the Bundesliga. There’s a lot of them around but there’s just not as many playing for the top clubs as the golden generation. For whatever reason, that’s the way it is.
“I want the next generation to do better. That will come as the clubs and the AFA have changed. We have a new CEO of Football Federation Australia called James Johnson who worked for FIFA and AFC. He was an ex-Socceroo and he worked for City Group.
“He is a football man to his boots. He is determined to make the change. They brought former Premier League CEO Richard Scudamore in to advise the A-League clubs so things are looking up. There’s no doubt about that. Like anything good, it takes time.”
Bosnich believes that Australian football is struggling to develop players because of the fees and costs involved for juniors in taking up the sport at a higher level.
He believes the A-League will recover better than most competitions after a stoppage in play due to the coronavirus outbreak. Still, as one of the main anchors on Fox Sports covering the A-League, he wants the Australian football authorities to look at reform of the system to develop more talented players.
“One of the reasons we kept going as much as we could because there are a few clubs in a precarious situation. The strange thing is, in saying that, with everything going on in the world so far, they are used to surviving in recent times,” Bosnich said.
“The unity and purpose generated between clubs and the federations – in such a bad time I think it is decently placed to go forward. This is like playing roulette and all the chips are on the table and someone throws them up in the air.
“We will see how things land but at this moment in time, a lot of the clubs are just used to surviving and could come out of this strong. For the national team, if you look back, say from 2006 to 2020, it has gone backwards a bit. There’s no doubt about that.
“That initial generation was a once in a lifetime generation and the bottom line, the production line is not good, despite participation here being the biggest of any sport.
“Two million play at all age groups, we have that many players available, the best technical directors from everywhere, the best coaches we have had and yet the production line has dried up. That’s really something to look deeply at.
“The other thing that’s a bugbear of mine is the amount of fees kids are being charged to train. It nearly amounts to extortion because some of the fees they pay for the SAP (Skills Acquisition Programmes), which is a more advanced programme clubs can give out through the AFA.
“Some kids pay $2,500 a year and that’s like £1,200 in the UK. When you see the session cost you expect something like Guardiola or Klopp but they are just normal sessions. You think when I was growing up and the golden generation were growing up.
“It was a working class generation. It was $30 or $40 and the coaches were volunteers. My dad, people’s uncles, often immigrants who would just come back after work and give time for free. We produced really good players, arguably world class players.”