On the eve of the Socceroos’ clash with Holland, assistant coach Ante Milicic says the Netherlands squad won’t be distracted by their coach's impending departure to Premier League giant Manchester United.
Last month Louis Van Gaal was confirmed as United's new manager and a huge challenge awaits the 62-year-old as he attempts to revive the fortunes of the Old Trafford club.
But any suggestions the former Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss could be distracted by his next assignment were quashed as the razor-sharp Dutch tore apart reigning champions Spain at the Arena Fonte Nova to the tune of 5-1 in their opening group tie.
And even though United have already been linked with the likes of Feyenoord centre-back Bruno Martins Indi as they seek to replace Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, Milicic doesn’t see the club v country issue as a distraction.
"These are all big players that are all professional," the Socceroos assistant coach told Goal Australia.
"And also you know as one of those younger defenders, they could be something that he's looking to bring, new defenders to Manchester United, as they've lost two high profile ones in the European summer.
"There's a lot of different ways the players could look at it but I don't they'll be worried too much about what the manager's doing after the World Cup, they'll be focusing on his instructions for the present."
Milicic, 40, played in Holland for NAC Breda (almost 50 appearances in the late 1990s) and was assistant coach for two seasons at Melbourne Heart under former Dutch great and national team assistant John van’t Schip before joining Western Sydney Wanderers in 2012.
As such, he brings extra insights into Dutch football that will no doubt assist the Socceroos in their seemingly impossible task of taking points off the rampant Oranje.
With the Dutch expected to dominate possession against the green and gold, it remains to be seen if the Netherlands will alter the reactive formation that proved so successful against Spain.
Regardless of how their opponents line up at Estadio Beira-Rio, Milicic knows Australia must brace themselves for another massive test on world football's biggest stage.
"We know that [Van Gaal] is very experienced and quite adaptable with different formations, whether that be 3-5-2, every kid in Holland knows how to play 4-3-3, which we as Australians know well," he said.
"We all know about the class they have going forward. They're a great footballing nation with high expectations."
As the Socceroos prepare for this daunting showdown with the in-form Netherlands, Milicic believes Robin van Persie could become Louis van Gaal's captain at Manchester United.
The Oranje registered the most eye-catching result of the World Cup so far by destroying holders Spain 5-1 in Salvador on Friday and they are now expected to swat aside Ange Postecoglou's underdogs, who were unfortunate not get a draw in a 3-1 loss to Chile later that day.
The strength of the Netherlands' team spirit was evident when Van Persie sprinted to the half-way line to high-five his coach after scoring the equaliser that sparked La Roja's unexpected demise.
And Milicic believes the former Arsenal centre-forward - and United in general - are set to benefit from Van Gaal's impending arrival at the club.
"You know one thing, that a man with that kind of experience and that kind of professionalism has been in similar situations in football and he's got enough experience to deal with those situations," Milicic said when quizzed on Van Gaal's likely frame of mind.
"It could work both ways. Maybe he does have one eye on his Manchester United job. Or maybe now his future is sorted for after the World Cup he can spend even more time on the Dutch national team.
"Straight off the top of your head, you can think, look van Persie's there, he's got him as the captain of his team in Holland, he could possibly be the new captain now at Manchester United.
“So there's already some kind of a link going on there.”
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