Selecting players in their natural position the way forward

Ask followers of our national team what has been our most problematic position, and the answer is more often than not left fullback.

Ask followers of our national team what has been our most problematic position, and the answer is more often than not left fullback.

A number of players have had a crack at the role without a great deal of success. David Carney may have been a long term option if he had continued to play regular club football. It was painfully obvious against the French and Brazilian teams that you need to be playing regularly to compete against these teams. What was also glaringly obvious is how difficult it is to play out of position at that level. I am Matt MacKay-s number one fan when he plays in his natural midfield position, but to expect him to be able to play left back requires a totally different skill set. I started off in midfield and ended up at left fullback, and believe me the positions are worlds apart.

So why is it we keep putting players in positions they aren-t comfortable in, or used to playing? Poor James Holland was thrown into right back role and asked to keep the likes of Franck Ribery quiet! Best of luck with that.

What makes the whole thing even more absurd is that we have players in the A-League who play naturally in those positions who would have done a fine job. I hear many people criticise Shane Steffanuto as being perhaps too negative at times, but I whole heartedly disagree.

The first job of a defender is just that - defend - and make life as difficult as possible for your opponent. If you can do that and then go forward and offer support to your attacking players, then that-s great. Over the last three seasons the combination 'Steff' has forged with Thomas Broich in an attacking sense has been exactly what you would hope to see, and his defensive work has been outstanding.

So the question I have is this: ''Why have players like Steffanuto, who have performed at a consistently high level, been ignored?” Josh Rose is another who has had legitimate claims, but instead keeps getting overlooked for players who simply aren-t playing regularly, or are forced into playing alternate positions. While it may now be too late for Steffanuto to resurrect his national team career, he may end up having a very big influence on the long term future in that position. Corey Brown is his understudy at Brisbane Roar, and if pre-season is any indication he's pushing very hard for a starting position. The best thing Brown (whose dad Rod was a pretty handy player) can do is model his professionalism and commitment on Steffanuto, because alongside his undoubted natural ability, it will go a long way to making him a success.

I started writing this article before the game against Canada, and after a couple of rather depressing weeks for followers of our national team. Now granted Canada are a fairly average team, but hopefully with a win under our belts we have begun to climb out of the gloom and look forward with a positive outlook.

It seems a local coach will be appointed to replace Holger Osieck, and there's no doubt we have people capable of doing the job. The fact that these candidates have also earned their stripes in the A-League is a massive plus. Hopefully, that will mean they won-t miss the fact that there are players right here, right now, playing under their nose in the A-League. My only request to whoever takes over is please use the players in their natural position.