Brett Holman says his former club coach Bert van Marwijk is a “good fit” for the Socceroos and not necessarily the ultra-pragmatist some have typecast him as.
Holman, who has played for the Socceroos 63 times, was signed by Van Marwijk at Dutch club Feyenoord as a 17-year-old and said he was a “good fit” for the country.
Ange Postecoglou said this week the Dutchman was at the “other end of the scale” to his own attacking, high-energy style.
There’s little doubt one of Van Marwijk’s first priorities will be to make Australia more compact and frugal in defence, given they kept a clean sheet just once in Postecoglou’s last 11 matches in charge of the national team.
But Holman said those suggesting he will look to replicate the infamously bruising display of the Netherlands in their 2010 World Cup final defeat to Spain were overlooking what he has done more recently with Saudi Arabia.
“If you look at what he did with Saudi Arabia, you know the answers,” Holman said on Wednesday.
“Everybody’s going to go back and dwell on that Dutch game against Spain and say the boys were playing out there purely on physique and trying to muscle Spain out of it.
“But if you go a few years ahead of that, you see how well he had the Saudis set up and playing good football. He’s got a bit of both.”
Unlike the Socceroos, Van Marwijk’s Saudi side qualified directly for Russia — but they were unable to defeat Postecoglou’s Australia in two meetings.
They played out an intense 2-2 draw in Jeddah in their October 2016 qualifier, while the Socceroos won 3-2 in the return fixture mid-last year.
However, the Green Falcons played through Australia’s midfield and defence on numerous occasions with quick, incisive counter-attacking play.
Van Marwijk won more than 60 percent of his games at the helm of Feyenoord, the Netherlands and Saudi Arabia but struggled to make the same impact at German clubs Borussia Dortmund and Hamburger SV.
“Well-renowned coach, did some great things in Holland, club and with the national team,” Holman said.
“I think it’s a great choice. For the players we’ve got now I think it’s going to be a good fit.”
Van Marwijk is due to land in Australia on Thursday.