There is no doubt that Australian football at club and national level is at the crossroads and the Socceroos' deflating debacle in Scotland has fuelled a hot debate over the direction of our national team.
The central point of the argument is whether Holger Osieck is doing enough to generate fresh blood in an ageing team or merely putting all his eggs in the 2014 FIFA World Cup basket.
As the Socceroos team gets older and slower and the team's poor performances are becoming more frequent, many pessimistic pundits are predicting a sudden and dramatic fall from grace as soon as the established stars call it a day in the not-too-distant future.
Their deep concern is not unjustified.
It has been pointed out that Osieck was named Socceroos coach in August 2010 essentially to get Australia to its third straight World Cup but also because he had “demonstrated the capacity to rebuild teams and work with young footballers and develop them into internationally competitive players”, according to Football Federation Australia's press release to announce the German's appointment.
It is unclear if Osieck's proven track record of working successfully with young players automatically became part of his Socceroos job description.
What is becoming crystal clear is that Osieck's top priority at the moment is to get the Socceroos to the World Cup and he makes no apologies for this.
Yet as debate rages over the national team's future it is worth raising some pertinent points that could make us better understand what is at stake here.
World Cup: The A-League may be the bread and butter of the game in this country but it is no secret that the Socceroos are carrying football in Australia from an image and economic aspect.
It is seen as imperative that they qualify for every World Cup to keep the momentum going and cover the massive expense of running the game in Australia.
The bottom line therefore is whether FFA can afford to concentrate on development and put World Cup qualification at risk.
Football has always been and will always be a results-based industry, let's not forget that.
Priorities: Osieck's objective to get the Socceroos to the World Cup means he has little time to experiment and try too many new players, not even in friendlies.
So what's more important at the moment: playing in Brazil in 2014 or building a team for Russia in 2018 and beyond?
Another question we also need to ask ourselves is: Will we be the first to crucify Osieck for tempting fate and using young personnel and then get knocked out of the race for Brazil?
FFA: Should the national coach be responsible for the transition of younger players into the senior set-up?
Organising and supervising a World Cup qualifying campaign is hard enough on its own and the last thing a senior coach should have to worry about is generation next.
FFA may have shown naivety in expecting these two vital jobs to be done successfully by one person, albeit with assistance.
I'd like to think that this was not an error in judgment on Osieck's part or a cost-cutting measure from FFA.
Alternatives: It is incorrect to claim that Osieck has not opened the door to several players who deserved recognition for their club form.
He plucked Sasa Ognenovski, Matt Mackay, Alex Brosque and Robbie Kruse from international obscurity and gave them an opportunity to perform on a bigger stage.
Yet some people still want more new faces.
The big question is however: are the 'alternatives' good enough or ready to play for Australia?
Osieck has said that several players had failed to take their chance to step up.
Experience: The value of international experience and know-how should never be underestimated.
It is rather foolish to suggest that seasoned campaigners like Mark Schwarzer, Luke Wilkshire, Lucas Neill, Tim Cahill, Mark Bresciano, Harry Kewell and Josh Kennedy should make way for younger and fresher players simply because they are getting on.
Only last week Wilkshire said aspiring players had to earn their stripes by performing consistently well at senior level.
Expectations: It is important that we retain a sense of perspective when we deal with the Socceroos.
As a football country, Australia is punching above its weight thanks largely to our players' indomitable aggression, commendable team spirit and sporadic touches of class, such as Bresciano's pearler against the Scots.
We cannot expect our team to produce brilliant football in every match.
Our players are not that good.
Placing excessive expectations on our team will be counter-productive.
Solution: Perhaps the answer lies in the biggest possible decision of them all: 'sacrifice' one World Cup campaign and concentrate on establishing a new generation from scratch without having to deal with the pressing demands of having to qualify for a major tournament at all costs.
FFA's bean-counters will probably oppose this defeatist notion out of hand but this could well be the panacea to Australia's ills and might turn out to be a smart investment that could shape the game's future.
Final word: Let's not panic, Australia is still in a good position to qualify for Brazil and Osieck should be allowed to solve his team's technical problems in a serene environment.
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