Ange cracks through the 'Hunting Territory’

There is no madness behind Postecoglou's method. In fact the Roar coach has cleverly set his young team up for a great season in 2010/2011.

Ange Postecoglou may well have read the works of Dr Istvan Gorgenyi. Frank Farina obviously didn't.

Gorgenyi, an Olympic gold medal winning former water polo coach, is increasingly in demand for his 'Hunting Territory' theory, backed by more than 20 years of research into team dynamics and group performance.

He has contributed to this website previously.

In a nutshell, the 'Hunting Territory' syndrome is a form of behaviour by which a player or more commonly a small group of players form ownerships of parts of the team process, often subconsciously, and, disdaining the broad collective interest, ultimately cause it to break down.

It is common and has happened to the most successful of teams, sporting and otherwise. Smart coaches or managers will see it coming and will intervene before the rot sets in. Others, too comfortable in enjoying a winning run, will ignore it and eventually pay the penalty.

Gorgenyi, asked to report for the FFA on the 2005 Confederations Cup, made the worrying observation about a 'Hunting Territory' issue existing in the defensive area, specifically around a Craig Moore/Kevin Muscat alliance.

Guus Hiddink, having replaced Farina as Australia coach after the Confeds, broke up the relationship immediately on his appointment and Muscat was jettisoned.

It stands out like a sore tooth that the exit of Craig Moore, Charlie Miller and Bob Malcolm from the Brisbane Roar roster since Postecoglou's replacement of Farina is no coincidence. The off field alliance between the three senior players, a kind of Scottish mini-mafia, must have been causing serious team unity problems in the opinion of the coach and Ange had to shut down the 'Hunting Territory'. He had no choice.

Of course it didn't bring immediate rewards and that's to be expected given that players with such experience need to be replaced and the rebuilding process will take time. Hopefully for the Roar the signing this week of Belgian Pieter Collen, ostensibly to replace Moore, is a good start. It is obvious that Postecoglou is preparing now not to salvage what's left of this season but for the next and it appears the board is with him, as it should be.

As for how Postecoglou diagnosed and then acted swiftly and decisively on the 'Hunting Territory' problem, other coaches should take note. There are some other cases in the A-League.

Togo are completely justified

The withdrawal by the Togo players from the African Cup of Nations was completely justified. Their security should have been guaranteed by the host nation, Angola, and it is crass in the extreme from the organisers to suggest they should have taken a plane rather than a bus.

But it is equally irresponsible to somehow link the tragic incident with the prospect of a safe World Cup in South Africa later in the year.

Duncan White, writing in London's Daily Telegraph, did just that. In his article, reproduced in the Sydney Morning Herald under the headline 'Why the World Cup rehearsal went so wrong', he writes, 'the Cup was supposed to be a jubilant prologue to the main event in South Africa'.

No it wasn't. The prologue was the 2009 Confederations Cup, played in South Africa last June, which, as colleague and eye witness Scott McIntyre has already reported, went off without any incident concerning security.

To tie the tragedy that occurred with the Togolese to South Africa's capacity to host a secure World Cup is tactless, mischievous and a case of blatant prejudice.

The death of the FA Cup

Just like the video killed the radio star, is the glamorous EPL and the Champions League killing the FA Cup?

Eyebrows were raised in England over some of the low turnouts at the recent round of third round Cup matches, which suggested a broader problem with the tournament's popularity. The Wigan v Hull tie, for instance, attracted 5,332 fans, a turnout that would make the bean counters at the Central Coast Mariners reach for the Prozac.

There could be something to it. A Wigan v Hull clash in the Premier would attract more than four times that.

The allure of the commercial giant that is the EPL and the international appeal of the Champions League are now what dominate the English market, to an extent where the purely domestic and homely character of the FA Cup has been relegated to a lower tier of relevance.

What a pity.

The FA Cup was always unsurpassed as a piece of football romance, where David regularly floored Goliath, where all teams were on an equal footing, and where money didn't matter. It was only ever about glory and the stuff of which children dream.

Australians, mesmerised, took to it too. FA Cup parties, every mid-May, dotted the Saturday night landscape, revellers donning scarves, waiting for the midnight kick-off, shouting and heaving and getting so drunk many of them never lasted till the 2:00 am final whistle. They would support one team, like, say, West Ham, and overnight become football fans swearing allegiance to the colours and stay loyal to them forever.

It became such an important ritual that the federal government in the mid-1990s put the FA Cup final on the anti-siphoning list, protecting it for free to air TV. It remains there today while, would you believe, the Socceroo games and the World Cup do not.

But this is the era of globalisation in which things of international relevance, not to say cross border commercial significance, are the things that matter. The FA Cup, for all its sweet historic appeal, does not fall into that category.

So, it is dying. What might rescue it is the agenda of FIFA, and of UEFA, to reverse the tide and protect the integrity of domestic football cultures, beginning with the 6+5 rule, and their right to a distinct identity.

And I remain a cheerleader in that process.