In this week's 'The News from Nus', Melbourne Heart FC Assistant Coach Gerard Nus fields questions on a range of current topics in world football, including the recent World Cup 2014 draw, cultural differences between leagues and more.
Q. What do you think about the World Cup draw with Australia drawing a pretty tough group - from a neutral perspective - do you think it’s the group of death?
GN: I think it's really tough for Australia, obviously in the World Cup it doesn't matter who you play, every team is going to be tough, but when you have two of the teams that played in the last final in the group it tells you a lot already.
Having Spain and Holland in the group, it’s going to be tough to go through and with Chile as well is going to be tough and what will be interesting is to see what the new head coach of the national team will propose. Will he play football based on possession or will they go forward and look for chances to score or they will try to counterattack?
Q. Who do you think will progress from Australia’s group and why?
GN: I would say Spain and Holland for me are the two big countries in that group but in saying that you really don't know until the whistle blows and you need to give credit to every team. It’s a special event so everyone has a chance - but history tells us that Holland and Spain are the two teams in that group that are the better teams.
Q. Talking about the World Cup in June next year, who do you see as the countries to beat?
GN:I would say that Brazil is the team to beat, they always have a big chance anyway no matter where they play, but especially next year playing at home, they would be my favourite to win. Other strong sides that I would put in to make my top four would be Spain, Germany and Argentina; for me they are the top four teams to beat.
What are some of the cultural differences that you have noticed in Australia compared to your time with football clubs overseas?
GN: One difference is on match day when the media come into the change-room. In many clubs overseas the change-room is something that is protected and very private; it’s for the coaches and players and nobody else really gets in there. It’s like a church, or a sacred place where people don’t enter if they aren’t really involved with the club.
Another difference is when a game is finished in Europe players might clap the team’s performance and then go into the changing room. In Australia there is a culture where all the players go to see the fans and they spend time together, giving big hugs or talking a little bit, there is a closer, friendly relationship with the fans.
In South Korea [Nus worked at K-League club Chunnam Dragons] players and coaches live in a club-house where they all live together. It was a building where everyone has their own room and then you would have all your meals together. It was especially good for the young players. Some of the older players would move out into their own place but all the players would generally eat together sometimes it was compulsory but most times it was optional.
Q. Which country did you find had the most passionate fans?
GN:England is definitely one of the best places in the world in terms of crowds, they have some of the most passionate supporters who really support their team. Obviously the top clubs have the biggest crowds but it depends on results as well.
Q. In your time coaching how has the amount of control a club has over its players fluctuated from league to league?
GN:It depends on the coach. It varies a lot in the English Premier League especially, some allow their players to be quite free whereas others are very strict with their players. Generally in Europe the coaches allow players to have more free time after training and things but when they are there they need to focus and train properly.
In Korea they are generally more strict [in regards to free time] they are required to do more for the team. After training players are encouraged to stick together more to make the team stronger in terms of mentality, they are encouraged to stick with their teammates as much as possible. In Europe there is more free time, after training players are free to go home to their families.
Q. How many players from Europe in the off-season are considering Australia as somewhere to go and play football?
GN:I think many, it’s not as preferable as staying in Europe but players that are almost finishing their careers really consider Australia because it is a place they can learn the English language and it is seen in Europe as a comfortable place to live. It’s a beautiful country with beautiful people. The football in Australia is getting better and better, there are big names playing in the Hyundai A-League now so it’s definitely not a place to say no to.