Straight from the dugout
Cover star Tim Cahill is a genuine legend in Australian football. Our record goal scorer remains evergreen despite almost two decades in the game and his arrival in the A-League at last will be a huge boost for the sport. But... Similar to some of the criticism of his role in the Socceroos, the inevitable question is who else can we turn to when Tim has gone? In Socceroos terms, the issue is less concerning – our record at the Asian Cup showed goalscoring depth, even if we did rely on Tim coming off the bench to our rescue again in the recent WCQ against UAE. But in A-League terms, the FFA is facing tough times ahead in luring star names to bolster the less mainstream-friendly talent – inspiring and exciting though it is. They bent the rules specifically to allow Cahill to join Melbourne City to drive up the cash-rich club’s fanbase, and boost the league as a whole. However, other clubs trying to follow suit have been thwarted over and over again. Possible targets with a similar crowd-pulling reach to Cahill are simply out of the A-League’s reach. The Chinese Super League and MLS have priced us out of the market – especially after tax – even with added funds from the FFA. And in terms of other returning Socceroos, we’re years away from the current generation having Cahill’s profile (although Tom Rogic and Aaron Mooy are a work in progress), with very few of Cahill’s Golden Generation peers still playing. Towards the back of the mag though, there is a fascinating feature on how the most important player in a side is its weakest one, not its strongest. Cahill’s addition to Australian club football will raise interest across the media and rival codes – but as was shown with Alessandro Del Piero at Sydney FC, unless the rest of the team can keep up, just having one of the best players in the world won’t win you titles. And even more than big stars, fans love winning most of all, especially if it’s in style. Given the problems of tempting one Down Under now – never mind trying to get them to fit effectively into a side – perhaps it’s time to move away from big name marquees and instead spend that money on a vastly increased salary cap to raise the overall standard of each side, from the weakest link up. Legendary Tim Cahill could be the king of marquees... and maybe also our last one.