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Kamikaze Kewell?

by Ashley Morrison on Aug 23, 2011

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While many are hailing Melbourne Victory’s signing of Harry Kewell as a major coup and one that is great for football in Australia, forgive this writer for not being quiet so enthused.

There is no doubt Harry Kewell possessed immense footballing talent, and there is also no doubt that at times he has been much maligned, often wrongly, sometimes justifiably, as his manager endeavours to obtain the best deal possible for his client.

Harry Kewell does have a good side to his nature and like successful Australian tennis player Pat Cash he choses to do his good deeds outside of the media spotlight, and that is to be commended.

The A-League is a tougher league than many realise, and the pace is very different to the European leagues. As has been seen in previous seasons some attacking players from these leagues have struggled to adjust.

If we look at those former Socceroos who have returned to the A-League to finish their careers, it is the defenders who have stood out, Kevin Muscat, Craig Moore and Tony Vidmar. The attacking players have all struggled, Stan Lazaridis, John Aloisi, Mile Sterjovski to name a few.

Kewell is going to have to buck that trend, he also is going to have to realise if he plays the role discussed behind the front two that his team mates may not think as quickly as he does on the park.

Kewell is a good player of that there is no doubt, he has been marketed superbly, but whether he is the best player of his generation is open to opinion.

Kewell is going to have to hit the ground running when he arrives in Australia to convince many that this is a good move for Melbourne Victory, and the Hyundai A-League.

Kewell is quoted on the Melbourne Victory website as stating “I am proud to be Australian and want to give something back to the game there. It has always been my ambition to play in my home country and I am very pleased to have that opportunity by playing for Melbourne Victory.”

There are many questions surrounding his signing, had his manager been able to land him a contract overseas would he be playing in Australia next season? Had he still not harboured hopes of playing in the 2014 World Cup would he have signed a three-year deal? Why, when on the Australian sporting rich list with earnings reported as being $10.5million, would you want a percentage of the increase in attendance income, sponsorship income and membership income, which has been reported?

Kewell’s third World Cup dream could well end in tears. It is one thing to return to Australia to prolong your career, and play under the nose of the Australian coach, but as witnessed in Jason Culina, eventually the standard that you attained playing in superior leagues in Europe begins to slip, and whether Harry Kewell in three years is still of a standard that warrants selection for the World Cup should Australia qualify only time will tell.

The only way Harry Kewell will win over his doubters is by maintaining fitness, and maintaining high standards on the pitch. With such a short A-League season that could prove a challenge over three years.

If he fails don’t expect clubs to be shelling out big bucks on returning Socceroos, as so far it has been a gamble that has rarely paid off, especially with attacking players.