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The game needs characters. Enter John Kosmina

by Sebastian Hassett on Dec 22, 2011

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“It’s not often you get a second chance at things … and it’s a challenge I couldn’t knock back.”

With those words, John Kosmina was an A-League coach again. Can you believe it? I’m still getting my head around it.

Gary van Egmond back at Newcastle? It was always half a chance. Gary Cole getting on board with Sydney FC? Far fetched. But ‘‘Kossie’’ back in the A-League? As a coach? Hard to imagine. Next they’ll be telling us that Steve McMahon is back at Perth Glory.

And yet it will have taken Kosmina all of five minutes to feel part of the furniture once again, and all of five seconds for the rest of us to decide whether we love him or hate him. He divides opinion and creates talking points - which is better than not being talked about at all.

Upon his sacking in January 2009, I wrote a column saying that Kosmina would get another chance at this level. At the time, I believed it. Almost three years on, the game has changed so much - and our coaches have changed so much - that I found Sunday’s news a big shock. Evidently, so did he.

For what it’s worth, I rate Kosmina as a person. I love his bullish demeanour, his heart-on-sleeve approach and all that goes with it. He’s anything but a modern coach but so what? Kosmina isn’t the norm any more, but we shouldn’t get so wrapped up in our own evolution as a football nation that we must render him a dinosaur, as some want. There’s room for characters. There has to be.

The last time I saw Kosmina, he was yelling at me for being late to a bus he was commandeering for the Green and Gold Army at last year’s World Cup. A pointed spray - they always are - was finished with: ‘‘typical bloody journo’’. Some things never change.

Kosmina has the most potent mix of passion and parochialism imaginable, and that goes a long way in Adelaide. It goes further in South Australia than it does in any other state (even Queensland).

There’s a common theory out there among the fans that Kosmina is more talker than thinker, that his one-liners and stand-offs are worth more than his tactical nous.

I don’t know about that.

Graham Arnold thought highly enough of him to take him as his assistant to the 2007 Asian Cup. Granted, Australia underperformed, but Arnold has only gone on to better things. Why can’t his old strike partner?

What you see is what you get with Kossie. I’m sure he’s wanted to grab me by the throat more than once, and vice-versa. But you always know where you stand.

Late to a press conference? You know you’re going to get baked. Prepared to have a beer or two with him? You’ll learn something you didn’t expect.

I’m not saying he’ll solve Adelaide United’s woes but at a time when the dressing room is falling apart, Kosmina might be the man to patch it up. Straight away, he admitted he didn’t see a ‘‘team’’ feeling in the squad. He’ll fix that. Expect more than a few bonding sessions in the weeks ahead.

Whatever happens, it’s just an interim appointment. I’m not sure if he’ll get the job permanently, but I hope he does well. He’s given the game a fair bit over the years.

More than anything, I’m looking forward to the first spray he hands out. Who knows, I might be on the receiving end. I secretly hope so.

Either way, it’s good to have him back.