Mitch Langerak was a shock World Cup fall guy, in order to make Socceroos captain Mat Ryan feel as “unthreatened as possible”.
That’s the belief of former Socceroos goalkeeper Clint Bolton, who was stunned with star gloveman Langerak’s omission, particularly after he came out of international retirement in September at the request of national coach Graham Arnold.
Ryan, and A-League pair Andrew Redmayne and Danny Vukovic – all disciples of Socceroos goalkeeper coach John Crawley – were the three custodians named in Australia’s 26-man World Cup squad.
The choice of Central Coast Mariners veteran Vukovic over Langerak was considered by many as a huge surprise, with the latter having had another stellar season for Japanese top-flight club Nagoya Grampus.
Such form had many calling for Langerak to become Australia’s first-choice gloveman at the expense of Ryan, whose move to Danish outfit FC Copenhagen from Spain has failed to secure the first-team football he was searching for.
“The only thing that makes any sort of sense in my mind, and I’m stretching to find a reason, is it’s about making Maty Ryan feel as unthreatened as possible,” Bolton said.
“Is that right or wrong? I don’t know … but if ‘Arnie’ has decided that Maty Ryan’s his number one keeper, then he is within his rights to make sure that Maty has the best tournament he can possibly have.
“Maybe the decision’s been made around leaving Mitch out to keep that goalkeeping department as harmonious as possible, because they all work well together – ‘Vuka’, ‘Redders’ and Maty.
“It’s a cohesive unit, and it’s a really unthreatening environment in a lot of ways for Maty.”
However, Bolton was “gutted” for Langerak, who was also snubbed at the World Cup selection table four years ago.
“When I look at a keeper from a technical point of view, Mitch Langerak’s our best keeper,” Bolton said.
“It’s hard to make sense of it all.”
Arnold suggested the decision to omit Langerak – who was part of Australia’s squad for the two-game series against New Zealand in September without getting any game time – was made by Crawley.
“I’m not an expert in goalkeeping and we’ve got a great goalkeeper coach in John Crawley, who has a process, and studies these goalkeepers and understands these goalkeepers enormously,” Arnold said.
“I’ve got to trust that process with John Crawley.”
Another former Socceroos goalkeeper, Eugene Galekovic, said Langerak was “very stiff” to miss World Cup selection.
“If you look at (club) games Mitch has played and at what level, you would have thought he would have been a shoo-in for the World Cup,” Galekovic said.
Socceroos great Robbie Slater said that on form, Langerak should have been Australia’s first-choice keeper at the World Cup.
“But they (Arnold and Crawley) wanted to see how the goalkeeper group reacted when Mitch came back in September,” Slater said.
“They want to keep the ‘family’ happy. The didn’t want Maty Ryan faltering because of the shadow of Langerak that would have been lurking over his shoulder.”