It’s true what Marko Arnautovic says about “negativity”.
It is not forbidden to tick off the 0: 2 of the ÖFB team in France as largely normal. It was performance-oriented anyway. There’s really no need to badmouth everything.
However, what Ralf Rangnick keeps saying is also true – namely that Austria sometimes has to defeat national teams that are better placed in the rankings if you want to move forward.
But for that you have to get better yourself.
It’s a good thing that such a surprise would only have been possible with an exceptional performance, even for the heavily weakened world champion, was just as expected and communicated in advance by the team boss.
Ultimately, it was a date with reality, which, however, hardly makes you want more.
What does this reality look like from the national team perspective? Austria is ranked 33rd in the FIFA world rankings, the real performance is possibly a few notches higher.
Rangnick openly communicates that he is not satisfied with these spheres. And that’s just as well. Because his desire for the current result reality is also very ending.
Three Nations League opponents in the top 15 are a good indicator of how thin the air in these spheres can get if not everything works with red-white-red.
The correct assessment of the current potential is part of measuring reality.
You don’t have to speak of a “golden generation” right away, but the fact that Austria has such a broad pool of players in terms of quality is and remains the exception.
But let’s specify on average “good quality”. It’s still a long way from “very good quality”, not to mention absolute world-class kickers – such as France has in large numbers – not to mention.
Part of the reality, and it cannot be stressed enough, is that David Alaba has long been alone in the world when it comes to world class.
It’s good that Marcel Sabitzer is now doing better at FC Bayern Munich, but Austria is still a long way from having an impressive number of legionnaires at absolute elite clubs – we’d rather not talk about leading players there. Again, it’s a solo for Alaba.
It’s nice that Austrians are becoming more fashionable again in Serie A and that Marko Arnautovic is even leading the shooter list there. However, this hardly glosses over the fact that ÖFB kickers are not particularly in demand either in La Liga or in the Premier League.
It’s nice that Sasa Kalajdzic made the leap to the island at the end of the transfer. It’s really bad that he got injured right away. Nevertheless, it is part of the reality that clubs from the strongest league in the world, where money seems to be abolished, are not exactly keen on Austrians.
Let’s sum it up like this: The goal of having enough Austrians as regular players in the top leagues – especially in the German Bundesliga – was announced in the noughties and achieved in the tens.
And since then we’ve been happy with it and resting on it, right?
For the twenties, the sense of entitlement should be significantly increased. Wouldn’t it be good if – with all due respect – in the medium term there was more to a call-up than conspicuous appearances at Mainz, Werder or Hoffenheim.
Furthermore: The fact that Austria has some acute problem positions is well known and part of reality. Just: is anyone doing anything?
Countermeasures could have been taken in the full-back positions for five years, the “secret” was so poorly guarded that it could soon become tight on the right and left.
It is very unfortunate that Austria has not managed to train at least one goalkeeper for whom international top clubs are vying as number one for almost generations.
In recent years, numerous goalies have guarded the ÖFB goal. You can congratulate them almost unanimously that there were only a few really gross blunders. Having to tremble every transfer summer as to whether it will actually be enough for a regular place in the club in the end can’t really be the last word from the national team’s point of view.
Rangnick countered the encouraging trend at the beginning of the season that almost all striker candidates scored in their clubs with the counterattack that they were still a long way from an Erling Haaland. Or a Kylian Mbappe. That’s right.
It is also the new team boss who repeatedly addresses such truths and puts his finger in the wound. Publicly still rather polite and sometimes discreet, but still. So, in his opinion, the serious lack of speed dribblers should have meanwhile seeped in.
To sum it all up: there would have to be a lot to do if football in Austria wanted to constantly take the next steps.
The emphasis is on constant, because resting on one or the other good European Cup year can have unpleasant consequences, as many Bundesliga clubs have learned this season. But that’s just by the way.
Who takes care of the implementation? The ÖFB will not be able to avoid a certain central control function in this matter, even if most of the training work is done in the clubs.
The fact that Rangnick put his fingers in the wounds accompanied his appointment as a great hope. It would be important if he not only pointed out problems internally with the greatest emphasis, but also demanded concrete results in terms of solutions.
Because reality also includes the fear that not all areas where it is necessary have arrived and that there is a lot of work waiting.