It all began in Hollywood style, the equivalent of a teaser trailer was posted across FFA social media: “Major announcement, Tuesday 29 September 7pm” and the anticipation built throughout the day until an introductory panel was broadcast across multiple platforms.
During the presentation a strange feeling arose, perhaps for the first time in a generation, it could be said that the unveiling of an Australian national team coach was… fun?
The FFA has clearly learned lessons about communicating with fans and the media in the past 12 months. Last years controversial sacking of Alen Stajcic was clouded in secrecy, innuendo and confusion and left fans to speculate and debate amongst each other when they would have much rather be discussing their trips to France together or arranging their work schedules around late nights for World Cup viewing.
The appointment of Ante Milicic was met at best with cautious optimism. He had no experience in women’s football and limited experience as a head coach. It may have been the best decision possible at the time but the average fan was again left to speculate or research his credentials.
For the announcement of Tony Gustavsson as the new Matildas coach the FFA team built up anticipation and delivered content in a manner so satisfying it resembled the unveiling of a new big budget superhero film or new tech gadget.
Tara Ruston hosted and was joined by Chief Executive James Johnson, Amy Duggan and Sarah Walsh, they explained the process and the formally announced the new manager. This time, there was clarity for the fans, there was transparency in the decision and as a result it was easier than it has been in the past for fans to feel confident in the appointment.
Gustavsson’s one on one interview with Rushton was playful and enjoyable, giving an insight into his personality, it was reminiscent of the arrival of Guus Hiddink in 2005 such was the charm offensive. Johnson perhaps said it clearest, that the new manager did not require any “training wheels”
Gustavsson’s press conference was engaging, informative and charismatic. He was impressive to listen to and was clearly excited to lead the team, his mantra of “one day better” immediately memorable and infectious. If it were a movie, the theme song would have kicked it at that moment.
The whole event was skillfully managed, slickly delivered and enjoyably presented. Many Matilda’s fans would have had their own personal favourite applicant and wonder why they weren’t selected, but it would be hard to question why Gustavsson was the one chosen, even if you disagreed, the reasons were made clear.
In the absence of any Matilda’s matches, this occasion gave fans reason to be excited again and look to future, rarely has the announcement of a new manager been this much fun, although hopefully it does not happen again for at least four year.
Welcome Tony Gustavsson.