How Western United staff helped the Socceroos make history

Anthony Frost Western United Academy

The Socceroos made history at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, galvanising the nation with best-ever finish in falling just short of eventual winners Argentina in the Round of 16.

And two Western United staff members were key parts of the journey.

Performance Analyst Vince Ierardo and Academy Director Anthony Frost were two of a group of four people that provided the Socceroos camp with detailed scouting reports on potential opponents in the knockout stages.

“We had either Poland, Mexico, Saudi Arabia or Argentina. We spent close to two weeks really doing a deep dive into those four teams, with the potential that we would come up against one of the four,” Frost explained.

“It so happened that Vince was tasked with Argentina, so he was able to do three reports – a team report which included set pieces, a penalty report as well as an individual player report for all 26 players in their squad.”

Ierardo spoke about the process of watching match clips of Argentina in detail, and how he tried to break down the best ways to attempt to defend Lionel Messi.

“We were looking at 10 games prior (to the Socceroos game) each, looking for any trends and patterns like we normally would do here,” he said.

“Something as simple as how do you try and control someone like Messi, and coming up with gameplans and giving them insight into how to stop him before he even gets the ball, which is obviously an enormous task which I thought the Socceroos actually did quite well I thought in the end.”

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Taking away learnings from the experience, Frost detailed how the process of watching a number of different teams and analysing different game styles will help him in his day-to-day role at Western United.

“For me in my role, it was just getting a really good understanding about how other teams can play – different formations, different shapes, different patterns, different principles,” he said.

“Looking at a broad range of teams, even looking at our preparation for a potential quarter-final opponent in the USA or the Netherlands, we were looking at a number of different teams and how they set up.

“From a tactical perspective, my knowledge has certainly broadened because of the opportunity, and hopefully that carries through to sharing that knowledge and experience with Academy staff, and obviously the players.”

Ierardo said while the workload was high, the environment and the enjoyment of the work involved made it an experience he will never forget.

“There was a lot of work, but if you don’t smile and you don’t laugh it’s not enjoyable,” he said.

“The group of four of us that we had was amazing, we were able to lean on each other, we were able to help each other which was really special, and we had some good morning coffees and some good morning jokes.

“It was an amazing group of people and hopefully the opportunity will come again.”

Ierardo has since returned to United and completed his AFC Pro Licence with Football Australia, while Frost continues to oversee the present and future of Western United’s Academy program.