Three years out from a Women’s World Cup on home soil, new Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson has declared there’s a blank slate for selection.
Gustavsson started his four-year contract on January 1 and doesn’t want to be blinkered by any pre-existing perceptions of where his squad needs bolstering or adjusting.
“What I’ve said to everyone, including the players, is I want everyone to feel that when a new coach comes in it’s important that it’s a blank paper and that the coach looks with fresh eyes and gives everyone an opportunity to showcase themselves,” Gustavsson said.
“I’m not at the point today, where I’m (looking at squad weaknesses). First of all, (I) don’t have enough information but I don’t want to lock in either.
“If I put those glasses on and they kind of lock in and say ‘hey, we we’re short here we need to look at (this)’ I might be blinding when I’m watching.
“So I want to really open up and see from my end what I think about the roster.”
Gustavsson said the W-League remained crucial to developing young players and expanding it beyond its 12-game format was vital to broadening the talent pool.
“If we can get even more games and get a longer season, that obviously would be an improvement and getting better,” he said.
“But right now we need to make the most out of what we have as of today.”
Gustavsson said there was no “magic number” of W-League fixtures but emphasised a need for prospects to play more domestic games and youth internationals.
The majority of the top Matildas are now based in Europe, rather than the W-League.
“It’s also a little bit dangerous to compare and say (one league’s) better than (another), but it could be different,” Gustavsson said.
“There’s different cultures and different aspects of it and I think a lot of our players now get exposure to those different aspects.
“Only the player (themselves) will know whether they thrive in that environment and get better, or whether they need to move on and get a new challenge – whether that’s in the W League, or whether that’s in Europe or over in the US, or another league, or another club.”