1. Who is really in the running to replace Holger Osieck?
Countless names are being thrown about, and the FFA is receiving expressions of interest from all over the world. However, they are likely to have narrowed the search to no more than six or seven candidates. Guus Hiddink is the FFA's top choice but competition might be too fierce – he is wanted elsewhere and will command top dollar. Likewise, Marcelo Bielsa would require serious persuading. Roberto Di Matteo would be cheaper but has no international experience. Ange Postecoglou and Graham Arnold appear the best local chances. Tony Popovic also gets mentioned but is younger and therefore less likely. The days of Australia picking up a low-key journeyman, as they have done with Pim Verbeek and Osieck, appear gone.
2. Local or foreign coach?
If a local candidate is deemed the best available, then it should be a local. But if there is a clear candidate from overseas who is more capable, the FFA shouldn't discriminate on the basis of their passport. It seems a local manager would be appointed with a view to long-term rejuvenation while a foreigner would be focused on short-term results.
3. What are the benefits of a short-term manager?
A gun-for-hire, such as Hiddink, would provide the Socceroos with the X-factor they have so badly lacked in recent times. Not only would his presence on the sidelines embolden the players, but it would create a surge of public goodwill. That momentum could prove crucial in making Australia competitive in Brazil – and possibly competing for a spot in the second round. The FFA is also considering a handover option: hiring a foreigner in the short term, making a local his assistant (allowing the assistant to keep his A-League job) and then promoting the assistant after the World Cup in time for the 2015 Asian Cup.
4. What are the benefits of a long-term manager?
Giving a manager a multi-year deal would allow him to rebuild the team from scratch, removing the old players and working the next generation into a highly competitive unit – one that could compete for honours at the 2015 Asian Cup on home soil and ensure a real shot at qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. However, it might mean seeing the team struggle at the 2014 World Cup, which could hurt football's desire to compete with the big two codes.
5. Is the style of play important, or is it just about results?
Results are always the more important but, equally, Osieck failed to create a style of play that would allow the Socceroos to break down superior teams in attack while keeping them at bay in defence. In the end, the style was based less on technical qualities and more on mental qualities, such as “fighting spirit". When it became clear that the “spirit" was exhausted after the embarrassment in Paris, it was obvious Osieck was out of ideas.
6. Do we have an unrealistic expectation of what the Socceroos can achieve?
Most probably. The hype around the A-League, qualifying for a third World Cup and the steady improvement around the game as a whole has underpinned increased expectation – especially among casual fans. Qualifying for Brazil 2014 was significant but that's the minimum public expectation these days. The lack of players in Europe's top leagues indicates the diminishing standard at the elite level when compared with the “golden generation" of 2001-2010.
7. If Lucas Neill is dumped as captain, who could step in?
There are several candidates but if a change in culture is required, the Socceroos could do a lot worse than Mark Bresciano. He doesn't indulge in the arrogance that has infected the squad, and has never taken the national shirt for granted – or leveraged it for personal financial gain. He is respected by all, leads by example, is popular with the fans and open with the media. He showed real leadership in going on live television and apologising to the nation on Sunday night. He's still an excellent footballer, too.
8. Are there any fringe players capable of making a real difference in 2014?
Matthew Spiranovic needs to get himself fit and ready with the Wanderers while Trent Sainsbury is doing his claims no harm. Shane Lowry deserves a look at left-back. Tomi Juric and Mitch Duke, who both scored on Saturday night, are worth monitoring. Ivan Franjic looked dazzling against Wellington – on the left, no less. Mathew Leckie and Nikita Rukavytsya shouldn't be forgotten. Unfortunately, Eli Babalj is struggling for game time in Holland.
9. Is there any silver lining from the games against France and Brazil?
In a perverse way, yes. James Holland will never play at right-back again, and David Carney now knows how far off the pace he is. Bizarrely, goalkeeper Mitchell Langerak actually enhanced his claims. That Osieck has now gone will spell the end of players being picked on familiarity rather than merit. It should also help dissolve the overt dressing room power base of the older players.
10. Which A-League club would hurt most if their manager left?
Of the three local managers in contention for the job, it's perhaps Tony Popovic's departure that would prove the least disruptive – primarily because he has an excellent assistant at Western Sydney in Ante Milicic. Phil Moss and Kevin Muscat have learnt plenty from Arnold and Postecoglou respectively but you could virtually rule either club out of championship contention this season if their coach left. “Arnie" has worked miracles with no money in Gosford while the Victory job carries extreme expectation.
11. Can we make it out of the group stage in Rio?
It's possible. Four points is what Australia picked up in 2006 and 2010, and that's no pipe dream in 2014 if everything goes perfectly. Should a fighting win and a plucky draw be gained, the Socceroos will put themselves in the mix to progress. The new manager might just inspire the likes of Robbie Kruse, Tom Rogic, Rhys Williams, Mitch Langerak, Tommy Oar and James Holland to step up to the plate and play with nothing to lose. As unlikely as all that seems right now, the triumphant post-match shirts from that magical night in November 2005 said it all: "Never say never".