Can Tim Cahill go to Russia?
Everyone has a soft spot for Tim Cahill. A general character who’s been about for ages, the 38-year-old now finds himself unemployed. Yet he desperately wants to go the World Cup. Is there time for him to find a new club?
Millwall. Everton. New York Red Bulls. Shanghai Shenhua. Hangzhou Greentown. Most recently, Melbourne City. Cahill's career has lasted just short of 20 years. Despite being well over the standard retirement age for outfield players, especially those in attack, he intends to keep going. In early December Cahill parted ways with Melbourne because he wasn't getting the minutes to put him in the frame for Russia.
He’s gone on record to say that he wants to find a new club as soon as possible, to be playing regular football. When Australia selects a new manager Cahill wants to be on his list of players.
The question remains, who wants to sign a 38-year-old attacker? He’s got so many miles on the odometer it's ready to turn back over to zero. Wherever he goes it most certainly won’t be a long-term deal. Who could benefit from his presence while meeting his demands? Here are his options:
Stay in Australia
The A-League is open for business. They are playing games. The transfer window is open. Staying in the country would ensure he’s right under the FFA's nose. He’d not be straying too far, making it easy for the Socceroos new boss to compare him directly with other candidates.
Cahill is an attacker, a consistent one at that. He has 50 goals for country, nearly three times that with clubs across the world. He’d make an intriguing acquisition for any A-League’ side looking for more goals. Fifteen games in, there are some teams in urgent need.
Eighth-placed Central Coast Mariners are such a team. The club has scored just 14 goals this season, fewer than the two sides below them. The current strike force, Blake Powell and Asdrubal Hernandez, just aren’t cutting the mustard. They have four goals between them. Cahill could come in and lead from the front. Providing he delivers, he’d be a guaranteed starter and could change the team's fortunes.
He could also make the long journey across the outback to Perth. The purple-clad Glory isn't living up to its name. Perth last won a major honour in 2004. In seventh position, out the playoff spots, a leader and finisher are desperately needed. Cahill checks both boxes.
Back to China
Cahill spent 18 months in the Chinese Super League. He scored 16 goals and led Shanghai to the domestic FA cup final. Currently, it's the closed season. Teams will be looking at new imports to boost their status and chances. Again, Cahill would check both boxes.
He could join John Obi Mikel at Tianjin Teda. The Northeast squad was solid defensively but light in attack, scoring a mere 30 goals. They scrapped to finish 13th, two places above relegation. A little bite in front of goal might save the club from another battle against the drop.
Enter Cahill. He knows the league and has something to prove. He was deemed surplus to requirements by Shanghai Shenhua boss Gregorio Manzano, prompting his move to Hangzhou. His contract was terminated by mutual consent there too. Cahill might fancy another crack.
Follow Postecoglou to Japan
Cahill was a regular under Ange Postecoglou. He played for the national team deep into the last qualification campaign, scoring 11 goals. The Australian national coach made an abrupt move to the J.League after securing qualification.
Having played in leagues of similar quality, Cahill might step right in at Yokohama FM. Postecoglou would probably appreciate having a player he could trust from the off. The team has lost a fair bit of its attacking flair this transfer window. So.
England or Scotland
Many international football players reside in England, not just at the Premier League level. The Championship breaks for international games too. Despite its secondary status the competition is among Europe's strongest.
There has been some noise regarding a bittersweet return to Millwall although much of that appears canned by both sides.
Rumours also place Edinburgh in Cahill's future. Both Hibernian and Hearts have expressed interest in the striker.
Scotland would be an interesting move. Climate shock aside, Scottish football is generally the Celtic show. A major star with another club would be a boon.
South of the border, Birmingham City is in dire need of goals. The Blues are in such a state Cahill would walk into the club’s starting eleven irrespective his age. Can you imagine Cahill and Villa's John Terry facing off in a derby?
If a relegation fight isn't to his taste, the Aussie might be able to help out promotion candidates Leeds United. It would take some stones for a Millwall legend to sign with the Whites, though. Still, Leeds need a consistent goal threat. They’re seventh but could be better with some goals. Jay-Roy "I am" Grot, Pawel Cibicki and Hadi Sacko have 27 appearances between them with a grand total of zero goals. The trio comprise half the side’s attacking options.
Wherever he goes, Cahill must arrive soon. Time is running out on his dream for one last World Cup.