Monday, December 04, 2006
Smells like teen spirit
A key thing that is going really well for the A-League this year is teenage players. Nathan Burns, Ben Kennedy and Dario Vidosic - all 18 or 19 - have been the standouts, and have put older and many of the foreign players in the shade. When these sub-20 players come on the field, even if at the 80th, the game picks up pace. They tend to be unpredictable. The older players just can't rely on standard operating procedures to defeat them. And the crowd like that. The games are getting too predictable and the young players bring the chancey edge that means - for good or bad - the ball might get in the net. And crowds like that. It stirs them to life.
Nathan scored the season's best end to end goal so far. I hope Ben is fit soon he had a real testy start and showed real character. And other young players have certainly got their hand up. Ben Griffin (see holding the green bottle in the photo)has had two good games for the Roar and Chris Grossman - after training with the Roar for two years did not disappoint with his first go.
When Roar captain in waiting Matt McKay scored on Saturday - Dario showed how much he understands this entertainment business. He pointed to Matty, then signalled for the crowd to cheer and we did. Then running back to the kick-off he signalled for the crowd to lift, and we did. That sought of youthful exuberance is required in the A-League - not diving, not 'ground them out' football - we want speed, risk and entertainment.
With acknowledgements to Nathan, an aging Australian workforce has served Adelaide for a season and a half, and Melbourne feel it when Muscat isn’t available. But Perth despite their ladder position look like they are growing some very good young players. They probably felt it most to lose the young talent Nick Ward to the English CC league. And the nurturing Ron Smith - who discovered Frank Farina as a teen - could place them well next year. Like Ernie Merrick did for Melbourne last year.
Frank has stated that Roar can expect more young players next year. And the crowds will like that.