Friday, January 26, 2007

Lament 2 .... a neat line in character assassination ...

This article 'Roar axe sharpened for under-achievers' on page 98 of the Courier-Mail on 24 January 2007 got me. Crikey.

'Let he who is without sin throw the first stone.' OK OK that would mean next to no journalism in Australia and probably a corrupt state - I know I know. But crikey. This is my team. It is our Queensland team. 32,000 of us watched them play what was one of the best games I have seen live. Certainly the best A-League game this year and I have watched all of them (most via Foxtel). Despite being a draw.

I was also staggered to read the comments from readers on the Courier-Mail online site. Didn't they see this team beat Melbourne (clearly the best team in the A-League) who were lucky enough to have Archie Thompson play for far less than he is worth (a factor of 10) and were lucky enough to sign Fred (who should be in Europe earning mega dollars) and who hoovered up all those Victorian based national soccer league champions plus Muscat (the only returning Australian from English Premier League to fire-up).

Did anyone notice this team's performance in the last 3 games? In the Sydney game that lead us to miss the finals, didn't they see that who ever booked Robbie Williams wrecked the pitch and caused Sydney's goal, that the Roar's goal was a sublime, planned combination from Sasa, Reinaldo and Damian, and that Australia's best referee missed a clear Sydney hand ball penalty?

Under-achievers? Get real.

Look at football results from around the world. For between one and three clubs in each competition it is about winning. For the rest it is about accumulating points. Sydney qualified and the Roar didn't because Sydney contrived and bored their own fans to draw 8 games and lost only 5. The Roar lost 8 and drew 5. Adelaide, who came second, lost 8 but won 10 as opposed to the Roar's 8. Adelaide coach Kossie said 'we were tanked' by the Roar in round one, but the score was 0-0 (Adelaide v Roar has been draw, Adelaide win, Roar win - even with 2nd place).

The under-achieving match-up the Roar lost was with NZ (5-0, 0-1 and 1-3) and NZ seem to have been able to breach (what is transparent of) FFA rules on squad numbers - fielding a very different team by the end of the season. Anyway, why is a close A-League competition that any team can win bad?

Players are people. Melbourne stuck with most of their 'under-achieving' players last season and built the foundation for a powerhouse that could attract 20,000 to 40,000 fans for home games. The Roar made big changes to their squad last season to find how difficult it is to match players to the style of the A-League.

Under-achievers? This is the sort of stuff written in this article:

'nor his waistline helped Dilevski's campaign'

- he looked fit to me, and scored the best set-piece goal of the season against Sydney in round one (later the paper reported that no set-piece goals had been scored under Miron).

'But a mid-season haircut appeared to have a Samson-like effect on Ognenovski, who battled a form slump before getting it together in the final few rounds.'

- the guy was out with injury and then wasn't played for what turned out to be the critical New Zealand game. Didn't this journalist see Sasa's 'getting it together' in the last game? 7/10 for Sasa and give 8.5 for Ben Griffin? Ben is good but next season he'll be better. Ben the same score as Matt McKay? Get real.

Marcus Wedau
. Get real. Frank didn't give him any game time. For some reason he played Chad. Will we ever know if Marcus was any good?

'Vidosic had lifted himself from the bottom of the club's priority list to become the most important player in the squad'

- I think the club have known about this guy for some time but he had a car accident before the pre-season and had to be temporarily replaced.

'Scottish striker all but disappeared from view. With the new restriction on overseas players set down by the FFA (four per club), Lynch could be an off-season casualty'

- Well he got injured. Then lost a bit of form. His relatives live on the Gold Coast, so if he became an Aussie (how long does that take?)? Simon Lynch's real problem is that Mori plays the role he played (up-front goal poacher) and the two of them together on the park looked awkward.

'.. only three goals ... but the years looked to have caught up with the likeable striker'

- Facts please, 4 goals.
Ante started from the bench to make way for Mori. He scored four cracker goals (round 1 against NZ set up by Zhang (80 min), against Melbourne in round one (16 min), round 2 Perth v Roar (14 min) when Roar were 0-1 after 90 seconds, and round three against NZ 80m). Plus he has set up some chances and goals particularly for Dario in 90+2 against Melbourne. But his big role is in mentoring - he has been a sensation particularly with Dario - I have watched them train side by side. He has had his head up all season. He only started 9 games, ran on for 19 and played for only 951 minutes - so 4 goals is not bad - look to the coaches.

Sorry Damian Mori took too long to score for the Roar to get 8.5. The Roar had to change the way the whole team played to suit him. He suits Central Coasts style. And that is probably the real story, don't be surprised if he starts for CCM next year.

But the one that makes me most.. well crikey...

'The Brazilian striker is a club favourite though it is hard to understand why on the back of yet another under-whelming performance. His season was a case of too many opportunities missed and he never really lived up to his so-called reputation as a header-specialist. Four goals was not good enough.'

- grrrrrrrr
Have you watched all his games? Frank sat Reinaldo in the stands a couple of times. And on the bench for others when they needed him. The problem with Reinaldo is that he plays brilliantly most of the time but not all the time.

Under-achievers? When in doubt blame the players.

How about the results reflecting the high quality of the A-League? Or the way football IS for almost all teams? Only Adelaide and Melbourne won more games than the Roar. Australian's expecting their team to win every game is a big frustration for the FFA. They talk of it in the press. Perhaps we are too used to cricket where our national team obliterates weak competition almost every year. Well good football isn't about that. And good journalism should be part of the explanation of good football and not encouraging the jingoism.

Round 19 and the A-League was still open and fans over Australia had a reason to go see their team. Maybe close is good.

The Roar spent less on acquiring players than the winning clubs in A-League version one and didn't spend the most in version two, the club made these calls. The fans got exciting football. But too few wins at home. But we also did not get our fair share of penalties. And in a sport where goals are rare, winning is rarer, and penalties are almost certain goals - this needs to be looked at. Why don't refs give the Roar more penalties - 1 in 42 games. Compare this to Melbourne - who got two against the Roar and 5 in the first 6 matches and then had to be warned by the FFA about diving in the box... hang on, something not right there... isn't that a criticism of the FFA against its own refs?

This is the world game. Australia's football performance is noticed outside Australia. Lift the journalism game. What about the quality of the journalism this year? 1/10 and that is for getting a story in. Facts wrong, stories missed.,23739,21107895-5003412,00.html


Cecilia a.k.a. Scary Monkey said...

Yes, I read that article and wanted to grab Amy Harris' throat and do what Kossie wanted to do to Muscat.

Re: the set-piece comment. From memory, Frank made a comment that set-pieces had never been practiced at training. It would've been reported in the Courier Mail, and perhaps they added the no goals scored from set-pieces comment.

Re: Dilevski's waistline... He may have been short of match-fitness to start with coming off a hernia op, and later a bruised heel, but never saw him unfit. If anyone has a waistline, it would be Neil Emblen, and it doesn't seem to affect him anyway.

John, that article annoyed me in so many ways, I would've gone on about it in much the same way as you. Except Queensland's your team, and the Courier Mail is essentially your paper. The article's a joke, full of errors and it's clear that the writer has no understanding of either football or sport in general wrt players who are injured and need to get back to match fitness.

With all teams under the same salary cap (except Sydney, three points is a very light punishment, although it was this season's team that was punished for last season's errors) the A-League is meant to be a close contest. It's meant to provide nail-biting football to hook new fans in, increase support in general and create a sustainable environment. And so, it's not that Queensland are underachievers (although I do think they're a hot/cold team - wonderful to watch when hot), but rather that someone has to come 5th/6th/7th/8th/whatever.

With a number of young squad members, I would hope that the media would have a far more optimistic apporach. However, recalling Melbourne last year it's not going to happen. I'm hoping Queensland regroup, stay fit and healthy, and roar into the new season with a bang. And then Amy Harris can go eat her words.

john said...

Thanks Cecilia

I suspect she was fed the story, by whom?

I tried to comment on the C-Mail cite but it was probably too late and I needed to be more.. subtle?

Very distasteful that 'fans' jump on the lets dump on players bandwagon.

My concern is that wholesale changes puts you back to square one.

The back page was banging on about the 'summer of duds' - ie walk over in tennis and cricket. maybe they should pay more attention to the football?