Friday, July 06, 2007

Roar: Wedau replaced by Marcinho

In a well telegraphed move Marcus Wedau is to return to Germany and his foreign player place taken by recent Brazilian signing Marcinho.

- Never capped under Frank Farina
- Foreign limit (4) made early exit necessary
- Limit makes choice critical and lift quality of available foreigners
- Turnover of A-League foreign players this year and as contracts end
- Asian players have signaled their interest but A-League prefers Brazilians
- photos - right round 21 of season 2, and left at a warm up this season

Around the time of version 1, I understand Wedau was recommended to the Roar by former team-mate at German club Rot-Weiss Essen, Spase Dilevski. Miron hired Wedau for version 2 - with a typical quote, something like ... he'll set up a million goals with his pinpoint passes and score even more.

I liked the way he played. As Miron suggested - it was very much a drilled passing game. In one of the few games he hit his stride, the first round against Adelaide, he nearly pulled a rabbit out of the hat with a shot from half way. But it wasn't enough (0-0 and a turning point for the Roar - he came off in the 68th replaced by Zhang). He slipped from Miron's starting line-up as the stats guys illustrated that he was less than dominant.

Under Frank, he didn't get a start. He was on the bench in the version 2 round 19 game in Adelaide in which Frank, with Milicic also on the bench but ill, controversially played the tiring run-on -team for the whole game - a rare sight - but the 1 goal victory showed it worked and the risk of un-endorsed players not worth it. In the final game against Sydney FC his name was called, but was the first out of the tunnel in his suit. He wouldn't get another chance.

After the game I made a point of wishing Wedau well.

I suspect that Wedau was not the best foreign player available to the Roar. Having him and Zhang sit on the bench while the Roar struggled last year was difficult for fans - particularly when Lynch was injured and then lost form. I saw Wedau in a warm-up this pre-season - dominating the middle against the local teams and crossing the ball right then left to create opportunities. Text book. But probably not enough to win in an A-League where 4 teams promise to be very strong this season. The Roar needed his place for new hot talent. And when Spase's offer was withdrawn and headed for Romania and Michael Baird, Wedau surely felt that.

Fox reported that a number of Asian players hope to use the Asia Cup as a spotlight to get into the A-League - as a highly regarded league that would open doors to wealthier leagues. However, they are making their run very late as sides are finalising early this season (locking the players they need before others get them) and the foreign places fill up.

The bright side of the 4 player limit is that quality foreign players will have to consider opportunities outside Melbourne and Sydney. Maybe this will be Marchinho's story as he has made some big statements about his ability in the mid-field.

Brazil is continuing to prove A-League clubs favourite player source. And the limit is likely to severely curtail opportunities for players from countries that Australian crowds don't see producing ready made marquees. As the A-League pushes up a notch in quality, the foreign players become more vital, proven talent more expensive, and therefore success more critical to team's gate-take.

More reasons that FIFA has got this policy wrong and should reverse it for the benefit of developing football nations. The A-League needs to be the first league of choice for Asian stars - this will add to the interest from Europe on the source of the next hot talent.

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