Sunday, October 28, 2007

Hey Frank the Brazilians are with me, OK

Roar 3 v Perth 3

John: Great coaching Frank.
Frank: Thanks.
John: You didn't give Marcinho any points tonight.
Frank: That was Marcinho's best game for us. He did well.
John: You still didn't give him any points. He was everywhere and with the elbow thing, I mean shoulder gone.
Frank: Perhaps you should do the scoring (laughs).
John: OK that would be great tell be me where and when. I'll do it.

Then I raced off to talk to Marcinho. I had to get a Portuguese speaking woman and official looking guy involved. I can't make it sound as fun and funny here as it was, you had to be there. But it ended with me pulling my shirt the way Marcinho did when he scored and saying I am doing it next week and your getting some points. 'OK, I got that.' said Marcinho. I also asked him about his shoulder and got to act out Tiatto putting his back in.

Imagine. Ben Williams was the ref and we got a penalty and no send offs.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Melbourne 0 v Newcastle 2: Allsopps tales

O boy. It's starting to get hot and humid and the players are getting edgy.

Lose one game and you can blame the ref. Lose several games and its time to change your coach. And back pops the intimidator, John Kosmina. John clearly is part of the paradise club and that club has made it clear they have missed him. And all the headline news is not an uncharacteristic way for a sport to keep itself in the public interest. AFL does it all the time, one club setting itself up against another to remind the fans about this week's game. AFL are going to do it next season by deliberately setting their game calendar in competition with rugby league, see if that gets interest.

Just as long as they spell your name right. Or in the A-League's case print the right game location, day and kick-off time.

And so it was was that Sydney hit back over the Central Coast's signing of John 'world cup qualification goal TM' Aloisi. He'll leave in January they said. Well I can only see that happening if he scores a truck-load of goals and I don't think he is going too. But he should lift the league leaders to a decent attendance. And Foxtel will be pleased too.

Back to Victory v Yets. 27,000 fans and one very rough game. Adam Griffiths scored but the FFA may care to have a look at that one. He fouled Allsopp here and up the other end of the park with the aid of Ante Covic.

Joel Griffith scored the other goal and was involved in the running, arms flailing tussel that led Steve Pantelidis to take the law into his own hands and get sent off. Newcastle's Andrew Durante was also lucky to stay on the park after pushing Allsopp down (again) in the penalty area.

It was rough and really Melbourne got a bit of a taste of their own medicine after not scoring despite 60% possession. Thompson is a real class player, and he plays fair. We are lucky to have him in the A-League. But Danny Allsopp needs to work more closely with him if Melbourne are going to stay top 4.

On the other hand, the Griffith brothers are not what the Socceroos need if we are to succeed in Asia. The refs will not stand for the way they play. And that is the challenge for the A-League. I think it should be the hot humid, low tolerance simulation ground for Asian qualification.

The return of John Kosmina, albeit to the stands for four weeks, does not send the 'we've learnt about cool heads for Asia' lesson.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


Did you hear that? I think it was a dog whistle.

Football's friend at SBS Les Murray heard it:

Finally, speaking of youth, memo immigration minister Kevin Andrews, currently under fire for cutting back on the African refugee intake because they have ‘difficulty integrating’ (whatever that means. As a refugee and an immigrant, I can tell you it means nothing. Everyone integrates eventually).

The newly selected Joeys squad contains no less than three refugees from Africa: Million Butshiire from Congo, who’s been here five years; Kamal Ibrahim, who arrived from Ethiopia four years ago; and Tedros Yabio, also from Ethiopia, who’s lived here for 12 years.... These boys will soon wear the green and gold and maybe will go on to proudly represent Australia one day in the World Cup.

But Mr Andrews says there should be less of them. They can’t integrate.

Quote from Les Murray Opinion 13 October 2007
My experience coaching and watching youth football backs up Murray's viewpoint. The boys from the Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia (think of this part of eastern Africa as Victoria, NSW and Qld - about the same land mass anyway) have serious natural ability. They can run, run with the ball, they have insight into where to go off the ball, some are rough, some are soft - just like any kid.

One of their parents said to me at the end of a season, 'what I am I going to do with him now he only wants to play football.'

Well I think the Commonwealth needs to spend more on football, get these kids on the pitch and off the street. Perhaps instead of putting them in the spotlight for our own deficiencies.

Friday, October 19, 2007

A-League: Newcastle 1 - Roar 1

Robbie Kruse has real pedigree. I have seen the youngsters at Queensland Lions drilling over and over the trade mark turn with straight leg shot. Anyway, 45 seconds and Zullo and Kruse combine to get the Roar in front. Well Kruse had so much time he could air-swing once and still score with the 'turn and straight leg'. And the Foxtel commentators made the point that Zullo and Kruse's coaches should be applauded - probably a reference to the anti-coach nonsense we have been hearing.

Mark Shield's showed that even Australia's best ref can miss-fire. Zullo was clearly tripped in the box in the 10th minute, but play on. On the opening of the second half, Troy Hearfield shows Zullo how to go down when fouled in the box so that you do get the spot kick.

And Kruse is a quick learner and he wins what is only the Roar's second ever penalty in the 66th. Pity Moore gives it to the keeper (otherwise this game is the Roars). Stephen Laybutt was the guilty party for the Jets. Can't say I am a fan of Laybutt, who seems fond of holding down and doing extras out of sight of the ref. Still he kept the Jets on the game and fans appreciate that. And he also seems to have got away with another last man foul on Kruse.

Anyone could have won this game. Both teams did enough. And again the teenagers were the stars (James Holland clearly the best for the Jets).

This was a very entertaining game with something for everyone. Four stars.

By the way, Foxtel in their Total Football show had a very interesting interview with FFA chief Ben Buckley. Ben is very frank and smart. Good answers to explain how the game is being managed. For example, the FFA will respond to direct questions on ref decisions. And Perth's coach Ron Smith was 'cited' for his half time for comments on the refing of Sydney's first goal last week. Unless we - or someone asks - we may not find these things out.

Monday, October 15, 2007

What's happening at SBS is a bit sad really

I was asked to comment on

I feel SBS has been so left out of Australian football they have been squeezed into a pretty unpleasant niche. Of course this was a very serious and extensively researched article. And the author in no way would have meant or felt what I am about to say. But. With my passions for the game, the way the article sounded to me was:

'Those big kids with lots of money have taken our ball and now they won't let let us play. And if you don't do anything about it then I'm going to yell at those kids playing. And I'm going to find one who says that - players getting $1m plus per year overseas can play better. And I'm going to blame the coaches. And you'll see, you'll see. And if you still won't let me play then I'm going to tell all the fans to stay away.'

But I realise that that wasn't what was being said.

Let me declare my hand. I think Mary Kostakidis is fantastic and I hope she comes back. I liked Nerds FC season one a lot and Andy Harper, former official with Sydney FC who is now with Foxtel still does great work with ABC local radio some Saturdays. In fact Andy showed the way and I consider him to be following the path that Johnny Warren told us to go down.

What is the point of knocking a sport? Particularly in a country where it is competing with AFL, NRL, ARU, basketball and soon twenty20 cricket.

To be honest I didn't like this bit
'However, those of us who refuse to accept the status quo and believe in the potential of a better league were celebrating a major breakthrough recently.

At long last, somebody with enough courage and credibility to tell the truth says he's only stating the obvious when highlighting the A-League's technical and tactical deficiencies....

Compare Moore to someone like Dwight Yorke - he did play for Manchester United but I never heard Sydney FC's former star identify the failings of Australia's system. Why would he bother? He was paid $1.2 million dollars to smile for the cameras, sell the A-League and get fit for Trinidad and Tobago's World Cup adventure. Yorke's priorities were elsewhere, a long way from helping Australia discover the fundamentals of what it takes to be a top-class footballer.'

Quote from A-Grade Mediocrity - Andrew Orsatti 5 October 2007 at

Because I remember seeing an interview with Dwight Yorke when he did criticize the quality of the A-League and suggested that each team have two marquee players to raise the standard. I spoke to a young A-League player about this (who is now playing overseas) and complained how Sydney did nothing till Sasho Petrovski came on and Yorke didn't seem that interested - he agreed laughing: 'yeh he said we weren't good' but marveled at Yorke's penalty kicking ability.

Weirdly, Mr Orsatti builds up Moore as a credible source of commentary on the progress of the A-League over 3 years - and then provides evidence that Moore has no knowledge of version 1 and 2 of the A-League. To be honest, I will get excited about what Craig Moore says when he dominates a game like Danny Tiatto, or Michael Zullo - rather than getting sent off for fouling Nathan Burns twice then bringing the game down by yelling at him. No, quoting Craig is not proving a point.

So SBS lost out to Foxtel. A lot of people have sympathy for them because now you have to pay to watch away games or go to a pub and not be able to hear the commentary. But to go on like this, well what is the point??? What is the best outcome???

Andrew Orsatti again...

My concern is, if the best Australians are on the first plane to land lucrative contracts overseas, what are we left with here?

When wasn't it like this for Australian football? Until it becomes as popular as AFL expect that. Money to keep them comes from people watching pay TV and not free to air - sorry but a fact of life. But when they go we get to see new players and other teams get to be strong - and sometimes they come back - ask Central Coast.

We have been seeing the football we have because the competition is so small and everyone knows each others game plan. But now we are seeing the antidote to that.


And this is where the A-League is adding real value. Dario Vidosic (now bundesliga), Nathan Burns, Michael Zullo, Robby Kruse, James Holland, Nikolas Tsattalios... and more waiting for their starts...

And what did Mr Orsatti have to say?

'In essence, it's the same issue. What do you expect when there are very few qualified coaches to teach our kids?'

Good on you mate. But it seems to me that there are some great coaches in the A-League and the backing of the FFA and Foxtel is encouraging them to bring out the teenagers. Just how is SBS helping?

By the way I have a different view on what it means to be a good coach and it isn't about finding the next Harry Kewell - but that's another story.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

A-League: Central Coast 0 - Roar 1

-- Something funny happened. I must have fell asleep or something. Because I thought the Roar was at home and were wearing yellow. That we'd conceded an goal early from some brilliant attacking football and a goalkeeping lapse. Then had one of our players sent off for a minor foul (remember Chad Gibson v Sydeny in Sydney last year?) and yet still out-played the other team who just sat back and only did what was necessary in reaction to the flow of game. --

But it was the Roar playing away and we had won. But not in a way I had ever seen the Roar do before. Foxtel called it winning ugly. Oh, so that's what it looks like and feels like. Not much to write home about is it?

I had seen this type of game before of course. Twice this season when Central Coast and Sydney came up to make sure that there was no entertain for our home fans.

Reinaldo played well and again was involved in the play that led to the corner that led to the goal (great backheel). McKay was more involved today, mainly getting fouled including the notorious send off (which he kept out of). Kruse looked good and was attacking. Nichols came on and looked like he should also get a start. Lynch had a few half chances but was pretty lonely upfront despite the 11-10 overlap. In fact, the Roar played like they were a man down. And worse just could not keep possession. And Tiatto got his 4th yellow so again he doesn't play Newcastle (Stuart Mclaren in?).

Marcinho eh, just not sure about him.

Still, for most home fans it is a win they may not have watched and the 3 points take the Roar from 7th to 5th (just off 4th on goal difference).


In the Newcastle 2 v Wellington 0 game I saw a refing decision I hadn't seen before - the ref call time just before the ball rolled into the net (may also have been a hand ball penalty) - so the refs don't wait till the end of an attacking play to call time.

A-League so far: In the jungle the mighty jungle the lion sleeps tonight...

Are you enjoying version 3? Suddenly I am. Well Hamish pointed out that it should be fun and he was right.

Take this week. I predicted that Perth would beat Sydney 3-2 because I thought it would really confuse the pundits that Perth scored so many goals and won. Well football had fun with me. Sure Perth scored 3 goals and where 3-1 and then 3-2 up for the last 20 minutes, and were hammering Sydney. Then bam Alex Brosque comes from nowhere and has his best game ever, scores in the last minute and Ron Smith is wondering what to do next.

Then on Friday night our sneaking (sneaky feelings can't let those kind of feelings grow) suspicions are confirmed as Keven-02 Muscat misses the game against Adelaide and Melbourne are trounced 4-1. I wonder how Fred is going in the USA? And have you noticed that Adelaide (when they aren't playing the Roar) actually play attacking football?

And why couldn't Sydney have their key defenders, and Melbourne have their central mid-fielders, on national duty or injured when they played the Roar?

And I even have a conspiracy for you. Frank Farina wrote about Seo's strength of character and ability to learn by not reacting to Ross Aloisi's elbow in the 2nd minute of the Roar v Wellington game last week. Having learnt from the Central Coast game where he reacted to Nicy Mrdja's aggression and was sent off and got half his side sent home letters from school (I mean the FFA). Well maybe that was Ross's plan, get the Roar at least one man down early?

By the way, isn't it amazing that the FFA seem to have cleared Aloisi - what happened to the Tiatto role surely it isn't just for him?

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

A ten-team A-League? Sooner the better...

Everything I have heard and read to date suggested that 2 new teams would enter the A-League in 2008-9. However, a statement from Ben Buckley via Fox (9 October 2007) states that the original agreement with the foundation clubs was 5 years (2010-2011).

Waiting another 2 and half seasons would be bad. Already the teams know each other backwards and barring some accident from the ref, a draw is the most likely outcome. Plus while the talent in the A-League has gone up, there is an argument that the entertainment value has gone down as away teams grind out draws or smash and grab wins with defensive games.

New teams will spread the talent. Keep more talent in Australia. And give more undiscovered players a go. Plus there will be more goals and more wins, particularly at home if far North Queensland and perhaps Tasmania get a go. Also, we get to see more players from Asia.

Forget the consultancy Ben, just do it.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Zullo and Kruse: A-League's best ever debut

On August 20 I posted this on Zullo and DCH said:

"Dont be at all surprised by Michael Zullo. He's a class act."
Now the secret is out. Zullo had scored with 4 minutes and set up Robby Kruse (header right in front) in the first half extra time. Every time Michael Zullo got the ball, he looked like something was going to happen. He looks the goods even more than Dario Vidosic. Meanwhile, Kruse showed he can run at defenders and across goal and shoot at pile-driver velocity - something that has been missing from the Roar for 2 1/3 seasons. He put one just over the bar from outside the penalty area early in the first half.

The Roar dominated but played for the draw after Kruse and Zullo had been subbed off. Wellington's defence did what they had to do and gave both teenagers bruises to remember. While both Sydney and Central Coast are talking about how their academies will produce players from next year, the Roar and Queensland Lions have already produced a wealth of talent into the A-League and beyond. It will be great to see Mitch Nichols starting along side Kruse and Zullo. I can see these 3 linking up well with Reinaldo (who was in the action keeping the play going for both goals).

Plus, it must be noted that since joining the Roar last season, Ante Milicic has been passing on his vast experience to the younger players, particularly Kruse - whose style I hope emulates Ante's.

Zullo and Kruse are going to bring a whole new group of fans to the Roar. Happy 19th birthday Robby.

Anyway, Wellington got one back in the 5th minute of 4 minutes of injury time - again showing that more work is needed on the Roar defence. Chris Grossman in for the guy in the middle at the back anyone?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Sydney FC get a lift from has emailed is database a promotion for this week's Sydney v Melbourne 'grudge match'. Some nice graphics of Tony Popovic and Beckham, interesting that they have gone for the Beckham rather than Juninho 'halo effect'. Which could mean the campaign was designed fairly early on or when Juninho was off injured. Still this is the type of promotion action the A-League needs to fill stadiums. Any chance of doing it for the Roar?

I have had a quick review of the Sydney teamsheet and I was reminded just how many quality players they have been able to get under the salary cap. I am not a fan of the way they play but these guys are pedigree. A City of 5 million needs to be showing more support for players of this quality... not that the customer isn't always right which indicates some product positioning changes are needed.. perhaps Sydney are the Chelsea of the A-League?

If you get a chance read Ray Gatt's piece on the A-League's refs and yellow card total - which is 108 v's 82 for the same period last year. I think more homework could have been done. But I know how hard it is to do wading through the fixtures and results for 3 seasons. Gatt follows the Sunday Mail and quotes Craig Moore who in my view needs to be proving that he is better than the lower cost A-League grown defenders before we let him off the hook by blaming the refs. This is because as Gatt's article clearly shows it is the Mariners that have had the most cards and they are leading the comp! To be fair I think Moore may well have been refering more specifically to ref's treatment of Tiatto. In his own case, Moore's second yellow red was earned because he couldn't keen up with Nathan Burns. Anyway, for Gatt's article see The Australian 2 October 'Red and Yellow cards soar, but 'it's not a dirty league'' on page 18 of the sport section (next to a rap for Lisa De Vanna getting in the FIFA world team which should have had more of the Aussies in it).

The A-League has had more or less the same refs for 3 seasons, which negates the 'part-time' angle that Craig Moore is said to be pushing. The refs know the teams, although strangely my discussions with players indicates that they don't pay much attention to who the ref is unless it is Mark Shields.

On the other hand, it is no surprise that new FFA operations manager, Rob Abernathy (again in the Gatt article), is saying the refs are doing what the FFA wants - as the Tiatto and Milligan citings clearly signaled that the FFA wanted more ref control of the game. In my view this reflects the rise in the FFA of the Asian qualification mandate (which I think is good - play like you'll have to in Asia) and a less A-League success emphasis (ie the A-League teams need to adapt despite playing their whole careers in a physical game - which I think is less good because if the Socceroos fail to qualify for Africa 2010, the A-League needs to have established its own sustainable business model - which needs crowds that feel that they get value for money from their home games).

And throwing back to the Ben William's refing job for Melbourne V Roar. Williams may be the only ref to send off a Roar player in all 3 seasons. And the Roar have had their share particularly at home. He may be aware of this.

Dear My Ticketek member,
Sydney FC vs Melbourne Victory FC
Saturday 6 October 2007, 7pm, Sydney Football Stadium
1 of 6 quadruple passes to the LA Galaxy match to be won!

On Saturday 6 October inaugural Hyundai A-League Champion's Sydney FC will take on last year's Champion's Melbourne Victory in a NSW vs VIC grudge match.

Four best dressed fans from the precinct will be selected to take part in the Hyundai half-time. The winner of the Hyundai half-time challenge will get to toss the coin with David Beckham at the Sydney FC vs LA Galaxy game on Tuesday 27 November 2007.

Get to the game for your chance to win this once in a lifetime prize, and show your support for Sydney FC!

As a special offer to My Ticketek members, book tickets online to Sydney FC vs Melbourne Victory FC match between now and Friday 5 October, 4pm, and go into the draw to win 1 of 6 quadruple passes to the LA Galaxy match. View terms and conditions.


My Ticketek

Monday, October 01, 2007

Round 6 update

Inconsistent refereeing set the tone for round 6. While a dive and Leandro Love wink for the cameras and an ignored wrestle to the ground of Reinaldo allowed Melbourne to get their first home win, both Central Coast (Tony Vidmar) and Perth (Dino Djulbic) appeared to cop dubious 2 card dismissals. In both cases going down to 10 men proved match crushing blows.

The wins for Adelaide and CCM pushed the Roar to second last. The win for Sydney has taken the pressure off Culina. And like the pass-the-parcel game, the focus now switches to Ron Smith in Perth. However, given that player selection and salary cap are made pre-season, it is difficult to see what the options are for the Glory. Smith is a highly credentialed coach who appears to have been forced to operate under both a tight budget and the miss-fortune of player injury.

I am very impressed with Frank Farina. Before he came to the Roar my picture of him was informed by the footage of SBS chasing him up the Socceroo tunnel. However, he seems cool under pressure. he has given the likes of Milicic an Lynch a fair go and is now likely to move onto a start of Zullo and Nichols. Farina was expected to dull down the game - like other teams have. But he has stuck to football as entertainment. Good on him.

Unfortunately, to attack and win you have to be substantially more skilled than your opposition. Otherwise in throwing so many forward, gaps eventually appear at the back. Particularly, if defence is your weaker area, as it appears to be for the Roar (and as, interestingly, conceded by Craig Moore 'The two goals we lost were schoolboy defending' in this week's Sunday Mail page 102 an 103 'Too soft, too slow').

My guess is that Roar management have agents charging round the world seeking to fill this year's 6 week guest spot. My advice to them is to go to Fox and Hyundai (Hyundai subsidised Sydney FC by $450,000 in its first season to get Dwight Yorke) to pay. I recon they will need to fork out big time of anything quality at this point. The Roar is the second most popular team after Melbourne and the only Australian team playing attractive football. The A-League needs the Roar in the Top 4.

The trouble is the best performing teams are those that have built on A-League (and NSL performers) - or the NZ national team. Foreign players are huge gamble.

I feel that the FFA will regret giving Wellington the nod over a Gold Coast team this season. We may find that a NZ team winning is far worse for football in Australia than a NZ team losing.