Friday, January 04, 2008

A Roar week: Frank Farina is the A-League's best team builder

Rain is the only thing that can stop the Roar getting its best crowd at Lang Park this year. And after a week of rain, tomorrow the sun's gonna shine. If the sporting public of Brisbane get this message, its gonna be 25,000 plus. People who have ignored the A-League this season are thinking of going.

And while wouldn't they. Frank Farina, a very impressive, quietly spoken man who can always be relied upon to think through his words and actions, has designed and constructed the best team in the A-League. I know this is a big call and I am a big Roar fan. But the evidence is that while other teams rely on heros like Danny Vudovic, John Aloisi, Topor-Standley, Joel Griffiths, perhaps most of all Melbourne's almost total reliance on Archie Thompson, a Roar game is a team effort.

Frank has cultivated youth to go with experience. Speed to go with solidity. Sometimes their game is not great, but now they play as a team. Whatever happens this season, I have learnt a lot about building and coaching a football team from Frank.

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Honourable Clayton san from Nihon has asked some questions.

1. About Minniecon: where was he lining up? wide left? more centrally? what do you think are his strengths? he looks short and stocky - i am guessing he isn`t an out and out speedster.

Hamish pointed out to me that Frank has a great skill in shaping players for their run-on debut. This was the case for Robbie Kruse, Michael Zullo and now Tahj Minniecon. We are going to get to know Tahj. Add to this the way he has stuck by and shaped the role of Reinaldo.

Against Perth last week, Tahj started in Zullo's position wide left in 4-3-3. However, he was most effective coming in behind or near to either Kruse or Reinaldo. He assisted both their goals. He made his own from what we used to call inside left - as opposed to the extreme left that Zullo will use to pull a defence wide and out-run on the way back in. The magic with Kruse is that Robbie likes to switch over playing up and down the left and right wings and all across the final third (next year Robbie could be the best player in the A-League). When Kruse and Zullo are both playing they will swap positions. When Robbie comes over with Tahj playing, Tahj has a tendancy to drop back. This creates more depth, as opposed to width. Done at speed we see Kruse's against the run of play goal on 30 odd minutes against Perth.

At least against Perth, Tahj's strength was his reading of the current and potential plays. Hence his involvement in 3 of 4 goals. Frank seems to have found a way to make the maximum impact from the skills of each of his young guns on debut. Like Wellington with Zullo and Kruse, Perth had no idea what destruction Tahj - with his pushing forward and dropping back, working off and to Kruse and Reinaldo - was about to wreck on them.

Tahj isn't short and stocky. Everyone looks like that when they stand next to Reinaldo, I know. He isn't as fast as Zullo, but no-one is (by the way Frank is going to talk to FFA about Zullo not doing the under 23 camp because he is concerned he may push to hard to impress and re-injure himself).

2. Sasho missed out on the first training camp ... who else do you think was worthy of a look but missed out (across the aleague)?

The first thing I would say is that I expect the Socceroos to win all their home games. And given that Topor-Stanley and Milligan are likely to play under 23s and A-League version Socceroos, I expect that they should.

The trouble is going to be the away games. I don't think the European players help much in 48 degrees and 100% humidity. And I believe that a Townsville based A-League team and games in Darwin should be used to help us qualify via Asia.

As far as who else from the A-League;

Starting with the Roar - Frank's team approach that has seen younger players given an opportunity to shine - so too early for Zullo and Kruse, 4 foreign players, and older players anchoring (Moore, Tiatto, McLaren), together with injuries to Andrew Packer, means - there are candidates who play great Roar team roles but aren't A-League heroes (Reddy, McCloughan and Murdocca).

Elsewhere in the A-League, those left out with potential perhaps haven't had their best year or are injured (particularly in the Adelaide camp).

I have a bigger concern with some of the names in. Some may not have the temperament to cope with Asian refs.

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I see Central Coast have signed former Sydney FC, late of Japan's division 2 Avispa, Alvin Ceccoli. How do CCM afford all these stars, Aloisi, marquee Vidmar, Sasho Petrovski, Wilkinson, Vudovic, under the salary cap rules?

1 comment:

Hamish said...

What bothers me most about tonight's game is that this team approach that Farina has taken relies on leadership on the field as well as skill placement. Moore and Tiatto have been exchanging the captain's armband more or less, and Reddy has also been a strong leadership presence from the back. In this environment it's especially pointed that McLaren is not in the line-up, with all its new names and its 'three to be omitted'. McLaren is a leader - but clearly not the sort that Farina wants. There's been nothing especially wrong with McLaren's game, and he's had a fair bit of it.

Oggy and Matty are going to have to step up to this leadership role, and with everything else - especially the new goalie which will keep the defenders extremely... um... defensive, they might not be up to the standard of strong leadership from the back that the Roar has enjoyed.

I am extremely worried about this game. We need the 20,000. I need a frangipani. Griffin McMaster needs all the grace in the world.

Go the frikin' Roar.