Thursday, February 21, 2008

Toffs v Toughs: A week in the A-League

Newcastle v Roar was a great game. I was emotionally drained but accepting. You don't win with 30% of possession - well not unless you were playing the Roar in season 1 or 2. Well I was satisfied on Sunday anyway. Monday and Tuesday added blows.

Sasa Ognenovski is going to Adelaide. And the club, in a turnaround, confirmed that Reinaldo is off, this time - as predicted here - the interest is from the American Major Soccer League. The MSL is also likely to take Marcinho - who looked very flashy but appears to have been over-sold by his agent.

Interestingly, when Frank Farina was quizzed by the press on replacements his response was he wasn't going to rush and that he would wait to see what the space was in the salary cap. For me this hints at two of the Roar's top 4 players Sasa and Reinaldo probably only creating the space for lower tier players because of their low cost contracts. Sasa is end of contract and free. Reinaldo could make a lot for the club - but not dollars it can plow into new players.

With Lynch off to the Gold Coast and Seo becoming Australian, the Roar may buy 4 new foreign players. Great opportunity - but as everyone has found out - huge risk. The A-League can only really afford foreign players who have not yet proved their ability or whose bodies are wearing out - and once they do prove themselves - Fred, Reinaldo and... (did Carlos Hernandez return from Costa Rica) - they are off. When they flop - Zhang and Mario - they make fools of their club.

Anyway, the other news making me feel a little quezzy is the prospective entry of Gold Coast and Townsville. The A-League needs variety for its survival. So it has to happen. And the clubs have two weeks to report back to the FFA. But I hope it isn't at the expense of the Roar. Their will be 69 players in Queensland next year, equal to the 5 times bigger NSW market, and 3 times the players in the much more mature Victorian one. The Roar have already had difficulty attracting current A-League players up north - Jade North, Greg Owens and Sasho Petrovski (who even agreed to come until his wife apparently said she wasn't moving).


Adam Griffiths was the key to Newcastle's performance this year. Not because his bravoury led to Sasa being off the field when Newcastle scored. No that's not it. At the start of the season the Roar were after Jade North - he had played with Frank before and was interested. Joel Griffiths was offered the Newcastle captaincy to keep him after the mass exodus. However, Newcastle then gave the captaincy to North and he stayed. Griffiths thought about going till his brother Adam said 'hey I came all the way from Europe to play with you at Newcastle.' So Newcastle kept both North and Griffiths - without them them Newcastle would not have made top 4 and the Jardel decision would have been a body blow. And imagine the Roar with Seo, Moore, Packer, McCloughan and North - particularly in the light of their getting snagged by Melbourne Newcastle, Central Coast and others when the back line has been under-strength.

Which is why it is so extraordinary to hear that, on the eve of the final, Newcastle is once again being pulled apart. Apparently they have spent the least amount on players of all clubs and Gary Van Egmond has seen fit to go public today to prevent a post finals walk out of 4, 5 or more players. Can they perform Sunday with that type of pressure?


Did you know that all finals gate-take goes to the FFA to help fund the annual $1.4m distribution to each club. Actually, I think this is a very good idea as it helps to keep the competition close - vital to its survival. But. The Roar managed 36,000 for their game, Sydney only 23,000, Newcastle only got 16,000 to the Roar match...


Actually, this leads to something that is cheezing me off. Sorry Wayne, but its Central Coast. Great team, but the behaviour of their management appears to leave a bit to be desired. My understanding of their story is: CCM get through the early part of the season a cut above with Tony Vidmar as marquee. Fair dues. Then Nik Mrdja got reinjured, Damien Mori returns but fails to shine. So CMM fork out $500,000 for John Aloisi and win the league. How? apparently excluded from the salary cap and marquee requirements as 'injury cover'. What? FFA how about making this option transparent at the start of the season? I am keen to see how that will work next season, or is Vidmar to gracefully retire to make it all happen? And now we hear that CCM is trying to talk the FFA into giving them prise money - presumably to cover their wage bill. The line is something like why should a successful club like CCM subsidise Perth. Well because that is what gives us a competition that's why.

My view is that we must avoid at all costs giving financial rewards to clubs that can risk $500,000 on ensuring they have an edge on other clubs. Otherwise the A-League will be doomed to an NSL style demise - with 2 or 3 wealthy clubs boring everyone by winning every year.


So Sunday it is CCM Toffs v Newcastle toughs.


Neil said...

In answer to your question - Carlos Hernandez did make it back from Costa Rica, where by all reports he performed well.

Allen said...

Not a big deal but as an FYI it's Major League Soccer (MLS). They have some odd rules. As for right now the Colorado Rapids have first crack at Reinaldo as they filed a discovery pick on him.

john said...

thanks my fingers got tied up