Thursday, January 29, 2009

Indonesia 0 v A-League Socceroos 0: back 4 with diamonds on the 'souls' of their shoes...

The A-League Socceroos were, to an extent, fall guys for their humidity shy European colleagues. Don't forget the embarrassment of their last Asia Cup (lack of) performance. In 100% humidity and temperature of over 30 degrees magnified by the packed and partisan stadium, the Indonesians mostly sat back in their own half and at the same time worked to deprive the Australians of space on the ball.

The formats of the teams were very similar, a back four with a diamond in front.

Simon came on the second half and tried to out muscle the defence, for little reward.

I hope the A-League guys get the Australian leg, on a quality pitch and in lower humidity we should get a better result.

Given that the conditions favoured Indonesia, and the expanse of their home crowd, I was surprised they did not attack more. Then again that may have exposed their weaknesses.

I was surprised just how physical the Indonesians were.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Adelaide disappoint with Hindmarsh

It is disappointing that Adelaide have chosen Hindmarsh (18,000 maximum seats) to take on Victory in the major semi. While all ticketing funds are used to finance football across Australia, Adelaide will also deny a seat - as it did for the ACL final series - for many of its fans. Meanwhile larger AFL stadiums/cricket may sit vacant. Perhaps FFA will be tempted to move the Final - if Adelaide make it - like they did for Central Coast last year.

Paradice Lost

The blockbuster that wasn't - a major semi of Victory v Roar at Telstra Dome and Lang Park - with up to 80,000 watching. Then a preliminary at Telstra Dome or Lang Park with 40,000 to 50,000 watching. Then 52,000 to 60,000 watching the Grand Final. With both Victory and Roar off to Asia.

So only one more home game for the Roar, and the buzz is there - I'd expect - as long as they win or draw v CCM, 30,000 plus.

Here's hoping that we get Victory and Roar to Asia.

Gold Coast update

Two rumours:

Adam Griffith is looking at a move from current club Newcastle to China.
Shane Smeltz is looking at a move from current club Wellington to Germany.

Maybe Clive's famed $200,000 underspend needs to be spent.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

My signs are vital

It was too hot last night. It was the humidity not the temperature.

The should have been played in quarters like they do elsewhere.

Lang Park radiates heat particularly from wet turf and it is locked into the rectanglar seating.

Good practice for budding Socceroos to play in Indonesia on (I think) Tuesday.

Roar 4 v Perth 2:

Arriving at the game I saw the youth teams coming off Lang Park. They were as hot as hell. Oar, Dodd and Kruse had all played. I speculated if Cernak would get his first run, he did late in the 2nd.

Perth came to play in the main game. They pushed forward early. But soon started to tire in the humidity (something you probably don't get in Perth - I'd had sweat running off my face all day - it is the reason there are 3 Queenslanders in the Socceroos).

Hats off to Nik R who looks like going to the Dutch Div 1 - scored a fantastic opener just when we thought yet lag would catch him.

Danny Tiatto was man-of-the-match. Set up the Roar equaliser running down the left when Perth were on their heals waiting for a free kick, brilliant cross for Van Dijk whose header Tando can only palm onto the bar and Mitch finishes, again, brilliantly. 1-1.

Lost of shots missed by both sides in the 1st half. This game had the biggest shot count of the year.

Mid second half - lots of shots by the Roar, many too weak to best the keeper. van Dijk forces a save. McKay and Murdocca were regularly short cornering and flicking it across. This time they go to the near top of the box Tiatto - who had skewed a ball across the box minutes before - goes for glory and makes it. 2-1.

Within minutes Victor S has the ball but it gets away from him. Tiatto dives in and clears. Victor DIVES over Tiatto's feet. Yellow card. What? You cheat. For Tiatto it was close to Adelaide all over again. But no he stays on. Victor has been in the refs ear all night - despite a yellow card for decent - and gets his reward. But he is badly hurt and can't get up. He has to be helped off the field. Wow Tiatto must have really cracked him. But what's this he wants to come back. (And the replay showed a beautiful dive from Victor and no injury). Send him back to Holland Coach Mitchell we don't need cheats.

Later, Victor upends McKay - surely he is off? No just talking to the ref. The crowd are into this - get him off ref. Victor continues to talk - so Miller, threads to McKay who centres from the near post and Van Dijk scores. Ledger equalled. 3-2.

McKay corner, he calls for Josh. Josh obliges with a great header. 4-2. A few more missed chances from the Roar game over.

Can the Roar men match the women?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Victory 2 v Wellington 0: saved by the ref

Lucky Melbourne. A poor performance by Melbourne in which Wellington dominated, was rescued by some very poor decision making. The most telling was the decision to only yellow card Danny Allsopp on 25 minutes, after Allsopp - victim of a tackle from behind and the foul given - strolled over and kicked the offender. The ref saw it and only provided yellow. At about the time Newcastle's season went wrong Joel Griffiths did the same in Wellington to see a red. Lucky Melbourne, the refs decision could have saved Allsopp 2 weeks and probably the finals experience. With the score 0-0, and extensive Wellington domination to come, Victory would have struggled.

Went Victory's goal came, it was from a foolish nudge in the box for a penalty. And completely against the run of play. That said, Wellington's strikeforce was poor and failed to capitalise on good crosses and provided poor crosses when average ones could have produced goals. Many shots were simply cannoned into Victory players. Wellington showed little width.

I am a fan of refs being swayed by the crowd and this clearly happened a number of times tonight. Including Wellington's Daniel being refused a penalty for a clear obstruction from Tommy P.

The late Thompson goal, freed up by Wellington pushing everyone forward, could be enough to force mistakes from Adelaide who must now win by 2 (I think how does the count back work if they win by 1?) to claim the free Asian berth.

It is the Roar's turn tomorrow and let's hope they also receive a dream ride from the ref.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Roar Finals Football

The Roar are preparing for what could be the most important game in their history. On reflection, after losing only one away game, perhaps the most important game was the early season 0-1 loss to Newcastle - when all the teams still looked equal.

Andy Harper made a comment on Saturday night along the lines of - the FFA would be very pleased with a top two finish from Queensland. Then quickly changed the subject. Because that is it. If Melbourne is Australia's sports watching capital - and surely it is - then Brisbane is its most competitive. Cricket goes head-to-head with football - and last year basketball choked. For fans, union (with whom the Roar share a home), rugby league, cricket, netball, (now) tennis and compete for seasonal family interest. The Gold Coast competes with Brisbane. And so it goes.

I am looking forward to the finals. And the excitement of 50,000 crowd to watch the Roar bring home their first championship would be fantastic. However, what interests me most is the prospect of a seat in Asia in June (or there-abouts) 2010. For teams prepared to invest, the year long wait from qualification to playing in Asia is a real advantage. Adelaide showed us this. While Sydney, Melbourne and now Newcastle floundered, Adelaide learned from its first experience and used the Asia ticket as a bargaining wedge for its players - 'play for us and you will be seen by 1,000,000,000 viewers and the best clubs in Japan, China and Korea. Even footage will be seen in Turkey et al.

For the Roar, Asia will mean the big clubs will come to Lang Park. That is what the A-League needs. Mid season rubbing salt into the wounds of rugby league.

Not the Roar's fiat is in the hands of Melbourne and Adelaide, if they both win it is minor semi-finals. If one loses, the Roar must beat Perth and get to and win the final. If they both lose, the Roar win and they are off to Asia.

I wonder what Clive Palmer would think of that. No I don't.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Shiner: Sergio Van Dijk

After the game on Saturday I spoke briefly to Sergio. I wanted to congratulate him and make my way of saying that he was right. He was very happy and pleased to be thanked. So I asked for a photo of his shiner, which was perhaps clearly than this photo. He was than happy to oblige.

Sergio is a great example of the impact of a style of play that suits a particular striker and of confidence. John Aloisi's absence from Sydney FC demonstrated the opposite effect - the lure of money is not enough if your team cannot play the brand of football that suits your striker.

The intervention: Farina v Kosmina

I wanted to capture Frank wishing John Kosmina well in possibly their last professional encounter. Instead, I got this. The Roar Chair guiding Frank away. John K can't help but get the last word. Most of the club, coaching, security and Fox people look on a little bewildered.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Roar 3 v Sydney 1: machine gun Van Dijk

Frank was right about Van Dijk and I was wrong. His 3 tonight puts him in the league of the season's top scorers. However, it was the amazing skill and speed of Michael Zullo that won this game for the Roar. He should be man of the match. His consistency highlights the correct decision not to pay up for Minniecon.

Zullo was running right in front of us in the first half. We cheered and encouraged him to run at Sydney's Grant. I don't recall Grant winning more than one tackle in the first 30 minutes (albeit the critical on goal on the 6 yard box). Zullo was the Roar's main option in that first half hour. With Sydney closing the Roar down for the half and Brosque trying to make runs up his right wing, Zullo got the ball time after time and out ran, turned and crossed around Grant. Two, three crosses went begging. Then Mitch got on the end of one in the box and the Sydney keeper could not hang onto it, Van Dijk was there to poach it in.

Then the Roar sat back. A Sydney goal started to look inevitable. grant was making his own dangerous crosses across the Roar defence. And it looked shakey. Andrew Packer, for the second game, struggled to maintain his position. Sydney equalised from a Grant cross.

The Roar switched back on. Moore plowed one down the middle and Van Dijk outplayed Sydney's offside trap brilliantly. He did not miss from inside the box.

After a few more cutting runs and crosses, Zullo was done. But he had done the damage for the night.

This ref struggles to keep up with the game. He missed hand balls and dangerous elbows. Most comically he blew for a corner. Then called half time before the Roar had a chance to take it. But worse was to come in the second half. As Sydney became more desparate to save their season they began diving, tripping, using their elbows. The ref missed most of these, until Caincross was given a red.

Simon Collosimo came on in the middle of the second half. He quickly showed he was prepared to do anything to win the game for Sydney and keep their season alive. This included a dive to get Craig Moore in the book (his 4th), and an elbow to Murdocca's head - an attempt to get Murdocca out of the game. Frank was incensed that it was only a yellow and could be seen questioning the match officials about the ref allowing Sydney's callus and dangerous play to go on. Josh McCloughan got a very very soft yellow to make up his 5th, so I think he is out next week - Mundy?

Robbie Kruse came on but sadly added little to the game. Given that he was nudging out Tommy Oar it will be interesting to see, given Asia is still on the line, if he gets a another chance. He looked timid.

Then Charlie Miller came on with 12 minutes to go. The crowd went wild and the Roar lifted. The Roar front three (Van Dijk, Kruse and Miller), Van Dijk had been playing wide and making crosses, with Zullo, on the left in the second half, kept in a tight triangle drawing in most of the Sydney defence.

Roar sat back. Van Dijk get the ball. Its Van Dijk with Miller on his left and Sydney defenders on the back foot. Van Dijk does a series of step overs - now we have seen everything - 'pass to Miller', but he shoots high. Then Van Dijk is in the clear again, this time out in front. Then he falls over. Yep.

Then the 90 were up, 3 to go. Miller gets the ball. Passes to van Dijk who scores. Hat trick. Yes.

This is what we want. Now for Adelaide or Melbourne to slip up. Best Perth. Then Asia. That is what Australian Football needs, Asia in Brisbane - with crowds of 20,000, 30,000 and 40,000.

Roar tonight.. and long standing rivalry

It could be Robbie Kruse's big chance to get back on track and win a contract for next year.

There has been a media blitz up here so it will be interesting to see how many turn out. 15,000 or 25,000, it is hard to guess.

If Miller is back the challenge will be where and how to play him. They have been playing so well without him, I wouldn't like to see them go back to the narrow, 'where is Charlie?' ways.

It is disappointing that so much of the football media is so focused on Sydney FC. Their problems over the last 3 years have stolen limelight that should go to well run clubs. Clearly the people of Sydney aren't that interested. I don't really understand why Denning is now the toast of the league. He has played a couple of games and scored one goal. So? A few articles have referred to Cole as a youth player, the guy is 24 years old. It just shows what Sydney's scouting has previously missed. And how players like Bridge and Brosque have miss-fired. It seems old that Brosque was one of the first re-signed for next year, surely he is part of the problem. Maybe he has taken a pay cut. Does current Victory defender Seb Ryall know what he is getting himself into?

The youth league table is interesting. Newcastle has relied on their youth to survive and yet their youth team is coming last. Sydney, the next most reliant on their youth, are way out in front.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Victory 3 V CCM 0

In the first half the only action was Allsopp giving Mrjda a wedgie for a corner.

The lack of play making showed for both sides. While CCM had the better of play, apart from one Simon sky from right in front, they could not get through the Melbourne defence.

Kevin Muscat was at his devious and brutal best, baiting the Mariners, hitting Simon in the nuts, using his elbow where possible to get away with it.

The magic of the night, or perhaps highlighting the lack of imagination of both sides, was the substitution to Hernandes in the 60s. He made an immediate impact and made Melbourne look dangerous in a way that Billy Celeski had made them look tame. By 67 minutes Hernandes released Archie Thompson to the left and Archie did his stuff out-running the CCM defenders and crossing for an Allsopp tap in. A few minutes later Hernandes won a free kick just outside the box. Lawry McKinna had his Hernandes, Cerceras ready to come but he had to wait. Hernandes put the ball through the wall and through keeper Vukovic's legs - oh dear. Soon after Hernandes' domination of the mid-field led to Thompson being released - heading himself on and side tapping with his lime green boots past the hapless CCM defence.

The only other two actions of the game where a single handed almost goal from Cerceras. And Dean Heffernan deciding to elbow Muscat in the head and getting himself sent off. Off the ball (which was out and waiting for a corner on the other side of the pitch) madness which may have been some of sought of get square - Muscat wasn't complaining.

McKinna waiting too long to bring Caceras and Petrovski on. Nik Mrjda just doesn't look up to the striker role. This is primarily because in this game, and others we have seen, he wants to score himself instead of finding his team-mates in better positions. I'd say he did this 3 times in this this game.

CCM's finals berth is now on the line and eyed by both Sydney and Wellington. CCM's next game is against Adelaide.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Roar need all the support it can get Saturday...

Half the team could be out injured - kickoff is at 7pm. Free breakfast is at Ballymore tomorrow Friday at 8:30am.

Free shuttle buses from Roma Street station to Womens' final which kicks off at 2.55pm. Then free shuttle back to Lang Park for Roar v Sydney.

This is a must win if we are getting to Asia.

Did anyone hear the billionaires down the Gold Coast boosting how they aren't going to lose a game next year? can't wait to beat them ;)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Adelaide 0 v Roar 0 - the headline 'Roar slavage a point' is rubbish

If the Roar had been playing like this at the start of the season they would have won the premiership.

Both teams shut each other down with class triangles and short passing game. Only right at the end did Adelaide resort to bombing the ball forward.

Highlights of note:

- a great save stopped Van Dijk taking the win with a great header
- a lack of a left foot let Mitch down as an open goal beckoned and he shuffled from left foot to right.
- Zullo missed a great set-up from Robbie Kruse (yes Robbie was back subbed in for an injured Minniecon, not at his best but some good moves)
- Adelaide fans - over 14,000 - chanted 4-4-2 as their loan strikers where starved of possession and Roar largely kept the ball up in the Adelaide half - 64% possession at half time
- Packer did Tiatto impersonations and tried to get himself sent off with a trip

Both teams seemed ok with a draw.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

W-League Grand Final Roar v Canberra - Ballymore Saturday 2.55pm

Free entry with tickets tickets to Roar v Sydney at Lang Park.

The missing coaching entry: Part 3 - the mighty seventh

In 2008 the club needed a coach for the division 6 team. This was a challenge in our home. My son was not keen on dropping from 4th to 6th. I was very happy that the core of the 2007 team was spread between division 1, 2 and 3. My main role in this was encouragement and pointing out talent.

At the start there was a team below. However, with reshuffles and kids leaving the club plus injuries, the teams were merged and some of the stronger players moved up. This was a massive break for me as the coach of the team below was a very experienced and talented coach. Each training session we would split the team in two and give the players, some had had very little experience, lots of attention. Again my focus was on encouragement and advice. It wasn't hugely sophisticated. Things like 'when you are trying to convince an adult about something, look in their eyes - don't look down.'

Football Brisbane set up trial matches. I think this was an attempt to stamp out the division stacking that allowed strong teams to be placed in low divisions to boost a club's trophy cabinet. We certainly were found out the hard way. We go thrashed in all our trial matches. After one memorable 0-10 loss the teams cheered each other and I thanked their coach for a good game. With a Scottish accent he said, 'Good game? No this was a great game.' Without thinking I replied 'You wanker.' I regretted that. But he was far too happy to care. After the 5th goal his players had been doing cartwheels and their parents were screaming with joy. Imagine our luck playing a team - all with the potential becoming socceroos for 2010. My focus was on keeping our players focused on what they were doing.

In the last trial match we played another team who were getting whooped in every game. We were one short. They borrowed players. While we went 1-0 up off the kick-off, their borrowed players got cracking and they won by about 8 goals. Something they would regret as they stayed in the 6th division and lost every game.

Borrowing players is an amazing concept that I hadn't considered much before. For some clubs, particularly small ones with only one team per age group, the idea is have 3 to 4 above average players (who in other clubs could be division 1) and play them in a low division in their age group and in the lowest division in the next age group.

For the season opening we when down to division 7. Few players appreciated this move. I thought it would make the games more even. We would play 5 teams 3 times. We were scoring but because we were getting beaten players weren't celebrating. We had a great training session where we rewarded the most outrageous celebration. The next game was closer still.

We lost the first 3 games. But they were narrow loses. My focus was on helping the team to win one game. Some players had never been in a winning team. I wanted to change that. However, the main game was still on each players skills and their on-field relationships with each other and decision making. One method was a drill with 5 players in a diamond, the six player runs with the ball to each spot on the diamond - there must be a call and response and then a pass and return pass. Soon we saw this happening on the field.

The other coach got the better players passing, running and shooting. I got the others calling, marking and tackling and shooting. Everyone got better.

Then we won a game 9-0. Our team knew what being beaten like this was like. So there weren't celebrations. From me at the end, it was 'remember this for the next game but also when it gets hard at home and school.'

Then I experienced one of the most unfortunate games I have been involved in. It does have its comic side. Nothing to do with the players or coaches. One of their parents was rough 'punch him in the face next time.' But it was the ref. I introduced myself before the game. He was standing there farting loudly. He was mid to late 50s, tall and over weight. 'A hard night?' Little did I know he was about to dominate the game and send my son off (the youngest player I have ever seen sent off - if fact I don't recall seeing two yellows issues in 10 seconds in a junior game). The FFA is desperate to keep refs. Parent and coaches hack into them. At our level they are usually in the first seasons and many are around 15 years old. Therefore my focus is on encouraging my players to play to the whistle and accept ref decisions no matter what they are. And I thank them after the game. Not this time. We were playing the top team. They lost one game in the season. Their home results were exceptional. Talk about a fortress. Narrow wins and draws away where in contrast to massive wins at home. Most grounds have lots of refs who share the task with their assistants, you get the same ref 2 times a season. Not this club. Virtually all their home games are refed by one middle aged man without official assistants. The first thing we heard was the ref telling their players where to stand, particularly to get our players offside. For a coach who doesn't tell his players what to do on match day - this was galling. Then their keeper ran at and took out my son who was on-goal. Play-on. I had to carry my son off, he went back on after 5 minutes. Normally my son could take this but we had been burgled the night before and he was wound up. And we only had 10 players. One of their team's under-age players ran into my son (who had the ball) and was taken off. What was that free kick for? But the home parents were into it, 'punch him in the face', 'get him off ref'. Next thing their biggest player runs straight into the back of my son, 'play on' says the ref - my son went off - 'Right, I've had enough a yellow for you', my son ran from the field he knows cheating when he sees it, 'Right here is your other one and a red.' He had run right up to stand face-to-face with me. That is what got me the most, here was a 55 year old man enjoying sending off a child. With 9 players we had no chance. They beat us by about 5.

The next round of games we drew 3, and lost 2. The loss was to the same 'champion' team. At home we went behind to an own goal before half time and loss 1-3. There were 3 refs and they did a great job.

In the final round of games we won 4 and lost 1. It was the last game and away to the champion team, the local ref who proudly told our manager that our team had 'better behave' as he had sent a player off from the previous game. I hate this type of bullying. My son scored first and he did a short robot dance. I think it is important to celebrate but not a lot. This was an exception. Just before half time one of their players dispossessed one of our defenders by ramming him from behind. Play on and he scored. In the second half all decisions went their way. 1-6.

We had done enough to make the finals. Football Brisbane put out an edict to all clubs. Players could only be borrowed for the finals if they play for a team in a lower division irrespective of the age group (as long as it was younger). This was going to be interesting as the team we were to play only had 9 official players and every week borrowed 2 from the division 4 team in the age below. They were cheesed, but we got them to fill in the Football Brisbane paper work and the game went on with their borrowed players. As expected these players dominated their team. They went 2 up but we equalised in the second half. Extra time then penalty kicks. Their manager complained that this wasn't the way to decide a football game. But I was happy, they couldn't beat us in normal time. Their borrowed players took their first two kicks and scored. Our first two missed. And they went through to the finals. Football Brisbane relented on their decision re borrowed players which seems hard on every team that could have but didn't use them. But it is hard to make tough decisions in community sports.

Our team had learnt how to win. But more importantly they had done it themselves without a coach telling them what to do all the time. Hopefully they will carry this through to their lives and football will have done its real job - which isn't creating the next Harry Kewell.

The punch line for me? I was joint winner of coach of the season as voted by players and parents. My highest honour to date ;).

The Missing Coaching entry: Part 2 - 2007

In 2006 I had watched by son play his first year of football. I hadn't played for over 25 years. I was surprised about how keen I was to get involved. In 2007 I put my hand up to coach. I coached my son's team in the 4th division. It was a good team, I focused on talk and encouragement.

I learnt a lot from our club rules, one of which is that all players must have the same time on the park in every game. I built a strong core. I let them do all the work and decision making on match day. It seemed to work from my perspective they they came 3rd in the table and 3rd in the finals (missing a penalty and losing 0-1 in extra time). I thought the result reflected their potential at the start of the season, and their ability by the end.

I set them up as 4-4-2, but they played 4-2-3-1. Having a very strong 4 at the back who didn't move beyond half way flummoxed most of the teams as they couldn't get out of their half. But it could restrict our attack. And I rotated players through the back 4 as they didn't like it much.

I got into the habit of thanking the ref and assistants - in front of our players - before and after each match - and telling the players not to worry about bad ref decisions as they happen every day in life. Plus I tried to stress that they needed to keep making decisions to control what happened to them on the field - slow it down take two touches. Hopefully they will do that in life too.

The Missing Coaching entry: Part 1 setting the scene

This entry has been written and re-written. I want to convey the benefit from coaching without losing the point that as a coach of kids the season has very little to do with you. It is all about the players. And it is not about entertaining the crowd, particularly the parents, and especially it is not about winning.

For kids football is about learning about decision making, learning about dealing with adults and being part of a team. These experiences and skills help them in every other part of their lives. And it helps to keep their lives from being sucked into the vortex of a computer screen. We know also that lifelong involvement in sport helps kids and adults, particularly males, to manage or overcome depression. It also extends life by improving physical condition and reducing the threat of obesity.

Fundamentally this is what I have learnt from two seasons of coaching.

Football, or soccer as everyone at junior level calls it, is the biggest participation sport in Australia but up to age 14 or 15 and then, I believe, over-age. It has become clear to me why there is such a big drop-off. It is because parents, and probably as a result clubs, think that playing football is primarily about their child's team winning and, secondly, about their child being the star and scoring goals. This is ingrained from under 6s. By the time a child gets to 14 or 15, most (say 80%) children realise that are not on a winning team - there is only 1 or 2 in say 6 divisions of around 10 teams - around half of these kids will in each season win a maximum of half their games. More likely there will have been loses and draws. For most kids the experience is worse than Perth Glory in the A-League. And when they started their parents would have been telling them it was going to be like Perth Glory in the NSL - have the best of everything including the facilities.

Some parents take all this worse than the kids. If their child has some potential they will shop them around to find a club that wins, better yet if their child can be a star. Some clubs are designed to deal with this and each year attempt to recruit the best players. These clubs will also attempt to slot teams into divisions that the team will win rather than anything like the quality of the team.

Each year Football Brisbane attempts to counter these two acts. They know that this is the fundamental that forces so many kids out of the sport and as a results leads to the loss of millions in annual subscriptions. Unfortunately, they fight nature. It is only a disaster for the kids loss to learning about decision making and exercise. Football Brisbane even developed a non-club league in 2008 - a long held dream - for all the best players. Their main motivation, I think, was to get the best players to play short passing football and to focus on game time and not results. There were compromises and I think the clubs got to use their players as well. It will be interesting to see whether they have the energy to repeat it next year.

My interest in coaching was intuitive rather than founded on sound knowledge, experience and skill. In early 2007 Hamish and I had undertaken the junior coaching ticket. I learnt a lot but was surprised by how few undertake it to coach juniors. Most seem to do it as part of the own playing journey.

I had been a middle of the road player. My main claim to fame was training every afternoon, yep every one, with a kid who would play on Robbie Slaters' team and played against Steve and Mark Waugh. Through the age groups standing out as a left footer and excelling in left positions in 3rd division. I lost interest in the first division playing all bar one game for 45 minutes, even when reserves had to be picked from other teams. When our team came last anyway, the lesson was bitter. But life presents curve balls and I can now draw on that set back when facing life's challenges and in passing on, let's call it, wisdom.

I believe that 'how you do one thing is how you do everything'. Football coaching has been such a massive learning curve for me. It forced me to change how I do one thing and therefore everything.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Perth Glory 3 v Melbourne Victory 2

With Dutch playmaker Victor Sikora combining with Dadi (10 goals this season), Adriano Pellegrino and Nikita Rukavytsya (9 goals this season), Perth Glory have a highly competitive side. Unfortunely, it is not clear whether they will re-sign Dadi and Nik R has probably played his last game for them with his trip to trial for a Dutch club.

Melbourne were not a match for this combination. And without some well timed (and successfully disguised) fouls from Kevin Muscat, Dadi would have got 2 or 3 more goals.

As it is the results on the weekend mean that Adelaide v Roar on Wednesday could be the game of the season. If Adelaide win they will just about have the premiership and a return to Asia in the bag. They will be very relieved at this because there is no way they will be able to keep some key players if they cannot tempt them with limelight football to enable them to win bigger contracts in future years. If the Roar win, Melbourne are still in it and the Roar will have proved that they have the experience and talent to get there too.

For the Roar a win in Adelaide is vital to attract the much needed crowd for the annual Roar v Sydney highlight (read Queensland v NSW origin).

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sydney 1 v Wellington 0

The players had given up on their Sydney FC long before the fans did. They stopped believing their own hype. Then the results soon followed. Bad luck with injuries has been the way for Sydney over the last 4 years. Key player Collosimo could be back (his first game of the season?) next week against the Roar.

Again the main sensations in this game, apart from Sydney at last finding a teenager who can run with the ball and score (Denning), were Ben Williams refering decisions. Firstly, McFlynn deliberately trys to fool the game by punching the ball over the Wellington keeper and in - only a yellow card when surely that is a red. Then Wellington danger-man Hearfield is sent off for an alleged head butt on Alex Brosque. Is this all Brosque can do dive about and claim fouls?

Wellington were unlucky. Sydney must hope that Central Coast don't get more than 2 points from its last games and that Wellington doesn't get 4, while it wins both its last two.

The Last games:
CCM v Melbourne, CCM v Adelaide
Sydney v Roar, Sydney v Newcastle
Wellington v Adelaide, Wellington v Melbourne

Saturday, January 10, 2009

CCM 3 v Roar 4: revenge

The Roar looked like the home team in this match, dominating possession and taking the risks. But the 3-4-3 that Frank has been getting them to learn backfired in the first 5 minutes despite the Roar having the chances and run of play.

It was the A-League's best, Matt Simon who stretched the Roar defence from the left and gave Nik Mrdja a right foot drive opportunity from 6 yards. For the next forty minutes the game was mainly with the Roar, who lacked punch up front (Nichols missed hit a Tajh cross from the right, and lots of miss-hit crosses from Zullo), and CCM looking dangerous on the counter and regularly swamping the Roar defence until Tiatto was pushed back to left back.

Then McKay -player of the first half - tackled for the ball at the top of the final third in mid-field ran towards the half circle and passed right for an unmarked Tajh who ran to the line and crossed for an easy tap-in for Van Dijk on the far post. (43m) It was Van Dijk's first solid touch of the game. The defenders were keeping him busy or he was keeping the defenders busy, one of those.

To the second half and a free kick is played on into air in the box from the left and Van Dijk beats Danny V (not the keeper he was last year). 1-2 Roar (49m). Up to this point McMaster (Reddy is out injured) had looked OK. Then in a replay of Liam's keystone cops from the Lang Park first meeting of the teams (2-4 to CCM), McMaster went for a ball way outside his area, it bounces over his head and Matt Simon gets his foot in and then runs it into the goal. Quite a few times Simon got the better of Moore. 2-2. (55m)

Moore picks out Tajh who out runs the defenders and scores across the goal. 2-3 (60m)

Tiatto picks out Tajh from left to right - at first it looks like Van Dijk's third, but it is an own goal from Tajh's cross. 2-4. (72m)

Safe? No. Again out of nothing Moore misses a cross - air swing and Simon wins a one-on-one with McMaster. 3-4. (81m)

Oar and Seo come on and inject needed energy into a Roar again being over-run. Packer comes on to wind the clock down. The game goes one minute over the 3 minutes. But the Roar hand on.

The lesson. Get the ball to Van Dijk in the 6 yard box.

Breeze made a strange call in the first half - Bradley Porter goes down in his own box surrounded by Roar players. He sits on the ground and traps the ball between his legs. Indirect free kick? No, play on. And in the second half, Danny Tiatto is sithed down by an off the ground two footed challenge from Adrian Caceres. Send off? No just a yellow. (Caceres had miss kicked a shot from the 6 yard box in the first half).

Tomorrow Wellington and Sydney fight it out for the right to put pressure back on Roar and CCM for a top 4 spot. A draw would almost make the Roar safe.

Adelaide 2 v Newcastle 0

Mostly it looked like Adelaide were laughing at Newcastle. Waiting for them to come forward, winning the ball then playing an ebb and flow game of possession. Going forward when there were opportunities and retreating when necessary.

Newcastle are in bad shape. Their team just doesn’t have either the experience or the skills to mix it seriously this season. Joel Griffiths was hacked out of this game in the first half by Mullens whose fouls where ignored by the ref. Newcastle were unlucky not to have a penalty or two early on. But after that, Adelaide used their experience from Asia to totally control the drum beat of the game.

From Adelaide’s viewpoint the perfect game to have as no 3 in a run of 4 games in two weeks.

Newcastle are sad to watch. This season Von Eggmont has been shown yelling at his players, I don’t believe this is his natural style. Now he is having to make do with raw youth and fringe players. Not what his competitors in Asia will be doing. I wonder what owner, Con Constantine’s plans are?

Thursday, January 08, 2009

The Miron award for sports comments...

I was listening to the radio in my car this afternoon. A quote from Frank about how Danny Tiatto has a bad shoulder, broken bones in his foot and hand, and 'I don't think a little diarrhoea is going to stop him.'

Pick your all-star A-League team

This is task from HAL:


HAL - gotta be a 2001 reference...

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Melbourne Victory 1 v Adelaide 0: Asia (that's where I am going, where are you going?)

You have to be able to beat Melbourne and Adelaide to get to Asia. Clearly these two teams have the ambition and depths of squads to get there.

Just watching this game, none of the other A-League teams have shown so far that they can consistantly match these teams.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Wellinton 3 v Newcastle 0

Instead of preparing for the ACL, Newcastle seem to be imploding.

Newcastle brought Antun Kovacic for Mark Milligan late in the game. His only action was to jump into the A-League's number one striker, Shane Smeltz, without looking for the ball. Amazing no yellow card. Smeltz scored a penalty then went off injuryed. This is the second time he seems to have got away with deviant behaviour - the first after a youth league game in a Brisbane hotel.

Kovacic played in two games for Melbourne Victory in season 3. He doesn't seem like the sought of player that is going to take Newcastle to the ACL final. Von Eggmond was the best coach in the A-League last year, this year the players club management have been prepared to buy have caught up with him.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Three Card Trick - Tahj Minniecon

Tahj has signed for Gold Coast United Football Club. The Courier Mail says he will get $130,000 per year.

This type of deal, which I assume is the salary cap excluded youth contract, was designed by the FFA to keep young players in Australia. In practice it has robbed Roar supporters of one the players they get out of the house for.

Tahj has a lot of fans at the Roar. He came up through the former owners of the Roar, the Queensland Lions. This means he is also very well known to Miron. And while Tahj's agent was trying to play the Roar off against North Queensland Fury, ultimately successful negotiations were being laid at Gold Coast United Football Club.

If you read my blogs you will know that I am against players going from one club to another in the same league. It is anti-fan. That is, it is anti what the game is really all about.

In Tajh's case, he can be exciting and he is a reason that families take their kids to watch the club. He wears bling, he is young. The problem for the A-League is that he may have to start from scratch on the Gold Coast or the Roar families may leave the 52,000 seat Lang Park for the 27,000 Skilled Park. Or some of these families may just decide to stay at home, kids not understanding why their favourite player is now playing for the opposition.

The problem for the Roar is that Mitch Nichols is a better player than Tahj, better technique and a lot more energy (as Craig Moore said 'come on Tahj, WORK'). Tahj's agent has been pointing a finger at Roar management, and I think in the past they may have been slow to spend money when they really needed to. However, the Roar know that winning is more important than having a player who is currently popular. This season clubs have shown they can close him down.

Would they like both Mitch and Tahj. Yes. But Tommy Oar is starting to look more of a replacement. He can run at players, run into the box. And take free kicks.

This is why the Roar are complaining about the way the salary cap treats youth. The Roar are spending a fortune and investing massively on senior talent teaching youth. The money bags on the Gold Coast are just sitting on the couch picking up the ones that make it.

I would have been happier to see Tahj go overseas. Then I could support him and his new club. Like I will when Sasa heads to Korea.

So far GCUFC has taken Wellington's star player and favourite son, Shane Smeltz, and one of Newcastle's favourites Adam Griffiths. Who else have they got up their sleeve? Miron knows how to create interest. And this will. It is like the guy in a cape at a pantomime.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Adelaide 2 v Sydney 0: Results based football

There crowd of 23,000, as a result of the move to the cricket ground, were not worried by the lack of excitement. A goal in each half was enough to send Adelaide to the top of the A-League for season 4. In the second half about 90% of the game was in Adelaide's half (and like the Roar last night) Sydney just made pass after pass for no result. Mark Bridge just looked so much stronger partnering Joel Griffiths last year - both teams have lost out in a demonstration of how a team makes an individual look like a star (the other example is John Aloisi who was injured for this match). What happened to that young striker Sydney used at the start of the season when they were winning games?

It probably means John Kosmina is coaching his last 3 top level games, at least for some time. Expect Sydney's new owners to bring in a European coach. Expect also almost a whole new team of players. From where it is unclear. In previous seasons players have been fighting to get the attention of the Sydney scouts. Now that is unlikely. And Gold Coast has its hand up as the new glamour club (although it will have to prove that pretty early). Anyway, it is already happening as players stick up their hands to leave. To North Queensland Fury, even to Adelaide.

Even next year it will be a big ask for Sydney to have a top side. Budget cuts in season two killed off their chance to become the club of choice of the A-League.

And Adelaide. They don't need players from other clubs. They can afford to have players of the quality of other teams regular players sitting on the bench or in the stands. Salley for instance. Or tonight's goal scorer and super sub, Alemeo. Adelaide's first of two mid-week clashes, v Melbourne, should show who is this year's favourite.

Sydney's defence didn't have to do much. What they did do was terrible. The Roar have only achieved 2 of 6 points from Sydney. Will the Roar crowd turn out to watch Sydney this year? 32,000 turned out twice last year.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Victory 2 v Roar 1

Melbourne were the better team on the night. However, it was perhaps the worst pitch this season. The ref said he was not happy to play the game. The game went ahead because both coaches said they would risk their players. Did they really have a choice? Probably not.

The poor pitch had a significant impact on the game.

The Roar dominated the first half. But conceded two goals in the middle of the second. In both it appeared that Craig Moore was out of position. Moore came back to score from a corner. However, I wonder if he picked up an injury, he didn't seem to be keeping up and seemed to hold his hamstring a few times.

The Roar looked slow on the right side against both Thompson and Hernandes. And Thompson could have scored 3 times in one-on-one's with the keeper. Mitch got one cracker on target in injury time, but had trouble controlling the ball in the box most of the time. Van Dijk missed two headers, set himself up with brilliant flicks for about 60% of the game but his last touch was disappointing. Tommy Oar came on late but only got the ball once or twice. Once Packer came off for Oar, Melbourne were using their speed against the Roar back 3. 

Too slow at the back Roar.

The Roar now have Adelaide mid week, then Central Coast. Hmmm the last 2 games at home could be to make a top 4 spot.

Looks like Adelaide and Melbourne are in. Central Coast also look too strong to miss out. Sydney will throw everything at all their games now otherwise Kosmina will be out of a job. And Wellington could upset things too.

Oh dear, this was a 10 beer game. And the Roar only had 9.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

1988 Olympics = todays paradice club

In the 1988 squad were:

John Kosmina (now Sydney FC coach)
Robbie Slater (now journo and Foxtel)
Alex Tobin (now assistant coach CCM)
Gary van Egmond (now coach Newcastle)
Graham Arnold (now - still - attached to the Socceroos coaching staff)
Frank Farina (now coach Roar)
David Mitchell (now coach Perth)

The rest of squad:

Paul Wade
Oscar Crino
Alan Hunter
Jeff Olver
Mike Gibson
Andy Koczka
Micky Peterson
Vlado Bozinoski
Scott Otterenshaw
Robbie Dunn
Charlie Yankos
Alan Davidson

Any still involved?

Central Coast 1 v Perth 0: Potency?

McMaster (red) and Simon (yellow) both received one match bans after their involvement in the post match melly after the whistle against Newcastle. This gave Nik Mijda his first start for the season. His 4-4-2 strike role with Sasho Petrovski lacked finish. And it took a late 70s strike from distance by John Hutchinson to separate the two teams.

Perth left, 8 time goal scorer and soon to be off contract, Dadi at home. And Wayne Srhoj was out injured. Their key player Amaral seems to have disappeared altogether now. Dutch international Victor Sikora got his first start with Nik Rukavytsya up front.

I thought that the Perth mid-field of Scot Marc Anthony, find of the season Adriano Pelligrino and Nick Rizzo and James Downey disrupted and occasionally dominated CCMs attack. Downey in particular was way too fast for Dean Heffernan at the back.

FFA site is reporting 92% possession to CCM. This site usually under-reports dominance. I didn't think it was that bad. CCM couldn't push home their advantage. Sikora looked like he was trying to teach Perth a game plan. He had a few shots on target from distance that lacked venom. Only CCM looked like scoring.