Sunday, August 30, 2009

Newcastle 1 v Gold Coast 0 - ha

Now Sydney FC can take top spot and Culina will miss next week on Socceroo duty. Although tricky diver Robson will be back for GC.

But brilliant. The team, who stole Brisbane's fans, beaten.

Newcastle got 1o behind the ball and held GC out. I watched the second half - as perhaps the pivotal game of the season emerged. The replays of Newcastle's 40th minute goal showed some spectacular work.

I wonder how long before they sell a few more players?

Well done Newcastle. Brilliant.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Brisbane RFC 1 v CCM 0 - right 3rd time

A great performance from Henrique whose combinations with Miller, Van Dijk and Kruse tore up CCM. I thought Kruse also did well. And Mundy was much improved. DeVere was given license to go a long way forward on the right.

David Dodd had a great game after coming on early for McKay who sustained a nasty injury. Dodd is looking better this year and doing better than his brother Karl at the Fury.

Great goal from a well placed McKay corner for Craig Moore to head in.

CCM look ineffectual up front. The once great Simon and Mrjda had little.

This is what Brisbane were meant to do last week but ended up looking timid. Tiatto lasted the game and played well. he may have to give up so much of the spectacular to keep his legs going.

Malcolm continues as a disappointment. Seems to give away a foul with every tackle.

Brisbane RFC v CCM FC - Preview

What to expect?

Well the Broncos resurgence has knocked out the Cowboys which will encourage the good people of Townsville to watch the Fury. But won't help Brisbane RFC.

There was a giant poster of Sergio Van Dijk traveling round the city during the week. But it cast a rather lonely feeling. Expectations are low in Brisbane. Combined with 31 degrees today and a foolhardy 3pm start, not much is expected by Brisbane fans. Just telling fans you are going to win does not convince them.

Let's hope this feeling is wrong.

Next Year: Brazilians not Scotsmen

The Scots are fading in the heat. And today it will be 31.

Foxtel rage

Well Foxtel didn't happen last night. According to their local office the service was out for Brisbane. So much for Robby Fowler scoring a great goal from his own build up play. And a fabulous 3-3 draw between Adelaide and the Fury. So much for Perth's new players firing and winning 2-1 over Melbourne. Paid my dues and saw nothing.

Like poor refereeing and 4th officials that start arguments (see Frank Farina's column in the Courier Mail on Friday), there is no come back.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Brisbane RFC Update

It was inevitable. Brisbane is for sale.

The prospect of another crowd of around 7,000 for this weekends game has lifted the thin veil.

I'd like to see Vale SA, formerly known as Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (CVRD), commit to several million per year. Vale is Brazil's largest mining company (HQ São Paulo) and its Australian headquarters is here in Brisbane. Ultimately we could see 4 or 5 Brazilians in the team. They fund the marquee and guest spots.

Then we would have a powerhouse team that Queenslander's actually wanted to watch.

Pantelidis cleared of violent conduct

GC have got what they wanted.

And away with bringing the game into disrepute.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Brisbane RFC - time to buy a guest player

Do the deal now - 9 weeks over the Christmas holidays.

Brisbane need something in the pipeline to offer fans.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Brisbane RFC 1 v Wellington PFC 1: Very disappointing

Very disappointing.

I knew the crowd would be low. And that favours the opposition. You could see see the disappointment on the players faces as came to Brisbane's lowest ever crowd.

While market development is the clubs' responsibility, this reflects a poor governance model for football's positioning in Australia. And the FFA sets the times of the games with Fox Sports. or the other way round. A 3pm game is the wrong time in the sub-tropics and did not favour the Roar who are reliant on Europeans. Next week's 3pm start will be worse. A Saturday start.

Frank was reported as saying that Brisbane would need to be less cavalier in order to ensure that that they won games when they went ahead. Today I heard him telling Robbie Kruse to 'get back'. They tried to get 10 or later 11, then 10 again every time they lost possession. And in the second half that was most of the time. Brisbane just looked like they were learning a new game. At the back it was rubbish.

Did Bob Malcolm really play for Rangers? He is certainly nowhere near as good as Sasa Ogenovski. He is big and lumbering - slow. A lot of holding. A lot of needless free kicks.

Charlie Miller had his first start for the season. While he played Henrique in to set-up the goal, he looked slow and hot. And this is only the start. How is he going to go in the far north?

The 'Street' are talking down Brisbane. So far they have been right. Still, if Brisbane had played as good as they did last week, the would have won. They made Wellington look good. I think Wellington will play off with the Fury for the wooden spoon. Let's hope Brisbane aren't down there too.

Van Dijk was great. he was up front and lonely. But he won just about everything. Henrique was also great.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Brisbane RFC v Wellington PFC Suncorp Brisbane 3pm Sunday 23 August

As Craig says, Brisbane can't afford to do anything but win this one.

It will shape fan expectations for the rest of the season's home games.

No pressure then.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Gold Coast 2 v Adelaide 0

Die-hard Roar fans know, to their disappointment, that winning teams get the refereeing breaks. So it is with Gold Coast. To no fault of theirs, two clear hand balls ignored, one a penalty, and Adelaide conceded a point-blank hand ball free kick. Six yellow cards on the game - 3 each.

The HAL live scoreboard shows 79% possession to Adelaide. But no one believes that. Adelaide did have most of the ball in the second half but could not get even loose balls into the net. Korean Inseob Shin (17 mins) looks the goods. Lloyd Owusu (31 mins) less so. But good teams can make you look worse than you are.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

And many more empty stadiums to come?

It will be interesting to see how the FFA reacts. Clearly the A-League governance structure is now under attack from within. The FFA are likely to pay the price of their lack of attention to detail in fostering the growth of the A-League, womens' league, youth competitions and general game and entertainment development.

Their attention appears to have been elsewhere.

It doing so they have allowed into the competition a club that thinks it is clever to hire the best players and then limit their home crowd to 5,000. Virtually ensuring failure of the league's expansion after only one home game for that team.

The press, the Courier Mail, are also reporting threats to take the game's match review panel to court. This could be a rouse to scare the panel into a positive decision after a suspension decision was suspended until next week. If so, what a way to do it! Threaten the FFA's fundamental authority of the whole league. Every other club has had to cop bad and mediocre decisions and fines for 4 years. Now an owner is bigger than the league.

Instead of bringing Gold Coast into the league and growing both the Brisbane and Gold Coast interest, GCU have actively undermined Brisbane's crowd. And now apparently, their own.

Let's have a look at one of these franchise arrangements. Surely there must be some protection in them for the A-League?

FFA had another offer on the table for Gold Coast Galaxy FC. The bid leaders thought they had, or were close to a deal, when FFA announced that another proponent - also backed by Miron - would now take the franchise. Is the FFA now sorry it turned the first bidders away?

What is the future for GCUFC? How is Jason Culina feeling about turning his back on a major international career for this?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Brisbane Roar Update

Brisbane Roar could be without 8 plus of its 23 person squad in September as injury and U20 World Cup bites deep.

There is hope that Tiatto will be fit for half a game. But Murdocca and Packer will be out. It is also likely that McCloughan will be out for a few weeks. Reinaldo hasn't been sighted yet. Also MIller has looked quite slow in the two cameos he has played (is he fit?).

Then there is the 4 to 6 players who will head out for the junior world cup. Will Brisbane even have a team?

And Gold Coach mercenaries are complaining about Minniecon.

Wellington 2 v Perth 1, Sydney 1 v Adelaide 0

Same Perth unfortunately. Outplayed Wellington and then lost to the home teams only shot in target in the second half.

Sydney are now playing like Brisbane. Two speedsters down the wings in Deming and Brosque. Great one two from Bridge to Brosque's head, then back to Bridge to finish off.

Wellington has a way bigger fan base than Gold Coast with 10,000 turning up in 7 degrees and rain v Gold Coast's perfect football watching weather.

Gold Coast United

Gold Coast's owner has denied that his side is mercenaries.

I wonder how the team is feeling. First their owner and coach tells their fans not to come to the first match. Then the fans don't actually materialise for the second.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Melbourne 3 v Brisbane 3: Tiatto's game

Danny Tiatto had to go off just before half time. Brisbane were up by 2 (1-3). His departure changed the game. Before that he had been everywhere and dominated the defensive mid-field and then opened the scoring with a cracker from wide-left and outside the box. A minute later and Henrique goes down in the box, penalty - great kick from Van Dijk - no one is saving that. A brilliant response from Hernandes (1-2). And then a break-away and step-overs from Henrique and great finish for 1-3.

A big fair play question is Henrique. He seems to be a faker if not a diver. Which is unfortunate.

But after half time, without Tiatto, the lack of depth from Brisbane showed. As David Dodd struggled to make and impact. I wondered about the second goal where Melbourne chose to ignore Archie Thompson on the ground for about 5 minutes of their possession. Was it fair play? I felt he was interrupting play as Melbourne passed around him. I was surprised the ref didn't stop the game.

Two more great goals from Allsopp and then Hernandes. 3-3. Brisbane couldn't finish a few opportunities.

Still a great game. Fox Sports said the best A-League game ever. I am not sure. But these are the best 2 teams after Gold Coast. And they have double the fans. Still under 19,000 turned up. What are you going to do FFA?

This result will boost Brisbane's 3pm game next Sunday v Wellington. Too early FFA - and the following week, v CCM at 3pm Saturday clashes with junior games around Brisbane. The planning isn't great.

Gold Coast 5 v NQ Fury 0: walkover

Smeltz got 4 and Minniecon 1. Any score was possible. Fury's back 4 are just not good enough.

But neither is Gold Coast's fan base. How do all these stars feel about playing for less than they are worth and in front of a one third full stadium? And the pitch was very, very poor. How about spending some millions on that.

Miron recons he is buying Socceroo Michael Beauchamp. Amazing how all this is done inside the salary cap. Particularly, when other teams are clearing struggling to get depth to their squads.

Fowler had a good touch early but the opportunity was squandered. From then on he hardly got a touch. Neither did Dave Williams. Is this going to show case his career potential? The Robbie Fowler cash'e is almost gone. Particularly when he executes an upside-down head kick.

Gold Coast are brilliant. But few are watching. Fury are poor and maybe everyone will be watching.

How did FFA let this happen? Far too laissez faire. FFA left too much to chance.

Given Clive Palmer is behind both teams now, perhaps the two squads should be shuffled. There are 2 good A-League teams there. No doubt.

And Fury showed how good Brisbane's performance was last week. A lot of the time they had Gold Coast on the back foot.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

And then she said...

Clive Palmer told SHM that Gold Coast would attract an acerage crowd of 6,000 to 7,000. Surely he is trying to make it look good? They should take that many Brisbane fans.

NQ Fury said they need to sell and average of 12,000 tickets to break-even. They sold 9,000 for their first match. Ouch.

Ireland 0 v Socceroos 3: left foot geniuses

2 lefts from Cahill and 1 from lefty Carney.

Ireland left stood standing - at home.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Gold Coast for sale

Gold Coast have put together an amazing squad. Probably better than any other team. How have they done it with the salary cap and rules?

Well they do have a few journeymen who were cheaper. And clearly Jason Culina (outside the cap) has made a lifestyle choice. But apart from that, it has been done because most of the squad is for sale and on its way somewhere else. Not great for fans. But in this case a winning formula.

Jonas Salley coming and going without starting. Then there was Smeltz who has made it he is looking for more. Then Adam Griffiths has left for mega bucks in the Middle East. And clearly Robson can earn more than our cap allows - although a couple of 2 match bans for diving may stuff his plans - and is likely to go when the better offer comes.

However, on Gold Coast's side is contract law - which they are great at. And the carrot of this year's title and next year's ACL. Probably means the musical chairs will keep going.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Miron was right

The A-League is all about entertainment. Miron said this all through his Roar tenure.

Miron and Frank embraced after the game last night. Miron would have known exactly the pressures the game would have put on the Roar coach.

Miron has proved himself to have bouncebackability. He has looked at the confinements and limitations of the A-League rules and acquired the best team in the competition - by a wide margin. Possibly by enough to go through a season undefeated. He learned some of these lessons before the A-League when the Queensland Lions dominated the Brisbane league by, each year, making sure they bought the best players.

Miron was right about money. The A-League is about spending the most money you can on players. You certainly cannot afford to lose money on a stadium. The Roar, Queensland or Brisbane, has always been confined by not spending the maximum amount allowed by the A-League. Miron said this soon after he left the Roar. He is right. If Brisbane is going to be champions, and fill its Asian destiny, it must spend more on players. And it must, every year, have world class guest players filling the maximum time slot. Because the Roar has been able to commit to taking a bigger risk, they have always had to settle for a lower reward.

In think Miron knows that Brisbane has the biggest potential (Sydney is isn't going to cut through and Melbourne has reached its potential) of any football market in Australia. If football is to grow in Australia - as an entertainment market - it must grow in Brisbane.

Gold Coast do not have to worry about return on investment. It is irrelevant to their owner. Any the sponsors will more value at the top club than any other. So the other money providers will be happy.

Miron's acquisition of Jason Culina, for the richest purse in the A-League, was a cut through decision. Last night he was dominant as a captain. Towards the end only his energy level seem to limit the number of goals he could set-up - and he seemed to have a 2 goal barrier in mind. Culina said Gold Coast could improve 30%. He may be right. If he is right and they can maintain their squad, they will win the ACL.

Culina was key because, together with the brochures and wining and dining, he brought credibility that has led a host of players to accept less money than they would if they had signed for another A-League club - and many gave up opportunities worth a lot more overseas.

If Miron did think the key to the Gold Coast's success was winning Brisbane based fans, then he was right. He will have to, at least, come up to Brisbane's southern dormitory (which he has at Rochdale) and then push north. Miron believed Brisbane fans would come to watch winners.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Gold Coast played on the counter after all

60% possession Brisbane.

Brisbane RFC 1 v GCUFC 3: Simulation

Is the FFA going to follow through with its edict on diving? If it is Gold Coast could be in a bit of trouble. They would loose both Robson and Culina. Robson dives when he can, he deliberately got Tiatto booked. Culina may just have been having fun but he won a free kick off Craig Moore.

The refereeing, as Moore warned, was a dark patch on this game. He just could not keep up and missed a lot. Peter Green is not good enough to ref at this level. And the game got away from him. He book 10 players. 4 Brisbane in the 1st half and 1 Brisbane and 5 Gold Coast in the second. But it was the inconsistency that was amazing. Why didn't Matt Ozman get a yellow for the penalty? Why was Kruse booked for diving and not Robson (editor: I looked at the replay and Kruse's booking as for hand balling past the keeper)? Why didn't Smeltz get a second yellow for getting Malcolm in a headlock (editor: this is a still mystery)? In the 1st half has was that a corner if the only body part near the ball was a Gold Coast hand?

The Gold Coast are a a better team. And the only real question is how they stay under the salary cap. Still Brisbane had more (12-7) and better chances but couldn't put them away. Van Dijk missed an open goal with the keeper on the ground. Higgins is a rubbish keeper.

Disappointing crowd of 19,900.

Funniest thing we have seen: Bas Van den Brink getting a banana from the bench and then eating it while running around playing an A-League match.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Adelaide 1 v Perth 0

It was the right result. Adelaide dominated the first half. Clearly Adelaide missed out on a straight forward penalty in the first 2 minutes as Jacob Burns had his first touch on an Adelaide leg entering the penalty box from the right. Later, justice was made when Chris Coyne pushed/pulled down Robbie Cornthwaite for a linesperson's decision.

You just don't mess with Cornthwaite. Ask Melbourne's Ney Fab. He will get you with the refs. Anyway, Jacob Burns and Chris Coyne's efforts may mean that clubs will fancy their penalty chances against Perth this year. The Fox commentators made the points about returning Socceroos not finding it as easy as they would like. But Burns was lucky not to get two yellows.

Both sides, particularly with Adelaide awaiting its foreign signings, seem to lack depth. And both lost key players to injury early - Jamie Coyne Perth and Lucas Pantelis Adelaide.

It would have been a long game for Perth fans. And the Perth bench was feeling ripped off by Ref Zetter. But really Mitchell's team were not good enough in the key match-ups. Dadi is looking one year older (despite, or because of, playing the off season). Sikura added nothing like the intensity he last year when he was fighting for a contract. Perhaps they are the errors.

And Mile Sterjovski was closed down by the Adelaide defence led by ex-Sydney Iain Fyfe.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Melbourne Victory 0 v CCM 2: Suncorp curse?

Only 19,000 in Etihad stadium built for 56,000. Very hollow. Supports the smash and grab teams which is CCM at their best.

But for CCM their first win in 11 games - 8 Months.

Victory looked better in 2nd half but couldn't finish. Poor percentage choice against the consistency kings.

Half time Victory 0 v CCM 2

Scots are clever aren't they?

Instead of having 1 isolated up front, Melbourne have 3.

Formula? Just press the park. Poor old Hernandes.

Still I think CCM won't be able to keep it up. I am still going for 2-2.

Clive Palmer upstages the A-League again

This time he flew into Fury land to tell them he has become a major sponsor. Does this make sense?

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

A-League starts 8pm EST tomorrow

TV is Fox Sports. In Victoria I understand it will be live on radio.

Or you could do what I did in season one for away games - what the FFA scorecard for live updates on goals, subs and cards. Ha. Yes we have come a long way.

Here we go.

Wonder what is in store.

Preview: Melbourne Victory v Central Coast Mariners - it starts here

Many people will have already allocated the points from this one. Why not, Melbourne Victory are the super club of the A-League.

The only thing is that they tend to have a good year and an off year. May not be the case this year. I suspect their pre-season has been less rigorous than other clubs as Asia (ACL) means they have a long season ahead.

CCM always look under funded and too rigid in game plan - grind em out 4-4-2. Matt Simon has occasionally looked brilliant. It depends on whether they can replace Sasho Petrovski.

Still it is possible. Melbourne deserves the opener. Pity, for their fans, that it is Thursday. Still they are the club that can pull that off.

Perhaps this will be a score draw? 2-2?

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Notes from the Press Conference...

I admit I laughed when I saw the cardboard cut out. But Frank made it very clear it was not his idea.

After some 'interviewed questions' - a lot seemed to be about how long the preseason was - the journalists were invited up front to ask questions. All the questions seemed to be about Miron and Clive's stand.

It is very clear that everyone except Miron and Clive at the Gold Coast is very confused about what the club is trying to achieve. Very confused. It is only thing getting airplay about the game and no one understands it.

Jason Culina did not turn up so his replacement, former Melbourne Victory Socceroo Michael Thwaite was asked why. He said Jason went to Sydney yesterday and has an event tomorrow so he decided not to come 'or that is what he said anyway.' Gold Coast marketing asked Michael to go but they didn't know what he should say to the obvious questions. The only questions.

Paul Okon said that yes he did want Gold Coast fans to come to Brisbane as it will be a frightening place with all orange. But he could not explain Clive's stand. And I think he was trying to say that Clive had spent a lot of money on the Gold Coast club and therefore he should come and watch them.

ABCTV News had a grab from Frank - 'disgraceful'. But what he really said was he didn't expect Gold Coast to promote Brisbane but everyone did expect them to promote the A-League and it was disgraceful that they were not.

Craig Moore said he was only interested in playing and did not care what Gold Coast were banging on about.

And that is the point, no one knows what Gold Coast's point is. My guess is that at least they want to keep the crowd below Skilled Stadium capacity so they can say 'see should been our game'. But I think there is more to it and it is more cynical.

By the way, I encouraged Paul to takeover soon. Got a good laugh. Very few don't want it to happen soon.

Half Time ...

Paper Money, Paper Team, Paper Miron - Gold Coast show their true colours

Yep the A-League suffered the indignity of Miron turning up in his bill board form.

Monday, August 03, 2009

FFA tell Gold Coast...

“The inclusion of Gold Coast United and North Queensland Fury gives football a very large footprint in Queensland, and should also provide some fantastic local derbies and contribute to more fascinating Hyundai A-League rivalries,” Buckley said.

“I want to thank Clive Palmer (Gold Coast United) and Don Matheson (North Queensland Fury) for being instrumental in helping us take this first step into an expanded Hyundai A-League.”

Harsh words indeed. Clearly he will now think twice before threatening the viability of other clubs. And before telling people not to go to the local derby which was the whole point of his club.

The real question is: was he or Miron even there at the opening of the season?

The Roar are saying Miron will be there... Tuesday Brisbane Square 1pm

It is like an old western. Be there at noon unless ya too chicken.

We'll see. Miron says he isn't promoting the game. Because of his principles. Is there any principle but maximising interest in the sport?

Anyway, Brisbane RFC say he'll be there with Jason Culina to face off with Frank and Craig.

1pm Brisbane Square (George Street at the top of the Mall).

Very Happy (a coaching story)

Three years as coach. Three years in the finals. And still 4 games to go. A real upset to miss now. And we did it the hard way - a fully graded team (not stacked like a number of clubs do to collect silverware - don't see the point). A full spectrum of skills and skill gaps.

I realise it isn't me. Or just me.

I know my weaknesses as a coach. I get others in to cover my weaknesses. I share their victories. And I am getting to know my strengths. Team building and motivation. Essentially it is a service life. That's the reward.

Anyway I get to spend a lot of time with my son. Without trying too hard. Not too uncool.

Oh and the A-League definitely helped. For example, I watched my son do an 'Ante Milicic' - run down the wing with a defender, tread on the ball but keep running, then double back and shoot. In this case he had gone wide, and crossed the ball on the goal line for one of his team mates to kick once, twice before it went in - that player's first ever goal. Magic. Congratulated his dad. That is certainly part of the reward.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Trouble in Surfers Paradise...

I wonder what Jason Culina is thinking. I think is getting a little concerned.

He gave up a spot at a very professional club with a great reputation and a guaranteed spot in the Socceroos for the World Cup 2010. He was even warned not to do it by the coach of the Socceroos. But I understand he spoke to a wide range of people involved in the A-League and they reassured him. His father, once again an A-League coach, also reassured him.

A key selling point. Jason was to be the centre of attention for a blockbuster derby. Perhaps the A-League's greatest. In Brisbane - a city which turns up massively for the Broncos and the Socceroos - would come to watch Jason. The first match. It was a compelling story. I think Jason bought it.

The Gold Coast gave him some flash paperwork, high class transport, the top salary in the league and other players flocked to join him. A brilliant preseason was put together. And his team beat Fulham. Winners. Looking good.

Then some strange things started to happen.

His coach, who no doubt others had warned about, started saying not turning up to A-League promotional events. Then, his owner started discouraging fans from attending the season's blockbuster game.

Don't come to the game Jason came here to play in? The one with his mate Moore in? This was the one where the fans were going to be shown how good Jason's team are.

Hang on. I think Jason would be thinking. He has played Suncorp in front of a capacity crowd. Brisbane loves Jason. And once they'd seen him with the Gold Coast - they would then follow him each game.

I also think a number of other key Australian based signings at Gold Coast are also thinking twice. Some have closed their minds because they are only there for a season - Minniecon (Europe), Smeltz (China or Europe), others are in transition to get attention for higher dollars - the Brazilians...

To get attention, hang-on they are telling the fans not to come....