Monday, November 30, 2009

FFA Match Committee have consistency opportunity

The question is will the Match Committee treat Rikki Herbert in the same way as other A-League coaches have been for leaving their technical areas and arguing with the ref and his assistants. I think the going rate is $500 and 2 weeks in the stands. I watched Herbert sitting at the Roar end of his bench - unsighted as Muscat took out Oar. Yet he walked beyond the half way line to intimidate the ref and his assistants.

The Committee also needs to review the behaviour of Durante and several Wellington players. Their man handling of ref Milliner. The benchmark is Bas Van Den Brink. Start with 4 weeks.

It was great to see Alan Milliner ref his first game. Even better to see him pick up what some of the A-League refs usually miss. Matty Muscat's after the play elbow to Tommy Oar. For Brisbane fans Muscat's actions - which the replay clearly shows were violent and done with intent to injure - where a continuation of his aggression towards Oar in the first match-up at Lang Park (round 3 in August). That game 1-1 with the Roar dominant but unable to capitalise - what a home win then could have made. Muscat got a yellow on half time in that game and was lucky to survive the match. Oar was carded in the 86th for an altercation with Muscat and off in the 88th. Milliner was having none of Muscat's thuggish behaviour.

The question is will the Match Committee treat Rikki Herbert in the same way as other A-League coaches have been for leaving their technical areas and arguing with the ref and his assistants. I think the going rate is $500 and 2 weeks in the stands. I watched Herbert sitting at the Roar end of his bench - unsighted as Muscat took out Oar. Yet he walked beyond the half way line to intimidate the ref and his assistants.

The Committee also needs to review the behaviour of Durante and several Wellington players. Their man handling of ref Milliner. The benchmark is Bas Van Den Brink.

Perhaps Herbert's post match comments should also be reviewed to see if they brought the game into disrepute.

'Milliner, handling his first A-League game in his home city, was not in Wellington coach Ricki Herbert's good books after sending Phoenix defender Manny Muscat off in the 57th minute for violent conduct in raising his elbow at Roar teenager Tommy Oar. If Muscat was surprised to see Milliner pull out a red card, Herbert appeared stunned when asked about the incident that will go to the match review committee on Monday.

"I've got quite a strong opinion on it and I guess we'll channel that through the right areas," said Herbert when asked about the sending off. When asked it he was unhappy about he replied: "Do you think I should be?" ' By Wayne Heming via Fox Sports

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Bottom end tightens up the comp

Fury 2 v Adelaide 1
Brisbane 4 v Wellington 1
Newcastle 3 v Sydney 1

Adelaide are now last (is it their turn?)
Melbourne are 5 points clear (massive home losses forgotten?)
Brisbane are 1 point out of the top 6

Brisbane 4 v Wellington 1

Roar answer the call.

Brisbane scored first and began to dominate (Oar cross, a few heads and Reinaldo headed it in). Wellington had very little. The a corner and a very soft - unmarked free header on our defences left (again). 1-1 at half time. And up to that point Brisbane had had the running but lacked something up front. Miller in particular looked like he was trying way too hard. You could see what they were trying to do, but it was way too clever.

Reinaldo made the bet of space on the right and made it 2-1. Two minutes later and Manny Muscat was out run by Tommy Oar and seemed to administer an elbow to the head as he went past - well after the ball had gone. Great to have a new pair refereeing eyes as Alan Milliner went straight for the red.

What happened next, if the FFA match panel is consistent, should lead to several matches for Muscat - for refusing to leave the field, 2 weeks in the stands for Coach Herbert for walking 20 metres out of his zone and into an argument with the ref (did he enter the field of play?). A couple of times it appeared Wellington players handled the ref.

From then on Wellington tried to push forward and Brisbane hit hard on the counter. Tommy Oar held back and either switched play or fed Reinaldo. Brisbane looked stronger as McKay was swapped for Tiatto and then Miller for Mitch.

After Sergio's (Serigoals) brilliant free kick goal - there is one for the home fans - Mitch finished off the game by putting - who? David Dodd through for 4-1.


NQ Fury 2 v Adelaide 1

Terry Cook is the difference. He could just link up Fowler and the teams key experienced players to take Fury to the finals.

Shows Brisbane that foreign spots must be filled by talent rather than who is mates with Craig Moore.

Melbourne 4 v Gold Coast 0

This game showed how important your centre back are. Melbourne's are brilliant. Brisbane and NQ Fury's have been patching. Gold Coast's were suspended (I didn't see much but they looked very square and gave Robbie Kruse plenty of space to score his first goal of the season). The shortening of Van B's ban from 4 to 1 week saved Gold Coast's season.

Kruse seemed to show his potential in this game.

Also showed how well Brisbane did last week. While they lost 0-1 they still tanked Melbourne aside from some very poor refereeing from Ben Williams - that lost them a win.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Brisbane v WEllington 6pm Sunday Suncorp

Well this is it.

Brisbane are avoiding saying that they have given up this year because they know the consequences.

First - all your good players go somewhere else no point playing for the losers. Reddy has already done this with Sydney FC (Brisbane must act as he had a year to run - this club has always been too soft on disloyal players - players disloyal to their fans put fans off).

Second - you can't attract new players for the next year.

Third - you can't attract sponsors or sponsorship dollars fall.

Fourth - as a result of the first 3, your fan base vanishes. For a team that doesn't have enough fans to pay for its stadium - this is bad.

Fifth - the TV broadcaster loses interest. Actually this has already happened. Fox Sports have virtually ignored Brisbane this year. Either the ratings have collapsed here or someone at the club has offended them. Fox have shown a massive and dismissive dis-interest in Brisbane. The Courier Mail is on the same bandwagon.

Brisbane put all its effort into last weeks Melbourne game. This week there has been silence. expect a crowd of 6,000 to 7,000?

Is it too early to call the Queensland expansion a failure?

Compare the 100s of millions that AFL is putting into Western Sydney and the Gold Coast and you can see how short the FFA is.

So win Roar. You must. Can't see you getting another chance.

CCM 0 v Perth 0

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Post Modern Journalism

I was surprised by Ray Gatt's 'A-League Falling Short of NSL: There's not enough talent to expand' (The Australian page 37 November 25). Perhaps sparked by Culina's post match comments about the quality of A-League teams, Gatt has gone for the jugular of the A-League.

I wonder what he will be able to write about next week?

Perhaps cricket or the offseason drivel the reading public is being feed about union, league - and the sport where nothing is actually happening now (ie not even internationals), AFL.

Gatt's comments really highlight the FFA's problem. The public face of promotion is media management. And it has been a discouragement to fans. The FFA have lost the ability to influence it except at Fox Sports.

In any case, I think Gatt is wrong. The standard of play is as good or better than last year. But the up has been anti-ed. I think he is very wrong about the problem being the quality of players.

The problem is that the FFA has not been able to put together a strategic marketing plan and has relied on the 2005 World Cup qualification to relaunch the sport. The 2009 qualification process - via pay TV - left Australia as the only national not celebrating its qualification. Have a look at New Zealand or even the lengths France went too.

And a quiz:
What does Melbourne Victory, Melbourne Heart, the 15th union team and Melbourne Storm have in common?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Kevin Muscat

From Fox Sports:

'Victory skipper Kevin Muscat refused to shake hands with Brisbane rival Matt McKay after the match. “It's the first time I've ever refused to shake hands with a player after a game,'' said Muscat. “I won't go into details why, but he and I both know what he did. “I'm a great believer in what happens out there should stay out there.'' McKay refused to comment when told of Muscat's stunning outburst. '

I thought Muscat had an extremely inappropriate influence over ref Ben Williams last night. Some may think his behaviour was borderline cheating. It is interesting that - watching the replay - the Fox commentators had believed that Muscat had been carded at half time.

It would be interesting to know what McKay was supposed to have done. Given Muscat's behaviour, it would have be spectacular to be anything but deserved.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Brisbane 0 v Melbourne 1 - faulty product

This game was a nasty short right to the left midriff.

The Brisbane Club had worked hard to get its once healthy crowd back to a meaningful game. Things happen in the Brisbane v Melbourne games. From the brilliant 3-3 in game 2 to the mean 'Kruse' game.

But this was a serious non-event for most of the audience.

From the soft goal against the run of play, to Brisbane's inability to put any real pressure into the final third, to constant conversation between the 'protected' Muscat and the ref Ben Williams, the constant warnings but no action on Melbourne's time wasting, the disallowed goal (did the keeper dive?), to the Henrique handball brain snap.

It was a very subdued crowd going home. The only real topic was why David Dodd got match of the match. My explanation was that no one else did anything. Well maybe Griffin MacMaster (just as well as there are rumours that Reddy has had enough - declaring himself unfit).

I think this game was a body blow to a club desperate to find a way to attract fans and money to continue.

The laughing, joking, all smiling performance from the ref was not appreciated by the crowd. And letting Muscat use all his transparent tricks to waste time was a stab in the eye to people who had paid to see their team play.

Lastly, I am not seeing the value added that Ange promised. Clearly Henrique was not up to a full half game, nor Miller (although he's lost 10 kilos) a full 90. Brisbane still have a card problem and instead of being top 4 they are now bottom 2. Can we have Frank back please.

And next week there will be no Henrique.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Saudi Adelaide 1 v Gold Coast Lattes 1

Adelaide dominated this game and yet pulled it out of the fire in injury time. GC went down to 10 mid way through the 1st half and should have been 9 by half time. Adelaide had perhaps the highest possession of any team this season 70% plus, huge numbers of corners, many free kicks but couldn't get anywhere near goal.

The frustrating thing for Vidmar - who is now under pressure from his club's fans - is that they are doing some things right. But the constant change up front isn't being rewarded.

GC hardly look like a finals team. Jason Culina has nothing of his early season form.

Gold Coast's PSV drinking culture

Warm milk, hot Chocolate (with little umbrellas in it), iced tea, mocha coffee, latte.

Red - no green - cordial.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

GC Robson update

Noted Gold Coast diver Robson has been booked for drink driving. Given Clive Palmer's comments after the Farina case and the rumoured role in Frank's dismissal, it will be interesting to see what the punishment will be.

Robbie Kruse

It is a shame that the only news in Brisbane today on the Melbourne match this weekend is bletting my Robbie Kruse. It is hardly likely that the Roar will doom their hopes by using the same approach twice.

Melb boom - 6pm Saturday

There are only a handful of home games left. Currently sitting equal bottom means they are all must win for Brisbane. Not just for this season but for the future of the club. I am sure it will continue next year. But in what form is unclear. With much of the squad coming off contract and Melbourne Heart targeting players like Luke Devere, anything is possible for next year.

So Brisbane must win.

The good old Courier Mail after actively seeking Frank Farina's job have all but abandoned the sport. Now their back papers are full of a non-even cricket tour by a Captainless 2nd rate West Indies, some drunken fool joining the Brisbane Lions and how they are changing their shirt, and the national rugby league beating England.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Wally Lewis factor

Brisbane are using a Wally Lewis voice over for an Ad for Saturday's 6pm game v Melbourne. I saw it watching the Oman game. Very effective cross-over in this local market. I hope they are getting it out beyond Fox.

Melbourne is lampooned as the Latte capital.

Monday, November 16, 2009

New Zealand big winner from FFA A-League investment

New Zealand's qualification for the 2010 World Cup is the direct result of 2 actions by the FFA.

1. The move of the Socceroos from Oceania to Asia, thereby giving New Zealand its 5th spot. Also the '5th spot' moving from South America to Asia.

2. The A-League lifting the performance of players who otherwise would only have achieved local experience on the small NZ scene.

The question is does this make up for the underarm incident?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Oman 1 v Socceroos 2 - luck

Well Mark Schwarzer made our luck, even saving the 14th minute penalty to be beaten on the rebound. Bad luck to Rhys Williams being forced into a foul to give the penalty. But otherwise Oman botched 4 or so goals - just played too fast for their skill level. Criag Moore was lucky not to have given away a second half hand ball penalty. Lucky David Carney wasn't called for his offside position in Australia's second goal.

But most of all, luck to Kuwait who play Australia twice with an A-League strength team, while Oman were unlucky not to draw or beat the full strength side twice. Probably, there goes the Asia Cup and qualification for the optimal 2014 World Cup pathway for Oman, a team clearly better than Kuwait and possibly even the Socceroos.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Are we surprised? Perth admit they may lose trio

Mile Sterjovski, Jacob Burns and Chris Coyne may temporarily leave Perth in January to 'prepare' or desperately try to convince Pim to give them back a spot.

Not great news for Perth fans and perhaps why MItchell thinks top 6 is so great.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Right as Rain

Brisbane Roar are on track for a full squad v Melbourne Victory next Saturday 6pm. The international has helped a lot. And Ange is putting the time to good use - slowing down the tempo to improve the defence and accuracy of crosses into the box.

Perhaps we could see Henrique, Reinaldo, Van Dijk, Mitch and Tommy on the park together? The best attacking half in the league! Reinaldo and Serigoal clobbering the centre backs and Tommy drawing foul play from the halves. All giving space for Mitch to get back to his goal poaching best. Also giving Matt McKay an opportunity with pressure off to run the park. Reinaldo was at his best 2 seasons ago when he was running end-to-end before the Korean training machinery broke him.

And Zullo could be on his way back too? Then there is Reddy v McMaster (which way will his combination of mistakes and great saves go?).

Oh and with FFA give Roar the go-ahead to sign-on Franjic for $20,000 as reported in the Courier Mail today - He is already on-board for next season. Great move. Let's ditch Malcolm.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Where are they now? Bob Malcolm

Youth team - picking up a yellow card.

Gold Coast 1 v Sydney 0

Hmmm. At the start of the season this was supposed to be the blockbuster that Gold Coast would steal from the Roar. But with only 5,400 watching and quite a few of those in Sydney colours you would have to say Gold Coast have a long, long way to go build a fan base.

Shame really as this game was won by Jason Culina who was at his best.

Also a shame as there was hope that the FFA really did know how to build a crowd. I am a bit sceptical.

Melbourne 0 v Central Coast 4

Well you wouldn't have expected this. Coach McKinna asked Kwasnic, Simon and Mijra to all step up and score and they did.

On Friday night, Adelaide's Coach Vidmar joked that his side needed to play 4 up front to score. Well, once his side was down 0-1 to Kwasnic's cracking half bicycle, Melbourne's Coach Merrick tried just that. Ooops abandoning the mid-field, particularly in the last 3rd of the game as players get tied wasn't the best idea. Bam Bam Bam. 0-4.

Melbourne, with perhaps 3 of the best 7 or 8 strikers in the league had lots of chances but couldn't get any in. Nay Fab came closest.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Lucky Tiatto doesn't play in China

Joel Griffiths and his brother played in the victorious Beijing team, champions of all China. Joel didn't get to play in the last game as he has a 7 week suspension - for rude gestures at opposing fans.

Could be the end of the road for Joel - the only way he is going back is if is on a free transfer - who would risk $1m for a player who could miss much of the season. Ah, back to being last placed Newcastle's marquee.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Adelaide 0 v Brisbane 2 (3) - at last

At last the 'maybe' penalty goes our way and Van Dijk steals the first half from Adelaide.

Reinaldo, Van Dijk and Nichols where way too strong for Adelaide's defence. Reinaldo and Van Dijk's one touch passing was fantastic to watch. We need to see more of this at home. Mitch scored a cracker that hit the bar, bounced in - behind the line, then out. Play on.

Dodd set-up a dummy from Mitch to leave for a curling left footer from van Dijk - 0-2 and Van Dijk's 7th of the season.

Hapless Owlosu came on late to miss a hand ball penalty - got jeered by 11,000 of his own fans for the rest of the game.

I think Adelaide will blame the ref for this one. But really after years on being on the wrong end of Adelaide great escapes, Brisbane deserved to with. Karovic came on late to play his last game for the Roar. I think this means Murdocca is coming back - or Zullo. Henrique can't be that far away now.

So what is Ange going to do about the 5 Brisbane yellow cards all for minor discipline issues? He said if he'd been coach earlier in the season - now's his chance.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Wellington 3 v Newcastle 0: '... I'm on a losing streak...'

Brown's in the box dive for a penalty should lead to a suspension - despite the spot kick being missed. Referee Ben Williams should be ashamed of himself the number of times he has waved on legitimate penalties from the Roar, and yet given this one.

What has become obvious is the home ground advantage for Wellington. The wind, cold and sometimes rain is just too much for the Australian teams now that Wellington fields a decent team.

I predict that the weather advantage will now propel Wellington and North Queensland towards the top 6 as the Australian summer approaches. Townsville is going to get hotter and more humid. Few players - not used to these conditions - will cope up there. And Perth, after this season's intervention by the FFA, has the potential to lock the gates at its home base.

The Roar on the other hand has put up with the venue voted by A-League players as the best to visit. Either the club has to finance the best players in the league to play on the rolled surface or move post haste to Ballymore. The views and needs of fans appear irrelevant to the club now, so let's at least go somewhere where visitors will be uncomfortable.

Meanwhile, it is being clear that Gold Coast has got what it wants with FFA taking over is marketing, ticketing and perhaps underwriting some home game costs - why did we need Australia's richest man?

The owners of the clubs are meeting Frank Lowy in a few weeks to discuss this years dramatic decline. Newcastle, who has had perhaps the worst crowd decline (as a percentage), is calling for all clubs to get help.

If the FFA is serious it needs to re-visit the whole governance structure. Adhoc favourable assistance to Melbourne and Perth, its ownership of Adelaide, its intermittent assistance to Central Coast is coming home to roost on the other clubs.

It is very unclear what the Brisbane Board is trying to achieve. And its coach's promise of defensive, grind out football, is going to put off even more fans. The fans Brisbane loses now are likely to be lost for good. They won't come back next year just because Brisbane has decided it has to wait that long to fix its act.

Preview Wellington v Newcastle - tonight opportunity knocks

Brisbane shares bottom with Wellington and Newcastle. A draw in this catch-up game tonight and Brisbane will be last on its own. Any result and the best Brisbane can hope for is one chum at the bottom rather than 2.

FFA steps into Gold Coast - but the real need is Brisbane

The FFA have taken over marketing and ticketing at Gold Coast. I think the owner will be pleased. Meanwhile over at the Roar FFA assistance seems to have been knocked back again. The messages from the top there are very confusing. Brisbane is the City with the opportunity. Meanwhile the coach is now saying that the team will grind out results until the need of the calendar year. Crowd drawing stuff.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

On 30 mins its Sydney 2 v Wellington 0

Underlines Gold Coast performances. But it is Wellington away.

Gold Coast 0 v North Qld 2: Tragedy as entertainment

The good news was Robbie Fowler combining with Dave Williams, and a pen, to get to 8 goals this year.

The transport charges issue for the Gold Coast is a furphy. This type of direct cost - ie it is charged per ticket - is simply included in the ticket pricing model. At the start of the season Gold Coast's accountants - who worked out how to get the best squad in the A-League under the cap - would have assumed that crowds were going to be above 5,000 for every match and popped the $3.50 (or so) on top of the other costs making up the ticket prices. So that cost would have been accounted for. End of - as they say.

The real issue is the crowd number. And the secret there is that the Gold Coast has always had better soccer organisation than Brisbane. So much so that when Hamish and I got our coaching licenses it was the Gold Coast administration that organised it including the instructor. So why hasn't Gold Coast tapped into that?

Only 2,600 turned up last night. The cap was 5,000. So all the cap has done is alienated fans and potential fans. Quiet a few seemed to have come down from North Qld. The ones that were there wanted to sit behind the goal - they broke away and got there when GC went 1 down. Soon the security removed them.

Also see this:

'To add to Saturday night;s drama, the Queensland derby was in fleeting danger of not even beginning after North Queensland chairman Don Matheson took issue with the state of the pitch. Matheson held prolonged discussions with A-League boss Archie Fraser, Skilled Park groundsman Peter Cronin and an FFA ground inspector before and during the warm-up. Although the surface on the western side of the field looked patchy, Fraser said it was flat and playable.' Courier Mail Online

Jason Culina is clearly not happy. What are his options. I keep thinking of the guys who dressed up as Miron, the owner and Jason at the season opener - with Miron and the guy that owns them yelling instructions to Jason. Funny at the time. Interviewed after the game, Jason looked downhearted. What will other potential returning socceroos think of this? First John Aloisi, then Jason, then Lucus Neil's Western Sydney franchise bid being ignored.

Yesterday's other game, CCM v Adelaide in Canberra also seemed a tame 0-0 (with someone sent off for picking up the ball at a free kick). Again hardly any fans (although 5,437 sounds OK now) - Robbie Slater complained that Bluetongue could have been full.