Sunday, January 17, 2010

Brisbane 0 v Newcastle 2: Brisbane far too predictable

Brisbane's 4-4-2 looks old fashioned. A-League defences learnt how to deal with that seasons ago and recruited back fours to cut it down. Newcastle were particularly good at that last night and rarely did Brisbane look threatening - even with Zullo, and in the second half, Zullo and Oar on the left dipping in cross after cross. The two up front were taken out of the game. Newcastle hit Brisbane twice on the counter and it was all over.

Ange hasn't worked out how to play Van Dijk and Reinaldo without making both ineffectual.

Unfortunately, the interest last night was in the 20-20 cricket where Queensland won.

At the end of the game Ange said the state of the team was his responsibility, that they were trying to win and that they should be judged by what they are like by next season. The challenge for him is attracting quality Australian players playing overseas or from other clubs (that is still an open question as all the recruitment so far is foreign). Ange needs to attract Australians of the highest calibre.

Unfortunately, current performances are impacting decision making by fans for next year. And fans feel they have waited 5 years for a team to emerge that can win at Lang Park. The FFA have hammered Brisbane for 'losing' their fans and not connecting with the Brisbane community. Well, the club doesn't have the resources for that. And after 5 years of results the job is much harder not easier.

The idea that a fan should be rusted on through thick and thin ignores that their supporting traditions have routes in other clubs and, often, other sports. It also ignores that this is the entertainment business and fans need to feel that they leave a match entertained. A very large part of this entertainment is the community of the fan base. The FFA's admission of 2 other Queensland teams seriously splintered than fan base. How many years before rugby league in one of its heartlands had 3 Queensland teams that were viable?

I am not sure what it is like at other clubs, but the Brisbane promotion machinery is over-stretched. I gather a lot of fans have given the Roar a go, not been entertained at Lang Park and started (returned to) following other sports. 20-20 cricket - with Queensland locals playing in one of the strongest teams and regularly winning at home - is a significant threat to any soccer growth here. Yet the risk in going to a smaller stadium is that even less people find it convenient to get there. Most people, even Ben Buckley, now think we will find out.

As to the match, Newcastle said afterward that they had been prepared to loose to Gold Coast knowing that they could beat Brisbane. And that is what it looked like.

Pieter Collen was the best player on the park over 90 minutes. I agree with him that he is better than Craig Moore. But some of his back line cohorts are not up to this level. In the first half Newcastle were thuggish deliberately targeting Mass Murdocca's knee and getting away with it. The first goal could have been offside. The penalty was very soft. The referee didn't support the home side. Fans at Lang Park have hardened to all that.

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