Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Revenge for Ange - served cold and as a dessert

From 1984 to 1993, Ange Postecoglou played 193 times for South Melbourne and coached the club from 1996 to 2000. He was key to FIFA recognition that South Melbourne was Oceania's best club of the 20th century with twice as many evaluation points as second placed Sydney City. Ange won two national titles as a player and two as a coach.

From there Ange coached the Socceroo under 20s from 2000 to 2007. Coaching the U20s is difficult, some countries put a lot of resources behind their teams, e.g. in Asia South and North Korea. Australia doesn't have that type of resources. Therefore, Australian U20s coach mandate is participating in as many tournaments as possible, and finding and developing potential Socceroos. And Ange's win-loss record looks good compared to more recent Dutch coaches. However, there were critics, SBS and Craig Foster most notably (you can probably find the youtube video).

In 2008, he spend around 9 months as coach of Greek team Panachaiki. Again he may have felt he wasn't judged fairly.

On his return to Australia, Ange would have been keep to return to the top of Australian coaching and an A-League contract. Melbourne Heart was the opportunity. However, there was a feeling that Heart was to be distanced from South Melbourne (and old Soccer). It is understood that the appointed coach, Johannes van't Schip, was offered Ange as his assistant. Schip hesitated. Schip wanted to link up with a former team mate (they played together in the early 1980s) from Ajax - Jesper Olsen. Olsen was already living in Victoria and had some involvement in the local soccer community. Offered an additional Australian assistant (to do their part training the next generation of coaches?), Schip now chose legendary Australian player Ante Milicic who had recently become coach of Sydney United in the NSW Premier league.

Ange had to wait. And the Roar provided, albeit with a move away from family to a region where his feats where not known. And to replace a local hero.

So, Brisbane's domination of Heart must have provided special satisfaction for Ange. But he didn't say so. He wouldn't. And didn't need to.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Brisbane 4 v Heart 0 - C'est Bon C'est Bon

There were two key things about this game; 1. the way Brisbane played and 2. what is, or isn't happening at the Heart.

Brisbane added long balls to their game. In the first 30 minutes, lots of them, lots and lots. It wasn't quite what I had in mind but it did the job. Especially when they mixed it in with a fast short passing game.

So what is happening at the Heart? They seemed OK for the first 10 minutes then seemed to fall apart or give up. Colosimo came off injured (51 mins) in the second half. But in the first it was Matt Thompson that looked injured - at least could not or would not run. The Roar made mince meat of Heart's defence - a fairer indication of the difference between the teams would have been 8-0. Next week Heart play Victory and the AFL reply will be the last of their worries.

Clearly the Heart have problems on the pitch. Hopefully they are not reflecting something else off the pitch.

The other note is on Skoko. This guy was lucky to only get one yellow card. He could have picked up 2 in the first half. And Alex Terra is a diver but after missing one in the first half Chris Boyle saw what he was up to in the second.

And c'est bon, Sibon - hardly in the game. Was Rutger Worm even playing?

The Roar's only bleak spot was Reinaldo's performance. I am a big fan and I want him to do well. But his form this year has been below expectations. And tonight it was just plain poor. Poor touches, poor shots. And yet now and again he found space, or put colleagues into space. But he should be an out and out goal scorer and he just has not been. His striking form was underlined by a straight forward one-on-one with the keeper that he kicked straight too him. Contrast Reinaldo to Mitch Nichols who was everywhere playing a real number 10 role and scoring a brilliantly composed goal.

Ange responded to calls to mix up the single focus short passing, well done for that.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Adelaide 2 v Perth 0

Van Dijk scores a great header and a penalty.

Wellington 2 v NQ Fury 1

Beaten by the wind. Ooopps.

So much for the World Cup influence on Wellington. Only 3 New Zealand players are in the Wellington starting 11, Tim Brown, Leo Bertos and Ben Sigmund. And Mark Paston is the only Kiwi on the bench. Little wonder that young up-and-comers like Kosta Barbarouses have to leave. Still it is expected that Kosta will be playing in Holland after the end of the season.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Gold Coast 1 v Newcastle 0 - Dijte no Duke

For 88 minutes Gold Coast can showed how dull short passing possession football can be. Especially when so many runs end in a poor pass or shot from way too far out. Then right back John Curtis worked some individual magic on his own for a cracking goal to save the game.

Newcastle found it too easy to sit back and defend for all but around 15 minutes in the middle of the second half.

Poor Bruce Dijte, he isn't a replacement for Smeltz, and too easily hustled out of the game.

The crowd of 2092 was a few people bigger than the weekend but hardly great for a school holiday crowd. Surely there are coast kids on leave and tourists from all over Australia? They aren't at the beach at night.

Gold Coast need a Charlie Miller to back up Jason Culina - who once again had to do just about everything. Miron was very aware that without the goal, he'd be under real pressure - not as coach but leader of the club.

Con leaves Newcastle

A-League Crowds

Here are some thoughts I added to Mike's blog:

'The A-League was an outcome of the lead up and performance by the socceroos at the 2006 world cup. Crowds did growth for 3 seasons, then the rubber band started to snap back. Like the EPL, few clubs have broken-even including all revenues. Until stadiums stop being the major expense and until clubs break even, the contraction will continue. Unless, there is either cost reform - ie play somewhere cheaper or pay less for players, or there is another major event to catch the public's attention for 3 years...' growth will be limited.

Here are the average crowd number for the 5 and a bit years of the A-League (I have used Wikipedia for the raw data):

Average crowds peaked in season 3, 2007-8. I recall in season 3 a growing feeling that 3 games against each team was just too much. Plus in Brisbane, Frank Farina was the new hope for a title and Asia - which he very nearly made.

Last year Adelaide moved ahead of the A-League season average for the first time - despite its last position. There is a real lesson there about whether it is winning or entertaining or just having on the park the players that fans want to see (can you see that Roar?).

Brisbane's fan base collapsed after it lost its first game to the new Gold Coast team (whose management boycotted the game and told their fans to stay away - well done lads got everyone's sympathy there). Some Brisbane fans went to Gold Coast where they lost interest. Then Frank was fired and the fan base fell away further and has not recovered.

It is interesting that Wellington, despite their world cup interest, have not - so far - managed to maintain their average crowd and are well down on their entry in 2007-8.

Melbourne Victory still has the largest average crowd but it is down from 21,000 last year to just under 15,000 this year. And while they have moved many games to the smaller AAMI stadium, it is concerning how empty their stadium is looking. I feel that empty stadiums have a real impact on atmosphere and discourage people.

Perth is the success story so far this season. Robbie Fowler and winning at home has made a real difference. In Perth bigger crowds are creating more atmosphere in their small stadium. Plus there is a sense of a return to the NSL 'Glory' days.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The press perspective

Have a read of this on why the Roar crowd is down.

Perhaps the point had been missed here that the Brisbane crowd is down because Van Dijk left - another foreign player opportunistically pitching from one club to the next for better money and a show case opportunity for an Asian transfer. Roll on central control of player contracts - like the US MLS and stop this anti-fan nonsense.

And this from Mike Colman on the power of controversy in sport:

'When he loaded up his mouth and fired off his bombs newspaper sales would go through the roof, television cameras would follow him through hotel foyers, and the man in the street would be frothing at the mouth with moral indignation. ...

God love 'em all actually. I mean where would we be without them? If not for the Arthurs, Akers, Mundines and Campos of this world, we sportswriters would be forced to write about . . . well, sport. And let's face it, how boring would that be?'

The real question is do these comments get people to games, and for that matter do the articles?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A week of draws

Interestingly Ben Buckley is saying that Newcastle needs to show it wants an A-League team, and yet its crowd was relatively respectful at 6,977.

Draws to:
Melbourne Victory 0 v Wellington 0 (11,513 - how long ago since Victory played to only 11,000?)

North Queensland 0 v Melbourne 0 (4,922 - Fury dominated but couldn't score)

Brisbane 1 v Adelaide 1 (7,080)

Gold Coast 0 v Central Coast 0 (2,037 check this out FFA are promoting this as a record! - lowest ever crowd for A-League)

Wins to:

Newcastle Jets 2 v Perth 0 (6,977 - Perth as we have said before need a new coach)

Heart 2 v Wellington 1 (5,698)

Brisbane 1 v Adelaide 1

Van Dijk saved the Roar missing a sitter from a meter out. However, Adelaide clearly have the best strike force in the A-League with Marcus Flores, Leckie and Van Dijk outclassing the Roar.

Adelaide played an attacking, short passing game, as if they were the home team.

German Broich got his first goal from a free kick that Galekovic stood and watched bounce in.

The crowd was 7,000.

Melbourne Heart 2 v Wellington 1

Heart are looking better every week.

Great job to hang on for this win. Goals from Aloisi (reaching poach catching a cross from the right) and Brazilian Terra (great driving thunder bolt from the right).

Friday, September 17, 2010

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Van Dijk didn't leve for the money..

Today's Courier Mail:

'Since his arrival in Adelaide, Dutchman Rini Coolen has replaced Aurelio Vidmar as coach, with van Dijk admitting he prefers Coolen's "easy-going" nature to Postecoglou's "police officer" attitude.' ....

"Rini first lets us try to work things out. Then if they are still wrong he'll say something afterwards, but he won't try to be a police officer."

I'd say he was hoping to be picked up in Asia - as he had already indicated. But had a poor Asian Cup.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Playing out from the back - I see the point but not the attraction (stupid stupid-faction)

Ange Postecoglou said in the Courier Mail today:

'The first goal we conceded, while it came from Luke's pass, I'll defend that till the day I die. That was a mistake out of player trying to play out from the back which is what we want to. I've got no issue with Luke playing that kind of pass.'

This is U15 stuff. In fact since the FFA edict on 4-3-3, just about every team from U11 up. But few A-League teams play that way. Why? Because their first job is to make sure they have a fan base. Not some slavish following of the 'experts' view on how the game should be played.

But what does 'playing out from the back' achieve? Well if your team has more skills than your opposition - a lot. Possession turns into goals. But if you are on a par or below the standard of your opposition, expect to loose. After 2 or 3 years you may be good enough at this approach to win a league. After 6 years without success are there any Brisbane fans prepared to wait?

A quality team may use playing out of the back together with a range of tactics including the occasional long ball. They want to mix things up and keep the opposition guessing what could happen next.

Rather than signal their punches with repetitive passing moves.

Mid way through the first half of the Melbourne v Brisbane game Carlos Hernandes could be seen gesturing to his team mates to push up with him and hem Brisbane in. Once they did so, and pressed Brisbane across the pitch, Brisbane began to wilt. The blunt truth is that Brisbane's team does not have the skills to ensure that every pass finds its mark - particularly when the pressure is on. And the more pressure Melbourne applied, the more of the critical passes were spilled.

Up front the Brisbane picture was worse. They dominated possession outside Melbourne's box. Yet none shot from distance.

Brisbane's game, and its key passes spilled, looked about the quality of the U14, U15 and U16 games we see around Brisbane.

Slavishly following 'play out from the back' and then defending it, underlines how unsophisticated Brisbane's game was.

Expect every team to copy Melbourne's approach and press Brisbane in their defensive 3rd. How will Brisbane respond? The next two home games could determine Brisbane fans' decision about whether to come back to the team. It is a bad time of year to be found out.

Lordy Lordy - I agree

Geoff Lord knows how to make money from sport. And he has had enough of an FFA that has been looking the other way.

Have a read of this article in The Age:

''We would like a shorter season to make the competition stronger and more viable,'' he said. ''We would like to play a mid-year cup knockout competition, we could have State League clubs in it to make it more interesting and give them something to aim at.

''The clubs have basically had enough. The main thing is that we want a commission which would meet regularly, with representation from all clubs, to help run and strengthen the league. We want to have our own budgets, so money is not just lost in some central pool.

''The FFA don't have too many ideas, don't come up with any innovations or plans.''

Craig Foster interviews Brendan Schwab, chief executive of Professional Footballers Australia

It is here in the Victorian 'The Age'.

For me the A-League's trouble's have been brewing for some years. Schwab is correct in pointing back to the Crawford report. However, it should also be noted that Crawford recommended the commitment to quality playing surfaces - which has proved costly.

I agree Western Sydney should have been a priority. And I don't understand why Sydney Rovers were not to be based at Parramatta or Penrith. How did they win the bid? Other reports indicate that they will not make the funding deadlines.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Melbourne 3 v Brisbane 0

A soft and weak Roar have been smashed by tough enough Melbourne.

Very embarrassing mistakes at the back were punished by a clinical Melbourne.

Brisbane had 2 shots all game. They are looking like one trick ponies as time after time their right flank was exposed every time they tried to play out from the back.

Very poor game from the Roar.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Newcastle 0 v Brisbane 0

Newcastle have survived. And 7,066 watched.

The game was mared by 72 km per hour winds.

But Brisbane were not as good as we have seen them.

Still they were unlucky as Topor-Stanley could clearly be seen holding Solorzano's shirt and earlier Reinaldo was pulled away from goal as his header hit the cross bar.

At the other end Petrovski begged for his simulation to be counted as a penalty, Michael Bridges won a free kick with his dive against Murdocca and Solorzano was book for over doing an unfair challenge. Still, in Solorzano's case at least he can see how the game is played here.

Ruben Z was sent off for a 2nd yellow dive in challenge. I saw him get a straight red for a similar challenge when he played for Sydney. And perhaps Wehrman was lucky not to get 2 yellows.

Broadly, I agree with Ange...

Controversial issues need to be debated. That is what gets fans in. From the Sunday Mail.

Maybe it is too late, but maybe FFA is learning that you create interest by coaches, players, commentators (Fox Sports were asked a few seasons ago to stop critising refs) and fans all speaking out about things they think need changing:

'I have always believed that for the A-League to succeed in this country it needs to be strong enough to encourage discussion and sometimes accept criticism so that the average supporter believes they have a say in the sport.'

Newcastle on the brink....

From the Sunday Mail:

'... the threat of a strike looms large. The strain has spilled over to the training field, with former Brisbane Strikers star Kasey Wehrman and defender Adam D'Apuzzo almost coming to blows and having to be separated by teammates on Thursday. Skipper Michael Bridges and fellow attacker Sean Rooney were also involved in a heated exchange... '

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Match Preview Newcastle Jets v Brisbane Roar

Central Coast reminded us what can happen to a club that feels hard done by. However, Newcastle has had six years of issues with financing, winning the title, dud foreign players, sacking coaches, open disagreements between the owner and fans.

While I think Branco Culina could be the best coach in Australia, it may be that he will struggle with the current odds. The Roar beat Newcastle once before 0-5 (pity it wasn't at home). The same could be on again tomorrow. However, such a result could be pretty ominous for the future of the A-League. Can the FFA afford to own another team?

Does FFA have the strategy and resources to address the chronic problems with the ownership of clubs - FFA to own all? or centralised marketing/ticket sales and or fan based ownership, plus strategies to lower club costs - new fields and changes to the salary cap arrangements?

A lot hangs on the FIFA world cup decision in December.

Crowds so far this round

Central Coast - 6,829
Sydney - 7,558
Melbourne Heart - 4,200

The Newcastle crowd tomorrow will be a real challenge.

It was not a great idea to maintain the approach of playing each team 3 times. One home and one away would have been plenty and created some form of scarcity.

Perth may come to the rescue tomorrow. But the damage seems to have been done. Heart crowd in prime time and the Sydney crowd (although there was rain) is not setting the scene well for Sydney Rovers (are Rovers still go for next year?). Sydney Rovers should be based in Paramatta or even Penrith and call Western or Nepean Rovers.

Adelaide smash Sydney - Van Dijk starts his scoring with 2

Sydney 1 v Adelaide 3