The sixth week of the new A-League campaign served up an array of talking points; with football back in the limelight following a week encircled by controversy and drama, it was the on-field action that entertained.
Adelaide United got their season back on track in rather unusual circumstances, claiming a hard fought triumph over Gold Coast United in an “away” fixture at Hindmarsh Stadium.
Meanwhile, after 11 exasperating matches without a win, Melbourne Heart finally remembered what it was like to taste victory, scoring three second half goals to prevail over Newcastle Jets.
Cross-town rival Melbourne Victory continued its frustrating commencement to the season, partaking in another 0-0 stalemate – its third in six games – with Central Coast Mariners.
Perth Glory’s optimistic start has withered away, losing its third successive game to an invigorated Sydney FC outfit.
Brisbane Roar edged a step closer towards the history books, drawing 1-1 with Wellington Phoenix, to move its unbeaten run to an extraordinary 34 games.
Following a week full of talking points, let’s recap some of the major issues which confronted round six.
Brisbane Roar on the verge of creating history
Under the tutorship of mastermind Ange Postecoglou, Brisbane Roar have mesmerised football enthusiasts over the past year, showcasing a style of football never foreseen in the Australian domestic game.
The ethos Brisbane has adopted is helping the competition mature from a tactical perspective, in conjunction with the image of the code.
Currently the Roar are on the verge of creating history, only needing to forgo defeat in one more fixture to equal the 35-game unbeaten streak held by the Eastern Suburbs from the NSWRL.
It won’t be an easy assignment for the Queensland outfit, travelling to the Hunter Valley to take on a Newcastle team who possess a wealth of attacking intent in front of its home supporters.
In fact, the Jets are the only side Brisbane has failed to claim victory over since the beginning of its 34-game unbeaten run, drawing on all three occasions when the teams have met.
Brisbane have consistently exhibited their technical and tactical proficiency during their incredible reign as the A-League frontrunners, although it is also their mental strength to stay in the contest when the chips are seemingly down that makes this team a force to be reckoned with.
Many within the football community herald Brisbane as the best club side to play in the history of domestic football in Australia.
With this in mind, we could very well see this magnificent team create history on Saturday.
When we consider the salary cap constraints and squad size limitations in the A-League, an unbeaten run of this magnitude makes it all the more inspiring.
Gold Coast United selling a home game
Last Friday night Gold Coast United played Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium in unusual circumstances – the team from Surfers Paradise was the ‘home’ team.
Gold Coast offered to sell one of its home fixtures, in return for financial compensation, accordingly the Reds fit the bill and subsequently hosted the match in the city of churches.
On the pitch the investment ultimately payed dividends for the “away” team as Adelaide overcame Gold Coast 2-1, after a run of poor results.
However a paltry crowd of only 6,368 were on hand to witness Adelaide claim the three points. With Adelaide being classified as the away club, members were not entitled to entry with their customary season tickets.
While the match was technically an away game for the Reds, it was the worst turnout for an A-League fixture at Hindmarsh Stadium since the A-League’s induction six years ago.
In future, should Football Federation Australia allow clubs to sell its home games for a generous sum?
To begin with, clubs should be attempting to engage as much as possible with its home supporters.
In Gold Coast’s case, it is imperative that football is available to its viewership and exporting games away from the region will not help cultivate the support for the embattled club, nor build the image with the community.
Setting aside Gold Coast’s turbulent state, it is evident the trial wasn’t successful off the pitch. Fans didn’t warm to the idea of having to folk out additional disposal income to watch their team play in their backyard.
Given Adelaide’s loyal fanbase – consistently circulating around 12,000-13,000 – we can only assume the scheme wouldn’t be a success in the other markets around the nation.
Melbourne Heart finally records a win
After holding the advantage in four of the opening six matches, Melbourne Heart finally swept aside the nerves to claim its first feat of the season – brushing off a disappointing Newcastle Jets 3-0 at AAMI Park.
Earlier in the campaign, coach John van’t Schip sensationally revealed that there was an element of “fear” within the playing group, imploring his troops to come out of its shell and take the game to its opposition.
While the Dutchman’s sentiments are debatable, there is no doubt that an enormous weight has been lifted off the shoulders of the players, in tandem with the coach – who is on the last season of a two-year contract.
The anxiety and tension of a prolonged winless start to the campaign has been abolished. Now, Heart can concentrate on building a potent campaign with an ambition of participating in the finals series.
Mental strength and a belief to overcome adversity have been the achilles heels in Heart’s short tenure in the A-League.
While their attacking harvest of speedy, mobile attacking players has the potential to cause opposition havoc, the Heart must back up their positive display with a vibrant showing in south-east Queensland against Gold Coast United.
Goal shortage apparent at Melbourne Victory
A team who were widely regarded to have the utmost attacking talent within the A-League is palpably struggling to hit its mark.
Having only scored four goals in six matches – the lowest in the competition – Melbourne Victory’s lack of penetration in the attacking final third is a cause for concern.
With a glut of aptitude in the vein of Archie Thompson, Harry Kewell, Jean Carlos Solorzano, Carlos Hernandez and Marco Rojas, it’s difficult to envisage how a side with a raft of attacking options could lack the poise to harm its opposition.
Victory boss Mehmet Durakovic – in his first A-League season at the helm – hasn’t been able to deploy a coherent football structure thus far, to the dismay of its fervent supporter base.
Despite missing a platoon of first-team players in last week’s gloomy 0-0 draw with Central Coast Mariners, Victory possessed a team certainly capable of challenging for the three points, or at very least, appear threatening on the opposition’s goal.
However, Victory rarely looked like scoring when venturing forward, being limited to several half chances and hopeful crosses in the box.
While the Mariners defence were resolute and disciplined, Victory struggled for any fluency or camaraderie when venturing forward.
Their inability to retain possession, dictate the tempo of the game, nor apply taxing pressure on the Mariners defence were telling factors of a structure, which isn’t coming to fulfilment.
The tenuous showing in the attacking half was truly an accurate reflection of its early start to the season.
In a surprising twist, Melbourne has the equal best defensive record thus far, having only conceded four goals – level with table-toppers Brisbane Roar.
Whilst championships are habitually built on a robust, organised defensive unit, a disjointed attacking display will not help the cause. Victory portrays a vast amount of talent; it just needs to work collectively as a team.
Durakovic has a duty to get this group working in tandem, in line with his adopted football philosophy. If this can be achieved, then the formidable force everyone initially expected will ultimately come into fruition.
Courtesy of Goal Weekly
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