A-League: the highs and lows of round two
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Here’s my take after an exciting round two of the A-League in 2012.
Langou’s Gold Star
Brisbane Roar: What a performance from the reigning champs. From the 22nd minute when Broich scored to the final minute where they almost put in number six.
Halloran, Nichols, Berisha and Broich gave the impression that a goal was close every time they got the ball and aside from a couple of opportunities from Allsopp the Victory never looked likely.
1) Sydney vs. Newcastle: A great piece of drama, the crowd, the atmosphere, that free kick, Heskey’s reply, every Del Piero touch, the underdogs winning, a Socceroo legend almost getting his team back in the game and a great TV audience.
2) Wellington F.C: To paraphrase George Orwell: “all draws are created equal except some more equal than others.” This was certainly the case for Wellington who had seven players on international duty along with their manager. Thanks to some poor finishing from Heart, a Colissimo red card and a gutsy performance from the Phoenix youngsters, they held on for a very handy point.
3) John Hutchinson: Became only the second player to reach 150 games for the Mariners. Like the team he leads, he flies under the radar and rarely puts in a bad performance. As a member of the inaugural squad he has seen much success for his club, everything bar the trophy he most wants. Maybe this year?
4) Mid-week rumbles on the Roar: During the week, an article was written on The Roar questioning the skill level of the A-League. The responses demonstrated just how passionate people now are about domestic football. Scuffles broke out everywhere. Fussball, Villa and Farida all received yellow cards from the moderators. It’s something you would never have seen years ago, where even on Australian based websites the most rigorous discussion was reserved for European leagues.
5) Iain Ramsay: I was really impressed this week with the performance of the Adelaide midfielder. Now 24, it may be the break out year for him. His run and pass to create the goal was a highlight.
Not so good
1) Ange Postecoglou: A terrible week for Ange. Firstly he dragged himself into what was largely media hype about a few comments made by Roar players. Comments he called disrespectful but in reality were mostly a media beat up. Following that, he had to sit through 90 minutes of some of the worst football you could imagine as his team was outplayed in every facet of the game. Finally, that post game hand shake looked pretty ordinary.
2) Hero Cam: Possibly the most pointless innovation in broadcasting history. Press red on your foxtel remote and you got a camera that just focused on Del Piero. This may have been okay if you could see where he was running and how he positioned himself on the field. However all you got was a zoomed in shot of him, either get rid of it or extend it so we can watch him brush his teeth and eat his breakfast pre game.
3) Brisbane not taking their chances: It’s going to be a fun week watching the Victory sulk but imagine how much better it would have been had the Roar turned it into a 7 or 8 goal victory.
A-League rivalries will be put on hold Wednesday morning as the Socceroos take on Iraq. Hopefully it has finally sunk in for Australian football fans that being part of Asia is difficult and that qualification is an achievement not an expectation.
Having a quick look at the Socceroo squad, you can see how important the A-League has become . 12 out of the 22-man squad have A-League experience with 799 games between them (according to my hand held calculator anyway). A sign that the A-League is playing an important role as a breeding ground for the next generation of Socceroos.
The Big Question
Is too much blame being put on the defence of Melbourne Victory? There seems to be a consensus that Melbourne have a problem with their back four, however for mine the problem runs deeper than that and it was their midfield that really let them down.
Every time the Brisbane midfield got the ball they had time and space to deliver pin point passes. There was a real lack of accountability and teamwork that had nothing to do with learning a new game-plan.