What do the Matildas do with Lisa De Vanna?

Merryn Sherwood Roar Rookie

By Merryn Sherwood, Merryn Sherwood is a Roar Rookie

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    The Matildas played Germany in a friendly the other night, but to write about that would fail to address one of the best questions heading into the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup. That is, what is going to happen to Lisa De Vanna?

    See, the thing about De Vanna is that she is supernaturally talented, a brilliant striker with a turn of pace that leaves most defenders dizzy. The 25-year-old is currently one of the most experienced Matildas, having played professionally overseas for years.

    But she’s not exactly a team player.

    Prone to temper tantrums on the pitch, last year De Vanna was suspended for giving her Westfield W-League Perth Glory coach John Gibson a spray and then gave the fans at her home ground the finger.

    At a game I watched in Canberra, she was so frustrated by her team’s performance, she stormed off the field at half time, ahead of everyone else. She then returned after the break a good five minutes after the team, missing the warm-up. It wasn’t surprising when she was dragged shortly after.

    It’s not something new, she’s always been something of an enigma. In a story by Jessica Halloran in Fairfax newspapers during the last World Cup, in 2007, Alistair Edwards, who coached De Vanna for years in Perth, said there was a touch of Diego about her.

    “She’s like Maradona. He was high maintenance … maybe it’s because these players are so talented that we mere mortals can’t understand them,” Edwards said.

    “She goes from being the most committed person to ‘I don’t give a shit’ kind of attitude.”

    He goes on to say, “It’s worth it when you see how she performs in these major tournaments.”

    The question is heading into Germany, is it really going to be worth it?

    De Vanna broke her left leg in the group stages of the Asian Cup this year. She has since been back and playing in the professional American WPS league for Washington. But what that injury does to her speed and confidence is yet to be tested in the Matildas environment, as De Vanna’s American season ran too late for selection on the Peace Cup/Germany tour.

    Then there is the fact that last night in Wolfsburg, the Matildas scored one goal against the current FIFA World Cup champions.

    It came through Sam Kerr, a nimble-footed West Australian with acceleration to burn and a nose for goal.

    Last year, despite missing half the season because of Australian under-17 representative duty, Kerr was named players’ player at the W-League awards. She’s only 17, but she’s got star striker written all over her.

    Almost four years ago in China, De Vanna was played as a super sub off the bench. Extremely effectively might I add, she ended-up in the FIFA All-Star team for that World Cup. But can she do the same role now, and can she still do it better than Sam Kerr?

    It’s going to make for a compelling story, whichever way it finishes.

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    The Crowd Says (17)

    • October 30th 2010 @ 10:56am
      Merryn Sherwood said | October 30th 2010 @ 10:56am | ! Report

      Interesting development, Perth Glory announced its W-League squad yesterday but in the press release coach John Gibson explains why he didn’t re-sign De Vanna. That’s not news, she was expected to leave Perth anyway this season, but what’s interesting is this comment,

      “Unfortunately we’ve had to make some hard decisions on the squad for upcoming season and Lisa didn’t fit into the plans of the future direction of the team over the next few years,” Gibson said.

      Which is what I take to say is that, we didn’t want her, rather than making it appear that it was her decision to leave.

    • Roar Guru

      October 30th 2010 @ 12:12pm
      Australian Football said | October 30th 2010 @ 12:12pm | ! Report

      Merryn—-from a males point of view and I have to be honest I haven’t seen many of the Matildas performances and don’t know many of the players names, but De Vanna is one I do know and have seen her play. She is the type of player you want to be playing for you in the coming Women’s World Cup.

      If she can get back her previous form for when she was playing for the Matildas with her amazing speed and ball control she will be the stand out for the tournament. She has an ego as big as a mountain, however, that is what comes with players of her stature.

      Just look at the men’s top players of the world—all have massive egos and that’s what gets them to the top in many cases. I know they can be a pain in the arse, but with a good tough manager with player/woman management skills she will be fine in Germany. The question is can the incumbent national coach handle her to get the best out of her.. Tom Sermanni may not be the man to do it. I hope he is but he comes over to me as a bit lame.

    • October 30th 2010 @ 2:35pm
      Midfielder said | October 30th 2010 @ 2:35pm | ! Report


      Great article very well written…. it is always a difficult what to do with the great player who is not a team player.

      Many great sports people are utter shits when it comes to being a nice person…

      De Vanna is arguably the worlds best striker … how much is she worth…

      My guess is it comes down to management is the coach capable of handing her or should we let her go or put up with her…

      Interesting that you girls have the same personality types as us guys … good luck with her … but I do like watching her play…

    • October 30th 2010 @ 9:03pm
      Karin Senff said | October 30th 2010 @ 9:03pm | ! Report

      DeVanna is the most exciting player we have, it is a shame we don’t get to watch her in the W-league now, it’s the fans loss. There doesn’t seem to be an issue with her playing for Washington, there should be no question that she should be in the Matildas squad in the World Cup.

    • October 31st 2010 @ 12:24am
      jupiter53 said | October 31st 2010 @ 12:24am | ! Report

      Let’s first hope she fully recovers physically [Sarah Walsh and Heather Garriock too – both key players].

      We attended the Sydney v Perth W League game last season. Lisa was on the bench and obviously toey. The Perth coaching staff did not look happy dealing with her so it’s not surprising to hear that they don’t want her.

      I might be naive but it has seemed to me that Tommy Sermanni has done a better job of handling her for the Matildas when I’ve seen them. To me she is the sort of player who wins matches and as a coach you earn your money by finding the way to get players like her to be effective for the team

    • October 31st 2010 @ 8:49am
      Aka said | October 31st 2010 @ 8:49am | ! Report

      Good Article Merryn, It’s great to have articles discussing women’s football.

      As for De Vanna, If she is troublesome then I can understand Perth not including her. Whilst the W-League is the top level in Australia I still see it as a development league so give some up and coming player a chance.

      The Matilda’s are a different kettle of fish and it becomes a much more difficult decision.

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