The previews have been written and the squads assembled. The A-League season launches into action on Friday.
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Brisbane Roar’s 5-0 thumping of the Melbourne Victory on the weekend shows that Ange Postecoglou’s side have plenty of problems, not the least of which is defence.
Postecoglou decided to move Matthew Foschini into the centre, joining Skipper Adrian Leijer as Mark Milligan was on Socceroos duties in Qatar, while Spase Dilevski came in at right fullback, as Adama Traore kept his place on the left.
That back four struggled all evening to deal with a threatening Brisbane attack, failing to properly mark the Roar front three, while lacking the athletic pace to keep up with the likes of Besart Berisha and Ben Halloran.
It was obvious Victory were missing a player of Milligan’s quality, a player who could play out from the back, while composing physical strength and aerial presence.
Leijer didn’t have the best of games in the centre, frequently turning over the ball, while the 26-year-old didn’t have the speed and match fitness required to keep up with the Roar attack.
Leijer’s partner, Foschini is not a central defender and has only played in the centre in a couple pre-season games.
So why would Victory move a right-back into the centre when centre-backs Petar Franjic and Sam Gallagher are waiting in the wings?
Simply Postecoglou doesn’t rate Franjic and Gallagher.
Gallagher may have only just joined the Melbournians, but in fact he wasn’t even Postecoglou’s signing. Jim Magilton signed the former Central Coast Mariners defender in March, despite Magilton’s future being undetermined.
Lucky for Postecoglou, Gallagher was only signed on a one-year deal.
Magilton also signed Franjic to a new one-year deal in February. The former Melbourne Knights youngster simply doesn’t fit into Postecoglou’s game plan as the 20-year-old doesn’t have the pace and the passing game to play out from the back.
Only a couple weeks before the season, Franjic and Gallagher were severely struggling in training, after they were beaten by their opposition and continuously fouled their opposing teammates.
That forced strength and conditioning coach Peter Cklamovski to take the duo aside to work on some one-on-one training in attempt to improve the way the use their body, due to their lack of pace.
Despite Franjic and Gallagher being selected in the initial squad to travel to Brisbane, they both stayed in Melbourne with Isaka Cernak and Julius Davies to train with the youth team, showing Postecoglou’s lack of faith in the duo.
If Postecoglou could, Franjic and Gallagher wouldn’t be hanging around much longer. In fact, they could be on the way out during the season.
This just confirms the media’s and the fans thoughts, that Victory are thin at the back and with Milligan likely to be involved in international games more often than not, Postecoglou needs to sure up that defence.
The defensive duties don’t stop with the back four, the two central midfielders, Jimmy Jeggo and Jonathan Bru didn’t help out at all.
Bru in fact barely touched the ball during the whole game, as Mitch Nichols, Erik Paartalu and Massimo Murdocca had fantastic games.
Jeggo got stuck in with some strong challenges, which resulted in a yellow card, but at least the passion was there.