After what has been a terrific start to the A-League season, rather disappointingly, just three matches will take place this weekend.
Having watched Brisbane Roar’s opening game of the A-League, I can’t help but think that in the midst of fanfare surrounding Besart Berisha’s departure to Melbourne, a potentially more vital cog left quietly but may be significantly harder to replace.
Over the last few seasons, it has been a common sight to see Ivan Franjic bombing on down the right in a gut-busting overlap which gives Brisbane the extra numbers to create goal-scoring opportunities. Watching Sunday’s game, I think it’s safe to say that James Donachie doesn’t offer the same option.
I know he was playing out of position, but aside from the obvious own goal, Donachie’s play was clearly lacking in not just polish, but endeavour and intent. During every attacking phase in the second half, Donachie was a good 30 to 40 metres away from the pointy end of the pitch. On several occasions his overlapping runs were a good seven to eight seconds late and aimless when they arrived.
His defending was also woeful, with several key crosses being delivered into the the box without any real difficulty by his opposition number. Have a look at the replay of Bruce Djite hitting the crossbar and judge the effort for yourself. The full-back must stop the cross getting in and this simply wasn’t happening.
The most important factor for me was his positioning in the shape of the team, and thus Adelaide’s freedom in midfield and ease of defending. The right-hand side of the park collapsed far too often as Donachie came in too far, stayed too deep and moved too late.
A key indicator of the Roar’s season will be the performance of their fullbacks. With Shane Stefanutto getting on, we must have him as the second option to overlap, not demand that he is the more damaging of the two fullbacks.
It will be interesting to see if Mike Mulvey keeps Donachie there next week or moves someone like Jack Hingert into the starting spot.