Melbourne Victory are on the hunt for their third manager in two seasons after Grant Brebner departed the club following the 7-0 derby loss on the weekend to Melbourne City.
He may be 36 and finally reduced to second banana status due to arrival of Besart Berisha, but a week after being left out of the 46-man Asian Cup squad, Archie Thompson reminded us of his talents with a vintage performance on Saturday night.
In front of 25,000 people, Thompson returned to centre stage, scoring all three goals to rescue a 3-3 draw against Sydney FC.
He may have never really gone away – indeed, he scored a double in the derby earlier this season – but it still seemed a pleasure to have him back.
However, as much as it was an evening of celebration, it was an evening of reflection. To reflect that after nearly 10 seasons and 84 goals, we may be seeing Archie playing his farewell tour.
That the man who most judges would put at least in the top three A-League players since inception – Simon Hill had him #2, your admittedly biased author would have him #1 – will most likely be hanging up his boots in the next year (or two).
To most non-Victory fans, this will probably be a non-event. Indeed, most will be thankful that he will no longer be terrorising their ragged defences. Adelaide fans are surely still reliving that historic grand final, and Melbourne City née Heart fans that last minute derby winner. And I doubt those Sydney FC fans who made the trek down south on Saturday night will forget it in a hurry.
But in a week in which Mark Viduka was honoured by the creation of the Mark Viduka Medal, one would hope that, when the time comes, the FFA finds a way to honour its first, and still most enduring, hero.
Renaming the Golden Boot is too far – after all, Archie has only won it once, and may well be pipped by two-time winner Shane Smeltz as the all-time top scorer by the end of the season. And it is much too gimmicky to retire the number 13, after all that was done in a national shirt.
I earlier wrote that Saturday night was a night of reflection. Firstly, I reflected that a mate of mine joked in September that any Australian with five A-League goals by December would be a shoo-in for the Asian Cup squad. And lo and behold, Nathan Burns did exactly that.
And while this was admittedly optimistic, I also reflected that Ange could have done a lot worse than include Archie as an off-the-bench option for the Asian Cup.
If Australia needs a late, late goal to salvage a result against obstinate opposition, I would want a man that scores goals. And while his name might not inspire a rhyming chant like “Paul Scholes, he scores goals,” Archie has an x-factor that leaves fans dancing in the stands because unlike many of his current Australian contemporaries, he does indeed score goals.
It’s a quality that that will be missed long after he retires.