Without fail, each round serves up a platter of talking points. Whether it be the action of field or action off it, we’re given plenty to ponder and reflect on.
Round 5 didn’t disappoint and we’ll get straight into the action with the top five A-League talking points of Round 5.
1. Aloisi’s tactical nous
It was only three rounds ago that criticism was justifiably being directed in the way of Brisbane Roar players and more so, their coach John Aloisi.
After their abysmal performance against Newcastle Jets, I asked the question regarding Aloisi’s tactical nous and whether or not he was equipped with the ability to adapt to what appeared an attacking preferred system by teams.
For in their match against the Jets, Aloisi appeared clueless, with hands in pockets and had no answers to the Jets style of play.
Fast forward three weeks and it appears either Aloisi had a revelation or he remembered that sometimes all it takes is a little tinkering in order to still get the result.
On Friday night at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane Roar were facing Melbourne City, and with one of the most formidable attacking teams in the competition with the likes of Bruno Fornaroli, Nicolas Colazo, Fernando Branden and Tim Cahill, Brisbane were always going to be in for a tough night at the office.
What played out though was a defensive masterclass, one which with a little tinkering in tactics, nullified all of City’s attacking options.
Despite their dominance in possession and field territory, City could not muster one shot on target.
There were some on social media that were quick to label Brisbane Roar’s tactics bordering on ‘parking the bus’, but when assessing chances created, shots on goal and a large view by fans believing the scoreline flattered City, it is no wonder why fans and experts alike were lauding the marvellous performance by Brisbane Roar and thus placing themselves firmly in title conversations.
With plenty of action still to take place, Brisbane are far from assured any titles, but if there was one thing in particular to take away from the match, it would be that I believe John Aloisi is maturing into a fine coach – something I never thought possible after his Melbourne Heart days.
2. It wasn’t pretty, but Sydney made it a perfect five from five
Another week, another win. The question is now, when will it end for Sydney FC?
After their first half performance against Melbourne Victory, plenty thought that history would continue to repeat and they’d taste their first defeat of the season at the hands of none other than Melbourne Victory.
A major focus in the lead up to the match, was that Sydney FC had not defeated Melbourne Victory since their 5-0 win on Australia Day back in 2014. Another key statistic was one that Graham Arnold had never defeated Kevin Muscat as a coach.
What it took, was a missed handball in the box – mind you, we all missed it until replays showed otherwise – and from that point on a change in momentum, that substitute David Carney would take full advantage of and ensure Sydney remained undefeated.
It appeared throughout certain times in the match that Melbourne Victory’s partnerships were starting to come together nicely against quality opposition, as chance after chance was being created.
The trio of Mitch Austin, Marco Rojas and Besart Berisha were causing havoc with Sydney’s defence, but unfortunately what was missing was their execution.
Both Berisha and Rojas would be left to rue their missed opportunities which should have had Victory up three goals to none at half time.
Sydney FC on the other hand made full use of their chances and despite walking away with the three points, they were probably not the better team on the night.
It’s results like these though that can be perceived as most important to going on to win a title. When you can manage to win at your worst, it’s comforting knowing that when you play your best, you’re near impossible to beat.
3. Connor inflicts more pain on Adelaide
Speaking of history, it is definitely repeating itself once again with Adelaide United. Winless after five rounds and coming dead last, Adelaide are the furthest thing from on track to defending both the premiership and championship.
To make matters worse, they lost to a team pretty much most had stamped as wooden spoon favourites in the Central Coast Mariners.
For the Mariners though it was a long time coming. After going 281 days without a win, it was finally brought to an end when Connor Pain scored a beauty to beat Adelaide keeper Eugene Galekovic.
Seeing Connor Pain sprawled on the pitch being mauled by his teammates was a great sight to see for it’s been very troubling times for the Central Coast Mariners.
Their performance against Adelaide continues a huge turnaround under Paul Okon, who after being selected just weeks out from the season, has done wonders with a team he didn’t even assemble.
For Adelaide United though, the task of replicating last seasons efforts are only made more difficult when their is the added rigours of Asian Champions League football.
Historically teams do not tend to fair well in both competitions and usually if success is sought, one of the two competitions has to take a back seat while the club gives Champions League football their all or another tilt at A-League finals.
4. What value are the Wellington Phoenix?
It appears the #savethenix campaign is well and truly over as the sporting public of Wellington and New Zealand are showing interest in the club is not a priority.
Given the uproar caused by the FFA last season in questioning Wellington Phoenix’s value to the competition, one would think that if the sporting public really wanted the team, they would do more than a half hearted attempt at following the crowd and forming part of the next social media movement.
In the past, I’ve questioned their existence plenty a times on this very forum and in writing too. I’ve done so more through engagement and asking what can be done to ensure their longevity, rather than the approach of just boot them.
With that said, it should come as no surprise I’m raising the issue once again, but unless the Welnix owners are looking at making big moves to better the clubs chances at longevity, then why waste the time?
From a TV viewing audience standpoint (and this is most vital), Wellington offer next to no real value and can instead be seen as a hinderance to the growth in TV viewing audiences in Australia.
With a season low 41,000 tuning in on Saturday, many are also beginning to once again ask the same questions again – What value does Wellington Phoenix bring to the Australian game?
Some may argue they bring us players, the likes of Marco Rojas, Kosta Barbarouses and former player Shane Smeltz.
My counter argument to that is Thomas Broich, Besart Berisha, Bruno Fornaroli, Diego Castro, all players who still came despite no teams from their homeland countries playing in the A-League.
The biggest concern and issue that the game faces today is ensuring its own longevity in ensuring a substantial increase is achieved in TV rights. But even were this to occur, what part would Phoenix have played in this role other than being potentially used as a pawn to comply with the already set five matches a round.
With expansion talks almost a daily occurrence and expressions of interest being sent in by teams from Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Perth, South Melbourne, Wollongong and Tasmania, the list goes on and the value in these teams is envisioned and they are already seen as potentially more valuable than the Phoenix already, and they’re not even in the competition yet.
I do not wish to upset Phoenix fans, although it seems that way. What I’m more concerned with addressing is that currently their owners aren’t doing enough to show us what value they can bring to the league.
It might take a change in venue of sorts and that’s a serious thought as I understand there are issues that surround this. Perhaps a legitimate marquee who will attract huge interest to the club? I don’t have the answers, but the facts are the Australian viewing audiences are out engaging and for Wellington Phoenix fans, rather than play the pity card, perhaps asking the tough questions yourselves should be the way to go as your future is not yet guaranteed.
5. Are Perth’s glory days returning?
To end on a higher note, Perth Glory appears to be doing everything right in order to return to their pre-A-League glory days.
With local products being given the opportunity to shine in their home state, a style of play no longer associated with boring and a key focus on winning, things are going in the right direction once again.
Now Glory, like many other clubs, aren’t without their imperfections. For it wasn’t too long ago the club was caught up in a salary cap scandal and found out to have been cheating.
One can only imagine the damaging effects this sort of thing has on a club, but if your a supporter of a club who has lived through it, I can only commend you on your love and commitment to the club who did you wrong.
For Glory to have turned things around so well in recent times is a testament to Tony Sage’s commitment to the club and superb operations by CEO Peter Filopoulos.
With aims to achieve 10,000 memberships, average 12,500 through the gates and win a title in the coming years, the club is well and truly on its way to restoring the faith shown by supporters to stay on board during their more recent dark times.
What was most impressive on the weekend about Perth Glory was not their performance, despite playing well, but it was the attendance.
With 13,290 in attendance, it managed to achieve better than both the cricket international Test match and the ever so popular NBL Perth Wildcats.
What’s just as impressive is that it carries on with the good attendances the club achieved towards the end of last season. So faith has been renewed in the Glory that what they’re doing is right and has potential to lead to greater things.
That’s a wrap for weeks top five A-League talking points for Round 5. Join me once again next week as I look forward to bringing you the top five talking points for Round 6.