Top five A-League talking points: Round 6

Cameron Kellett Roar Guru

By Cameron Kellett, Cameron Kellett is a Roar Guru

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22 Have your say

    With talk of expansion enough to keep us pre-occupied throughout the week, as well as ongoing TV negotiations, let’s not fumble around.

    Let’s jump straight to it and look at the Top five A-League talking points for Round 6.

    1. Sydney FC breaking records
    In the early rounds of the season, we’re usually finding out who the contenders are and who are our pretenders. Though as each week passes and we find ourselves seeing one team stand above them all, we start to ask ourselves if this team we’re watching, really is the team to best. This team of course is none other than Sydney FC.

    And after another win, I can’t help but ask (like many of us are) when and who will beat Sydney FC?

    On the weekend, Sydney took on Perth in what many expected to be a close contest. With talk of both teams being title contenders this season, and some gritty performances from the undefeated Sydney FC, plenty were hoping so see Perth finally knock off Sydney and stop the debate of when will Sydney lose their first match.

    In the early stages, Perth Glory had some good chances, but despite these chances, they were wasteful in front of goal.

    Not only would Glory’s attack fail to fire on the day, but their defence would prove their biggest downfall, with it at times appearing rather calamitous.

    The first goal Milos Ninkovic scored for Sydney was a perfect example of this, as centreback become makeshift Right back, Dino Djubilic, simply could not have made more of meal out his defending.

    The goal would set the tone for the rest of the match as Sydney would end up running away with it in the second half and finish 4-1 winners in a convincing display.

    The win for Sydney meant they became only the second team in the history of the A-League, to start a season with a perfect six from six.

    Back in season 2006-07, Melbourne Victory led the way and were the first to achieve this feat.

    Interestingly though, despite Sydney equaling this, Victory were able to do one better by winning in their Round 7 fixture to make it a perfect seven from seven.

    During Victory’s record-setting start to a season, they also in process scored 17 goals and conceded only four.

    This essentially set them in motion to become the first dual Premiership/Championship winners.

    Comparatively, Sydney have started their record run much better. Having scored 17 goals and conceding only two in their first six games, it would appear Sydney – much like Victory – have set the tone for the rest of the season and are building a strong case as to why they should be considered heavy favourites.

    I cannot imagine continuing this theme throughout the season, whereby I’m constantly asking myself just who can beat them? But when they’re playing as consistently well as what they are, it’s hard not to ask.

    So with that said, can Brisbane Roar stop this record run or will Sydney FC knock off another contender and really put to bed the question ‘Who are our contenders?’ When we all know there’s only one – Sydney FC.

    2. Matches played in Canberra, should be by Canberra
    Prior to even the Mariners kicking a ball in Canberra on the weekend, the issue of why they were playing there was discussed ad neaseum.

    Roar expert, Mike Tuckerman, labeled it simply: “The Mariners playing in Canberra is a waste of time.”

    Although I understood why the Mariners were taking two of their matches to Canberra this season, I could only sit back and hope that Canberrans turned out in full force. For deep down, it’s not the Mariners I really want playing in Canberra, but instead an actual team from Canberra that the area can genuinely connect with.

    Unfortunately this turning out in full force would not eventuate and what resulted was the lowest crowd of the season, as only 5,497 turned out to watch Wellington Phoenix defeat the Mariners 2-0.

    To make matters worse, this match also resulted in the second worst viewing figures on Fox Sports this season, with only 48,000 tuning in.

    This now means Wellington hold three of the five lowest ratings matches on Fox this season – thus adding more weight to the discussion they don’t offer much to our league.

    On a positive though, this was the highest attendance in Canberra for a Mariners match.

    Essentially though, what does all this mean? Well, Central Coast Mariners have expressed a commitment, and while many fear this weekends attendance gives more ammunition to FFA to knock back any interested parties willing to have a Canberra side take part in the competition, perhaps we have to just accept we may not get a team from the nation’s capital for some time.

    It may be that we will just need to get used to the Mariners playing one or two matches a season as a filler for the Canberrans lack of live sporting events in the summer.

    3. Thursday night football is a flop
    With our first Thursday night fixture played for the season between Melbourne City and Newcastle Jets, it was always going to be interesting to see how attendances would be affected.

    Like many other sports in the country, it is well documented how much teams suffer in terms of attendance as there are a multitude of reasons why supporters are unable to attend during the working week.

    In NRL and AFL, Thursday night football has become a constant in recent years, so much so that despite teams complaints of suffering at the gate, the powers that be continue to persist with, as it usually is a television ratings success.

    For Melbourne City, they were the first cab off the rank and they too suffered a drop in attendance.

    A total of 7,745 turned out to watch Melbourne City and Newcastle Jets play out an entertaining first half of football, that would turn into one of the more bizarre matches as both teams approaches to the match changed in the second half. Essentially, the only way to describe the second half was that it was boring.

    While Tim Cahill was yet again quiet, it was once again ‘The Fornaroli show’. Scoring two goals on the night, Bruno Fornaroli broke Shane Smeltz’s scoring record to become quickest player to score 30 goals in the A-League.

    Bruno Fornaroli Melbourne City

    It was his second goal pm the night though that left us in awe of the man we’ve also come to know as El Tuna. With a perfect cross from Bruce Kamau into the box, Fornaroli was in perfect position to volley on the full and with such precision and timing, there was nothing the Jets keeper Jack Duncan could do.

    Alas, back to the issue of Thursday night football. Despite a boring second half display, the first half was highly entertaining and, given the appeal of Bruno Fornaroli and FFA poster boy Tim Cahill, one would have thought City could continue their tremendous Fox Sports viewing average of 105,600 viewers per round (not including SBS2).

    Think again. A total of 56,000 tuned in, thus making it the fifth lowest viewing audience for Fox Sports this season and well below Fox Sports average of 89,120 (pre-round 6).

    Was it just a matter of people forgot or didn’t know the A-League schedules Thursday matches? I doubt it very much.

    Fans don’t forgot when a football match is on.

    With another six Thursday night fixtures set to take place this season, it’ll be interesting to see how both attendances and viewing audiences are affected. One can only hope in terms of viewing, that this was a once off, but if it continues, hopefully it will be something addressed by FFA and whomever holds the rights for next season.

    For although from a broadcast perspective, ratings are important, fans attending the matches cannot be under valued.

    4. Popovic more entertaining than the Wanderers
    As it currently stands, last year’s runners-up in the Wanderers, are currently sitting in seventh and are still searching for that elusive and ever so needed, consistency.

    After some promising signs against Perth Glory away from home last week, Wanderers coach Tony Popovic and his players would have surely headed into the clash with Melbourne Victory with some confidence in the belief they could win.

    What transpired though was players appearing to be more committed than others in the fight for three points. While the likes of Jumpei Kusukami and Nicolas Martinez have been impressive and continue to improve, it’s been their back four and goalkeeper in Andrew Redmayne that have been less than inspiring.

    Having conceded the most goals in the competition equal with Perth Glory (13), they appear clueless as to what it is their roles are.

    With a one of the strongest midfields in the competition and forward line more than capable of scoring, it’s concerning that six games in, they’re yet to get their house in order.

    During their match against Victory, it wasn’t the players who had the fire in the belly, it was they coach Tony Popovic.

    It’s not often my attention is drawn more to what the coaches are doing than the players, but with the Wanderers finding no answers to Victory’s attacking arsenal, it was left to Popovic to get the most animated.

    At times, Popovic was more than within his rights to be upset due to some more than contentious calls, but essentially it was over the top animation towards the referees and post match comments that’s now landed him in hot water.

    With comments like these, it’s easy to see why the FFA have cited the coach under the FFA National Code of Conduct.

    “I don’t think we’ll see a clearer one this season,” Popovic said on Fox Sports.

    “Maybe it’s a coincidence – we’ve won one out of 11 with Jarred Gillett as a ref.

    “Maybe it’s just a coincidence. I’m sure he’ll come and explain himself.”

    In the post-match press conference, Popovic again offered his thoughts on the decision.

    “If that’s not a penalty, he should book him for diving,” he said.

    “It’s a goalkick, so what’s he done? He’s dived? It can’t be clearer than that.”

    I can’t fault Popovic’s view on the matter, but essentially he can’t be making those comments.

    A positive that I do see though is Popovic remains as driven and determined as ever to lead the Wanderers to the championship that’s alluded them for some time.

    I’m not privy to the ongoings behind closed doors, and it could be that frustrations are starting to get the better of him as the pressure mounts, but pressure aside, the Wanderers need to start getting themselves organised as they’re leaking goals at a faster rate than what the Mariners were last season, and we all know the sorts of records they set.

    With opponents in Melbourne City next up, the task doesn’t get any easier. Perhaps a change in tactic to the more defensive approach with counter attacking football might be the way to go. I recall not long ago that this approach win then the premiership and Asian Champions League.

    5. Perth’s away form is killing them
    Perth Glory are a good team and many people believe they have the potential to really challenge for silverware this season, but in order to be taken seriously as title contenders, both home-and-away form need to account for something.

    As it currently stands, Perth Glory are one of three teams who remain undefeated at home, which is all good said and done, but they are one of only two teams not to have won a match on the road – the other being Adelaide United.

    With performances like theirs against Sydney Fc, it’s no wonder they haven’t won away from home.

    Travel has always been an issue for clubs like Perth Glory and Wellington Phoenix. Travelling such long distances on a weekly to at times fortnightly basis can be draining.

    In the past four rounds, Perth have travelled to Melbourne, Brisbane, played at home and now to Sydney. There is a real chance all this travel has had an effect.


    Even last year, Perth only managed 16 out of 42 points away from home and this ultimately cost them a place in the top two, for if I recall correctly, they were well placed heading into the final rounds, but fell eventually fell away to finish fifth.

    What doesn’t help is that when you’re facing the ladder leaders who have only left New South Wales once in six weeks, one can reasonably expect Sydney to be more well rested.

    After Perth Glory’s three away matches, they have conceded eight goals, equal with Wellington Phoenix and only one behind the Mariners, who have played four away matches.

    From a statistical reference, of the 11 seasons that have thus far been completed, the team who has achieved the most away points during regular season, has gone on to win the Premiership on seven occasions.

    The other four times were by teams who had achieved the second most away points (3 times) and the third most away points (1).

    With a return back home to play Adelaide Friday night, along with a new membership record for the club and recent attendances proving amazing, chances are they can keep their home record intact.

    But if Adelaide are to nab their first win at nib Stadium, it’ll leave Perth as the only team not to have obtained an away win and chances are they could fall out of the six come the close of the round.

    That’s a wrap for another week of our top five A-League talking points for Round 6. Join me once again next week as I look forward to bringing you the top five talking points for Round 7.

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    The Crowd Says (22)

    • Roar Guru

      November 15th 2016 @ 9:40am
      Kaks said | November 15th 2016 @ 9:40am | ! Report

      1) No comment.

      2) Agreed. I dont see the point of moving a game to Canberra when the FFA continually say they’re not looking to expand into Canberra – even though many believe our nation’s capital deserves to have a team in the top tier.

      3) As a football fan, I dont mind having a Thursday night game to watch on TV after a long day at work. That’s the only reason Thursday night game’s are shown – TV audiences. I hope it continues, 4 days of live football is glorious.

      4) At first glance, you can tell that the team is no where near close to the quality of last season’s team. Borda is no Alberto, Cornthwaite is no Topor (can’t believe I miss Topor), Jumpei is no Castillen even though Jumpei looks like a great player, Baccus is no Andreu – who we miss the most IMO – and Clisby is no Jamieson. On top of that, we did not strengthen in a position we desperately needed to address, our Goalkeeper. We are also missing the quality of guys like Vidosic. Santalab is great up top but I’d like to see Lachlan Scott get a go, kid looks the goods.

      5) Seems like the Glory have been cursed with the same curse every WA team suffers in every sport, they can’t find the same level of performance away. I still tip them to be the champions this season, but as you say, they need to perform away from Perth.

    • November 15th 2016 @ 10:58am
      Lionheart said | November 15th 2016 @ 10:58am | ! Report

      Mid week games are good, as Kaks says above, but if they’re not drawing crowds and not rating well on Fox, we should drop them post haste.
      I much prefer when the other competitions click in mid week ACL, FFA Cup and tonight’s WCQ but sadly not enough of them.
      Poppa must be hard to follow. He makes such wholesale changes from one season to the next, and like a few others seems always ready to lay the blame elsewhere. He’s obviously a good coach, but do WSW fans find him as frustrating as I do?

      • Roar Guru

        November 15th 2016 @ 11:13am
        Kaks said | November 15th 2016 @ 11:13am | ! Report

        Nope, love the guy.

    • Roar Guru

      November 15th 2016 @ 12:18pm
      Griffo said | November 15th 2016 @ 12:18pm | ! Report

      5) Here I was thinking that Perth did well in beating Melbourne City on the road this season. 😉

      That aside any team needs to pick up a decent amount of points for their away games, especially if their home form isn’t always as consistent.

      If you take it that a team has 14 home games and 13 away games over 27 rounds, then losing all their away games is a loss of 39 points. 42 (home) points might be enough to get you into the Final Series, but if you fail to pick up points at home, your going to be in serious trouble.

      Perth might have some disadvantages in travel but you still have play and win games away (most likely) in the finals.

      I’d say they are a better side than that, or at least a better side than what Melbourne City were as ‘Heart’, who IIRC had the longest away loosing streak in A-League history.

      4) Don’t know about that, but as some who doesn’t like to lose, this could be a big test for Poppa as a coach even with what he has achieved in a short amount of time.

      3) Depends: it might be hard to travel mid-week in Melbourne to attend a match. Maybe there is no love for the Jets. Maybe MelbCity is the wrong team to gauge Thursday night success.

      Who is wanting the Thursday game more – FoxSports or FFA? Earlier seasons mid-week games weren’t well attended, nor were many rounds outside the home stadiums, which leads nicely to…

      2) So many reasons this may not work out for the Mariners, and so many reasons why the FFA shouldn’t be looking at these sort of games to ‘measure’ interest for a Canberra A-League team, or any team in an area that has little connection to the locals.

      Perhaps if a team like MelbCity with Cahill taking the field were playing that may change the crowd, be a better gauge of ‘interest’?

      We’ll see as the Jets have their only home game against MelbCity this season in Coffs Harbour. Perhaps if 8k attend Coffs might be in the running for an A-League team for the Far North Coast? Plenty of football around that way.

      Or better yet, put one of the big games hosted in Canberra – actually The Big Blue has a nice ring to it giving Canberra was founded to negate the Sydney-Melbourne squabbling over being the nations capital.

      1) Well if Sydney beat Brisbane this weekend and create a new record, they’ll deserve it. A loss won’t mean the wheels have fallen off either, and I’d expect Sydney have built a nice platform to continue to be tough to beat this season.

      Cameron – I originally read this article this morning and noticed a few typos. Roar sub-editors may not be checking your work 😛

      Great series, keep it up.

      • Roar Guru

        November 15th 2016 @ 1:17pm
        Cameron Kellett said | November 15th 2016 @ 1:17pm | ! Report

        Well that’s rather embarrassing. I can’t believe that win slipped my mind. To be honest, I’ve really fluffed that one big time. I sat up late to write this one and was using standings and as I would move across to look at the statistics I’ve clearly looked in the wrong place.

        I re-read my work this morning as well and I too noticed that mistakes I’m making aren’t being rectified. Same with last week too.

    • November 15th 2016 @ 12:39pm
      pete4 said | November 15th 2016 @ 12:39pm | ! Report

      Saturday’s Wellington Phoenix vs Melbourne Victory match has been postponed I heard.

      Wish our Nix friends a speedy recovery from the earthquake!!

    • November 15th 2016 @ 2:24pm
      jupiter53 said | November 15th 2016 @ 2:24pm | ! Report

      1 SFC have been lucky. Wellington had an onside goal rubbed out, and both Victory and Glory should have been ahead by 1 or 2 goals before Sydney started playing. However, that is to understate how good Vukovic has been in goal this season; some of the misses have been due to strikers trying to hit around a perfectly positioned keeper.

      What is different for Sydney this season is just how strong the attack is, with the starters and the substitutes all contributing. Also, they seem to be very fit, and able to finish games over the top of every team they have played so far.

      The Roar game will be fascinating. I hope Maclaren is able to play as that will make it a true test.

      2 I would love to see a Canberra team. To me the Mariners should nurture their tightly parochial identity. There seems to be no natural fit between that and playing in Canberra.
      In the meantime, Griffo’s Big Blue idea resonates, although I would have to find somewhere to stay after the game. Canberra and back in a day is too much for me.

      3 Mid week games are problematic to attend given work and school the next day, so crowds are always going to be down. I am surprised the viewing numbers are as low as you have stated. I would have thought it made broadcasting sense to show them.

      4 Don’t write the Wanderers off yet. I have immense respect for Popovic’s capacity to get the most out of his players, although in this salary capped league getting a few recruitment decisions wrong can cruel a whole season.

      It does strike me however that the Wanderers have moved from their previous spectacularly successful defensive style, but have not yet got the players and somehow the embedded mindset to make the new more attacking approach effective.

      And while Poppa is absolutely right that it was a shockingly bad decision to not give the penalty against Geria, he has no grounds to complain about refereeing given that Clisby should have been marched against Adelaide, and Santalab should have been sent off in pretty much every game!

      5 As Griffo has pointed out, Glory did beat City, and they looked dangerous against SFC until several goals down. I see no rational reason not to fear them on the road.

      And as already stated, thanks for taking the time to post these.

      • Roar Guru

        November 15th 2016 @ 3:03pm
        Kaks said | November 15th 2016 @ 3:03pm | ! Report

        “(Popa) he has no grounds to complain about refereeing given that Clisby should have been marched against Adelaide, and Santalab should have been sent off in pretty much every game!”

        Well if all those calls were wrong, then Popa still has a point!

        • November 15th 2016 @ 3:17pm
          jupiter53 said | November 15th 2016 @ 3:17pm | ! Report

          Good answer!

          Perhaps a better way to put it might have been that refereeing errors tend to even themselves out over a season, and the penalty mistake could be seen as the start of the balancing process [randomly, one hopes]

      • November 15th 2016 @ 9:57pm
        punter said | November 15th 2016 @ 9:57pm | ! Report

        Lots of should’ve & could’ve but didn’t in pt 1.

    • Roar Pro

      November 15th 2016 @ 4:01pm
      Adam Daunt said | November 15th 2016 @ 4:01pm | ! Report

      Sydney are actually enjoyable to watch, it’ll be a great game to see Sydney and Brisbane play. I’ll put it out there but whoever wins that wins the title.

      Any thoughts on Brisbane Strikers as a replacement for the Phoenix?

      • November 15th 2016 @ 4:47pm
        pete4 said | November 15th 2016 @ 4:47pm | ! Report

        I don’t think the Strikers will replace the Phoenix. Both the Roar and Strikers playing out of Lang Park could be problematic

        Same issue with South Melbourne submitting a bid with Victory-City all based very close to each other

      • November 15th 2016 @ 4:51pm
        Lionheart said | November 15th 2016 @ 4:51pm | ! Report

        The Phoenix have got a few years yet – ten I recall, with a progress review at four years due in 2020, to review monies and crowds before the first of two three year extensions are implemented. They don’t seem to have improved much thus far, but they still have a few years to improve.
        I don’t really know, but suspect that a second Brisbane team would take a fair while to get going.

        • November 15th 2016 @ 6:04pm
          Waz said | November 15th 2016 @ 6:04pm | ! Report

          Phoenix only got a 4 year extension. 4+3+3

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