A-League needs more flavour to revive a stale product

Tim Palmer Columnist

By Tim Palmer, Tim Palmer is a Roar Expert

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    At the halfway point of the A-League season, it is hard to ignore the general gloomy feeling surrounding Australian football.

    While Sydney FC is undeniably one of the league’s all-time great teams, there has been a distinct lack of consistency from other teams this season, with the exception of the Newcastle Jets. Melbourne City started brightly, but have since faded, while Melbourne Victory has played in fits and spurts.

    Traditionally strong teams Brisbane Roar and Western Sydney have significantly struggled. Incredibly, only three teams have a positive goal difference (Adelaide, in fourth, are just +2).

    That poor goal difference is somewhat indicative of a wider overall trend. Teams are typically taking a defensive, conservative approach, focusing on containment, rather than entertainment. This is entirely justified, as ultimately senior coaches are judged by results in a league that is plainly not about development, but it does make for less entertaining games and a general feel of reactivity.

    It does not feel like teams want, or can, take initiative with the ball. The primary focus is to be organised defensively.

    This partly stems from the success of Sydney FC. Just twelve goals conceded last season (an all-time record) was a remarkable feat, resulting from their supreme defensive organisation.

    As discussed previously at length, Sydney defends very compactly, and apply pressure collectively, so they are capable of defending both high up the pitch or in deep positions, or simply protecting the space in between and behind their lines. It is a great tradition in the A-League that teams copy the tactics of the previous season’s Champions, which has been evident again this year in the approach that many sides have taken – focusing on being well-drilled defensively.

    Adrian Mierzejewski Sydney FC

    (AAP Image/Brendan Esposito)

    Yet an easy assumption that has been made from Sydney’s strong defensive record is that they are a defensive team. This fallacy ignores the fact that Graham Arnold’s teams scored more goals than all but two previous A-League Premiers (acknowledging the fact some of those came in seasons with fewer games).

    While undoubtedly Sydney are strongest on the break, scoring a significant number of goals from regains in the opposition half (based on research by Ron Smith), that should not detract from their ability to break teams down. They have countless patterns and rotations in the attacking third to maximise the playmaking ability of Milos Ninkovic and Adrian Mierzejewski.

    They also are able to get the fullbacks high up the pitch where they can deliver dangerous crosses into the box, or use the hold-up play of Bobo to get runners such as Alex Brosque in behind. Sydney has a variety of attacking weapons to complement their defensive strengths.

    Does every A-League team have this? Obviously, it is harsh to judge all others against the barometer of a legacy team, but nobody else in the competition feels as balanced as Sydney in their approach. You cannot replicate Sydney’s defensive organisation without the variety going forward to match, which many teams have struggled to achieve.

    Beyond this, though, the sense of stagnation and mediocrity also stems from a lack of bravery in tactical approaches. There are no teams really trying to do anything different, or, if they are, they’re not doing it very well.

    Wellington Phoenix, for example, in using a 5-3-2 formation recently, became a rare exception to the widespread prevalence of a back four. They completely conceded possession (opponents Melbourne City had over 70 per cent of possession, despite averaging just 47 per cent so far this season) but the Phoenix still lost 2-1.

    The Central Coast Mariners, meanwhile, have been brave in trying to play Paul Okon’s high-possession style of football, always looking to build up from the back and create goals from long, neat and intricate passing combinations. Yet they’ve struggled on two fronts: to consistently be incisive with their possession and to defend against quick counter-attacks. As a result, they are entertaining to watch but one of the weaker sides in the competition.

    Blake Powell

    (Photo by Tony Feder/Getty Images)

    Yet the Mariners are persistent in their style of play, which perhaps explains why they seem to be more liked by neutrals than most teams. There is something endearing about a team having a clear idea, or clear beliefs, and sticking to these.

    It is possibly why fans seem more attached to the great Brisbane Roar team, even though the current Sydney team are smashing the records set by Ange Postecoglou’s side. There is a sentimentality in remembering the way they changed the tactical landscape of the game in Australia.

    In reality, we cannot expect A-League teams to push tactical boundaries when considering the quality of players, the salary cap and the nature of the league in comparison to major football leagues.

    Nevertheless, it would be refreshing to see clubs stray from the vanilla. In many ways, the parity created by the aforementioned contextual factors means that anyone who strays from the norm (and does it well) can achieve great success because it would be at odds to the majority of what the other teams are doing.

    The reason why clubs don’t do this is because it is risky, and does not guarantee success – but if we currently have a competition with a clear runaway team showing very little sign of being stopped, a few teams fighting for second and the rest scrapping away for a spot in a finals series that rewards losing more games than you win, what is there to lose?

    Tim Palmer
    Tim Palmer

    Tim is a football coach, writer, analyst and sports scientist. He has worked with the Socceroos in an analysis role, has completed the FFA B Licence, is currently a player in the Australian Deaf Football Team and coaches in the NSW NPL. You can follow him on Twitter @timpalmerftbl.

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    The Crowd Says (118)

    • January 10th 2018 @ 7:55am
      Kangajets said | January 10th 2018 @ 7:55am | ! Report

      Central Coast Mariners

      You should have been leading 3-0. Appiah cannot score , Hoole can’t tske free kicks

      Newcastle Jets were second best for 70 minutes and didn’t deserve to win
      … Sydney FC would have beat us by 6

      BUT

      Josh rose — what were you thinking?

      Pato Rodriguez a new hero .

      The baffling stale terrible A league had 13000 turn up and nearly get hit by lightning too

      Great crowd, pulsating atmosphere.

      We’ll go riding with the horses baby ….

      • January 10th 2018 @ 8:39am
        Buddy said | January 10th 2018 @ 8:39am | ! Report

        I got home from work and couldn’t take my eyes off the game last night. The crowd was good….I thought nobody loved midweek games? As you said, Appiah struggles in front of goal. When he played at WSW you knew if he got the ball out wide, he was good for pace but required step by step instructions as to what is required when nearing the penalty area.pace alone soesn’t cut it. Sotirio is very similar. Much better as a winger in a rugby code where you don’t need to cut in, cut back, cross or locate some sticks in the centre of the goal line. Maybe Mariners could have got something on another day but the Jets showed some resilience and fight that has been absent before this season and that is when you get rewarded even when not really on top of the game. It was exemplified in the first half when they lost the ball to what looked like a foul and somehow Boogaard recovered with an enormous tackle that saved the day. Last year he would have cleaned up the opponent, conceded a penalty, been red carded and Jets would have struggled.
        The league isn’t stale, the contributors, journos and forum contributors are because they think they are seeing the same old same old. It isn’t true. There are plenty of leagues around the world that produce pretty much the same end result year in and year out, just a handful of clubs fighting it out and sometimes the same name at the top in successive years……doesn’t make it stale. There is nothing wrong with seeing Roar,and Victory struggle for a change and Wanderers go through a mid season shake up instead of waiting until May/June. The question on the lips should be about the standard and whether SFC are setting a new higher benchmark or whether teams are poorer this season? There’s plenty of interesting talking points without raking over the old chestnuts that involve expansion, relegation, FFA etc.
        It would be really good to see greater interest in ACL when it comes along,as our collective interest has been woeful over the years. Can Sydney FC fight it out successfully on two fronts and put to bed the old story of fatigue, travel and scheduling issues?

        • January 10th 2018 @ 8:44am
          Ryan said | January 10th 2018 @ 8:44am | ! Report

          Mid week games in early Jan are fine its school hols and ppl on holidays from work

          • January 10th 2018 @ 9:16am
            Buddy said | January 10th 2018 @ 9:16am | ! Report

            Don’t disagree although Sydney roads are quite cluttered this week and certainlty there was a lot of noise about train problems and commuters yesterday but everyone loves to complain and there are so many outlets these days…it will be a university course in the next few years.

        • January 10th 2018 @ 10:04am
          c said | January 10th 2018 @ 10:04am | ! Report

          i would like to see expansion and relegation introduced as soon as is possible

          • January 10th 2018 @ 10:21am
            Fadida said | January 10th 2018 @ 10:21am | ! Report

            Many do, but no one can show how a second tier would work finacially

            • January 10th 2018 @ 1:19pm
              Worried said | January 10th 2018 @ 1:19pm | ! Report

              You need to have one, before you can make one work !
              This seems to be the case for most things !
              If a second division existed, we would have all those clubs execs involved in making it work, instead of just a couple of Know-it-alls at FFA Headquarters!
              It will not be perfect when it starts, we need to accept that as fact and move on. It will get better as it grows. Just like anything else.

          • Roar Guru

            January 10th 2018 @ 1:38pm
            Griffo said | January 10th 2018 @ 1:38pm | ! Report

            The FFA Cup got up because it was sponsored, so I imagine FFA, as part of the new financial model, would need a similar injection of media money to offset a second division in part.

            Clubs would also need to be allowed to source their own funding, whoever that may be from commercially.

            It could exist between A-League and NPL for a time, and used as the feeding ground for addition to A-League expansion.

            Just one option.

        • January 10th 2018 @ 10:52am
          Kangajets said | January 10th 2018 @ 10:52am | ! Report

          Buddy

          100 per cent agree abt boogard comment

    • Roar Guru

      January 10th 2018 @ 8:17am
      AdelaideDocker said | January 10th 2018 @ 8:17am | ! Report

      Oh jeez. I know I’m not the most regular commenter here, and I know the a-League legitimately has a lot of flaws, but this is yet another “the a-League needs more x” article. I feel like you guys spend more time thinking about how to fix the game than actually enjoy the game – wasn’t there a great Newcastle win last night? I don’t mean this as disrespect to the author, though. It’s a well written article – a good technical analysis.

      • January 10th 2018 @ 8:36am
        Kangajets said | January 10th 2018 @ 8:36am | ! Report

        Thanks A D

        You have correctly assessed the negative narrative from a few authors

        and yes there was a great game and crowd in Newcastle last night .

      • January 10th 2018 @ 9:20am
        Nemesis said | January 10th 2018 @ 9:20am | ! Report

        You’ve summed it up beautifully AD. Too many writers are trying to make a living out of football & the only thing they know is how to criticise.

        ALeague is doing fine.
        I wish it were doing better, just as I always want every aspect of my life to be always doing better, however, I still take time enjoy life as it is.

        I started reading this piece, saw where it was heading & realised I’ve read the same stuff every week for the past 13 years.

        Some of these writers better broaden their horizons. Clearly A-League is going to fold, so what happens then? What will they whine about?

      • January 10th 2018 @ 9:23am
        Fadida said | January 10th 2018 @ 9:23am | ! Report

        Agree AD. It’s got to the stage now where many of the writers now stuck totally on the negative.

      • January 10th 2018 @ 9:42am
        Waz said | January 10th 2018 @ 9:42am | ! Report

        Some people like to criticise.
        Others like to criticise criticism.
        But we all criticise.

        • January 10th 2018 @ 9:54am
          Fadida said | January 10th 2018 @ 9:54am | ! Report

          Not your best comment Waz

        • January 10th 2018 @ 9:55am
          Kangajets said | January 10th 2018 @ 9:55am | ! Report

          Waz

          I think I criticised sometimes and occasionally lose my s$-t, but nobody perfect .

          But I give many more opinions on lots of positive things about the A league and football in general .

          Nobody perfect , but I’m happy with the balance of my comments.

          I’m no scholar, but if I can somehow string 6 paragraphs together, I could give u 100 things to like about the A league .

          • January 10th 2018 @ 10:41am
            Waz said | January 10th 2018 @ 10:41am | ! Report

            I know, but I don’t think we do so badly on this site. This is not really a negative article and it’s actually not a bad analysis.

            Where we are getting negative (?) articles the reality is they’re often valid articles all the same – it’s hard to deny that crowds, scheduling and a few other areas of the game are in need of improvement so why not write about them?

            Hopefully in a couple of months once FIFA has woven its magic we will have a flood of exciting and positive articles to read. We do need them, but it’s not the journo’s fault they’re not there in large numbers.

            • January 10th 2018 @ 11:02am
              mattq said | January 10th 2018 @ 11:02am | ! Report

              yeah 442 forums are way worse. such a dump of negativity.

            • January 10th 2018 @ 1:24pm
              Worried said | January 10th 2018 @ 1:24pm | ! Report

              I sincerely hope FIFA are working some magic !
              I just wish a few more of the so-called Football journalists (the ones who make their living from football) would do some investigating as to just what magic FIFA are up to and keep us poor ticket buying and subscription paying fools informed.

              • January 10th 2018 @ 3:41pm
                Redondo said | January 10th 2018 @ 3:41pm | ! Report

                That’s a really good point. I wouldn’t mind a doom and gloom article so much if the author actually contacted the focus of their criticism (usually the FFA) and tried to get some response/explanation from them. An informed two-way discussion about problems in the game would be worthwhile.

                But that doesn’t happen and the doom and gloom articles are mostly just recycled whinges, guesses, and, second-hand opinions, and not worth the pixels they’re printed on.

        • January 10th 2018 @ 10:22am
          Kangajets said | January 10th 2018 @ 10:22am | ! Report

          Waz

          Remember Brisbane Roar always wins in Newcastle and vice versa

          So Friday night it’s Brisbane’s turn to win .

          • January 10th 2018 @ 10:34am
            Waz said | January 10th 2018 @ 10:34am | ! Report

            I think we have a coach that’s lost the dressing room and Craig Moore’s threat to the players yesterday may have the opposite effect. So we’ll see, normal service may not be resumed for a while yet.

            • January 10th 2018 @ 10:45am
              Lionheart said | January 10th 2018 @ 10:45am | ! Report

              what’s Moorey said?

              • January 10th 2018 @ 12:18pm
                Waz said | January 10th 2018 @ 12:18pm | ! Report

                Basically threatened the 17 off contract players, blamed the situation on them, and said they’re “playing for their careers”.

                Basically old school fear-mongering coaching.

              • January 10th 2018 @ 12:39pm
                Lionheart said | January 10th 2018 @ 12:39pm | ! Report

                ok, now I’ve read the article. May be a question for tonight, do we try to keep former youth players (like Corey Brown, Doncs) or release them and recruit elsewhere? Seems a pattern’s starting to emerge.

              • January 10th 2018 @ 2:05pm
                j,binnie said | January 10th 2018 @ 2:05pm | ! Report

                Lionheart – You have posed a question here that actually gets right to the heart of Roar’s problems.
                Sydney FC have “blatantly” shown the way to success in the HAL, and that is mainly in good recruitment and salary cap management.
                Break down their team and what do you find,only one player in the run-on line ups could be considered to have had a “long” spell at the club,that of course being Brosque,who actually started his HAL career with Roar,many years ago.
                Every other player in the run on team has been imported, or seconded from other HAL identities.
                So what does Sydney’s undoubted success over the last 2 seasons tell us?
                It mainly poses the question,do you want to be among the “big boys” of the league, or do you want to be a ‘feeder” club.?.
                That is what is known as “philosophy” and I for one have struggled with Roar’s philosophy, since AP left to go to Melbourne.
                Since then they have had umpteen coaches,umpteen backroom management changes,umpteen apparently bad recruits from overseas,(one of whom is now scoring freely with Wellington).
                Add to that list the number of ex-Roar players now playing all through the HAL and you are back to the original question,
                “Big Boys” or “Feeder”. Cheers jb

              • January 10th 2018 @ 3:35pm
                Lionheart said | January 10th 2018 @ 3:35pm | ! Report

                I’d take a mixture everyday JB, over age or across the board experience. I’d much prefer the youthful enthusiasm of the Roar teams of 2010-14 over present day Sydney. Keep Corey Brown 25 or Bowles 26 over a big boy from elsewhere. I posed below, how would CCM go with Sydney’s attackers up front? It’s the same question really. Besides, I’m not sure I trust Roar football dept to rebuild our club, on the current evidence.

            • January 10th 2018 @ 2:16pm
              steve said | January 10th 2018 @ 2:16pm | ! Report

              TBF Waz, the Roar absolutely need to gut the playing roster starting with the likes of the Captain, North, Theo, Maccarone, Kalfalah etc and get rid of the Aloisi brothers.

              • January 10th 2018 @ 3:57pm
                Lionheart said | January 10th 2018 @ 3:57pm | ! Report

                about half the players coming off contract are Aloisi recruits (Skapetis, Oxborrow, Holman, BKF, Franjic, Pepper, Macc, Gameiro) but McKay, Theo too, surely time’s up.

              • January 10th 2018 @ 7:30pm
                steve said | January 10th 2018 @ 7:30pm | ! Report

                Lionheart. Aloisi’s and Moore’s recruitment has been appalling to say the least. The club and a new coach need to start again with maybe a handful of the current roster. Most need to be moved on. Keep Christensen, Young and a few of the younger ones but literally ditch the rest.

          • Roar Guru

            January 10th 2018 @ 1:03pm
            Griffo said | January 10th 2018 @ 1:03pm | ! Report

            I don’t know about that Kanga but Friday will be interesting.

            After Ben’s comments post match you would expect some soul searching and a collective desire to turn it around for themselves if anything.

            What Waz has said may not help there.

            Jets need to keep winning, no complaints if they do 😎

            • January 10th 2018 @ 4:31pm
              Kangajets said | January 10th 2018 @ 4:31pm | ! Report

              Griffo

              I expect Brisbane to be up for Friday night
              When a senior play like Ben Khalfallah speaks out , the rest of the team should be up for it .

              The other argument is can Newcastle play as badly as against ccm , surely Merrick will ask for a much better performance on Friday from Newcastle.
              Hopefully kantarovski is back , something I never thought I would say .
              Koutrombis in for Champness.

              I would drop Hoffman

              • January 10th 2018 @ 6:41pm
                AGO74 said | January 10th 2018 @ 6:41pm | ! Report

                Merrick said they were tired and in saying that I don’t think he was offering an excuse. I think it’s a bit of a mental state comment. Newcastle for all their success this season haven’t played in too many really big games like last weeks game against Sydney. These are the sort of games that really take it out of you. Possible hangover from that game for a team that – as yet – are not used to playing on that stage. That they still won bodes very well the jets.

              • Roar Guru

                January 11th 2018 @ 2:15pm
                Griffo said | January 11th 2018 @ 2:15pm | ! Report

                It looks like Rodriguez will start for Champness on the left.

                Depending on how Kanga is pulling up I think Hopman and Katroumbis will both be on.

      • January 10th 2018 @ 9:55am
        Redondo said | January 10th 2018 @ 9:55am | ! Report

        AD

        I think the headline over this article is deliberately negative and misrepresents Tim’s analysis. The article itself very fairly represents the good and bad of the current A-League season. Most importantly, it talks about how teams are playing football, rather than going over the same old admin issues that dominate some other authors’ articles.

        I am more than happy to read an article like this because it critiques the football being played. That’s positive, regardless of whether the critique itlself is negative or positive.

        I would hate to see Tim unfairly accused of producing the kind of shameless, click-seeking, negative tripe some other authors dish up here on a regular basis.

        • Roar Guru

          January 10th 2018 @ 10:06am
          Griffo said | January 10th 2018 @ 10:06am | ! Report

          Agree here Redondo.

          I think there is greater discussion around coach vs club, recruitment, salary, local vs visa, and trends on approach from previous successes.

          Nothing negative in talking about that imo.

        • January 10th 2018 @ 10:14am
          Kangajets said | January 10th 2018 @ 10:14am | ! Report

          Redondo

          Good point

          Hence why I tried to talk about the game last night . I just can’t do it articularly in long paragraphs.

        • Roar Guru

          January 10th 2018 @ 12:42pm
          Grobbelaar said | January 10th 2018 @ 12:42pm | ! Report

          Good observation

          • January 10th 2018 @ 5:07pm
            Kangajets said | January 10th 2018 @ 5:07pm | ! Report

            Hey Mr grobelaar

            How’s your ratings thermometer going?

            How did you rate that F3 derby buddy ?

            How do you rate Pato Rodriguez left foot
            I rate it better then .
            ………. weekend at Bernie’s part 2

            Much better then the Gilmore girls too

            • Roar Guru

              January 10th 2018 @ 8:28pm
              Grobbelaar said | January 10th 2018 @ 8:28pm | ! Report

              The F3 derby got very good ratings last night: 40,000, finishing in 7th spot.

              Notably, it was able to beat the Fox Classics movie: The Outlaw Josey Wales, a classic Clint Eastwood movie (which may have taken some viewers away from the football).

              • January 10th 2018 @ 9:56pm
                Kangajets said | January 10th 2018 @ 9:56pm | ! Report

                Josey Lachlan Wales was on the field for central coast last night . He’s a star of the future .

      • January 10th 2018 @ 3:06pm
        Kris said | January 10th 2018 @ 3:06pm | ! Report

        There are a lot of ‘strawman’ articles on here. Lots of articles that take the form of starting with a statement “we all agree that the A-League is poor / unwatchable / struggling / inferior” and then launch into a list of what needs to be changed or fixed etc.

        The whole article is dependent upon agreeing with that first unproven / unchallenged statement.

        • January 10th 2018 @ 3:30pm
          Redondo said | January 10th 2018 @ 3:30pm | ! Report

          I’d love to hear from Tim on this but I suspect the first line of this article was not what he sent to the eds. The first line and the headline don’t fit with the content of the article.

          • January 10th 2018 @ 3:49pm
            punter said | January 10th 2018 @ 3:49pm | ! Report

            I’ve read & enjoyed many of Tim’s articles, he is quite Technical in his analysis & doesn’t stay into the code war sort of stuff. Hence sometimes doesn’t get the hits.

            • January 10th 2018 @ 4:14pm
              Fadida said | January 10th 2018 @ 4:14pm | ! Report

              Agree Punter. I really enjoy Tim’s articles

            • January 10th 2018 @ 4:29pm
              punter said | January 10th 2018 @ 4:29pm | ! Report

              That was stray not stay.

              Yes Fad, I have always thought that when we get more hits on Tim’s articles then some of the code war rubbish articles, is the time Australian football has grown up a bit.

            • January 10th 2018 @ 4:56pm
              Kangajets said | January 10th 2018 @ 4:56pm | ! Report

              Punter

              I’ve re read the article, which is good in detail

              In brief ,
              he is describing one outstanding team
              One team in second who are consistent
              A chasing pack who are inconsistent
              And a few stragglers

              He could just as easily be describing the EPL or la logs or bundesliga with those analytics. It was just heading said A league is blah blah blah that caught me .

              I don’t think this season is shyte.

              The problem for many fans is the traditional biggies wsw bris m v are not at the top .

              I rejoice in the fact that we have the Goliath in Sydney and we have the David in the likes of Newcastle and ccm who are willing to take teams on.

              There are so many things to be positive abt in 2017/18 season

              – the polish dude at Sydney
              – Arnold getting crankier
              – Ninkovic goal
              – Muscat humility in defeat
              – Lachlan Wales after 30 seconds for ccm
              – Brisbane 3 all draw in Wellington
              – thunderstorm f3 derby last night
              – Pato Rodriguez
              – de Silva
              – O’Donovan hatrick
              – Matt Simon still goalless
              – taggarts last minute equaliser at Newcastle
              – jets last minute winner at Perth
              – Adelaide and Sydney in the fa Cup
              – Ryan strain , Champness, Italiano
              – arzani at city
              – Timmy gate at city
              – mc cormack free kicks
              – Manny Muscat winner v newy
              – mariners beating Sydney
              – gombau is back
              – how old is Brendan Santalab
              – the David Carney penalty clause
              – Paul Okon

              Enjoy the A league folks

              • January 11th 2018 @ 6:29am
                punter said | January 11th 2018 @ 6:29am | ! Report

                Great Summary Kanga.

    • January 10th 2018 @ 9:43am
      Matt said | January 10th 2018 @ 9:43am | ! Report

      I have to say some of the games I have watched (as an Ozzie living in Christchurch) have been very entertaining, No one can pull the old ‘Sydney FC are clinical but boring’ of the previous season & there are some promising new talent stepping up in the likes of de Silva, Champness, Arzani etc.
      Honestly, compared to the pre-Roar era where the style of play compared to the big leagues was almost embarrassing I can now sit back and enjoy some really graceful football.

      • January 10th 2018 @ 9:55am
        Fadida said | January 10th 2018 @ 9:55am | ! Report

        Agree

        • January 10th 2018 @ 10:57am
          Kangajets said | January 10th 2018 @ 10:57am | ! Report

          Matt

          Well said

      • January 10th 2018 @ 11:25am
        punter said | January 10th 2018 @ 11:25am | ! Report

        Clap, clap, clap. very much enjoying the new talent coming thru as well.

        Not too happy with the FFA & their bumbling ways, but I’m here for the football & as a SFC fan, I’m loving it, some of our 1 touch football (not just the foreigners) is just breathtaking. Newcastle’s counter attack & with more players due back, their Sth Americans look hot, they are also a breath of fresh air, well done Ernie. MV are showing some signs & I think Adelaide are also an enjoyable to watch. The Mariners lack finishing & quality in the final 3rd, but are entertaining. The others are struggling, no doubt.

        • January 10th 2018 @ 12:12pm
          Redondo said | January 10th 2018 @ 12:12pm | ! Report

          Punter – I totally agree about Sydney. I don’t think even Postecoglou’s Roar played as good one-touch football as Sydney are producing this season. I can’t wait for the ACL games to see Sydney pushed really hard.

          Re other teams: Part of the league’s problem is the amount of disruption in the first half of the season.

          Newcastle are a bit inconsistent but often stunning to watch – they’ll be even better when they get injured players back.

          Melb City, Phoenix, WSW and Adelaide all have new coaches.

          Victory have been stuffed around by injuries and national team call-ups but they are now recovering.

          Brisbane haven’t been able to field a first-team for most of the season (although Aloisi looks lost as well).

          Under their new coaches, Phoenix and City are playing stodgy, conservative football. Arzani and Fornaroli might lift City out of that but the Phoenix look a shambles.

          Under their new coach, Adelaide is playing pretty good, albeit cautious, football.

          At WSW, Gombau looks to have been cowered into a more pragmatic approach by poor early results. But they’ll probably come good eventually.

          CCM are good to watch until they get near goal. They need a striker.

          Perth need a new coach – counter-attacking football with a porous defence is daft. Castro looks forlorn.

          For all of that, the football has in general been good to watch. If you are a Sydney FC fan, it has been great to watch.

          • January 10th 2018 @ 12:50pm
            punter said | January 10th 2018 @ 12:50pm | ! Report

            Rendono, I have not seen any Australian side (national or club) play such beautiful one touch football, that’s why I laugh every time I hear boring boring Sydney comments (Simon apart). Ange’s Roar was a better passing team & changed the way Australians played football.
            Interesting how they go in the ACL where players have a little bit more time, though the Asian sides punish mistakes much better

            • January 10th 2018 @ 1:24pm
              Redondo said | January 10th 2018 @ 1:24pm | ! Report

              Agree about punishing mistakes – I worry about the number of good chances Sydney have allowed other teams this season. Sydney are lucky other teams aren’t converting those chances. The defence seems less assured than last season.

              • January 10th 2018 @ 1:33pm
                punter said | January 10th 2018 @ 1:33pm | ! Report

                I tend to agree with you there, Wilkinson while still a great defender, seems a little slower, Wilshire brings great experience & finesse, but also lacks pace & vigour of a Grant, have also noticed we are let of the lease a bit more by Arnie this year & hence looser in the back.I also think Arnie is planning team to peak in the last part of season & start of ACL. The ACL will also depend on the opposition, some have national team players & quality foreigners, but it will be great contests, looking forward to them.

              • January 10th 2018 @ 1:50pm
                Redondo said | January 10th 2018 @ 1:50pm | ! Report

                Yep to all of that. I’ll be at all the ACL games in Sydney. I hope the crowds are good and reflect the increasing value of the competition.

          • January 10th 2018 @ 1:10pm
            Matt said | January 10th 2018 @ 1:10pm | ! Report

            It will be also interesting to see Petratos be freed up by the talent coming back as he will not have so much of a target on his back.
            I wonder how Merrick will field Newcastle when his side is at full strength.

            • January 10th 2018 @ 1:36pm
              punter said | January 10th 2018 @ 1:36pm | ! Report

              Merrick will have an embarrassment of talent in the front 3, Vargas, Patrico, O’Donovan, Nabbout, Champness & of course Petratos in the last part of the season.

              • January 10th 2018 @ 5:01pm
                Kangajets said | January 10th 2018 @ 5:01pm | ! Report

                Punter

                With that attack for Newcastle, their might be no room for the Hoff .
                Bench hoffman , please Ernie

                Don’t forget abt Riley magree too

    • January 10th 2018 @ 9:44am
      Waz said | January 10th 2018 @ 9:44am | ! Report

      New life has been injected in to the F3 Derby this season, mainly thanks to the Jets fans and now a few Horses. Another good game.

      • January 10th 2018 @ 11:09am
        Kangajets said | January 10th 2018 @ 11:09am | ! Report

        Waz

        It wasn’t an attractive game , but it is an important derby to Newcastle. First time we have ever won 2 in a row against ccm.
        Rodriguez debut and the horses and Hoole added to the game . Hopefully the crowd will come back

        When Ange got the roar to turn the corner and start believing in what they could do , it must have great to be a Brisbane fan . Brisbane will be back up near the top soon with the right people.

        • January 10th 2018 @ 1:45pm
          Melange said | January 10th 2018 @ 1:45pm | ! Report

          K – Unfortunately I missed the game, sounds like it was a cracker. What’s the reference to ‘the Horses’ all about?

          • January 10th 2018 @ 5:15pm
            Kangajets said | January 10th 2018 @ 5:15pm | ! Report

            Melange

            When Paul Okon sang “the horses” by Daryl Braithwaite. when ccm beat Sydney FC .., good on him… I like Paul Okon

            Just last night , when the jets win , we sing Never tear us Apart, but the stadium played “ the horses” as a bit of stir to our neighbors from the coast .

            Probably doesn’t mean much except Newcastle has rarely beat the mariners. That’s the first time in 5 years we have won our derby at home .

            Good times

            That’s the way it’s gunna be little darling,
            We’ll go riding with the horse baby

    • January 10th 2018 @ 9:49am
      Billary Swamper said | January 10th 2018 @ 9:49am | ! Report

      A-League following the NBL down the gurgler was what a lot of us predicted. It is not a top standard league and a lot of sport watchers in Australia will not put up with the perception of our own league being not of the highest quality.

      The talk of better ‘promotion’, of ‘letting more sides in’ of higher ‘quality imports’, ‘stars’ is just a nonsense. If the sport is good and watchable people will follow.

      That says a lot for the so called passionate soccer fans in Australia to be honest. Nothing has changed in 50 years. I recall a sell out for Victory v LA Galaxy because a lot of people wanted to bask in Beckham’s abdominal muscles and some Liverpool(the Lancashire team) selling oodles of seats to an exhibition game that a lot of people even on the Merseyside were stunned in disbelief. Then you get Victory playing ACL against Osaka of Japan, possilbly the highest club standard game we have hosted and nobody shows. That says it all people. A lot of ‘soccer fans’ are actually just theatre goers, out to ‘see the stars’.

      All that being said, clubs and the league just need to keep doing what they are doing. Improving standards, year on year and it will carve out it’s own niche. It wont become the largest sport in Australia, but is that the point? The point is to create opportunities for people to play at higher levels and for fans of the sport(true soccer lovers, not bar-alongs, to follow the local product.)

      • January 10th 2018 @ 1:29pm
        Worried said | January 10th 2018 @ 1:29pm | ! Report

        Your first paragraph is just total rubbish, not going to bother reading the rest.
        talk sense or don’t bother!

    • Roar Guru

      January 10th 2018 @ 10:01am
      Griffo said | January 10th 2018 @ 10:01am | ! Report

      There is that copying and adapting the previous seasons successful teams. It does take at least one or two to try something new to separate themselves from the pack.

      The Jets, defensively doing okay, are more about attack and scoring goals than having only the solid defensive foundation like City seem to have started on under Joyce as an example.

      I am hoping the Jets are successful this season so as to encourage others to take a similar approach.

      I don’t think Sydney under Arnold will change – interesting then how they would cope a few seasons on without him if he doesn’t leave the manual behind – so it is up to others to try something new.

      I think that might begin with the type of coaches clubs employ, based on how a club would like to play rather than where they would like to finish.

      • January 10th 2018 @ 11:03am
        Kangajets said | January 10th 2018 @ 11:03am | ! Report

        Griffo

        I agree the jets are not great defenders
        But
        Isn’t it nice to watch the jets now, we have a coach who cares about scoring goals .

        We got lucky last night , but didn’t Rodriguez liven the place up.

        • Roar Guru

          January 10th 2018 @ 1:28pm
          Griffo said | January 10th 2018 @ 1:28pm | ! Report

          Kanga I think Boogs has improved a bit this year, if for no other reason then he is not grappling and collecting cards as much.

          I think this has more to do with having NTS taking up some of the defensive duties – he’s been great, really – and having the likes of Kanta having a decent game or three between occasional ordinary performances: not having a run of injuries has helped early on but he’s now seemingly suffering again.

          Couple that with the attack tactical setup and high press alll leads to a less burden on Boogs and NTS having to hold the fort from relentless opponent attack, as most seasons have been for one reason or another.

          Post match passer Merrick indicated he thought both teams were tired, so maybe we were more so for some reason but Mariners are playing okay. Apart from some fine saves by Moss, at least three and maybe five shots were down to poor technique. I thought the game would be a draw, and might have been if two of those decent chances made it through.

          Merrick is right: goals win matches (and a decent keeper and defence, too 😉 ) and Okon indicated they have nothing to use to move during January apart from promoting youth.

          Does Okon stick with his philosophy or make a few adjustments and offer up more scoring opportunities?

          They could not afford to keep O’Donovan but they could have used him this year. They need a replacement to convert some of those chances.

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