Six talking points from A-League Round 21

Karlo Tychsen Roar Guru

By Karlo Tychsen, Karlo Tychsen is a Roar Guru & Live Blogger


17 Have your say

    Round 21 has seen some stellar football on the park, once again, so what has there been to talk about on and off the park in the A-League Talking Points.

    Was Friday night really a good advertisement for a second division?
    Let’s be honest, at this stage, what do the likes of Central Coast and Wellington really have to play for?

    This writer has been critical of the top six finals format from the moment teams folded and you no longer had to be in the top half of the competition to play finals.

    Essentially, you don’t actually have to be successful to receive a finals spot. Remember, finals are actually a reward, not simply a broadcasting requirement.

    So you can argue that the Mariners and Phoenix are still playing for a finals spot. But for Wellington, it’s more mathematical, and for neither team would you right now say it is entirely realistic.

    So the argument goes, what if Central Coast and Wellington had the spectre of relegation hovering over them, would Friday night’s match have been any better?

    I’m still not sure.

    For all the talk about promotion/relegation and expansion, the A-League as it currently stands is struggling.

    The beleaguered Friday night time slot, what should be the prime time game of the week, drew less than 5,000 to the stadium.

    Would any more be showing up to watch a relegation battle?

    And if an A-League side is struggling to get a crowd over 5,000 on a Friday night, then what hope does a second division team have on a national stage to get any audience, let alone be successful.

    For all the talk of promotion and relegation being a saviour of Australian football, remember the three other footy codes (AFL, NRL, and Super Rugby) don’t have promotion/relegation, and they still have a viable comp, where every team right up until the end of the home and away season still has an element of interest in every game they play.

    I am not yet entirely sure that had Central Coast and Wellington been playing for their A-League lives, that Friday would have been much more pleasant. There’s a chance that the game might have been even worse.

    Roy Krishna

    (Photo by Tony Feder/Getty Images)

    Newcastle, clear your schedule, you’ll be playing finals
    It has been seven long seasons for the long-suffering Jets fans, as they have watched on with envy as every other team has played finals in that time, and Newcastle have not.

    Well, the wait is officially over.

    By beating Brisbane, who were in seventh spot going into their match, the Jets are now 19 points clear of the Roar, meaning even if the Jets lose every game remaining, and Brisbane win every game, Newcastle cannot finish below Brisbane or any of the teams below them.

    And my word how the Jets have broken that drought. Newcastle extended their scoring streak to 21 games this round, and are playing a brand of football that is exciting, attacking, and just plain fun to watch.

    Make no mistake, the match against Brisbane was no fait accompli, as the ageing warriors from Queensland took it to the second-placed Newcastle team. While Jamie Young was man of the match, Jack Duncan did his part to keep a vital clean sheet for the away side.

    The clinical finish of Joey Champness, from the pinpoint accurate through-ball of Steve Ugarkovic, gave the Novocastrians the win and the stamp on the finals visa in their A-League passport.

    And what a day to do it, with a win in front of a strong travelling away fan contingent, on the 10-year anniversary, to the day, of their maiden and only grand final A-League victory.

    Ernie Merrick is surely the front-runner for coach of the year, which takes absolutely nothing away from Graham Arnold. But to do what Merrick has done in Newcastle, from where they were last season, is nothing short of masterful.

    And it is only fair and proper that his team will be on show come finals time in April.

    Williams did more damage to the game than Cavusevic’s actions
    Football in Australia has a huge image problem, that is not exactly an earth-shattering statement.

    Whether it’s the perceived terrorist sect that apparently supports the game, or the “fact” that nobody plays it (despite it being the highest participation sport in the land), or the failing crowds and empty stadiums during A-League and Asian Champions League matches, football in Australia really does not need any extra excuse for people in glass houses to throw stones.

    And yet, of all the criticisms that the game cops in this country, there is the one indefensible action that leaves any lover of football speechless when trying to sell the game. Diving.

    In a sporting culture that is built on the likes of Norm Provan and Arthur Summons, true sporting gladiators, or Leigh Matthews and Gary Ablett in AFL, where toughness and brutality are near-deified, there is simply nothing you can say in the face of footballers who play-act to get another player sent off.

    Dzengis Cavusevic never should have touched Rhys Williams’ face. Regardless of the push he himself received, and granted Cavusevic’s actions may be arguably a reflex action, but ultimately, he slapped another player.

    That is a red card.

    But it was a red cardable offence, regardless of Rhys Williams going down like a gunman on a grassy knoll had shot him.

    The near full second delay between the slap as Williams’ dive was blatant, and just utterly distasteful.

    Instead of calling it diving, or the even more vulgar term, “simulation,” call it what it is: cheating.

    Cheating and play-acting are such a bane on the existence of football in this country, that the issuing of a red card to Williams might have been equally fair for the damage he did to the image of the game, as much as the slap he received did.

    Stay on your feet Williams, particularly when the slap you received was always going to be punished.

    If you’d stayed on your feet, at least your reputation would still be intact.

    And the reputation of football wouldn’t have been damaged further in the process.


    (Photo by Graham Denholm/Getty Images)

    Kilkenny scores, and celebrates accordingly
    When Raul joined Schalke, having played 550 games Real Madrid and scored 228 goals in the process, he found himself playing the Spanish club the next season in the Champions League.

    He inevitably scored against Madrid, and as a show of respect to his old team, did not celebrate.

    Fair enough.

    However it has become something of a tradition now that if a player spent time on the bench for one team’s seconds, if they ever come up against that team in the future, they don’t celebrate a goal.

    Now, I’m all for showing respect to your former club.

    But that’s the point: your former club is now no longer your club. You are with a new club.

    When the likes of Raul, an iconic legend in his own right, decides to respect a club that they grew up with, bled for, and spent the majority of his life with, you can at least understand why he might not feel right celebrating against them.

    It was refreshing to see Neil Kilkenny celebrate his equalizer against Melbourne City for his new club Perth.

    For a player that was told he was excess to requirements mid season, and found himself in Perth, you would think he pencilled fixture penciled in as a must starter.

    To win, and score, I imagine would have been exceptionally gratifying for the veteran warrior.

    And to see him celebrate the goal? He deserved it.

    You are allowed to show joy and happiness for your new club. It is an opportunity to show your new supporters that you are one of them.

    Also, just because you are celebrating with your new fans, does not have to mean that you are being disrespectful to the old.

    Sydney vs Western Sydney: Farewell SFS
    If the AFL has the grand final, rugby league has state of origin, then domestically, the Australian footballing crown jewel is the Sydney Derby.

    Conditions were utterly atrocious for the round 21 match up, but the atmosphere did not appear to suffer, and the play still delivered the tension, passion, and class that has come to be expected from this fixture.

    As is usual in this day and age, the FFA butchered yet another marquee event, as the players ran around on a field with barely visible line markings, in a less than favourable time slot (why wasn’t the kick off earlier?).

    But the Derby continues to deliver.

    The passion, the flare (no pun intended), the goals, and that prized atmosphere, still creates a product that no other game does in the A-League.

    Which is not to denigrate other match ups or derbies in the A-League. It is simply the case that the Sydney Derby has delivered from day one.

    The singularly greatest thing the A-League has done in recent times is tap into that Sydney vs Western Sydney pathos.

    The A-League, after all, is about the fans, and in this fixture the A-League has managed to give rival communities an opportunity to get one up on their crosstown rivals.

    So as the derby bids farewell to the Sydney Football Stadium for now, it brings to mind the memories of the match up, and the quality football and drama that has always delivered.

    Sure, the latest installment may not have been a classic, although Adrian Mierzejewski delivered a free kick to rival that of Leroy George’s effort the night before.

    It’s a shame that the last one at the SFS was played under such poor conditions, but if the FFA is going to improve anything (and on past evidence, it’s likely they won’t), they will ensure that these three matches are catered for every season to ensure that only the best that the A-League has to deliver, is very much on show.

    Adrian Mierzejewski

    (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

    Three games on a Saturday should be mandatory
    How good was ‘Super Saturday’?

    I’ve never understood why the A-League goes with the 1-2-2 formation in respect of its game schedule over the weekend.

    Saturday never really feels like 2 games is enough, and the late night second game on Sunday always feels like that guy at a party who is trying to dance when everyone else has gone to sleep.

    But the three games on Saturday was where it was at.

    When Brisbane and Newcastle kicked things off with end-to end attacking excitement, and the Melbourne and Adelaide match followed up with more goals, just when you thought things were done, you realized you had a whole other game left, and the added excitement of a top-2 chasing Melbourne against a top-6 chasing Perth.

    Seven-plus hours of football later, I was spent, but what a way to spend your energy.

    Again, the A-League cannot afford to dilute its product. The two games on Saturday and Sunday just doesn’t ever feel like it gains any momentum, but with three on a Saturday, and then the marquee Sydney Derby on the Sunday night?

    Yes please.

    Take note FFA – you had a great round of football there, and the Super Saturday component was crucial to that.

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    The Crowd Says (17)

    • February 25th 2018 @ 9:08pm
      Kangajets said | February 25th 2018 @ 9:08pm | ! Report

      Anyone with 300 km of Newcastle, get to the game next Saturday

      This is the beginning of a great A league rivalry

      It’s newcastle v Sydney FC. And 3. F18 hornets are doing the pre gsme flyover

      This nsw derby is going to like man utd v Liverpool

      Reflecting on another terrific round of the 15 th best supported league on the planet

      Adrian Mierzejewski is just fantastic, what a pleasure to watch , he is the conductor of mayhem . Ninchovic has been quiet , so that could mean he is ready to explode soon.
      Sydney looked in complete control all gsme despite Redmayne gift .

      Re the Wanderers, they are getting better , I’m thinking they will make the six and maybe only Adelaide United are the only team who could drop out now .
      The Wanderers Spanish players apart from Riera are a real disappointment this season . Gombau will let them go at seasons end .

      Brisbane v Newcastle… I thought was the game of the round . Only 1-0 but both keepers were magnificent. Topper Stanley got away with one at the end . Jade north should have been sent off .
      Brisbane are much better and Maccarone should have scored at least one .

      Victory are back . The player sent off was silly , Williams was looking like a fl.. . simulation… suspend Williams He is not going to the World Cup with that rubbish .
      The first goal for victory, came from a blatant foul from Williams, …… but Adelaide in particular with Blackwood were soft and toothless
      Leroy George great gosl

      Great to see Perth Glory win at home and what the heck does Warren Joyce offer as a coach of city .
      City are going backwards with Joyce , arzani is the saviour, but Joyce is baffling me.

      Well done to ccm Also
      The A league delivered again .

      Now let’s hear everybody talk about how bad the metrics are , and the A league is dead
      Let’s look forward to this meeting of the new giants of the A league… Newcastle v Sydney ?

      • February 25th 2018 @ 9:26pm
        Waz said | February 25th 2018 @ 9:26pm | ! Report

        Maccarone should have scored one? Not sure why you pick that out – FBK, Holman, Franjic and Avraam all had guilt edge first half chances that should have been put away, on two occasions the keeper was already out of the equation (and Jets were busy down the other end as well).

        It was a very good game, deserving of 3-2 but 1-0 was still entertaining. The difference between the two sides was simply one touch. Roar often took that extra touch, the sign of a side trying hard to be good, whereas Jets were more natural, more relaxed, and it showed in shots on target and three goal.

        And the VAR/Refereeing – enough said, we’re all in it together and it’s damaging the code game by game. It’s been rubbish this season.

        • February 25th 2018 @ 9:50pm
          Kangajets said | February 25th 2018 @ 9:50pm | ! Report

          Maccarone was the first one I remembered.

          Like u said , could have been multiple goals either way

          Do you see enough improvement in Brisbane for Aloisi to keep his job , with the obvious need for some younger players to be recruited.

          Also , on Joey Champness,, we are stunned that Brisbane let him leave. If you have better youth then joey coming through at Brisbane, you will be going great guns .

          • February 25th 2018 @ 10:54pm
            Waz said | February 25th 2018 @ 10:54pm | ! Report

            “Do you see enough improvement in Brisbane for Aloisi to keep his job”


            • February 26th 2018 @ 8:17am
              j,binnie said | February 26th 2018 @ 8:17am | ! Report

              Waz – In answer to your question I think the present Roar line up has been arrived at , not so much by clever “coaching”, but more so by sheer accident.
              The system of playing 2 fullbacks in a back four, and two “wingers” to do the “fetch and carry work” out wide, is almost 70 years old being the system developed by one of the world’s great teams,the Hungarian national team of the early 1950’s
              The personnel in that great team fitted their positions like the proverbial “hand to glove”and by sheer accident, today’s Roar team can actually “copy” that line up in talented personnel, albeit at HAL standard.
              The only problem is will the team, as presently selected ,be allowed to develop that “game fellowship” or will we see more changes, apparently made for some reason or other..
              After all ,a possession based game has been tried, (A la Ange’s dated system), a back three system (to match the national team’s attempts), and now, as I said, almost by accident, we have returned to a 70 year old formation that appears to suit the players “in squad”.
              If the full backs stayed as is, firstly as defenders, and the two midfielders in Mackay and Kristensen did the spadework across the midfield ,leaving Khalfallah and Bautheac to do the “fetch and carry” work out wide, all that remains to be done to fine tune the system is to encourage Holman to play where his experience and reputation still have an effect, up front next to Maccarone ,who has proved he can “pull” men to him, and release telling passes.
              Will it be developed? Who knows? Cheers jb.

        • February 25th 2018 @ 10:18pm
          j,binnie said | February 25th 2018 @ 10:18pm | ! Report

          Waz – At the risk of repeating myself,this Roar squad is not the worst in the league,it is simply a matter of getting them together in a formation that suits their talents.
          This game was a good measure, for Jets are only where they are because of their play this season and, but for the performance of Young, could have shown us why they are where they are.
          At the other end Duncan also excelled and really some of his saves merited the description ,”good goalkeeping” as against “poor finishing”
          Can the Roar improve? With the same formation as has played in the last 2 matches there is no doubt that can happen,the things that would help is if it is pointed out to them, especially Holman, as to what is expected of them,and him, as a front runner.
          The pundits commenting praised him to the highest but in fact it was almost 20 minutes before he touched the ball, and his treatment of the Macaronne “through ball” was “amateurish ” to say the least..
          Kristensen has to improve his fitness if he is to last 90 minutes, for this “flaw” is throwing pressure on Hingert,, a pressure that actually caused the Jet’s goal.
          So let’s keep the faith and hope that the players themselves can sort out the minor changes that would only improve the overall performance. Cheers jb.

      • February 26th 2018 @ 1:37am
        Redondo said | February 26th 2018 @ 1:37am | ! Report

        Kanga! Ninkovic quiet? He won the foul for goal 1, made the cross for goal 2, backheeled the assist for goal 3, controlled the tempo and focus of most of Sydney’s attacking play, and, pressed all night, winning the ball back numerous times., Mierzejewski may be the best player of the A-League era but Ninkovic is definitely Sydney FC’s best of the A-League era.

        • February 26th 2018 @ 8:56am
          Kangajets said | February 26th 2018 @ 8:56am | ! Report

          Fair points about ninchovic. An error on my part to forget abt those contributions.

          Just stating that Mierzejewski seems to be the puppet master , but as you say ninchovic was very effective.

      • February 27th 2018 @ 7:48am
        Football is Life said | February 27th 2018 @ 7:48am | ! Report

        Afternoon All,

        Ok, so it was a round full of positives my points are as follows;

        The Victory win in my opinion keeps it up vibe and interesting coming into the finals.

        Newy won, what’s not positive about that!!

        Champness is a talent and hopefully that talent is fostered all the way to the National team.

        Nige Boogard had a great game.

        We need more footballers who can score from the dead ball like Mierzejewski did.

        Yep, Leroy George is quality buy

        Steve Ugarkovic is playing the football of his life

        But there were negatives;

        Adelaide looked like they were out on their feet after an epic 10 man effort last week.

        The number of straight out body check/off the ball/in the back incidents by Victory that were let go by the ref I believe only facilitated the Causevic/Williams incident.

        Causevic was stupid and I hope Kurz ripped him for it.

        Robbie Slater aka Graham Arnold’s accomplice in verbal stupidity approximately stated “I am not a fan of Kurz, he is so aggressive, he yells so much on the sidelines, he is always at loggerheads with the referees, there just doesn’t seem to be the class there!! there’s a reason he yells so much……the refs are rubbish and have a look at the football that Adelaide has played this year, they have been brilliant…….Slater and Arnold went to the same schools together.

        Graham Arnold spewed forth more dumb comments. He seems tobhave forgotten the times they struggled against Wanderers at Parramatta stadium. He seems to have forgotten everything goes in cirlcles and the day will come when his comments come back to bite him. Disrespectful under-educated knuckle dragger.

    • February 25th 2018 @ 9:08pm
      shirtpants said | February 25th 2018 @ 9:08pm | ! Report

      Im not really sure what the bottom teams who aren’t going to be playing NRL or AFL finals have to keep their end of season games interesting?

      Second division is essential to ensure all teams are fighting every game, every week, among many other reasons discussed to death on here.

      Its such a shame we always seem to be discussing non football related issues; read: williams. The game suffers as a result of it. Its hard to engage new fans when media is dominated not by Mierzejewski’s classy free kick, Newcastle’s exciting form or Arzani’s big future.

      • February 25th 2018 @ 9:57pm
        Kangajets said | February 25th 2018 @ 9:57pm | ! Report

        Shirt pants

        Lots of positive stuff to talk about

        Mierzejewski free kick
        Bobo unselfish running to create space
        Arzani brilliant
        Leroy Goerge
        Adam taggarts late winner
        Ugarkovic through ball for Champness
        Is Castro finished
        Jamie Young and Jack Duncan keeping
        Boogard become a real leader
        How good is Riley magree??

        Is David Carney the answer to the Socceroos issues at left back ??

        Enjoyable round of football

        • February 26th 2018 @ 11:17am
          Kris said | February 26th 2018 @ 11:17am | ! Report

          Warren Joyce getting stuffed by a guy he shoved out the door 🙂

      • February 26th 2018 @ 8:11am
        chris said | February 26th 2018 @ 8:11am | ! Report

        And no other sport has a playing base of over 1 million players. Its not all about TV ratings and how many inches you can occupy in a (soon to be defunct) newspaper.

      • February 26th 2018 @ 11:14am
        Kris said | February 26th 2018 @ 11:14am | ! Report

        If 5,000 watch CCM v Wellington on Friday night in the A-League, how many are going to watch them up against a TV game while playing in the B-League? 1,200? How does a professional club survive on those gates and no TV revenue?

        • February 26th 2018 @ 3:35pm
          shirtpants said | February 26th 2018 @ 3:35pm | ! Report

          My allegiance is already with Sydney FC but if I were to choose between going to see a local game of a second division and watching another game on t.v., I’d choose the live local match.

          For this to be the mentality of other fans, we need to address ticket prices and transport issues ASAP. We need to be playing at the best time for fans to show up and not fill gaps in fox’s schedule.

          We probably need to be investing in streaming services for the second division as well. That’s the future. We need to get ahead of it.

    • Roar Guru

      February 26th 2018 @ 12:47am
      That A-League Fan said | February 26th 2018 @ 12:47am | ! Report

      Agree with everything written.

    • February 26th 2018 @ 8:13am
      chris said | February 26th 2018 @ 8:13am | ! Report

      “and then the marquee Sydney Derby on the Sunday night?”
      Over 25,000 on a wet miserable Sunday night so not too bad!

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