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The A-League coaching ladder: Rounds 9-12

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Roar Guru
18th January, 2019
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It was an enthralling four rounds of football.

It was a bit of a confusing time for the neutral spectator as Round 12, for instance, was played over two weeks. The highlight for me from a coaching perspective was when the Newcastle Jets played with ten men in Round 11 after Ronald Vargas was sent off against Melbourne City.

City may have won the game 2-1, but it was the best coaching performance I have ever seen from a coach who has coached a loss. The way in which I perceived the coaching performance of Ernie Merrick in the Jets Round 11 clash is indicative of the manner in which I judged the coaches when formulating my coaching ladder between Round 9 and 12.

I looked deeper than results and looked beneath the surface. The ladder is as follows.

1. Marco Kurz – Adelaide United
Adelaide United didn’t lose a game between Round 9 and 12. Kurz coached extremely well over this period, choosing Ryan Strain over Michael Marrone at right back on a regular basis, which was a courageous selection given Marrone’s experience, but it paid off as Strain was outstanding for United.

Kurz always chose a strong bench with Marrone, George Blackwood and Ryan Kitto all featuring on the bench.

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2. Tony Popovic – Perth Glory
The Glory were clinical in the final third; they scored a total of 12 goals in four games. Popovic rotated the squad, which made the Glory a difficult proposition to formulate a game plan against as it meant that they were unpredictable.

3. Markus Babbel – West Sydney Wanderers
The opposition goalkeepers were outstanding from Round 10-12, even though the Wanderers never obtained three points in any of those games, which indicates that the Wanderers were the better team, despite not registering a win.

4. Darren Davies – Brisbane Roar
I didn’t include Round 9 in formulating the ladder for the Brisbane Roar as that was John Aloisi’s last game as coach of the Roar. The Roar showed plenty of character in two of the three games Davies was in charge. The Roar managed to score five goals in the three games that Davies was in charge. Davies brought in some good youngsters; such as Joe Caletti and Dane Ingham

5. Ernie Merrick – Newcastle Jets
Despite scoring six goals in four games, the Jets were wasteful in the final third as they didn’t finish off their good work up the field. The Jets need to improve if they are to make finals, by being more clinical in front of goal, but they are on the right track.

6. Mark Rudan – Wellington Phoenix
The Phoenix Round 11 clash with Adelaide United is symptomatic of why Rudan is only sixth on the ladder as they had two wins and two draws as Rudan was outcoached by Kurz, despite the Phoenix showing character to obtain a point on the road.

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7. Steve Corica – Sydney FC
Round 11 sums up the coaching performance of Corica over the four rounds; they were completely outplayed by the Mariners in the first half, but they won the game due to the Mariners playing with ten men for much of the game. In Round 12, Corica was completely outcoached by Popovic – Sydney FC’s only loss of the four games.

Even though Sydney FC took nine points out of a possible 12, Corica needs to improve his tactics for Sydney FC to be a more formidable outfit to play against.

8. Kevin Muscat – Melbourne Victory
Victory only claimed five points out of a possible 12. They relied on Ola Toivonen up front and Lawrence Thomas to make important saves.

9. Mike Mulvey – Central Coast Mariners
The Mariners played some good football, predominantly in the first half of games, but I don’t understand why Antony Golec has been dropped as he is a good defender. I would also like to see young goalkeeper Adam Pearce get more of an opportunity.

Mike Mulvey

Coach Mike Mulvey of the Mariners. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

10. Warren Joyce – Melbourne City
Round 10 sums up why Joyce is last on the ladder as Eugene Galekovic was outstanding, despite City winning the game against the Wanderers 2-0. In Round 12, City lost to the Mariners, which is why Joyce is last on the ladder.