Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford combined for a moment of magic to help Manchester United post a 2-0 win over Perth Glory in front of 50,206 fans at Optus Stadium.
Aussie teams often fall at the first hurdle within the cutthroat confines of the ACL.
It is a theme repeated, where players and managers big up their chances before the tournament only to fall flat on their faces afterwards.
Graham Arnold proclaimed in the 2017-18 season that they would win the ACL. They ended up slinking back home after the group stages.
Yet a solitary ray has pierced the darkness for the 2019-20 season. While Arnold’s Sydney and Muscat’s Melbourne Victory could be depended to make up the numbers, they are, thankfully, not the main focus this year.
No, for in this season, the spotlight belongs to Tony Popovic’s Glory. His purple-clad troops would certainly be aiming to repeat the heroic triumph madeby the Wanderers a la 2014.
Yet, as fine a manager as Popovic is, a bladesmith is only as good as his tools. Unfortunately, some of those in the purple ranks aren’t the sharpest, whether due to the degeneration of age, a sharp loss of form, or a simple lack of ability to cut it at a regional level.
Let’s take a look at some of these players below
1) Dino Djulbic
A magnificent leader of men, the club stalwart has lost more than a yard of pace in seasons past.
He would likely be bamboozled by the fast, technical style of football in the ACL.
Should be retained in a coaching capacity if possible, however.
Ben Warland (Sydney FC)
Steven Taylor (Wellington Pheonix)
Brandon Hamill (Free Agent)
2) Andy Keogh
A fox in the box style striker, the blond maestro has played for some of the biggest clubs in England’s second tier.
Yet, his touch and control remains surprisingly poor for someone of his pedigree. At the wrong side of 30, he should be shipped out to make way for a fast strike partner to support Bruno Fornaroli.
Alejandro Sanchez (Sydney Olympic)
Dylan Wenzel-Halls (Brisbane Roar)
Lachlan Wales (Melbourne City)
3) Joel Chianese
A poor man’s Chris Oikonomidis, Chianese has certainly improved under Popovic’s management. His touch and dribbling are hardly the best, though, and he doesn’t quite offer a steady presence on the ball.
His age is a factor going for him, however, and his inclusion here is a debatable one.
Ramy Najjarine (Melbourne City)
Kofi Danning (NPL)
Mitchell Mallia (NPL)
So, what do you think of these inclusions? Is this the way to secure success?