What a weekend of football action that was. We’re now 12 games into the new season, and it’s fair to say there have been some vastly contrasted starts around the competition.
Here are your A-League Round 2 talking points.
There had already been quite a few goals over the first three games of the round, but an action-packed Sunday schedule added another 17 to the tally, an average of over five per match.
Victory striker Bruno Fornaroli wound back the years with a brilliant four-goal haul, before the effervescent Nestory Irankunda dispatched a terrific free-kick that got the Reds off the mark on the way to a 6-0 dismantling of Melbourne City.
The quality of play has fluctuated quite a bit as sides look to gel and build combinations, and we have seen a few blowouts but some of the goals and individual efforts have been fantastic. Let’s hope there’s plenty more where that came from.
Sydney FC’s disastrous start to 2023-24 has plenty questioning whether Steve Corica is the right man to take the club forward.
The season-opening loss at home to old rivals Melbourne Victory was on Friday night followed up by another poor showing at Suncorp Stadium, condemning the Sky Blues to a 0-2 record.
They have conceded five times, and are yet to trouble the scorers themselves after 180 minutes of football, despite boasting very likely the two best wingers in the competition, and an ostensibly capable visa signing at No.9.
It’s clear something has to change in Moore Park because as much as Sydney’s first two results can be attributed to awful individual errors, the trend of underperformance at the club started after the Grand Final defeat to Melbourne City two and a half years ago.
Since then there has been little to cheer about, with their highest regular-season finish being fifth and just one finals win.
Corica’s tenure couldn’t have started much better, with three titles in his first two seasons in charge which, combined with his exploits as a player, rightfully would’ve earned plenty of credit in the bank. This month’s Australia Cup triumph should also be acknowledged, but if his side’s league form does not improve soon, Bimbi could be in serious trouble.
Marko Rudan’s challenge over the off-season was always going to be maintaining some semblance of stability when the likes of Tomislav Mrcela, Calem Nieuwenhof, Kusini Yengi and Morgan Schneiderlin departed the club. To his credit, Rudan has managed to plug the holes and the new-look WSW side absolutely dismantled Western United on Saturday evening on the back of a five-goal first-half blitz.
Another big coup was holding on to Socceroo Brandon Borrello, whose 13-goal, five-assist 2022-23 campaign surely caught the eye of overseas clubs. Borrello is forming a formidable strike partnership with new man Marcus Antonsson, who’s also a proficient goal-scorer.
I’m not one to make early season predictions as they invariably go horribly wrong, but most of the experts have Wanderers in the top four – at minimum – and that seems a pretty safe bet. With Grand Finalists Central Coast and Melbourne City likely due for a regression it opens up the competition nicely.
On a negative note, it wasn’t the biggest crowd in Parramatta but the on-field energy gave the RBB plenty of inspiration as the Wanderers ran rampant.
As one of the biggest clubs in the A-League it’s incumbent on Western Sydney to do their fare share of heavy lifting crowd-wise – let’s just hope more of those fans from their inaugural season premiership run and ACL championship are tempted to return.
Having been without independent ownership since Martin Lee was stripped of the licence almost three years ago, finally some movement in the sale process for the Newcastle Jets. Sydney-based professional services firm KordaMentha – which also oversaw the recent sale of Perth Glory – have stated their goal is to finalise the transaction “before Christmas.”
The optics of the ownership mess were terrible, with the Jets being propped up in the meantime by other clubs, including Sydney FC and Western Sydney. Unsurprisingly, in that time they’ve failed to make the finals – never finishing higher than ninth in the regular season – without even a decent Australia Cup run to cling onto.
It’s also great news for the long-suffering fans of the Hunter club, who’ve seen little success apart from a special run to the 2017-18 Grand Final that ended in defeat. This region has a proud football history, and while they’ll never be the Knights, the Jets are capable of capturing the city’s imagination.
The squad in its current composition is not a top-six side and desperately needs an injection of talent. It’s unrealistic to expect any changes in the January window – if the sale will even be completed in the target timeframe – but perhaps the new ownership can make some much-needed moves in the off-season.
-The fans didn’t exactly turn up in their droves for Roar’s return to inner Brisbane, with 7688 going through the turnstiles at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night. Kayo Stadium – located about 40 kilometres north of the city – was not the right home for Brisbane but it must be said anything less than about 15,000 makes Suncorp look quite cavernous.
-Andrew Redmayne’s usually got a clanger in him, but this failed clearance has to be one of his worst.
-Young Wellington gloveman Alex Paulsen impressed again, this time keeping out Adam Taggart’s penalty to preserve his side’s three points at Sky Stadium. His opposite number, Oli Sail, conversely had a horror moment early on, providing former teammate Oskar Zawada a great assist for the opening goal.
-Definitely not as fun watching a broadcast from across the ditch if Jason Pine isn’t calling the game.
-If you were hibernating over the weekend or for some reason didn’t see it, check out Lachlan Brook’s early goal of the season contender.