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The Roar

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Aloisi off to China, Maclaren denied Derby winner, Wild finish in the west

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Expert
24th December, 2023
18

There’s rarely a dull moment in this competition – and with late drama, a feisty Melbourne Derby and another coaching change, this weekend was certainly no exception.

Here are your A-League Round 9 talking points.

Ross Aloisi joins Muscat in Shanghai

It’s been a great start to the season for Brisbane Roar, but after two straight losses the Roar have been dealt another blow with manager Ross Aloisi stepping away from the club to take up a position in the Chinese Super League. Aloisi will become ex-Melbourne Victory man Kevin Muscat’s assistant.

It’ll be a tough pill to swallow for Roar fans, back towards the pointy end of the ladder with their complementary mix of exciting youth and experienced senior players making them one of the most pleasant sides to watch this season. Luciano Trani, who played at NPL level and was Aloisi’s assistant, will take over for the balance of 2023-24. I don’t believe the coaching change will derail their season but it is a blow to their aspirations.

For Aloisi himself, there’s no doubt the move will be good for his bank balance, but whether it’s actually going to do much for his career is more debatable. The CSL is not what it once was, with fewer foreign players allowed on the field – just three – and less money invested in big-name stars as the focus switched to developing local talent.

(Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Many eyebrows were raised when Muscat made the switch from Japan to China – and the reaction to Aloisi’s move has followed in a similar fashion. Time will tell, but this just doesn’t seem like a very good decision. We don’t know exactly what was going on behind the scenes at the Roar, so perhaps that was a factor.

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Maclaren denied winner in rocking Melbourne Derby

In an intriguing test for both sides, the first Melbourne Derby of 2023-24 ended scoreless after Jamie Maclaren thought he’d won it for City with his fifth goal of the season. Maclaren, who was earlier in the week snubbed by Graham Arnold for the Asian Cup, was adjudged to have fouled Leigh Broxham before shooting past Paul Izzo.

What gets Maclaren in trouble is having his arms all over Broxham, but personally the Victory stalwart goes down very easily. It’s a 50-50 call, the kind that will get evened out over the course of a whole season, but in the context I’d like to see the referee go with the attacking side in that instance.

Before Saturday night, I was sure the Melbourne Derby had fallen quite a way behind its Sydney counterpart, but the scenes at AAMI Park were so boisterous, now I’m not so sure. The attendances were quite similar for the first iterations this season – 28,152 and 25,884. Let’s hope there’s as much feeling in the return fixture in February as both clubs make top-four pushes.

HBF Park in raptures as Glory seal much-needed win

I was surprised when Alen Stajcic took the vacant Perth Glory job after young coach Ruben Zadkovich left the club back in June. Eighteen years down the track, Glory are still the only foundation club yet to lift the toilet seat (unless you count the New Zealand Knights, that is) and the unresolved ownership situation has left the club in a dishevelled state.

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It’s been a rocky start to Staj’s tenure, with just the sole victory in eight matches before Saturday, but perhaps the late win over Macarthur can be a stepping stone to a brighter back half of the campaign. I’m not sure of the statistical likelihood of coming back from two goals down to win in the A-League, but I’d hazard a guess it is not high. A win like that can really help a team bond.

There’s more than enough experienced A-Leaguers in that side to challenge for the top six, blended with some quality younger plays like Giordano Colli and Stefan Colakovski, as well as Stajcic at the helm. Glory’s ladder position is not indicative of the potential in that side – now they just need to start living up to it.

Quick hits

-With their third win of the campaign, the champions are now just a couple points behind Adelaide in sixth. It was a disastrous start to the championship defence, but Central Coast are back in the mix now. Their form in the AFC Cup certainly helped.

-Marko Rudan’s wallet will be a little lighter after shouting a pub full of Phoenix fans a beer before his side’s 2-0 loss at Sky Stadium. I can’t say I was a fan of Wanderers’ antics, kicking off before their opponents were in position following Kosta Barbarouses’ opening goal. Looked pretty embarrassing.

-Barbarouses is rolling back the years with some excellent form as Wellington sit pretty on top of the ladder. How about Alex Rufer’s assist?

Kosta Barbarouses celebrates a Wellington goal with Tim Payne. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

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-An important bounce-back for Adelaide, 3-1 over Newcastle Jets at Coopers Stadium. There’s a lot to like about the Reds but that three-match losing streak was concerning.

-It was a bizarre evening at Allianz Stadium, Sydney FC prevailing 4-2 in the end. More misery for Western United and hardly an encouraging showing from Ufuk Talay’s side. United will likely miss the finals but there’s some hope for the Sky Blues, as long as they tighten up and Joe Lolley can bail them out.

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