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The Roar

Ben of Phnom Penh

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Joined June 2011

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It is a very good question, Mike, as it gets to the heart of the concept of club identity. Despite all the accusations of plasticity and uniformity, most clubs have developed traits and flavours that transcend the immediate coaching set-up.

Sydney have gone through a number of coaches yet continue to play with the confidence and panache of a big club. Wellington, despite all their disadvantages, continue to play an aggressive game regardless the opponent or their ladder position. Adelaide will dig deep into the local stocks and throw SA kids into the mix, resulting in the wild roll-a-coaster that makes being an AUFC support a serious risk for anyone with a heart condition, The Jets, CCM, all have shown consistent, unique traits over a substantial period of time and over numerous coaching regimes.

The question for Western United is whether the gritty approach dispersed with flashes of brilliance is consistent with the area or a result of the coaching set-up is up for debate, though it is worth noting the traits exhibited by the club are not dissimilar to those displayed by teams in other sports from the same area.

That, in my book at least, is a good thing.

Are Western United a Cinderella story or the A-League's ugly sibling?

Who are the best NPL coaches at the moment?

Now that would make an interesting list.

Manager candidates the Melbourne Victory could target

Rich single owners certainly have contributed to rapid player wage inflation, but so too state-linked investment funds, most notably from the Gulf States, where investment has geo-political push factors.

This pursuit of success through heavy investment has created something of a house of cards, as seen with the collapse of eleven Chinese clubs over the past 6 months, as well as the reluctance of the English FA to condone the Saudi investment in Newcastle.

“Sports washing” has entered the lexicon.

As you noted, COVID-19 is already forcing a rethink. I dare say the correction has only just begun and will pick up pace as television & IP rights are up for negotiation.

COVID-19: An opportunity for the AFC

It raises an interesting question in relation to longer term planning and club resilience.

Whilst a single owner can provide the large cash injections so many fans crave, something local conglomerates often fail to muster, all the financial eggs are in one basket.

This effects long-term planning as single owners have visions they want implemented. When owners change, so do the plans.

A conglomerate has smaller members coming and going which allows for greater long-term consistency.

The main problem is the inflexibility of the current A-League licensing which places a heavy expenditure requirement on clubs, a financial burden than many conglomerates struggle to meet over the long term.

Once again licensing promotes riskier ownership structures, something that was fine in the times of largess when the model was developed but less appropriate for the uncertain economic conditions we now face.

COVID-19: An opportunity for the AFC

One part of the problem is the AFC licensing which focuses on what clubs look like as opposed to how they are run. Promoting good corporate governance and allowing flexibility in club structures would be a good start.

COVID-19: An opportunity for the AFC

Single-owner clubs have a place, the problem is the corporate culture that has evolved around many of them which has increased their off-field risk profile whilst limiting their on-field evolution.

It varies somewhat as owners have established clubs with different motivations, most of them well intended. Problems arise when they have both autocratic management styles coupled with emotional attachment to the clubs, a common theme in SE Asia.

The collapse of clubs in China is staggering, with 2018 ACL quarterfinalists Tianjin Taihan and 1990 Asia CLub Championship winner Liaoning both folding. Many clubs were back partly for political purposes and the resulting over-capitalisation left them highly exposed.

As they say, it is when the tide goes out you find who has been swimming naked.

COVID-19: An opportunity for the AFC

Nice work, Nick.

It was interesting to see how City’s willingness, and ability, to hit a solid ball from just outside of the box drew Sydney’s defenders towards the centre to provide cover. It may have also contributed to Sydney not pressing as high as they would have liked.

Tactical analysis: Melbourne City 2, Sydney FC 0

I am not privy to the conversation surrounding Gosford Stadium, however the public discourse gave the impression there were parties holding out in the hope that ARL would establish a side there. Perhaps the looming economic realities has overwhelmed the already somewhat fragile hopes of those who harboured them.

Can a cut-price A-League offer more chances to local youngsters?

The meteoric rise in the wages in popular sports is directly correlated to the commercial value of these sports, a value driven by increasing disposable wealth and choices in discretionary spending. As the World economy stalls it follows that there will be less discretionary spending resulting in decline in the commercial value of popular sports. This will result in downward wage pressure.
What is less certain is the impact COVID-19 will have on discretionary expenditure patterns post-pandemic.
Those clubs and leagues who have a fan base that is amenable to a local product are likely to be better placed going forward as they have structural risk mitigation. A-League clubs need not only to dig deeper in their respective backyards, but also do more to sell the story.
To do so clubs will not only be better positioned to ride out the immediate economic downturn, but also have structural foundations to thrive if post-COVID-19 discretionary spending is vastly different to what preceded.

Can a cut-price A-League offer more chances to local youngsters?

Opseth under Veart has been a revelation, particularly the way he is bringing other players into the match. His assist for Brook’s first A-league goal was lovely.

The other revelation for 2019/20 is defensive midfield; Adelaide have two 18 y.o’s in D’Arrigo and Gomulka fighting for a starting position in what is arguably the toughest position on the pitch, one usually reserved for a seasoned player. It says a lot about player development in the state if these types of kids are coming through.

Adelaide’s usage of so much youth is risky, however it is paying dividends on an off the pitch.

It transpires being rather parochial (currently there are only 4 non-South Australians in the squad) and skint does have an upside.

Carl Veart has Adelaide United humming

One benefit of a switch that is often overlooked is that Summer coincides with the worst of the Wet Season in the tropical North. A move to Winter means centres such as Cairns and Darwin come into play as venues and potentially bases for teams when promotion/relegation becomes a reality.

Top End FC in a national second tier? Now that would be fun.

Is a switch to winter the key to unlocking the A-League's potential?

Nice analysis, Nick.

Brisbane Roar 0, Adelaide United 1: Tactical analysis

Kai Havertz playing behind Timo Werner is going to give any defence in the world the jitters.

He’s been pushed forward by Bayer Leverkusen in the latter half of the season, however appears a far more dangerous player when he sits a bit deeper.

There will be hot competition for his signature, though apparently he prefers a move to the EPL. It seems everyone from Real Madrid through to Manchester United is casting an eye over him at the moment so it will be interesting to see where he ends; the smart money is not on Bayer Leverkusen.

The one signing Chelsea need to become a title contender

It will be interesting, though generally the Koreans and Japanese fare well in Germany. Kamada is going gang-busters at Eintracht Frankfurt.

Can Timo Werner fire Chelsea to Premier League glory?

It will take a bit more than Timo to fire Chelsea to glory, however you can do far worse up front. Importantly he is only 24 so the club has time to work with him to make an integral part of the squad for years to come.

I am curious as to who RB Leipzig are planning to replace him with. It looks as if Hwang Hee-chan is going to be the man which is great news for the Korean (and adds another reminder to us just as to how good our AFC colleagues are) and a smart bit of business. He had a great season with RB Salzburg.

Can Timo Werner fire Chelsea to Premier League glory?

It is a pity as he was one of the few commentators who was equitable in his commentary.

My favourite Simon Hill commentary moments

What Bruce Djite alluded to is that governance structures need to be reflective of society if they are able to adequately respond to changing social nuances. Those sports that are better able to adapt will be more responsive to their participants and the community which will enable them to retain both community and commercial support.

As such, sports need to change the composition of their governance structures so that society’s voice is heard, even if that voice at times raises uncomfortable questions.

It is that or wither.

Sport must follow platitudes with real change

Hopefully this result will encourage greater corporate sponsorship and broadcast interest in the W-League. Whilst this is always welcome, it could prove vital over the next two years when the corporate purses will be light and competition for limited funds fierce.

Women's World Cup hosting win exactly what football in Australia needs

Football isn’t played in winter all over the World. Many countries in the Northern hemisphere have calendar year seasons with a hiatus over the international break. This is for a variety of reasons, though most often due to either harsh winters or heavy wet seasons.

It is a matter of what works holistically rather than any single facet.

The down-side will be a decline in attendance from those with other football commitments or those splitting their time between A-League and NRL/AFL. The upside is the potential of the drama of promotion/relegation and greater engagement with the professional game with the introduction of a second tier.

And therein lies the problem, one does not necessarily follow on the heels of the other and the professional game needs to survive the transition.

A-League’s winter move fraught with danger

Alignment of the game removes a major impediment toward promotion/relegation; I’m all for it.

One concern is the potential 8-9 month hiatus come June 30 2021. At least for many of the younger players they can play a few months longer in their respective NPL.

New broadcast deal seals A-League’s switch to winter

FIFA ruled against women playing in men’s professional competitions back in 2004. The case was Mexican footballer Maribel Dominguez and whilst the Mexican FA were for it, FIFA ruled there cannot be mixed-gender teams at the professional level.

Equalising the A-League and W-League brands to tackle gender inequality

I haven’t been following the EPL for a while, but have the Bundesliga and can confirm Sancho’s quality. It is both his ability to bring others into the game, as evidenced by his rate of assists, and work off the ball that make him stand out.

Having spent time in the Bundesliga he’s been spared the complacency that can seep into those who stay in England and succumb to the hype.

How much do Manchester United need Jadon Sancho?

Some great names in there. I’d probably have Kai Havertz in place of Valverde, though he’s almost playing more as a striker lately.

The world's best under-21 XI

The problem with Barlow Stadium in Cairns, and the Darwin Football Stadium for that matter, is that they are both grass pitches. The tropical North gets somewhat damp from December through to March, hence an artificial pitch would be required.

The A-League stadium situation: Part 2

You’re probably being a bit rough on Bruce, there, Waz; the guy is articulate so interviews tend to reveal much more within the word-count than the average professional in the industry provides. His signings were not that bad given the budget AUFC operates with.

That said, the signing of Youbing Chen was disappointing. That one of the visa spots was to be given to a young Chinese player from Qingdao Lions for their development was largely understood and accepted. What was disappointing was the choice of player. There are good, young kids in Qingdao who missed out from developing and adding value to the AUFC squad and AUFC’s bottom line. The criteria that made Youbing Chen the choice needs to be questioned as footballing ability wasn’t one of them; he hardly featured for the NPL side.

Bruce Djite: "The immediate future of Australian football is precarious"