Saturday, December 09, 2006

Victory in Numbers

50,333 people rocked up at Telstra Dome to create the largest ever club crowd for a league football match in Australia on Friday night. And amazingly i wasn't there.

That Melbourne Victory have achieved this is a great achievement for a club that last year finished 7th on the table. Sadly, they still haven't sorted out their financial problems, amazing in a club that has over 11,000 members and an average crowd of almost 30,000.

I've been to 6 home games for Victory. The curse of living in a different state to your own side is that you end up going to things simply to see football. 5 of these game shave been at the Dome, and although i would still rather watch the game in a purpose built rectangular stadium that holds 50,000, the atmosphere, even in the smallest crowd of 23,000 odd, is fantastic.

Sadly, in a crowd of that many you will always find a number of thugs and idiots. The larger the crowds, the more noticable it will be. The game against Sydney had some elements of this, as did the game against Adelaide. I have read Victory fans on some forums saying that the FFA should stop trying to make it a family atmosphere and allow flares and swearing etc. That the more it becomes "family friendly" the less it becomes football.

This is utter rubbish. Of the 50,000 people there on Friday night, 43,000 of them would have been average punters, amused by the chanting and bobbing up and down of the fans at either end. Without out these people all you'd have at games would be extreme fans, and this is not what the A-League needs.

has the media exagerated the after game antics of some fans that think they are just "well 'ard?" More than likely. The melbourne media is not a fan of football. They would have been praying for something bad to come out of the game, otherwise they would have needed to actually report on the football. However, fans need to remember that the game is more important than their stupidity. I've been to 6 Melbourne games and had a great time at all of them, even when my team lost. I've even been drunk at a couple. And yet i've never had police feel the necessity to spray me with pepper spray. Maybe there's others that should think about trying the same.

The Romario Experiment - Half Time

The great experiment of bringing over one of the greatest ever players to play in the A-League is now half way through. Romario has worn his No. 11 Adelaide United shirt twice, against Mariners and Victory, has had less than a score of chances and netted none of them. He's got two games left for the Reds, today against NZ and next friday against Newcastle.

The greatest shame isn't that he hasn't managed to get on the scoresheet in his two games. Whenever he actually got a ball to his feet he looked like scoring, only to be stopped by great defending in both games. The worst thing has been the way Kossie and the team have responded to having him in the team. At 5"6' he's amongst the shorter of players in the HAL, and yet we have been consistently failing to play the ball to his head, opting for long crosses which would be lucky to muss his hair.

Then there is the matter of pace. Romario was never going to be the hardest worker on the pitch. In his first game it took him 10 minutes to leave the centre circle. But he's showed in both games that he has intense pace over short distances whilst in the box with balls being played to his feet. Our tactical answer to having him in the team has been at best disruptive and at worst destructive. Aloisi and Veart in midfield haven't worked all year when played like that. Burns is a striker, quick and agile and able to get around players. He is not an experienced crosser of the ball. Yet last week he filled Spagnolo's spot on the right wing, whilst Fernando accompanied the great one up front. So we had to quick guys on the outside, neither of whom are great crossers, and three in the middle who work their arses off, yet have the pace of me. Even worse, every time we got the ball we could not play to his feet. We either creamed it over, or gave posession away. Not good enough.

If he's gong to score against anyone, it will be NZ today. We can only hope it's the case, as it would be a shame for hom to take away memories of Australia that didn't involve scoring in that Red Shirt.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Australia 1 - 1 Ghana

A great game against the Black Stars the other week at Loftus Rd. Some of the best football we've played in a while on show in the first half, and some great saves stopped us from being well and truly on top at half time.

Here's a little compilation from aufcfan on Youtube.

Youth Crisis. Ange vs Fozzie

In an amazing year for Australian football, we have had a couple of very down moments recently.

It is no secret there are big problems with Youth development in our game. The biggest being that there really isn't any to speak of.

There's many theories, and many solutions. But as of today none are being announced or put into place. The necessity for a decent youth program, incorporating a national youth league of some sort, is fundamental to us mounting successful world cup campaigns in 2014 and 2018. And successful world cup campaigns, Asian cup campaigns, and Asian Champions League campaigns is what we need more than anything else.

FFA are saying that they are aware of the issues, and it is surely top of incoming CEO Ben Buckley's list when he starts his tenure in the job. But WHAT are they doing? We have now failed in Asia to qualify for the U17 and U20 World Cups. Is it harder in Asia? Of course. Should we have the sturctures in place to succeed? Of course. Do we have these structures? No.

Youth coach Ange Postecoglu took to India a squad that had 5 players getting semi regular first team football. Most of his squad aren't even signed with a club. Is this Ange's fault? No. Should Ange have done better? Undoubtedly. We failed partially because of the lack of experience of our young players, but also because of Ange's inability to get any sense of dominance of opposition we should have beaten.

Unfortunately, in the recent interview with SBS, Craig Foster, who seems to be trying to make himself a new Johnny Warren, went head to head with Ange over the issues, saying he should resign. Sadly, i agree with Fozzie's sentiments, if not his mechanism for getting the point across.

Ben Buckley comes from AFL, which through it's Auskick programs, has a very good youth development structure and dominates the sporting landscape through the ages 14 - 24. All his nouce will be required in creating a similar system for football.

Sooner rather than later.

Romario is a here......

The great Romario has finally arrived in Adelaide. Sadly, I couldn't see him at the airport as i live in Melbourne, But it's pretty clear what he's here to do:

Score. Score. And Probably Score a little bit more.

One of the world's greatest players, he needs only 14 more balls to hit the back of the net to equal Pele's 1000 goals record. And at 40 he's still putting them away.

He will play 4 appearances for Adelaide United, against CC at Gosford this weekend, followed by Victory, NZ and Jets at Hindmarsh. Barring injury, i'll actually get to see him on the 15th against Newcastle when i attend my first ever home game for the Reds. To make the milestone in the red shirt, he needs to score an average of 3.5 goals a game. Unlikely. Still, just imagine one of the greatest players still playing the game to score his 1000th goal in Australia. Now imagine that concept 16 months ago...

I do have concerns. I worry that his inclusion will lead to an imbalance in the team. I worry about our ability to actually service balls to his feet. I worry about other teams being overly physical.

What is obvious after our 2 - 1 loss to Sydney on Sunday, is that our guys will have to work more than twice as hard in order to stay in 2nd and get the goals we need.

Still, what a specatcle it will be....

Sunday, October 22, 2006

A-League Results - Round 9


CC Mariners 2 - 1 Perth Glory.

A good game for the Glory ended sadly with the breaking of their Goalkeeper's leg and a hamstring strain to Colosimo. The injuries led to a complete loss of momentum and the Mariners swooped in the dying minutes to take the 3 points. Much for Perth to be happy about, but also a lot of worries. They will be massively weakened going into their away clash with Sydney next weekend at Aussie Stadium. Mariners made it 2 in a rowto keep in touch with the top four and are starting to show some of their old spark again.


Sydney FC 1 - 2 Melbourne Victory

Melbourne got back to winning again up in the Harbour city. After a great first half by Sydney, injuries to Steve Corica and Mark Milligan led tot eh team spending the second 45 minutes playing like utter rubbish. A sad sight. Melbourne continue to show their class by being able to take 3 points from matches where they are out classed for large periods. They now sit well on top 8 points above Adelaide.


Queensland Roar 0 - 1 Newcastle Jets

Gary Van Egmond seems to be the Jets lucky charm as they took maximum points from their second game in a row. Qld seemed to have the better of them for the first 20 minutes, but the goal against the run of play by the Jets completely turned the game around and Milton Rodriguez should have easily taken them a few more ahead. This was the first time this season that someone has scored against the Roar at Suncorp, and their first loss at home. The wonderful start to their season seems to be losing a bit of momentum. The loss of Simon Lynch up front didn't help their cause. Hopefully they can get back to playing their best football soon, as when the do it's fantastic to watch.

Adelaide United 4 - 2 New Zealand Knights

Bottom of the table Knights (again) journeyed over to the City of Churches looking for a goal. They've scored 1 only this season, and it was against us in their only win at home ever, and their only win of the season. John Kosmina had to watch from the stands as he started his four game suspension and Paul Nevin returned to the touch line as he completed his. For large parts of the first half we played fantastic football. Surprisingly, so did the Knights, as they changed 6 members of their starting 11 and started to use the grass instead of the air. It all looked good as we went to the break 2 - 0 up. Then things seemed to fall apart for a 15 minute period for United. A 3rd goal early in the second half set up some complacency that allowed a team that's scored once in 8 games to score 2 in a matter of minutes. At 3 - 2 Adelaide seemed unable to regain control and it looked like we were destined to allow the Knights another result. Thankfully a masterful header from substitute Travis Dodd allowed us to finish 2 goals clear.

Rumours say Kossie wasn't happy in his little booth, so we'll see if things change up a bit for next weeks game against Newcastle.

Good attendances over the weekend. Qld got 16,000, Adelaide 11,600 and Sydney managed a respectable 20,000 for a night that was both cold and wet. Mariner's were the only ones below the 10,000 mark, but their 8,500 odd isn't a bad start. Keep up the good work supporters, and tell your friends.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

A Message To Melbourne Victory

This little gem of a YouTube vid is a lovely little Thursday antidote.

Almost the weekend, and there's 4 games coming up. Time to go up the ladder united. Bring home the bacon...

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Kossie Banned for 4 Matches

The FFA Disciplinary board has handed John Kosmina, coach of Adelaide United, a 6 match touchline ban, with two games suspended.

Sadly, i think this is a bit of an overreaction. Yes Kossie did wrong by grabbing Muscat by the throat. Yes he deserved to be punished. And yes, his standing as Socceroos Assistant coach means he is under more scrutiny than others perhaps. But 4 matches in the middle of the season, when the guy that instigated the whole thing was completely let off, i think is harsh.

I wonder what punishment Adelaide will bring down on him, as they have been talking about their own sanctions as well. We shall see.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Melbourne Victory 0 - 1 Adelaide United

Saturday 15th October 2006
Telstra Dome

Wow. What a great match. Only the second time I've gotten to see my own team play live, and the first time they've won. But i had an absolutely great time at this nail biter of a match. Great to see Victory's winning streak finally end, and even sweeter to see it done by my boys in Red.

An engaging match i thought, and although the majority of the 32,000 odd fans at the Dome probably felt pretty down afterwards, I think the game benefitted from two great footballing sides battling against each other for a full 90 minutes. I know i couldn't leave the stadium early, and I don't think anyone else could either. The simple fact that the last three crowds that Melbourne have attracted to their home games have been 32,000 , 26,000 , and over 40,000 is great for the game in this country.

The goal was great, especially to finally see Owens on the board. He's a handy player that as been a little unlucky in the last few weeks. We dominated the game's possession right through, but unfortunately kept breaking down the attack in the final third. A lack of willingness to take shots, which possibly came from great defence by Melbourne or the pressures of the massive crowd.

Sadly the John Kosmina/Kevin Muscat incident marred the match, but it did show the level of intensity these guys were playing for. Kossie will get a couple of games, and deserves it. However Muscat deserves some type of reprimand as well, as the replays clearly show to me that he intentionally pushed Kossie out of the way in his technical area. That shouldn't be allowed.

The only thing marring the live experience for me was the behaviour of the crowd to Kossie and our boys at the end of the match. But that's the first time I've seen Victory lose, so perhaps a lot of the 32,000 thought winning and lots of goals is the way in football. It didn't need it though. An engrossing match where a 0 - 0 all draw would have actually been an accurate representation of the game.

A-League Results - Round 8


CC Mariners 3 - 1 Sydney FC


Newcastle Jets 3 - 0 New Zealand Knights


Melbourne Victory 0 - 1 Adelaide United

Perth Glory 1 - 2 Queensland Roar

Friday, October 13, 2006

Tips for the remainder of the Round 8

I was going to put these up yesterday, but didn't get the time. The first game is over so here's my thoughts on the others. By the way, I would have tipped CC by 1.

Newcastle Jets vs NZ Knights - Sat 1930
Nick Theo is gone, sadly before he had the chance to coach the Jets through the easiest of their games for the next 7 weeks. The Knights have signed All-Whites striker Cambell Banks to try and fix their goal scoring problems. I can't see it helping them. The Jets should have the skill to set their bad luck aside, which is the major reason for their lack of points as opposed to their ex-coach, and take away all the points. Tip: Jets by 2.

Adelaide United vs Melbourne Victory - Sun 1700
The Dome is set to light up again on Sunday Arvo as my UNited boys try to take down the League high fliers. Victory are 7 wins from 7 and by far the hardest team to beat in the country at the moment. The thing is, they actually deserve to be where they are. They smashed us at Olympic park earlier in the year, and then went on to do the same to everyone else. Although they had some luck on their side against Perth and Newcastle, the sign of a great team is to be able to take away maximum points even when you aren't the best team. We've got Qu and Dodd back for the game, and they've got Thompson back. Should be an absolute blinder of a game, which we can hopefully take all the points, although i think sharing them is more likely. Tip: 2 - 2 Draw.

Perth Glory vs Queensland Roar - Sun 1930
Perth are starting to really pick up as a team, and i hope the WA football faithful get back along to the ground in numbers to show the support they showed the team 10 years ago when they were founded. Laza in particular is in great touch and should be vital to their game on Sunday. They could easily knock off one of the likely top four teams to get into the finals at the end of the year. Roar are showing signs that their early form is perhaps not as strong as we all thought. They are still playing great football, but the goals are not coming as easily. The loss against Victory seems to have rattled them a little. But they are a classy outfit and should be able to regain their form through the rest of the season. Tip: Perth by 1 but both teams to score.

CC Mariners 3 - 1 Sydney FC - And Terry Aint Happy

A great win from the Mariner's on Friday night has seen them get some valuable points to lift them a bit closer to the top four. Carbone scored a great goal from a free kick, but his hamstring problem later in the match after the Mariner's had equalised led to him being substituted.

Sydney never really looked like they could retake the lead. Their poor passing and inability to really breakdown the CC defence allowed the Mariners to slowly stretch them at the back. Damien Mori's brace sealed it, and showed that he's still a potent striker and there's a reason he holds the record for career goals in National competitions. Sydney lacked fluency and communication. The Mariner's deserved to win, and hopefully they'll keep scoring goals.

That Goal.........

Now i've found it. Best goal in the green and gold by any socceroo. Perhaps not the most important, but still amazing....

Thursday, October 12, 2006

That Great Night.....

I wanted to put up a Youtube video of Bresc's goal on Wednesday night, but it isn't out yet. This little rememberence package of the Uraguay match includes his goal, so it will just have to do for now.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Australia 2 - 0 Bahrain

Aussie Stadium

I stunning strike from Mark Bresciano sealed the Socceroos top spot in their group for next years Asian Cup, guaranteeing them seeding for the draw to be held in December.

The goal was spectacular, a wonderful bicycle kick off a Mile Sterjovski volley after Scott Chipperfield supplied a great cross. It followed another great strike from John Aloisi in the 17th minute.

The first half saw some great football from Australia. The passing was usually superb and they had the match pretty much won from the minute the whistle blew. The second half though saw a few too many defensive errors for my part. We gave to ball up without preassure a little too much and didn't exactly threaten the goals.

Hats off must go to Bahrain. They sent out their Under-23 Olympic side to play an almost full strength Australia on home soil. They really should have been beaten by 6 or 7 goals. Instead they defended admirably and even made Schwarzer earn his pay every now and then.

Onwards to the Asian Cup next year. Hopefully i can make it over to wherever we are playing.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Nick Theo Gone After Long Winless Streak

Newcastle United Jets have confirmed the sacking of Nick Theodorakopoulos as coach of the struggling A-League club.

The demise of Nick Theo, something of a cult figure amongst Australian Football fans, shows nobody is safe in this new A-League. A successful coach of both Wollongong Wolves and Parramatta Power in the old NSL, I gained a lot of respect for him as a pundit and football intellectual during the World Cup when he helped SBS's coverage. I looked forward to seeing what he could do with the Jets, who made the finals in the annaugral season.

Unfortunately, 13 games without a win is a long down period. The question is though, is he really the one to blame. His roster was beset by injuries. They played a number of games in which they outplayed teams for most of the game, but had some bad luck. A couple of bad decisions by officials have cost them players in future matches (How Ryan Griffith ended up with an extra week i'm not sure. I hope it's some rule about extra yellow cards or something.)

Most of all, he inherited an overly useless club management that have completely failed in supplying the support required for him to successfully manage his side. The goal-keeper fiasco is a perfect example, where they have not been allowed to sign a 2nd keeper due to legal copmlications over the first. I'm not convinced that Ben Kennedy was fit for the game against Melbourne, and if they had another keeper on the roster he certainly wouldn't have played after the knock in the pervious game.

At the end of the day though, someone must bear the blame for such a long poor run of form. You can't sit below a team as bad as the NZ Knights on the ladder after 7 games and not start looking at the problems. The Jets are a quality team with quality players, in a region screaming out for quality football. Maybe, just maybe, Nick Theo should take some of that responsibility.

That's a fans perspective of course. A great shame. Maybe there's a spot over in Adelaide for you Nick?

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Purpose of This Blog

This is my second blog, the last one falling into disuse due to lazieness. I decided to start a new one though, and figure that i should actually make it a bit more thematic than the last. And what better theme than Football, the World Game, to talk about.

So here I am. Nothing but a football fan. But wanting to vent my thoughts and feelings on the great sport. And finally, i can be an Australian using the word football without fear of recrimination. It's a really nice feeling.

I took the title of the blog from the words of the late great Johnny Warren, Australian football's patron saint. Johnny inspired me to start this blog when i recently read his book. I realised that whilst being a fan of football is one thing, being part of the mission is quite another. And the mission, for Australia to realise the beauty and importance of the world game, is a vital one. So this blog is my little part in the mission. Talking about the game, the players, the clubs, the politics, all not from an expert opinion, but a fans feelings. I hope it serves to play some role in this.

For more info on Johnny read his fantastic book "Sheilas, Wogs and Poofters" available through SBS books. or watch "Johnny Warren's Football Mission," available through bittorrent.

Australia 1 - 1 Paraguay

Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane. Saturday Oct 7 2006.

The homecoming of the Socceroos squad (minus Viduka (baby), Kewell (perpetual injury), Kennedy (too tall for plane seat) and Moore (didn't read label on sleeping tablets) was a resounding success. Then Arnie subbed off Popa in 91st minute and young Michael Beauchamp managed to head the ball into his own net. Nice work son.

All in all though, what a night. Sadly the pub i went to decided there was no interest in the game so wouldn't turn the sound up, but watching it later that night with commentary you could tell the boys played well. For long spells we dominated a very good side. Lets not forget that Paraguay have beaten Argentina and drawn with Brazil, along with finishing third in the qualifiers for the world cup. Yes, they were missing their two best players. But we were missing Dukes and Harry, plus played 4 guys we may not have played had the occasion not merited it.

A great send off for Popa, Laza, Vids, and Spider. The heartfelt thanks of all Australian Football fans go out to these 4 stalwarts of the game. The holes they leave will be big ones to fill in the future. However, I think we've got the depth. Neil has taken over the reigns in defence, and Moore will come back from suspension. Plus Chipperfield should be playing on Wednesday.

However, some big questions remain. After the poor showing in Kuwait, how often will we be able to put together this strong a team in Asia? Can we knuckle down the style we want to use, and start turning it into scoring instead of scoring opportunities. But most importantly, is Big Arnie, another great figure of Australian Football, the right man for the job?

Time may tell more.