Sunday, December 31, 2006

Introducing Allsopp, James Allsopp... wtf?

This was pointed out on the Melbourne Victory forum... lucky that the Age is one of our "official sponsors", eh?

Edit 01/01/07 9.46am: Looks like James Allsopp wasn't the only suprise of the match, Archie then put the ball in the net after "turning Mariners defender Bradley Porter inside out and guiding the ball past Melbourne 'keeper Eugene Galekovic."

Good to see that the MV forum is wide awake here, even I hadn't noticed that one after reading that we had a James Allsopp.

Looks like The Age throw a mean New Year's Eve party!


Firstly, thanks to Shieldsy for giving Leijer (and Thompson) their required yellow cards. I hope you have a happy new year!

Secondly, Melbourne, you need to learn the art of time-wasting.
  1. When the ball goes out for your throw in, he who takes the throw in should distract himself talking to his team-mates attempting to position them and avoiding the retrieval of the ball.
  2. Similarly, when the ball goes out for a goal-kick, the 'keeper should waste time by yelling at his defenders about whatever - how poorly they were defending, demands on why they weren't marking, or arranging his players. Then the 'keeper can go get the ball.
  3. This is a particular favorite of mine, and it works well when there are no ball-boys, such as at Blue Tongue (where there are minimal ball-boys due to the size of the stadium). Take your sweet time collecting the ball. I don't mean walking over to get it, I mean jog over. But that type of jog where you look like you're trying hard to get back, but it would've been faster to walk.
  4. Another favorite of mine is a goal-kick related one. After establishing that your defender will start taking goal-kicks, the 'keeper should retrieve the ball as per tip #3, and hand it over to the hands of the defender. Tell the defender not to kick the ball until the 'keeper is back under the goals, and you may be able to get away with some random pointing before this, as if to suggest to the defender where he should deploy the ball to.
  5. I am also a fan of finding unsavoury patches on the pitch, and trying to place the ball somewhere unstable before a free-kick/goal-kick. The ball will then roll off, and you have to replace it. Apologise to your team-mates, and when it happens again (as it will), you then pretend to act flustered, place it nearby and then kick it.
  6. If you find yourself under pressure and in need of kicking the ball out, make sure you kick it high and far. I've had a lot of fun with this one, where my team was protecting a very slim lead, and we ended up making use of the high fence on one of the sides of the pitch. After kicking all three balls out, we wasted time by acting dumb and making the other team get the balls for us. We then continued to kick them over. Very funny indeed, however only applicable in the A-League if your fans are in on the 'joke' and hide the balls.
  7. Boot laces. Enough said.
  8. Another 'keeper one - fiddle with your gloves.
  9. If you decide to feign an injury wait until a stretcher comes out, and leave the pitch on it.
Alright, I think that's enough time-wasting tips for the moment. Most of these I've used quite happily and I'm yet to get a yellow. But that's women's football and the naivety of the referees we tend to get. I do believe that they're applicable to football in general, although perhaps they cannot be flaunted as readily as I have been able to.

Also, related to the crowd at Blue Tongue, my dad pointed out the high numbers of women at the match. I agreed that the percentage of spectators that were women seemed high compared to other matches, so a bit of an applause for the Mariners.

Onto the goalkeeping at Melbourne Victory. Sure, Theo drives me insane with his lack of confidence, but Galekovic is very late, especially with high balls. I'm really not sure who's worse, but I'd be happy if we signed Necevski.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Hey Karen!

This is what you missed out on!

P.S. I work with Karen, and she decided not to rock up to the Victory match... poor poor form...

Monday, December 18, 2006

The morning after...

I can't deny being happy that the Victory confirmed their minor premiership last night, and it was great to do it at Olympic Park.

However, a short message to the Platinum members from the western stand - where the hell were you? If you don't rock up, our crowd numbers go down. I think seats are sold eventually, but before the 15min up to kick-off many fans would already have been turned away - if what's happened in previous matches is still what occurs.

Second, thanks to the Eastern stand who cheered on the Kiwis when they turned out for their warm up. :o)

It's funny that although my second team this season is Queensland, I don't have any problems beating them when Victory are playing them. However, last night I was a bit out of sorts, with the Kiwis being my second team last season. But I'm thinking that my concern for them is more to do with their demise as a club than anything else. Lately they've been playing much better than last season, and it's a shame they've collapsed at this time.

I can't figure out if I was happy for the Kiwis to be included in the A-League in the first place, but now that they're there, if they fail it just gives anti-footballers some ammunition. Also I read somewhere that neither Woolongong or Townsville would be ready to take over the 8th license next season, as their plans were for the season after... or something like that...

Should it be between those two consortiums (with Canberra as a third), I'd hope Townsville gets it. Simply because NSW already has plenty of clubs, and that's probably affecting crowd numbers already.

Speaking of the Sunshine State, what a joke was Matthew Breeze on the weekend? That was one of the most pathetic displays of refereeing I'd seen this season in the A-League, and there have been a few. Oh, and Hyuk Su-Seo! Just a message in case you receive treatment on the pitch again in the future. If the stretcher comes out, I'd recommend getting on it. Whether you walk off or get stretchered off, play will not restart until you're off. Now I have very faint recollections of Batistuta's yellow card at USA '94 (I was only 10... in fact I can't think of any other memories at the moment from when I was 10. So this made quite the impact on me.) He got the yellow because the ref thought Bati was time-wasting or feigning his injury because he didn't get on the stretcher when it came out. So, as I said, no harm done if you leave via the stretcher, you have to go off anyway.

For the record, Hamish - I've decided that Paston is kinda cute (this definitely to do with goalkeeping ability I'm sure) and two days ago I decided that Hickey was cute too. Funny that his Knights profile claims that his known for his good looks...

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Feeling very cheery at the mo...

Considering how awful I was feeling as work finished this evening, was greeted by some great news in the car just after I finished work. Now I'm too happy to go to sleep - but I must as I have a game to watch tomorrow. Especially since I'm not a fan of Breeze to being with, this will be fun! 8am?!?!? Yuck! Well, I suppose it'd be worth it! :)

Friday, December 15, 2006

Why Ernie, why?

Short rant here:

Ernie Merrick has left Mark Byrnes out of the Melbourne squad! Why oh why? I thought he'd been playing really well, with some good tackles and the ability to know what to do with the ball once he'd won it. Sarkies is in... Boo hoo hoo... he was a bit disappointing last season, and he hasn't added anything to the team this season...

In other commentary, I'm hoping that if the Knights aren't around next season, that the replacement for the A-League is Townsville. I don't think we need another NSW team in the A-League, so no Woolongong I hope.

No comments on the Melbourne/Sydney crowd 'controversy' as it's being well covered in the other A-League blogs that are around. And I don't have anything useful to add anyway...

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Musings from round 16

Coaches gambling on the not-quite-right
In round 15, Laurie McKinna gambled on Tony Vidmar's calf, only to take him off early in the match and lose a substitute... This weekend, McKinna did it again, and Farina joined in with Matty McKay.

Poor lad - he looked miserable after half-time when the cameras lingered on Matty and Spase Dilevski. If there was a sight that nearly made me sob* during the weekend, it was the contrast between Dilevski up and about signing stuff for the kids and Matty just sitting there. I can't describe it enough, but he looked so unhappy. He's always seemed like the heart of the team, and it must've been difficult for him to watch Queensland more or less collapse and being unable to do anything...

Players who ball watch... or similar
I was livid with the third goal from Newcastle on the weekend - I don't understand how three defenders can just stand there and watch Bridge and Rodriguez do their thing. Sure, it was in the box (I think...), and diving in would and should be the last thing on the mind of any of the defenders, but surely one of them could have committed to closing down the space Bridge had, knowing he had 2 team-mates to back him up! Perhaps they didn't all want to commit at once, as could have happened if they don't talk. If that was the case, I wonder why Reddy didn't do some talking in there. Unfortunately, not being at the matches makes it difficult to figure out what's really going on...

The crowd at Melbourne
Hurrah! So we got 50, 333 people down to the Telstra Dome. Next thing to do, is to make all those people who turn up for the sake of being there appreciate the game. Today's Age had an article which stated the following:

By way of comparison, Melbourne's turnout was eclipsed by only one English Premier League match last weekend — the Manchester derby at Old Trafford — meaning it out-drew the London derby of Chelsea versus Arsenal.

Can I point out that at least the people who go to EPL matches would understand the game? I wouldn't expect to see women (yes, it's the girls who are driving me quite insane at the football) yawning during EPL matches and reading magazines while the team's warming up. I wouldn't expect to see little brats going to EPL matches and running about the place. And I'm sure that more appreciation would be given to players who put in during the match - eg. last season Danny Allsopp copped a lot of flack for not scoring, but very few people would have realised the work-horse that he is, and the number of times he allowed Melbourne to lose respectably by saving us in the defence.

What I'm trying to say, is that you can't really compare the crowds between a country where many people understand the football and a country where's its only growing and may have a novelty factor attached to it at the moment.

New Zealand
Hurrah for the return of Jonas Salley! Having him for most of the match meant that the Kiwis could actually be competitive and I was happy at how tough Salley was on Veart (especially considering how much I dislike Veart). It was good to see Veart under wraps because it meant that he didn't do any awful fouls on others. Made me very happy. Marcina played well again, but like last week annoyed me with his missing skill - finishing. And Paston had another great game! I finished the A-League weekend on quite a high after the misery of Thursday night.

Good to see that Kosmina actually figured that Aloisi wasn't required in the team... That's right, I just made a positive comment on Kossie and Adelaide. Also good to see that Kossie took Romario off when he wasn't having much of an effect on the match. Uh oh, that's two positive comments, I musn't be feeling well.

*Perhaps I should point out that I'm the kind of person who can sobs at sad points in movies - even bad ones. Heck, I even sobbed during the end of 'New Police Story' today when the background of one the characters (Frank if you're wondering) was revealed... I got all misty reading the Paolo Di Canio interview and Fabio Cannovaro articles in the latest Four Four Two. I'm pathetic, I know :)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Disciplinary Hearings

Stray elbow = 3 weeks

Hands at throat of opposition = 4 weeks

Completely intentional kick at opposition = 2 weeks

Where's the smegging consistency?!?!? Surely Bajic should have received 3 weeks at least! His kick was as intentional as they come!

Going over the disciplinary hearings for the season, Adelaide lead the count with 3, with Melbourne, New Zealand and Sydney each having had players or coaches called up once. Perhaps Adelaide United should become Thuggery United.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The rest of round 15

A few days late, but here're my (biased) thoughts on the rest of round 15!

Queensland vs. Perth
Missed this game on Saturday night due to work commitments, but ended up trying to watch it the next morning at 9am. I actually woke up at 9am, got out of bed at ten past and eventually made my way to the TV by 9.20am. So I had missed the first 20 minutes or so, but at the pace the match was going, it didn't seem like I had missed much.

Except for an incident at or near kick-off where Sasa Ognenovski apparently received the ball, and with time, he Mickey-Mouse-passed the ball square, the ball was intercepted by some Perth player and apparently there was a chance. But I missed this, and so I'm not sure if it really happened or not!

I thought Chris Grossman, Spase Dilevski and Matt McKay all played pretty well in the first half, as boring as it was. Distribution of the ball from the midfield seemed to have improved compared to recent weeks. Unfortunately Dilveski seems to be having a mistiming issue with his tackles, or he is being reckless - ended up copping a yellow card for it, but at least he isn't collecting them at the same rate of Melbourne's Adrian Leijer.

The second half was a very different match - ended up being quite entertaining, especially McKay's rocket. Unlike many other A-League players, McKay's first touch was, well, exquisite, putting the ball in a great position so that he could volley the ball home in style. Very classy really. I also thought that Dilevski improved considerably in the second half, having taken the reckless tackles out of his game (amazing what a yellow card can do for some players) and putting in some great crosses. I hope he and McKay play more like this in the coming weeks - maybe not against Melbourne though.

I also hope that there's a way to keep Grossman in the club after his short-term contract expires...

New Zealand vs. Newcastle
Although my second team this season has been Queensland, I still cheer on my second team from last season, New Zealand, on whenever possible (i.e. not playing against either Queensland or my beloved Melbourne). This was a little more difficult than usual as I am a fan of Nick Carle.

New Kiwi signing Dean Gordon worked wonders for the Kiwi defence, always there when the time game. The goal conceded by the Kiwis was unfortunate, and I wonder why Mark Paston was off his line... Relatively new signing Alen Marcina scored via the penalty, but his second half performance was frustrating - he generally played really well, but lacked that final touch to send the ball home.

Central Coast vs. Sydney
If anyone was hoping for at least one match to not have a baised point of view, this isn't the weak. Not that I was going for Central Coast, but I didn't want Sydney to win. Andre Gumprecht was back, which I think was a good thing - I like his leadership on the field and how he often plays for the team.

Alright, so the last part of that sentence didn't make much sense, but I really like to see instances where the ball is controlled by one player and in the same touch played to a nearby player, and Gumprecht seems to do this quite a bit. Me like. :)

It seemed like luck wasn't going the Mariners' way, with two attempts hitting the woodwork in each half.

Sydney had a few opportunities, especially when Alex Brosque nearly got away. A good foul by Alex Wilkinson put an end to any ideas Brosque may have had, and Wilkinson received a yellow card for his efforts. Not that I'm complaining - if you're going to cop a yellow card, it may as well be for a reason.

More good defending from the Mariners when Wayne O'Sullivan brilliantly tackely Steve Corica towards the end of the match, when Corica almost broke through the penalty box. I think the Coast did a good job in keeping Corica quiet, and hopefully Melbourne kept an eye on this.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Activism Against Violence Against Women – how about the men?

Adelaide vs. Melbourne. Where to start?

Robert Bajic – what are stupid, idiotic thing to do. Not only do you get yourself sent-off, you lose a field player and concede a goal. Stupid stupid stupid! And then who to take off? I would’ve taken Fernando or Veart off – simply because they’re older and not able to run as much, as would normally be required when playing a man down. Of course, Fernando is needed on the pitch to communicate with Romario, as Dad pointed out. So take Veart off – but no, Kossie takes off Dodd. Who’s a bit like the Energizer bunny at times.

And then the Brebner red card. It was a hospital ball, Brebs was in front, Aloisi ends up on the floor and Shieldsy sends off Brebs! I swear it was just to make the teams even again!

Theoklitos was back in goals this evening, which is rather upsetting. Was in his typical panicky state tonight. And in the Fernando goal, I can’t help but blame him for playing without conviction and not clearing the cross. Everytime the ball approaches Theoklitos I get the jitters. He's a bit like me really, especially when it comes to high balls. We get so worried about getting to the ball first we forget to watch how it comes to us. Then we have to stretch out and nearly catch it over our heads, rather than in front. There will come a day when he'll stretch out but it won't be enough...

The second half was a lot calmer, with a number of opportunities missed by Melbourne. Allsopp needs to work on his left foot. Thompson needs to get fitter, Caceres lacks stamina, and the two of them need to learn how to kick the ball with a downward follow-through. i.e. lift the foot to the height of the ball and then kick it with the downward action. This would stop the amount of goals we miss by clearing the ball over the crossbar and into the stands.

I think it should have been 1-7 really, with Allsopp’s shocking left-footed attempt, Archie’s over the cross-bar moment from inside the box, Caceres’ similar attempt (as in over the cross-bar) albeit from outside the box, and Allsopp's shot that hit the cross-bar.

Fred played well tonight, except that he should’ve scored his goal on the first attempt. But he’s great to watch simply because he takes his time to play the ball. He’ll receive the ball, or win it, takes a look up and then plays it. Even when we’re in the deep-end. Cool as a cucumber.

Costanzo’s also pretty cool, but an animal too. Dad wishes that Costanzo would take that chopping instinct out of his game, because he’s such a good reader of the game and very calm.

In the land of officials… the assistant referees really should only flag offside when the player has played the ball. As per the rules. It just looks silly otherwise. Especially when the offside occurs near the centre circle but the ball reaches the ‘keeper. As in the offending player is NOWHERE near the ball. Thankfully Shieldsy didn’t whistle it, but seriously refs, get your act together!

The anti-Farina Fan Club

Even to my friends who don't know what the A-League is, they know I don't like Farina. The few who know what the A-League is know I like Bleiberg. It's a sad co-incidence that the former has replace the latter at my second team for this season, Queensland. This means that Farina now needs to be forgiven for both his national team shenanigans and for replacing my favourite A-League coach. Sure, Bleiberg resigned, but I'm sure that Farina's public comments on how he'd like to coach Queensland combined with the drop in form were the reason for the resignation. That said, I'm not Bleiberg, so I don't really know, do I?

Anyway, in today's Courier Mail, Frank's written an article, 'Invest more in our youth.' It's a very annoying piece of work.

Look at Manchester United. Most of its players, aside from the imports and marquee players, generally come through the club's youth system and that's what A-League clubs should be doing.

Oh yeah, Man U... I think the only regular players for them who've come through the youth system are Scholes, O'Shea and Fletcher. Oh yeah, the great Fletcher (I'm being sarcastic here.) Scholes I like (yes, there is such a thing as a Man Utd player that I like to watch - or rather, I like to watch his attempts on goal, has quite a powerful shot... scary, really) and O'Shea's alright - but Fletcher!!! If that's what the youth system is producing, I'd be very very worried - especially if he's the 'quality' that plays first-team football!

Next season I obviously want a nucleus of experienced players but I want to see more local players coming through the ranks.

This makes me worry. He's already brough Mori on board... next I think he'll go to old favorite Okon (who seems to have been invovled in every goal has Newcastle conceded. I'm sure if I look back on videos, any goal that they concede, Okon's there. Or at least in the frame. Can you tell I'm not an Okon fan?)...

The way I see a nucleus is to have an experienced 'keeper, an experienced defender, an experienced midfielder and an experienced striker. At the moment I think Queensland have a great 'keeper in Reddy and a good backline. However, they seem to have no midfield, as I've mentioned earlier - either here or in a comment on another blog. As I've previously pondered, I'm not sure if this is due to Murdocca being injured and not finding the right player to replace him, or not. Wedau's been disappointing, and I don't believe Gibson is the answer. Seo's alright, his distribution isn't bad, but he's not exactly the commanding type that I like to see in midfield and he's been quite wasteful.

Looking at the stats... of 21 attempts, 10 have been on target and 0 goals. Everyone above and the next two below him ( in order of attempts) have scored. Even Zhang, who's three below has had less attempts but at least he's had 2 assists. Oh, Seo's had 0 assists. Might have to reassess my distribution comment...

And speaking of goals... oh, now this whole A-League site setup is beginning to annoy me. You see, Mori's now in the Qld list, with all his stats from Central Coast. Looking at last season's stats, Brosque isn't there but Milicic's data from Newcastle is! It's all very very silly! To cut things short, I don't like Reinaldo - he simply hasn't quite gotten into gear... Perhaps Mori might net some, but there seems a number of 'strikers' at the club, and none being particularly exciting. Hopefully Lynch will be back soon.

Anyway, just putting in my 2 cents worth...