Thursday, December 27, 2007

All abored!!!

I have moments at work when I crash. Just can't concentrate. Tends to happen for 1.5 hours immediately after lunch. So I tend to email people until I get back on track. This is yet another hijack.

From: Cecilia
Sent: Thursday, 27 December 2007 2:22 PM
To: A
Subject: Bored.

From: A
Sent: Thursday, 27 December 2007 2:23 PM
To: Cecilia
Subject: RE: Bored.

Fo sure.
From: Cecilia
Sent: Thursday, 27 December 2007 2:31 PM
To: A
Subject: RE: Bored.

I think I’m going to dig into my sugar stash.
From: A
Sent: Thursday, 27 December 2007 2:31 PM
To: Cecilia
Subject: RE: Bored.

Where’s mine ?
From: Cecilia
Sent: Thursday, 27 December 2007 2:32 PM
To: A
Subject: RE: Bored.

From: A
Sent: Thursday, 27 December 2007 2:33 PM
To: Cecilia
Subject: RE: Bored.

You’re hiding your stash from me ?
From: Cecilia
Sent: Thursday, 27 December 2007 2:33 PM
To: A
Subject: RE: Bored.

It’s in plain view.
From: A
Sent: Thursday, 27 December 2007 2:37 PM
To: Cecilia
Subject: RE: Bored.

Beware of the raiding party of one.
From: Cecilia
Sent: Thursday, 27 December 2007 2:38 PM
To: A
Subject: RE: Bored.

Why the warning? I could just put them away…
From: A
Sent: Thursday, 27 December 2007 2:39 PM
To: Cecilia
Subject: RE: Bored.

It’s the pirate way, we warn before attacking.
From: Cecilia
Sent: Thursday, 27 December 2007 2:40 PM
To: A
Subject: RE: Bored.

From: A
Sent: Thursday, 27 December 2007 2:41 PM
To: Cecilia
Subject: RE: Bored.

I should recruit you for my pirate ship, that is the perfect battle cry.
From: Cecilia
Sent: Thursday, 27 December 2007 2:41 PM
To: A
Subject: RE: Bored.

I am unrecruitable!
From: A
Sent: Thursday, 27 December 2007 2:42 PM
To: Cecilia
Subject: RE: Bored.

Then you will be taken by force, muskets and cutlasses help convince many a naysayer.
From: Cecilia
Sent: Thursday, 27 December 2007 2:44 PM
To: A
Subject: RE: Bored.

Haha – I’d like to see you try.
From: A
Sent: Thursday, 27 December 2007 2:47 PM
To: Cecilia
Subject: RE: Bored.

Hot, you like a man with strong sword and a formidable musket ?
From: Cecilia
Sent: Thursday, 27 December 2007 2:51 PM
To: A
Subject: RE: Bored.

Depends… is it a Muscat?

(Posted on 14/01/08, but I'll choose to date it according to when it happened.)

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Swooning recap.

Well, with Melbourne Victory's season effectively over, why not move onto swooning? I don't think I've written a post dedicated to swooning for a long time now, and perhaps a recap is overdue.

Last season's personal swoon Spase Dilevski left the A-League in search of playing in a better league. So far he's only participated in three matches over in Romania, playing with FC Universitatea Craiova. Perhaps things haven't turned out the way he expected. He also has bad hair. This was not something I expected.

And a need for sunglasses. Still quite swoony, though I'd love to see how his through-balls and passes with both feet are faring given his lack of game time.

Meanwhile, Danny Vukovic and Greg Owens (who were both deemed winners of the Best Looking Bloke Award due to my inability to decide on ONE method of analysing the vote data) now play in the same team. Unless I come up with yet another way of doing this only one of them will make the final poll. Or none if John Hutchinson or Alex Wilkinson come through the team stages instead. Oh, how I envy those who live in Gosford and can watch the Mariners on a regular basis!

With the departure of Marcus Wedau, Tom Willis and Dilevski Queensland is no longer as the swooniest team in the A-League. Clearly that mantle has been passed onto Central Coast.

As for new swoon-worthy players from this season, well, I suppose I'll deal with that later.

Friday, December 21, 2007

The catch up round of 22, err... 15.

Milo's mustache was unfortunate because the seperated halves never matched. They were like Milo's disunited eyes, which never looked at the same thing at the same time. Milo could see more things than most people, but he could see none of them too distinctly.
It's pouring in Melbourne, which is good for the catchments, but our stormwater system finds it difficult to cope with the storm at times. So it's a Friday evening and I'm curled up at home listening to Icehouse (actually, they were still Flowers at this point) and reading a book. I came across the above description for a character, and I instantly burst out laughing as at home we always thought that Vidmar was such a good defender because he could keep an eye on the ball and the other eye on the defender. I never thought he'd have a counterpart in modern literature! Except that I think Vidmar can see those things distinctly.

Quite fitting that I would have Vidmar in my thoughts, the irony is that I'm reading this book because it's pouring outside, and Central Coast vs. Sydney was originally postponed due to floods, and is the only match on this weekend. Conspiracy or something more sinister? I suspect that I am simply making leaps in my thoughts which don't quite connect. But that's hardly ever not normal for me anyway.

I didn't catch Sydney's match last week, and was in shock when my mum texted me the result. Shock followed by a very loud, "Oh no!" Simply because I don't want Perth to get any points! But when I got home and found out Celeski scored 3 and that Milligan stuffed up twice I was quite happy. Celeski should be on the swoon list... more on that some other time.

It was disappointing to see Milligan make such errors, and with Verbeek watching I am sure Mark was very disappointed in himself. I find myself in a strange position with Milligan, I don't really think much of him in a sky blue shirt but want him to be an excellent footballer when he puts on the national team kit. So seeing such amateur mistakes was disappointing, even if he was wearing sky blue at the time.

I'm expecting Central Coast to get this one. They've got some key players back and of course they're the swooniest team in the A-League, so why not go for them? Sydney are probably licking their wounds, and I don't think they'll be as mentally tough without their true captain in Mark Rudan who played his last game in a sky blue shirt (for the moment anyway) last week.

I'm hoping that the grand final is Queensland vs. Central Coast, simply because I have a fear that if Central Coast get the hosting honours the match will be shipped away to Sydney. Which would be no good, but then you need the larger stadium... I wonder what would happen...

Hmmm... with the storms currently in Melbourne looking to go towards Sydney, what's the chance of Bluetongue getting waterlogged again?

Monday, December 17, 2007

A summary of the past few weeks...

I've been neglecting this blog, a combination of the Melbourne blues and sitting in front of a PC all day means I don't really feel up for more sitting when I get home.

Anyway, here's an email conversation that I had this morning for your reading pleasure. Bear with it, and you may find it mildly amusing. As a bit of background, 'A' knows that I've been angry and neglecting my blog.

From: M
Sent: Friday, 14 December 2007 4:31 PM
To: Cecilia
Subject: Stickers


I’ve located the signage selection guide with company logo.

blah blah blah


From: Cecilia
Sent: Monday, 17 December 2007 9:16 AM
To: Team
Subject: FW: Stickers

Good morning all,

There has been a lack of sticker with customer logo selection guide ...

Blah blah blah


From: A
Sent: Monday, 17 December 2007 9:41 AM
To: Cecilia
Subject: RE: Stickers

From: Cecilia
Sent: Monday, 17 December 2007 9:53 AM
To: A
Subject: RE: Stickers

What’s with your one word answers to my general emails to all?
From: A
Sent: Monday, 17 December 2007 9:56 AM\
To: Cecilia
Subject: RE: Stickers

Just feeling the love.
From: Cecilia
Sent: Monday, 17 December 2007 10:10 AM
To: A
Subject: RE: Stickers

Alright then…
From: A
Sent: Monday, 17 December 2007 10:12 AM
To: Cecilia
Subject: RE: Stickers

From: Cecilia
Sent: Monday, 17 December 2007 10:15 AM
To: A
Subject: RE: Stickers

Now you’re avoiding words altogether!

From: A
Sent: Monday, 17 December 2007 10:15 AM
To: Cecilia
Subject: RE: Stickers

Words are overated.
From: Cecilia
Sent: Monday, 17 December 2007 10:16 AM
To: A
Subject: RE: Stickers

Oh the irony of that response being worded. So deep.
From: A
Sent: Monday, 17 December 2007 10:17 AM
To: Cecilia
Subject: RE: Stickers

Like I said, feel the love.
From: Cecilia
Sent: Monday, 17 December 2007 10:21 AM
To: A
Subject: RE: Stickers

There’s a Melbourne Victory player with the surname Love. He is highly overrated in my opinion. But ‘catchy’ phrases like “Feel the Love” or “Show us some Love” are particularly annoying. Given MV’s woeful performance on the weekend, any references that may remind me of MV are likely to send me into a deeper state of depression. Not cool. Please refrain from any MV-related commentary too.

On a positive note, there are no more MV matches at home for the rest of the year. Unfortunately there’s still one next year
From: A
Sent: Monday, 17 December 2007 10:23 AM
To: Cecilia
Subject: RE: Stickers


You should post this on your blog

And so I did.

Some notes from the past couple of games:
  • Disappointed with Muscat last week, awful defending and lack of enthusiasm results in him losing Agostino, not once but twice! This results in goals for Adelaide. AWFUL.
  • The fact that we drew 2-2 without being abel to score from open plane depresses me.
  • From last night, our boys really don't want to be there... or at least, that's how it looks.
  • That was a nice free kick from Griffiths. Beats the wall, so theoretically the keeper can't get it. Excellent. Even though it was difficult to watch.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Introducing the new Melbourne team...

... Telstra Dome FC. Or SC. I'm sure they'd much prefer to be called a sokkah club than football club.

In case you live under a rock or refuse to watch free to air commercial news, the last Victory home game was marred by the antics of some Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory fans. I'm not really aware of all the details, so that's as far as I'll go.

As a result, Telstra Dome have implemented new plans to segregate the supporters of different clubs. Melbourne Victory appear to be happy to adjust to the demands of the 'landlord', and are more than happy to adjust to the Telstra Dome demands.
"Melbourne Victory has supported plans introduced by Telstra Dome to provide a new seating plan for visiting supporters for future matches to ensure that any potential confrontation between fans can be avoided."
So, who's running the club? The Melbourne Victory board or Telstra Dome? Who would have thought that the issues currently faced by renters in the housing area would have an parallel of sorts in the A-League...

Saturday, November 17, 2007

A complete lack of vision.

I have consistently enjoyed watching Queensland Roar play, so much that I really have adopted them as my second team - after Melbourne of course! Not that I have much of a choice.

As a football fan who lives in Victoria, my only "option" is to go for the Victory. But the (approximately) fortnightly foray to Telstra Dome has become a chore. We are a bore to watch. So it's a disappointment to read that Merrick thinks otherwise.
"I think it's amazing to produce fantastic crowds without getting any wins, so obviously we are doing something right and they enjoy the type of football we are playing."
Merrick - you have got to be kidding me. I can't think of anyone that enjoys watching the Victory play. In fact, I can only think of a few people who actually attend MV matches for the football. South End is too pissed to notice* that there's even a match going on at times. North End are chanting, not-chanting, sitting, standing or whatever they are up to, and I honestly think that only a few of the Gold members really follow the sport outside of what's served to them via the television.

If Merrick and the Victory board think that their figures are due to the football offered by the club, then they seriously need to reconsider what they want to be - a business or a sports club.

Theoretically, it should be both. But if the club is happy with the current gate and happy with the takings from each home match, then it makes sense for them not to sack Merrick, paying whatever's due and hiring a new coach.

A second Melbourne club would offer football fans a choice. It would give supporters, who are currently not in a happy relationship with both Telstra Dome and its tenant Melbourne Victory, a choice. No wonder Miles is adamant that it is not sustainable for Melbourne to have two clubs. Victory wouldn't be sustainable! Its business model seems to depend on it being the only club!

Imagine if there was a second club with a boards who had the balls to clear out the team - coaches AND players. Imagine if they actually took the supporters seriously. And wouldn't Victory hate it if this second team - perhaps the people's team - performed on the park. I would love it - I'd go to the football and actually watch some football. Not what Melbourne Victory are putting out each day.

If Merrick (and I assume the board too) really believes that we like what we see, and that this is why we have such numbers at each home match, well I'd say that he is incredibly ignorant, short sighted and completely out of touch.

*Edit (18/11/07, 6.15pm): It has come to my attention that some members of South End get pissed so they do not become frustrated with what's happening on the field. I suppose ignorance truly is bliss!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Melbourne vs. Sydney

Sorry to those who have been waiting for an update - and with my assignments submitted and exams done for the year I should be writing a little more regularly!

Last night we had "the big one" - Melbourne vs. Sydney. Although I had tipped Melbourne to win (because I always do) I was not confident going into the match. We were undermanned and Sydney were on a bit of a roll. On the day I had deluded myself into thinking we were going to smash Sydney, but once I arrived at the ground and was watching the players warm up my mood changed to worry again.

I think that either team could have won last night's match Melbourne should have won if we consider how they more or less dominated the game, and Sydney had a brilliant 10-15 minute period in the second half when they were bombarding the goal!

Despite the dominance, Melbourne really did finish with nothing to show for it. Thompson had a number of chances and most annoyingly he would cut the ball in to shoot with his left, but he doesn't really have much of a left foot! It's particularly frustrating to watch when the whole team seems to play for Thompson too.

With the injury to Corica, Sydney suddenly looked less threatening. Milligan was pushed a little further up the field (where I think he plays best, making use of his decent passing) and so Allsopp was on him for the rest of the match. It put both of them out of the game, which was perhaps a good thing since Danny hasn't been 100% this season.

Muscat was helping out the defence for the day, so Melbourne had to rely on Brebner and Broxham to work for the ball. I think that if Allsopp had not have kept Milligan quiet, Sydney may have had more opportunities. In the end, Thompson was left to work on his own - something that I really don't think he can do! It's a waste of effort on the team's behalf to get the ball up to him because he's not great at holding on to it or getting the goal! Merrick never plans on taking him off either, look at the bench! Last night we had the mandatory goalkeeper (Langerak), on defender (Berger) and two midfielders (Caceres and Patafta).

It was great to see Muscat in defence. Much like I love to watch Moore play, Muscat is so cool under pressure. I don't think I ever saw Muscat aimlessly boot the ball out of defence. There were a few classy points too, where he'd take on a player. New boy Pace has been great for Melbourne, and last night was awesome with Bridges not being able to do a thing!

Juninho made a huge difference to Sydney when he came on, it was scary to see from the Melbourne perspective. And while Caceres finally got more than 10 minutes, if only he'd use his right occasionally! He's done it before!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Still sore from Friday.

Having given myself a couple of days to cools off, turns out that I'm still quite annoyed about Melbourne's performance on Friday night. Last time we lost I was quite cheery about it as Adelaide had put in a wonderful performance playing some quality football that was exciting to watch. They had beaten us, but on Friday day we lost.

Conceding the early goal wasn't too disheartening - after all, Newcastle was the team that we had managed to claw from 2-0 down to get a draw. Away. But much like last season, Melbourne are a different team at Telstra Dome.

In the preseason match against Newcastle in Geelong, Danny Allsopp was completely nullified by Adam Griffiths. On Friday night the same thing happened right from kick-off. So when attacking, Allsopp was marked by A. Griffiths, and you would have expected the roles to reverse if A. Griffiths was to go up for a corner. Instead it was a free kick, and Allsopp did not drop back. A free header and the goal was scored. Whether to blame Merrick or Danny, I don't know. I'm inclined to think that it was the former, but I suppose we'll never know the truth. The postitive thing was that after the goal Danny would drop down with A. Griffiths.

Adam D'Puzzo was having a great game, making the midfield his own domain. Well time tackleds and excellent distribution meant that Melbourne found working through the middle difficult. We had no width and continued to try to play through the middle. Even Keenan (who is as wide as we get with Caceres still on the bench for far too long) frustrates - he'll make a run down the wing only to stop the ball when he is confronted by a player and knock it into the middle. To think that this is the same player who took the opposition on in that first match of the season against Wellington, tearing an entire wing apart and leading to Allsopp scoring.

Although playing through the middle was not working, much like the rest of the season, we persisted. We need to learn how to adapt to different match situations by changing our style of play. Unless Merrick is able to change how he wants the team to play he'll have to go. And so far, it doesn't like like he has that ability.

Merrick was lucky to have found Fred last season. Fit, quick (physically and mentally), creative and a very hard worker; Fred gave Melbourne's 2006/07 team an air of unpredictability that made us exciting to watch and difficult to play against. Fred provided an excellent link between the midfield and the attackers. It's a link that is no longer there and on Friday left Allsopp ended up completely isolated up front. Thompson has been playing a little deeper to try and feed Danny - after all, Danny has the strength to hold his own, something that Archie doesn't have. But Archie lacks the pace Fred had and also lacks the willingness to chase every stupid ball down. So I think Fred's abilities masked Merrick's short-comings.

The events that left me distraught and angry involved referee Matthew Breeze. A few minutes prior to the incident, Pantelidis made an excellent diagonal run from his left back spot that had the effect of putting Newcastle in an uneasy situation. Nothing became of it, but that run gave us a glimmer of hope (last week he had us in hysterics with a run down the right wing and we all witnessed the slowest stepover ever, "a baby giraffe on ice skates" is how it was described by someone). So when Panta was in possession of the ball again there was an anticipation that soumething could happen.

Joel Griffiths chased Panta down and was shirting for a good 5-10 paces until Panta had enough and gave Griffiths an elbow (I can imagine many other players would have loved to have given Griffiths this elbow). Panta received the red card he deserved for his actions, and Melbourne was awarded the free kick we deserved due to Griffiths' fouling. Breeze did everything right after the elbow except give Griffiths a yellow. But Breeze should not have let the situation occur. The fould should have been called during those first few paces of persistent shirting, and not have been allowed to continue and escalate to the point where Panta pulled out the elbow. Dreadful piece of referreeing. Unfortunately, the A-League looks to be in a situation where we have no other refs...

To make things worse, when Griffiths did get a yellow a few minutes later, in my head he then should have been off. So it's not an easy pill to swallow when he ends up scoring. That goal was the result of a dreadful piece of Melbourne defending. Griffiths had broken through the defence line through his right moments earlier, no-one could catch him and he had a shot, which was saved by Theoklitos. My memory's a bit hazy at this point (and I haven't seen any footage of the match), but a poor throw from Theo or woeful ball control from Vargas (?) resulted in Griffiths with the ball again, off onto the right and in exactly the same play as before he scores. We obviously couldn't immediately learn from our mistake. It doesn't help that we don't have any pace in the defence either, and we are clearly missing the pace that Leijer had.

I could go on for a while with Caceres only being given a run late, Ryall not starting, Hernandez significantly improving but with holes in his game that are not being covered by teammates, but most of all I have to say that Kemp is absolute rubbish.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Our first proper returning Socceroo

Just watched Elrich score a gorgeous goal for the Phoenix and dad was a bit confused. Turned out he wasn't aware that Ahmad Elrich had returned, nor was he aware that John Aloisi had been signed for the Mariners.

I'm personally a bit tired of heaps of ex-Socceroos returning to our shores for the domestic league and all being labelled "returning Socceroos" as if it's a measure of their class and ability. There's a contrast between the Socceroos of the past and the current crop. Even though we're still a physical team, I would say the the current crop are far better players of the ball than the past ones. When they come to the A-League to play out their careers, they continue to play in their appropriate style.

Tiatto, Laybutt, Muscat are all from the earlier style, and generally don't bring anything 'nice' to the league. While I have included Muscat in that batch, I do treat him as an exception. He still had a career over in Europe but he came home to play in the A-League as a continutation of his career. Many of the others who have since returned look like they're just here to keep getting paid for what they do.

So, let's move onto the new batch. Moore, Vidmar and A. Elrich could be included here, but we have to consider that the latter two had some fitness issues and Moore had his club problems. Not in exactly the same position as Muscat. So I would classify John Aloisi as our first returning Socceroo. He's still a player, and while he is coming home for retirement, at least he still has something to offer to the local game.

Perhaps it's just for the sake of media hype, but we ought to be far more careful of what we define things. I'm sick of "professional fouls" (there's no such thing in the rulebook, but then there's no such thing as 'backpass' in the rulebook either), although my dislike of the PF has probably got more to do with my passionate dislike of Cockerill and Harper. 'Backpass' at least defines something that does physically occur in matches, whereas the PF is completly subjective. So, when a nasty tackle occurs, it's either a foul or it's not a foul. Nothing about the PF.

And it's something similar with the "returning Socceroo" tag. How many of them are actually active as Socceroos? Covic, perhaps. And Vidmar would have been too if he didn't have his heart condition. But I think that's really about it. Covic on the bench for the World Cup, Vidmar missed out, but Moore and Aloisi were actually there. Moore's been great for Queensland so far (minor hiccup with that red card), and I expect that Aloisi would be a greater revelation for the Mariners.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


A suspension that won't bite me back on the ass!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Terrace Punk Band

Check it out, olé!

Our midfield problem

I'm not a Ljubo fan. So with Brebner suspended* and Muscat injured (Broxham too, but he would've been ineligible due to Olyroo commitments) we had a new midfield. Of Ljubo. If anyone saw one thing that Ljubo did for the team, please let me know. All I saw was someone doing bugger all and giving the team instructions the whole time. As if I'd listen to someone who wasn't putting in the hard yards themselves! And how can such a tall guy be beaten in the air?!?! Oh that's right, as part of the step-onto-the-pitch-only-package, the guy can't jump. Couldn't jump during preseason or against Wellington, can't jump now. It's not the knee, it's him. He's useless. So what did Ernie do? Use the three subs but kept Ljubo on the pitch.

I owe Beltrame a hug, not just because I do find him swoon-worthy (I 'fessed up last week during Eamonn's podcast) but because he almost took Ljubo out. I seriously think that we would've been better with ten men and no Ljubo than ten men plus Ljubo. Not only was Ljubo completely useless on the pitch, it looked like the other Melbourne players were avoiding passing the ball to him unless there was absolutely no other option! Perhaps passing and playing with Ljubo gets you on the wrong side of Muscat...

Anyway, let's not waste anymore time on Ljubo.

How GREAT were Adelaide! Sorry, I know I should be licking my wounds, but the main difference between the two teams was desire. Everytime there was a fifty-fifty ball or yet another Mickey-Mouse-pass from Melbourne, Adelaide would be there challenging for the ball. They looked so much quicker, getting there before us most of the time. Mentally and physically faster than us. I think not having Burns, Djite, Agostino and Valkanis means that a few players who don't often get a chance to play really wanted to prove their worth.

Pantelis had a great match, perhaps the best on the park. And to cap it off with that goal - it was quite a pretty strike. Dodd also had a great match, he seems to have really stepped up since taking on the captain's armband. Vidmar is now in the enviable position of having to seriously decide who to start with, and I'm hoping he gives Pantelis another start, he really did have a good match.

Yeah, I'm happy with our loss to Adelaide, but only because I can sit down to watch Adelaide and find myself watching some football. Vidmar may have started his head-coaching career in a bit of a shaky manner, but there's a real football team in the A-League season now. Perhaps two once I see the Roar play this weekend.

*Serves me right, I know.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


I've been a bit sick with hayfever and a cold, such that my memory was a bit of a blur immediately after the match!

The next day at the Victorian Premier League final I was chatting to a Melbourne fan who made the trip up to Sydney and he asked if I was annoyed that we kept playing through the middle and didn't make use of the extra man on the wings. While this infuriates me now, it should give an indication of how rubbishy I was feeling on the weekend.

For the record, I thought that the red was a bit harsh on Corica. Perhaps a yellow for being reckless. The way I saw it, Corica was turning about with a high foot, still trying to figure out where the ball was. Pantelidis came along and ended up on the end of Corica's boot.

Anyway, perhaps I wasn't that crook, I managed to ID Panta when all I could see was the back of him rolling about on the ground...

Friday, October 05, 2007


Over at Football in the Capital, Eamonn's started to do some podcasts. So if you want to listen to my ranting and swooning rather than read it you can now do so! Here's the most recent one, with previous installments available here and here. Should you decide to listen to all the podcasts, follow this link!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Adelaide vs. Central Coast

This was the best A-League match that I've watched in a long time. Adelaide were playing beautifully, such that I ditched Central Coast and started wanting Adelaide to win. I'm clearly not very good at committing.

However, Breeze f@%ked it up. Where to start? I'm sure there were more, but from what angered me the most and in no particular order:
  • The lack of advantage when Burns was chopped down outside of the box, where Djite scored and would have put Adelaide up 2-1.
  • The first yellow card against Vidmar. Especially given that he earnt himself a second yellow later and ended up being sent off. Shouldn't have been sent off given the nature of the 'first' yellow.
  • I'm sure Breeze was trying to make up for the lack-of-advantage-disallowed-goal and started awarding fouls against the Mariners every opportunity he could so that Adelaide could have a chance to score a goal.
  • Boogard's yellow. Boogard's tackle was great - clean and from the front. Just a case of Breeze trying to rectify the situation.
  • Not awarding Gumprecht a yellow. Similar position to Boogard, except that a clean tackle earns you a yellow and holding the opposition with an arm grapple doesn't get you into the referee's book.

I was delighted to have Beltrame back in goals and Costanzo in the middle of the defence - it's truly where he (and Adelaide) can best use his extraordinary ability to read the game. Djite was also on fire, scoring three goals (I'm counting the disallowed one as it was thoroughly deserved). It's a shame that Breeze got it all so wrong, as this was a great match with some lovely work from Adelaide, particularly that of Burns. Who needs imports?

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Another letter to Newcastle United Jets FC.

Dear Newcastle,

Me again.

Sort out your distribution from the back!

It's the most frustrating thing to watch you do. You win the ball in defence and then blindly kick it to your midfield. Except that there was no midfield as Mr Perpetual (Joel Griffiths) hurt himself in the warm-up! So every single ball was intercepted by Sydney.

No, that's giving Sydney far too much credit. They didn't intercept it, you wrapped it up in pretty paper with a big bow and gave the ball to them - sealed with a kiss. So Sydney have the ball and then apply more pressure on your defence. Awful! Think about where the ball is going!

Also, you were chopping Juninho down far too much. Bloody play the ball instead of being hackers. That is all.

Best of luck next weekend.*

Your biggest Melbourne-supporting, Central Coast-following, ex-Queensland-following Newcastle fan.

*The way Central Coast are going, you'll need it.

P.S. It's just come to my attention that the last letter I wrote was also after a match against Sydney. Coincidence, or something far scarier?

Finally... the drought breaks!

Six rounds into the A-League and we finally got our first win of the season! And at home too. Bloody brilliant! I moved to the South End for the second half. Quite enjoyable but I won't be there permanently. Quite enjoy my seat, although the celebration could never compare.

Anyway, a few notes about the game - if there was one. The A-League seems to be in this scrappy style rut, it's not pretty football at all (especially when you compare it to the fluency of the games in the Women's World Cup!). In Melbourne's case, it got the job done. Although are better goal chances occurred when we finally decided that perhaps the long ball wasn't going to work (credit to Craig Moore for getting to every single one - well, that's what it felt like).

I didn't see any problem with the penalty in terms of diving, but then at that point I was still ruing the crossbar! (Emotionally, I was all over the place then - woah we've made space down the right... excitement levels building... we're going to score... VERY excited... we've hit the crossbar... oh no... MASSIVE letdown... Love gets chopped... no reaction, I was still on that slippery slope of football depression... Williams points to the spot... complete disbelief, we have a chance to score and at home!!! Oh, I hope Kev's knee's alright!... Naturally Muscat takes it, calmly puts it onto the left, and we all go nuts.

I then turned very anxious - so much so that someone asked why I looked so worried. I just can't celebrate a match until the final whistle's blown. Or until I can tell that the other team has no chance (eg. last year's Grand Final at about 3-0. That match really did get ridiculous!). Perhaps standing behind the goal with the whole field in front of me brought back my old habits of concentration and focus.

I think I had good reason to be anxious. Moore's header that was saved by Vargas was still fresh in my mind. Only a few minutes after we went ahead fresh-legged Zullo hit the upright. I was probably biting my nails.

Another Melbourne attack down the right (Queensland are obviously missing Packer... he does play on the left, right?) and the anxiety subsides as we all go nuts again.

I have a bit of referee whinging to do, but I'm in a good mood, so why spoil it? Williams is the ref that displeases me the most, so naturally he was significantly annoying until the match was at 2-0 and I calmed down.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Wrap up of the junior season

The first season of my coaching career came to a close a few weeks ago. The girls' final match clashed with Richmond's relegation battle in the Victorian Premier League. While I was concerned with Richmond's plight (they ended up beating Sunshine 8-0, ensuring their presence in the VPL next year), I was suprised that I never once thought about Richmond while the girls were playing.

Our final match was a good reflection of the whole season. A competitive match of the whole season. A competitive match, we weren't the pushovers that the final scoreline of 3-0 suggested. Just the usual lapses in concentration and an inability to take hold of our opportunities. I know the girls can play as a team, although individually they lacked many of the skills that individuals in opposition teams have.

As the girls could only commit to one training session a week, I don't think I had the time to work with each of them on ball control, passing, dribbling and shooting. Technically there was a lot of work to do, so I took the approach of teaching them how to play the pall to the best of their abilities. From that perspective, I thought that they had a few great moments through the season, particularly towards the end, and they noticed it themselves too.

And if they can notice it themselves, it tells me that they started to understand football a little bit better. As for next year, I don't think I'll be keeping the same team. The U15 coach's daughter will move to the U16 team next year, so I expect that he will take on that team. The girls who will be too old from the U16 next year will probably move onto the U18 team. The team also has a father of one of the players coaching. So I'll just have to wait and see what happens.

From a personal perspective, I think I'm a lot more patient now. I'm very competitive and this clashed somewhat with the girls' lack of competitiveness. Two or three were competitive, but it wasn't sufficient to carry the whole team. So I had to be the one to bend. We'll see how I go next season.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Continuing the consistency

...albeit in an inconsistent manner.

We dropped the points against Wellington after being up 2-0, and now things seem to have come full circle as we clawed back from a 2-0 scoreline to steal a point from Newcastle.

Our first half was awful. Players watching the ball, atrocious marking, and no pressure on Newcastle players. No wonder we were down at half-time.

I suppose I should be happy that the boys managed to come back. Perhaps we haven't quite lost our competitive edge. If anything, I should go to bed knowing that the boys believed that they could come back. And I should go to bed remotely happy... but I'm disappointed with the first half.

Not that the second half was an improved performance by Melbourne, we somehow got two goals out of nothing. Love had a woeful first half, getting involved, having the ball, but only a handful of passes being released in received successfully by a team-mate. He was much improved in the second half - with the ball that went to Thompson being a lovely one, and I hope that it was intentional. It certainly looked it.

Pantelidis was brilliant again. I think his performance today shows why he needs to be (and deserves to be) in the starting eleven. Competitive and measured - his well timed tackles and careful distribution (even under pressure) were a relief to see when the rest of the team looked a complete shambles.

Keenan had a great half too, I'm not sure what Merrick's up to... perhaps he was being cautious and only letting Keenan play 45 minutes for fear of a lack of fitness? Or is it really because Keenan wasn't playing the way Merrick wanted him to? If it was the latter, it's a little frustrating to see from my perspective as Keenan looked to be the only one really causing Newcastle problems. Even if he wasn't following the coach's instructions, I'd keep him on as he was giving the opposition some serious headaches.

Finally, it was great to see Caceres back on the left where he belongs. And to finish up with a goal too! That is all - quite happy with that, so I'll go to bed now. :)

And Hamish - thanks for the call, completely forgot about tipping, but I wasn't too far off! I 'knew' the boys would score two, I just didn't want yet another draw! ;)

Monday, September 17, 2007

A bit on our Central and South Americans

Hernandez has lost weight, and now that he's not quite as physically slow as he was in preseason (in terms of getting from A to B), he's getting more involved in the game. But it shows that he's still not match fit. His quick one-twos occasionally work, but don't quite penetrate defence lines. What really annoyed me last night was his inability to put a good shot or cross in. By the time he controlled the ball, pushed it to where he wanted it, accommodated his body to align himself for a shot, wound his leg back... a Central Coast player had taken the ball of him!

Most of my disappointment comes from that I expected more from him. Such an experienced player from Puerto Rico surely isn't as dependent on having to turn his whole body just to use the inside of the foot to shoot or cross like many of our home bread A-League players. I'd expect him to be comfortable in using any part of his foot to do something with the ball, and I'd have expected him to be able to put some power onto a ball from the knee not only from the hip.

Perhaps I'm the only one (judging by what I could read from the Melbourne Victory forum before it went down), but I was completely dismayed by Love. I would have kept Hernandez on the pitch if I knew how badly Love was going to play! I only counted three intentional passes that were completed, one unintentional pass (a throw in from Archie, I think Love tried to control it, ended up going into the air and Archie managed to do something with it) and one shot, nicely saved by Vukovic, as his contribution s to the match during his 30 minutes of play. Not once did I see him win a ball - he would give the opposition player in possession of the ball about 2 to 3m of space (and time!) to do whatever he wised with the ball. In the end Brebner was often coming from behind Love to put the pressure on! Ridiculous! Love made Archie's occasional-defending-from-the-front look brilliant. I'm hoping Love wakes up and lifts his game... he'll end up like Claudinho otherwise.

Well, at least we're consistent...

So we managed to get a point from Central Coast… I really think it should have been all 3, especially as we were starting to get the upper hand towards the end. Four draws from four matches... at least we're the most consistent team in the A-League.

Not to say that we were struggling at the start. But I think Vukovic only had to deal with one tricky ball for the entire first half – towards the end when Archie should’ve gone for a header, but just stood there instead. Vukovic tried to punch the ball away, albeit badly, so it rebounded off the top of Thompson’s head and uugggh…

Even Danny (Allsopp) was disappointing, with the ghosts of season 1 apparently lurking about. The thing about season 1 was that we had our opportunities, but we couldn’t convert them into goals. Danny would miss a few each match – perhaps why the Victory fans were on his back so much. Unfairly though, as he contributed so much to the rest of the field, often saving us in defence… Anyway, last night Danny was a fraction late a few times. Often unmarked too, so he would’ve scored for a couple of them… but hearing up how much pain he was in, I’d have to say that he deserves a lot of praise for still putting in a solid effort.

So Danny ended up being subbed off for Ryall. Considering how solid Ryall was last week, I really wonder why Merrick didn’t start him last night, in right-back instead of Broxham who was not only struggling with the Mariners attack, but Heffernan’s ventures down the wing.

I don’t think Broxham was having a bad day, he’s just not defensive material, and I suspect his lack of height doesn’t help. But when he was freed from defensive duties and allowed to roam the midfield, he started to give the Central Coast outfit some problems and the whole team lifted. With a low centre of gravity and a stock build, Broxham is built to play in the middle of the park – it would take a very hard tackle to make him lose his balance. The only reason I can think of for Merrick starting Broxham is his attitude and work ethic vs. the desperation that comes from the Mariners.

Broxham is a hard worker, eager to win the ball and persists until he wins it. It’s something that can be done in the midfield as there’s space, bu noin the defence where there’s no time to have second chance. Once the ball is in his possession, he makes good use of it too. The final 15 minutes of the match finally connected our defense to the attackers, as the long balls were still going, but there was a shorter ball option as Broxham was about making sure the connections were there.

I’m quite concerned about how little game time Caceres is getting. With Keenan out, it would’ve made sense to play Caceres on the left wing. Instead he’s played on the foreign right wing*, where he has limited opportunities to play on his preferred left foot. Further, while his defensive abilities have improved, putting him on the right wing against the stamped that was Brown and Heffernan forcing Caceres to under-perform. I don’t think he was doing that badly, so I was as surprised as Caceres was angry to have been taken off so early in the match.

Pantelidis inclusion in the game on the right flank cut out all the nonsense that was going on that side of the park, and I don’t know why he didn’t start in the match. If Merrick wasn’t sure on playing Ryall, but happy to play Panta 30 minutes into the match, then why not start Panta in the right-back position instead of Broxham?

*I know I put him on the right in my midield, but I wanted Keenan in there too.

About yesterday's opposition

Before kick-off I was standing at South End watching Vukovic warm up. A few weeks ago I was concerned about his goal kicks and distribution when it came to long balls. During his time away with the Olyroos, things didn’t seem to have improved, so I was getting quite concerned. But he was looking good during his warm up, with both kicks from the group and from his hands consistently getting to Redmayne. During the match there was one shocker, about midway through the second half, but a nice improvement on how he had been going lately.

While at South End, I think I convinced another (female) Melbourne fan of Vukovic’s swoon-worthiness… I’m trying to get opposition votes for him early should I decide to do the Best Looking Bloke Award again for the A-League! I do think that the Mariners have the best team, but that’s just my completely biased opinion, heavily weighted by one player.

Back to the football, McKinna’s done a great job for a team of players that may not have the individual technical brilliance that some individuals in other teams may have, but they’ve got a lot of heart. I don’t think there’s one player out there for the Mariners that McKinna would have to sub off because he wasn’t trying or didn’t feel like playing. The main reason why I think the Mariners have gotten off to such a great start, is that the team is largely unchanged from season 2, or even season 1! They’re quite a stable club, unlike current bottom team Sydney…

P.S. Looks like Central Coast have taken up the position that Queensland Roar had for me last year...

Friday, September 14, 2007

Let's not lose the Ghana goal!

Matildas win 4-1... yay first win... just not as excited about that as I expected I would be...

Why am I not excited? It's not that I'm not patriotic, but when it comes to football I can get distracted by the skills on the field. At the start of the year I came across a book, Only the Goalkeeper to Beat and early into it, I found a few lines that describe how and why I get distracted".
Many of my own prejudices will become perfectly clear as we go along. But here, just to get started, are a few that might as well be out in the open once and for all. In the first place, I don't believe that goals are particularly important in football. I know that games are won and lost by them, but I don't (unless I happen to be playing) care about them that much. As a spectator I tend to enjoy rather small things. To see somebody trap the ball neatly, swerve away from a defender, and give a thoughtful and efficient pass to move the game on is often more of a pleasure than to watch some routine goal work again against a foolish defence.
-Francis Hodgson (1998, p.10)
So while Eamonn and Neil have covered the glory that is our first World Cup win, I hope that the one goal that we conceded does not get lost in the hype.

I got distracted by the silky skills from the Ghana girls. Beautiful stuff to watch! Unfortunately they're just not very desperate for the ball, they lacked heart. Oh well...

I did love their goal. And not because it was a goal, but the way that it was set up and then executed. Two touches - it's all you really need. First touch to not only control the ball and put it where she (
Amankwa) needed it to hit it well, but crucially got past the defender by playing it BEHIND the defender! And then the second touch was a beautiful strike. Barbieri had no chance.

And that penetrative ball through the defence and to
Amankwa was gorgeous! I love through balls! (Spase Dilevski crush should be explained by that.) They had a number of beautiful balls that would slice through the Australian defence, but just no desperation to make it a completed pass... oh well. Really pretty football!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Melbourne midfield

A completely selfish post...

Over on the Melbourne Victory Forum, Watt made a comment about how our midfield is too slow in moving the ball about, and made some un-comparisons to the Argentine play from Tuesday night.

Anyway, after a bit of discussion I thought about how I would play Melbourne - and I'm desperate for Merrick to play Caceres more, and to give Patafta and Hernandez a chance to play together. I think Patafta could cover the ground that Hernandez can't and Hernandez provide direction to the heart of the team. I also want Pantelidis in the starting eleven, so I had to drop Brebner. :( Quite upsetting, but I simply didn't have room for him!

I'd go for this:






I thought Ryall had a solid game against Adelaide. So why not free up Keenan by putting Kemp on the left (he had a good game vs. Adelaide even though he hasn't impressed me in other matches). Caceres is starting to use his right a lot more these days, so I think he can do a good job on the right.

There's only room for 2 of the 3 hardmen. Sorry Brebs, I couldn't leave out the captain and I think Panta's awesome defensively and with ball distribution too.

I'm putting Hernandez in the middle to control the midfield, and I'd want him to be the heart of the team. He doesn't need to run about all over the place, but try to always be free to receive the ball from the defence, Panta/Musky or the wings, and then be able to distribute it to the wings, Patafta or Allsopp.

I'm not inclined to put Patafta on the wings, as I'd think we'd half-waste him there. I'd like to give him the space to run about in, but not in the engine room with Hernandez all the time - some freedom to move up, but letting Danny be the target man. Kaz a wee thing, and so try to play him like an annoying little mosquito.
No Milicevic and no Thomspon either. Thoughts? Criticisms? Am I completely delusional?

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The tough ask

With Vukovic away on Olyroos duty, Matthew Trott had some awfully large shoes to fill. I'll admit that for the first hour of the match I wasn't particularly impressed with Trott; after all, I do hold Vukovic on a bit of a pedestal.

But then Trott made a wonderful save. Things were looking up for him in my books. A beautiful stretch out to the left to stop the header from Reinaldo and he parried even further to the left - away from the Queensland Roar strikeforce. I thought the lack of Wilkinson and Heffernan would have had a more destabilising effect on the defence. But with Vidmar fit and Brown in the line-up (whose amazing form at the end of the season had been forgotten about by me until I saw his name in the line-up) Central Coast were solid. The best part about Trott's save of Reinaldo's header, was that if he had not made it he had a defender backing him up. It was really nice to see after last week's sleepiness from Adelaide.

Later in the match, perhaps about 10 minutes to go there was another gorgeous save - low and to the left again went Trott. Well timed, and very secure. There were other saves during the match, but it's the saves that involve timing and really good form that I love to see.

I was converted, still think the world of Vukovic, but Trott's a great understudy. Now all I need is for Vukovic to do a dummy of the sort Trott did in injury time. He forced the Queenslander to commit to the ball by looking like he's going to kick the ball far, only to not do anything at all. Looked even better in the slow motion replay. It really showed his mind was ticking, good to see the boy has a fully functional brain. Whether he meant it to waste time or not is another matter (taking a goal kick eats up a bit more time, and I'm always on the hunt for new methods), but it showed great presence of mind. So good to see in such a young player.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Still feeling the let-down

Over at Football in the Capital, Eamonn made a bit of a better recap of the game from last night than I did. I suppose I was disappointed, I still am. Anyway, had a bit of a rant over there, and I think my comment is a bit of a supplement to my initial post.

Much like I couldn't watch Perth vs. Newcastle last week, if I wasn't a Melbourne fan and at Telstra Dome I would've walked away from the TV set.

I don't think our boring play and apparent reliance on long balls is due to the surface of TD. I simply think we didn't have any ideas. Patafta, who has been a spark of energy in the preseason cup and against Wellington had no, or little effect. He seemed to get out-muscled, and I think his early yellow card put the dampener on him.

I'm quite annoyed with Archie for not passing the ball off to Allsopp at about the 85 minute mark when we had superior numbers to Perth - 2 to 1 (not including the keeper). Archie should've passed it off to the left, where Allsopp was, as the Perth defender was approaching (can't remember who - I was very Melbournised at this point of the night). But no, Archie chose to hold onto the ball, and upon being tackled by nameless Perth defender, lost possession of the ball.

Keenan's injury didn't help either - he's a little consistent, but if he's on the field at least there's a chance of him producing something special. Caceres not in the squad was also a disappointment - he's a far more competitive player this season by what I've seen and I can only hope there was a good excuse for him not to have even been on the bench this week. I'm hoping he's making the trip to Adelaide.

More on why I hate assumptions in football

The first rule of life should be not assume anything. It's very applicable in football, and I've vented about it before. Last time, my rant was angled towards strikers (using Ronaldo as an example) and had a bit to do with the second ball. i.e. the ball the occurs when the keeper spills it, parries it, or if the ball hits the post.

This time I will rage against defenders. So many times in my playing days I was let down by my defenders, who would assume that I would safely deal with the ball. It was really only in my final full season that I played that I came across a defender who would always back me up (loved that sweeper to bits), and more often that not you'll see defenders slow down when the ball gets closer to the keeper. What I mean is, there's a shot, and once it's taken the defenders back off, preparing to receive the ball from the keeper once s/he has it. But what if the keeper doesn't end up with it?

When I got to my seat at Telstra Dome last night, Dad warned me about Sydney's first goal. No hello or how was work, just a "When you see Sydney's penalty you will fume." I suspected the worst - and when I saw the penalty, my fears were realised. No one should ever assume that a penalty will end with the kick itself. What if the shot hits the post or the 'keeper attacks it? The defence (and the attacking team) should be ready to run into the box as soon as the ball is hit. Not after you see that the ball is still in play.

Where were the Adelaide defence!? Alagich was the only one who reacted, and even then, you could have measured his reaction with a calender.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

The let-down

Empty. Ho hum. My initial reaction to the match is, oddly enough, the feeling I had against Perth at home last year. Unfortunately we didn't have a late strike from Brebner to at least get us the three points.

Things started to go awry when Keenan picked up a knock earlier in the match, hobbled about for a bit and was substituted for Kemp. Now Keenan's not consistently spectacular, but his runs down the left flank in preseason (against the VPL teams and in the preseason cup) showed that he has something special to contribute to the team. An occasional spark that can can work wonders - such as his wonderful set up of Allsopp's goal last week. Only 10 minutes into the match and our creative spark was gone. I do rate him as our most creative player at the moment.

Kemp, on the other hand, is quite the opposite. Dull to watch and has a tendency to thump the ball up the field to no-one in particular. Seems to do it consistently too, which adds to the anguish of watching him play. I'm fairly finicky. I appreciate that Kemp is quite stable as a defender, but it's his playing of the ball that depresses me. If he really loved the ball, I think he could do more with it. Instead, he seems more eager to clear it from defence and just getting rid of the ball.

I was delighted to not only have Pantelides back in the squad, but to have him in the starting line-up. It looked like Panta had the job of looking after Rukavytsya, occasionally passing the responsibility to Broxham when he felt the need to push forward. Aside from the foul on Sekulovski, Panta had a great game. Solid tackles and well thought passes - essential for building play from the defence. I'm hoping that he makes good use of the opportunities that may be thrown his way while Ljubo is injured.

Unfortunately Panta couldn't complete the match after tackling the elephant that is Topor-Stanley. An African elephant. Looks like Panta copped a knock to his knee, and while he was still competitive (he really does seem to have a never-say-die attitude), he ended up coming off. So early in the season, not worth sustaining a serious injury after playing on from a bit of a knock.

All up it was a disappointing match. Not once did we threaten the Perth goal, Tommich was never tested. We really never had a scoring opportunity. Perhaps I should be happy with the single point and a clean sheet. But I'm not - all that excitement of the A-League being back in town and we couldn't even get close to cheering and celebrating as a combined Melbourne fan base. Anyway, perhaps we'll get the better of current leaders Central Coast in a fortnight.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Out with the old?

Socceroos squad to face Argentina, MCG, September 11:Mark Bresciano (Palermo), Vincenzo Grella (Torino), Mark Schwarzer (Middlesbrough), Nick Carle (Genclerbirligi), Josip Skoko (Wigan), Michael Beauchamp (Nuremburg), Luke Wilkshire (Twente), Josh Kennedy (Nuremburg), Brett Holman (NEC Nijmegen), Carl Valeri (Grosseto), David Carney (Sheffield United), Archie Thompson (Melbourne Victory), Jason Culina (PSV Eindhoven), Michael Thwaite (Wisla Krakow), Scott McDonald (Celtic), Clint Bolton (Sydney FC), Alex Brosque (Sydney FC), Patrick Kisnorbo (Leicester City), Simon Colosimo (Perth Glory), Lucas Neill (West Ham), Dean Heffernan (Central Coast).

Honestly, not too many complaints about the squad. It’s good to see that Arnold (and whoever else has a hand to play in player selection) has decided to do a bit of a clean-out. Of course, it could be the non-availability of

some of the big names that have been omitted from the list that caused the selection of this young squad.

There are still question marks over some of the older players who aren't here… Out of those guys, there are two that have said they want to carry on to 2010 and the World Cup, but physically will it be possible?

-Graham Arnold (source)

There is still significant experience in the squad, with a nice spine to the team in Schwarzer, Neill, Grella, Bresciano and Culina. Hopefully they can be a solid structure for the rest of the team to form around to.

I am a little disappointed that Danny Allsopp missed out, and that Archie has made the squad. I simply think that Danny is a superior player, with an amazing work ethic. There’s so much that Danny can do, which Archie can’t (memories of Danny helping out in the defense at times through Season 1 pop into mind), and aside from the quick footwork of Archie (and I mean the speed that he has for moving the ball about when at his feet) there’s nothing that Archie does that Danny can’t do.

Happy to have Pantelidis back in the squad for tomorrow’s match. Not only is he an awesome hole-plug for pretty much any spot on the squad (I’m sure he’d make an excellent goalkeeper!), but he’s quite a talented player. He’s hole-plugging abilities often overshadow his never-say-die attitude, quality passes and brilliant tackles. For the past two seasons he has shut out many attacks with a solid well timed tackle. Splendid stuff! :)

Quick note: it just got into my head that Colosimo's in the squad. Colosimo! Uugh! I'd rather have Thompson. Enough said.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Completely off-topic, but...

... I simply had to write about it!

16 years ago, Mike Powell broke the long jump world record. In doing so, he defeated Carl Lewis - who himself had performed an admirable feat in producing 6 high quality jumps (8.68m, ???, 8.83m, 8.91m, 8.87m [with a head wind!], 8.84) - consistent but none of them could beat Powell's 2nd-last jump of the competition.

The reason why I wanted to write, is that Powell was discussing how his mind set 16 years ago was to only have to produce one jump that Carl simply could not beat. Lewis was something like the Mr Consistency of long jump - his series in the 1991 World Championships shows it.

And it reminded me of my old hammer throwing coach (who I still randomly think of these days, even though I stopped competing a few years ago). You had to throw say, 40m regularly in order to get that one 45m throw (and from there keep building your PBs) - or perhaps that's just how I interpreted his coaching.

As I said, completely off topic. Just feeling a bit wistful at the moment with the World Championships on (happens every WCs and Olympic Games), I really do miss athletics at times - I started when I was about 8 and kept going for another 12 or 13 years. If you're curious, I only picked up playing football when 15. So really, athletics is a bit like my first love. Don't think about it too much, but I do miss it.

I suppose one thing you could take away from Powell and Gus (my old coach) is that you need to be consistently great in order to have that brilliant moment. Anyway football fans, take what you want from that post - perhaps that brilliant moment is a goal or a penalty save. :)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Tiatto doesn't quite get away with it...

...but we'll find out for sure on Thursday evening.

While McFlynn also gets a disciplinary call up, Heffernan has managed to get away with the body-check Milligan.

Regardless of if Tiatto is suspended or not, how did the assistant referee miss it?! Especially since it was more than a moment of madness - a number of steps on Djite is more than a moment and surely not difficult to not see.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Oh so exciting!

Have I written about how happy I am for the A-League to be back yet?!?

So, the first match... Sydney vs. Central Coast
A rare Bolton error allows Gumprecht to intercept the ball, pass it off to Petrovski who does a fairly decent job of ensuring the ball gets to the far post and in for a goal. Anyone who's read my blogs realises that I'm far more interested in defences and particularly goalkeeping. With Vukovic in goals for the Mariners I really wasn't going to pay too much attention to the Sydney defence (which looked shakier than I expected!)

I'm a bit worried about Vukovic's goalkicks. Towards the end of the first half the ones from the right side of the goalbox kept veering off to the right and out of play. Then in the second half they weren't getting any distance! And then there was that moment when he came right of the box and my heart was in my mouth. I think everyone knows the moment when he came to the edge of the box for the initial save and then came right out for the second save - which he completely missed.

But he was otherwise awesome, especially when Juninho made that run in the first half down to the goalline and Vukovic kept covering - nice and low, stayed on his feet and didn't commit himself until he lost his balalnce. Juninho cut the ball back, can't remember who shot (Zadkovic?) and Vukovic was back on his line where he needed to be. I think he was a little annoyed that he lost his balance against Juninho, but I commend his effort in not committing and staying on this feet - top piece of work there.

Boogard and Wilkinson both had solid games, was very happy with them. However, my Dad pointed out that McKinna was a bit amateur regarding Jedinak marking Juninho for the whole of the match. Perhaps something for a post later down the track!

Let's move onto the refereeing. First, Talay should've been carded sooner - he was fouling all over the shop. Second, Heffernan's body check against Milligan needs to be dealt with. It's worse in the replay as you can see Heffernan keeping an eye on Milligan, waiting for the run towards him!

And while we're on referees... Queensland vs. Adelaide. What a dirty match! The thing that annoyed me most about this match was Tiatto stomping on Djite. IN FRONT OF THE ASSISTANT! And well, he's blind and perhaps deaf, he wants be a ref, but had to settle for waving a flag about. It was happening during last season too - assistants so caught up in determining if a player is offside or if the ball is out that they miss the things that occur right under their noses. It's really quite disgusting to see players get away with things such as that right in front of officials. Disgusting from the point of view of how inept our referees are!

Keeping things short - onto Wellington vs. Melbourne. I have not been very nice to Mr Theoklitos in the past (see labels Goalkeepers and Melbourne Rant), but I was willing to turn over a new leaf. This obviously will not happen - I completely blame the second Wellington goal on him (and what a turn around were Wellington in the last 15 minutes!).

I'll try to start positively - Muscat's penalty taking skills are well known, so I'll talk about the second goal. Awesome run by Keenan down the left flank. Has two Wellington players coming at him, slots the ball between them to play a one-two with a team-mate (I'll have to rewatch the match to remember). So that's two opposition players dealt with. Upon receiving the ball, we ducks and weaves past 2 and a bit players, falling down at that 3rd player and passing the ball off to Super Dan who ensure that it's a goal by slotting it past Moss. A total of 6 Wellington players dealt with between Keenan, the 'wall' player and Allsopp. Lovely sight that was. Beautiful finish too, but a wonderful run down the left flank. Unfortunately, aside from that gorgeous run I thought Keenan wasn't all that extraordinary...

Broxham was one of my top players from the match. Stocky and short, his low centre of gravity is going to make him a difficult player to stop when running at you. :)

I'm not too fussed about the first Wellington goal, a bit unlucky from the Melbourne player who headed the ball back to where Daniel was, and once that happened there was nothing that could really be done.

But the second goal... First Theoklitos comes out to the edge of the box for some reason. Broxham had his eye on the high ball, puts it under control and seemed to have the intention of playing it back to the keeper. By the time, Theoklitos was right next to Broxham, so there was no keeper to pass to! It means that Broxham had to do something quickly and played it out to the sideline. The resulting throw-in goes down the sideline and is knocked back into the goalbox. When the play is far away - say, outside the box, then the keeper has the time to be off his line. But as the play moves closer, the keeper ought to be on his line. I think there was more than enough time for Theoklitos to get back into his proper position. But he's so used to NOT being on his line... AARRRGGGHHH!!!! He ended up being about 2m off his line when the ball reached its target of Smeltz. Headed over the massive gap between the goal and the keeper - thank you very much!

Other things occurred too (Allsopp's handball comes to mind), but I have a pet hate of keepers not sitting on their line. The ironic part is that I used to do this all the time... shhh!

Friday, August 24, 2007

A-League Season Three Preview

It's been a long off-season, but the third season of the A-League is finally kicking off this evening! I'm very excited, and I'm sure I'm not the only fired-up football fan.

During the off-season, I started my coaching career, and I have three matches to go, but don't be suprised if you never hear about that until the A-League's off-season is upon us again!

Some of you may be aware that I tend to sit at halfway during my Melbourne Victory matches so that I can get a really good view of the match. As I have half-baked plans to go on some away trips this year I've decided that I had better get into the MV fan culture and get to know some of my fellow supporters. My ventures started with the pre-season friendlies against Victorian Premier League teams Oakleigh and South Melbourne. They continued with the pre-season tournament, joining the 'South End' for a bit of the Geelong match against Newcastle and back at our true home ground at Olympic Park for the Wellington and Sydney matches.

While I had a lot of fun singing with that lot I will be returning to my prawn sandwich area at half-way when the season starts proper. In short, if you've never spent an entire 90 minute period singing, go do it at some point. You may lose your voice, but it's fun and you can go home with a smile on your face no matter how poorly your team play.

So, now for the preview. I've noted quite a lot of previews popping up all over the place, so this will be what I am looking forward to this season, perhaps with a bit of swooning banter thrown in.

Sydney - I have to admit that I just stare at their defensive line-up these days. Bolton's an awesome goalkeeper - not just as a shot stopper, but he really seems to create a settled defense. Add Popovic and Rudan, and that's a solid central defensive unit. Milligan should continue to improve and I was also a bit impressed with Fyfe during the Asia Cup, hopefully he can keep doing whatever he's doing. Swoon-worthy players: outdated swoon, but John Filan's on the bench tonight!

Central Coast - Looking forward to Vukovic's development as a player and his combination with Wilko. Should be interesting to see how Heffernan's return affects things. I am still concerned with McKinna's insistance on using Mrja... too injury prone in my opinion, and hence a 'wasted' player. Hopefully, I can be proved wrong! Swoon-worthy players: Last year's best-looking player and runner-up are now on the same team! So Central Coast should be a delight to watch from a non-football point of view. Greg Owens, Danny Vukovic and a late favourite last year for me in Wilko...

Queensland - No Spase! What am I going to do without those occasional wonderful through-balls? Well, at least I won't get annoyed at his occasional losses in temper and stupidity... Happy to see that Grossman has been signed up, and hopefully the Matty and Mass show will get back on the road. With a large fan base, I'm hoping that Queensland make a top 4 finish. Swoon-worthy players: Although the Roar have lost Spase, Wedau and Willis, Reddy's still about. And I know a certain someone loves McKay, and that Murdocca has a bit of a female following.

Adelaide - COSTANZO!!!! My favourite player to watch last season - so much poise and an amazing ability to read the game. Although I'd hate to think that a team relies on one player, I find that if Costanzo has a bad day, so does Adelaide. Looking forward to the Burns and Djite partnership flourishing and I'm hoping that Sarkies adds a bit of heart to his game - frustrated me too often last season. Swoon-worthy players: None really do it for me...

Wellington - Mark Paston olé! One of my favourite players last season, often raised to hero-like status at home due to his goalkeeping often keeing the now dead Knights in the game. After not playing much of last season I'm hoping Ferrante gets some game time and due acknowledgement. One of my favourite players from season one, there was simply no room for him at Melbourne. Swoon-worthy players: Steven Old! [grrr... no photo yet] Might be on the bench a bit, but if given a run will be in the defense. I suspect Herbert might give him more of a run than Van Egmond did.

Melbourne - Patafta. This kid has been a wonder every time that he's stepped onto the park. A little creative dynamo that may be what we need to fill the hole vacated by Fred. Caceres has also been impressive in pre-season - he seems to have added a bit of grit to his game. He just needs to use his right peg a bit more, and he can use it, he did so in Geelong during the first half! I was so delighted that I went home with a smile on my face, even though me lost through some AWFUL defending (mumble, mumble, Ljubo, mumble, mumble). Looking forward to Muscat and Brebs putting Ljubo in his place. I don't like Ljubo - can you tell? Keenan also impressed my early against the VPL teams, but only occasionally shined during the pre-season competition. Swoon-worthy players: Danny Allsopp, Adrian Caceres, Kaz Patafta, Mitchell Langerak, Grant Brebner, Kevin Muscat (hahaha!)

Perth - Velaphi. He was awesome last year for Queensland while they had their goalkeeping crisis (*glaring at Reddy*). Should also be interesting to see how Nick Rizzo goes - injury stalled his career over in England and was consequently left in the wilderness - should be a happy return to football action for him. Hayden Foxe seems to be injured... again... see minor Nick Mrdja rant in Central Coast section. Swoon-worthy players: Hmmm... another tough area... oooh!!! Petkovic?

Newcastle - A beautiful team to watch under Van Egmond. Kennedy's injured at the moment, but hopefully he'll get some game time throughout the season - might be difficult with Covic about. But that kid just needs some confidence. I'm also hoping Joel Griffiths can control his temper. Swoon-worthy players: I'll get back to you later in the season.

My thoughts for round 1? You'll have to visit Football Down Under and Beyond!

Note: I have a class to run off to - will link Qld profiles later, perhaps this afternoon.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Round 14: trying to get it together.

Another loss - this time 4-0 against Team 3. Before the match started I organised for my goalkeeper to get a run on the field in the 2nd half. It's about time I gave her some playing time. So I spoke to one of the players before the match and told her I was going to put her in goals for the second half. The deal was that she'd play the full 40 min of the first half.

I also told her not to tell the rest of the team. I explained that I was going to ask the team for a volunteer. Essentially, if I had a volunteer then that player would be 'safe.' Otherwise, it would be her. No-one volunteered. Great team spirit (sarcasm.)

Thing is, at half-time we were only 1-0 down. Pretty much thanks to the goalkeeper and the left back - who was going to go into goals in the second half. Easily the two best players on the park for us. But I had made arrangements for the second half... and I stuck to them. The replacement keeper did a good job for someone completely unsure of what they were doing. The normal goalkeeper ran out of puff, so I ended subbing her off. Which was good, as I want her to be aware that if she doesn't play in goals she's unlikely to get a full game.

We have so much wrong in the team, and I don't have enough time to fix it. The players can't tell when is the time to simply clear the ball and when they have time to do something with the ball. If they do want to clear the ball, they want to smash it out of the park. Rather than just make a connection with the ball and letting the ball's momentum do the rest. They ball-watch. A lot. They're extremely one-footed. I only have one player who can kick long balls. I only have one player who can pass the ball - she's also picked up some crazy (in a VERY good way) turns from somewhere since the start of the season. I really ought to follow that up...

All I want is more time... but the girls can only generally commit to the one training session per night. I need quality time with each of them, not 1.5 hours for all of them. I'm hoping for a wet summer and an early pre-season so I can cover basic skills next season.

Oh, and the girl who hurt herself last week is due to miss three weeks. She did her medial ligament in her right knee (exactly the same as what I did), so I'm inclined to give her all the time she needs + more to recover. I'm hoping the fact that she's 16 and that I was 22 when I hurt my knee makes a significant difference.

Last Thursday I conducted an extra training session. Only five girls turned up... Anyway, at one point I set up a 2 (defenders) vs. 3 exercise to try and get the girls used to the concept of first defender and second defender. First defender to pressure the player with the ball, second defender to sit and see what's going on and enter the game once the first defender is out through error or being beaten.

One girl in particular was very half-hearted about pressuring the ball. Instead of giving the player with the ball perhaps half a metre of space, she'd give two. So the player with the ball had all the time in the world.
After some frustrating watching of what was going on, I demonstrated what I wanted from the first defender when outnumbered i.e. pressuring the player with the ball but not committing. The next time she did the exercise was a marked improvement and so when I played her as the first line of defence (I tend to play with five defenders in two rows at the moment - the first of two and then a row of three) she had an improved game. So I'm really happy about that - especially since I pushed my knee a bit during the demonstration and ended up very sore on Friday evening when the temperature dropped. At least the pain was worth it.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

My first match back

My first match back at coaching on Sunday was an absolute disaster. Morale and energy were low, lots of ball watching, and there was no cohesion in the team. It was watch and I didn't really know what to do to turn things around.

Perhaps it was because the first match against this team was a close loss (3-4) and the second match was a win (2-1). Perhaps the girls thought Sunday was going to be an easy win? We also had a late afternoon kick-off (3.15pm) and I know some of the girls had a VERY late night. Reminds me of my drunk team days...

We ended up losing 2-1, a goal thanks to a penalty we didn't even deserve. I have a couple of girls with an accurate kick that has a bit of power on it. One of the girls hurt herself 2 minutes into the match - won't really know the damage until Friday. The other one took the penalty.

I was very disappointed to see the team in this state. So I had a bit of a talk to them after the match, but only properly discussed the low energy on Tuesday at training. The late night party group did say that perhaps they had abused the late kick-off time, so that was good. Better than them denying what I already knew.

During training I focused on trying to get the team passing to each other again. It essentially took the full 1.5 hours. Perhaps they always played like this and it was only not watching them and seeing the U-20 World Cup instead that highlighted it. But I doubt it. I made them play in two teams against each other. I let them know that if one team makes five passes in a row, the other team does five sit-ups, push-ups, burpees or whatever.

For a good few minutes the record was 2 passes. Eventually 3 were achieved and we only once got to five. This wasn't because the non-possesion team had a superior defensive skills - they team with the ball were never once looking for the pass. Blindly kicking the ball forward was their method of choice. My current pet hate.

We have a second training session each week now. A bit more passing work tonight to try and keep the small bit of cohesion they had at Tuesday's training and some basic defensive work. Knowing the caretaker coach he probably didn't do any of that...

Friday, July 27, 2007

U/20 World Cup Ramble #3

As I mentioned in the previous post, the Scottish team made a defensive error when they conceded their first goal against Japan.

Monday 2nd July, 2007

In hindsight it's awfully clear that the Scots didn't make the right decisions. Both of them. Both wanted to smash the ball away. So three things: a connection with the ball and putting some distance on it while playing it away from the goal. It was all under pressure (from Miroshima) too, so there was no room for error. So, we don't really need hindsight or even the goal to be conceded to see that clearing difficult balls is a risky way to play.

A slight bobble can also be difficult to react to when you've already wound up your kicking leg - just ask Paul Robinson!

So what could the Scottish players have done? Instead of trying to do too much, do just enough and play it safe. 'Safe' is away from the opposition, and if the opposition attcks the goal directly through the middle of the park, then 'safe' is the flanks - the sidelines. In order to end the Japanese attack, all the Scots had to do was connect with the ball and direct it to the sidelines with a slightly angled foot.

No need for a kicking action; there should be more than enough momentum on the ball so that the defender can simply place his foot to change the direction of the ball. This would have easily been the safer option, especially in the case of the goalkeeper as he only needed to keep the ball away from Miroshima - who was directly ahead of him.

Against Geelong on the weekend, relatively new Victory signing Matthew Kemp irritated me as hw would always do the same thing - blindly thump the ball forward. While it never backfired on him, it's not good play (after all, you're simply trying to get rid of the ball), and there's no thought involved. No consideration as to how to wisely use the ball or get it to a team-mate. It's not attractive to watch, nor is it a good example for junior players.

Go down to your local ground and you'll see this kind of play throughout the match. From the desperate situations when there is no time for the kids to think to when the ball has just been won. You may even find yourself lucky enough to see it from kick-off! What's the point of it? Let me not even mention how many times you may see a kid miss the bal entirely, putting the entire team in danger!

I've ended up rambling, but the long kick is too often abused in football, and it needs to be cut out. Or at least reduced, play a possession game and develop the play towards a goal. Pass the ball around, and learn to look after it. If the play is there, the goals will come.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

U/20 World Cup Ramble #2

The second U/20 World Cup match that I watched was Japan vs. Scotland. The significance of watch the Japanese kids play is that we (as in Australia) were knocked out of the Asia Cup by the senior mens team.
Monday 2nd July, 2007

I've been enjoying watching the kids far more than the senior South Americans/Central Americans/North Americans. Funny how they are just kids - but they are awesome to watch.

Last night only Japan vs. Scotland was shown. Let me tell you, the Japanese kids were phenomenal to watch. As a result, I worry about the future of our Socceroos.

These Japanses kids love to do things with the ball. Step-overs, all kinds of turns, stepping on the ball... they have great ball skills. And they're not just show-ponies, they can play the ball very well. Japan would is the future of Asian football.

I can imagine Fossie this Sunday on SBS, talking about the ball skills and technical ability of the Japanese. Dad says it's the Brazilian influence - and he must be right. A lot of Brazilians have finished off their professional football careers in the domestic league of Japan. And you can see the influence it's had on the Japanese youth - who are now coming through. Australia had better be afraid. :)

One kid who particularly stood out for me was Miroshima. I'm pretty bad in how I only keep an eye on one player - I suppose it's a fault that I need to eradicate ASAP. A bit like Acosta, it was Miroshima's attitude that attracted me to him.

He had a chance relatively early in the match to volley the ball into goal. He had to do a few things as the ball came from his left and the goal was in front:
  • connect with the ball,
  • change the direction of the ball into goal,
  • avoid the goalkeeper,
  • and maintain some sense of balance while in the air trying to meet the ball.
After all that he missed. But instead of putting his hands up to his head and getting lost in the miss, he smiled (or rather, grinned) about it and carried o. Not to say that he enjoyed the miss, but it was the attitude of, "Oh well, it could've been really something," and getting on with the job at hand.

He ended up scoring Japan's opening goal. A long ball bounced near the Scottish defence, where the centre back completely missed the ball as he tried to clear it. So the ball went on to bother the Scottish 'keeper. Miroshima chased the ball down from the initial bounce. While the 'keeper got to the ball first, Miroshimas presence in the vicinity meant that the 'keeper had no time to muck about with the ball. So he assumed his British ways and smashed the ball forward. Which is exactly where Miroshima was. The ball went directly into the Japanese, bounced off him and went past the 'keeper. Miroshima controlled it and tapped it in.

[I get distracted on this event - I'm going to make it a seperate post to this.]

The match finished with Japan beating the Scots 3-1. The other two Japanese goals were rockets, especially the third - it was too hot for the Scottish 'keeper, who actually got to the ball - but the strength on the shot was too good. The Scottish goal came from a lovely throughball, which was received and shot at goal with. The Japansese 'keeper saved that, but a Scot was there for the second ball. There were also some Japanese defenders nearby, with one on the line who could've stopped it.

I figure he didn't as he might've run into the goalpost in the process. Perhaps he considered the 3-0 lead and thought a possible injury wasn't worth it. Especially this early in the tournament (first match). Although, as Dad correctly pointed out (or argued with me), should the Scots get another goal, we'd suddenly have a very different match on our hands, and that the Japanese shouldn't relax or be comforted in that buffer.

In the end it didn't happen, but I suppose that doesn't make my dad any less right.

And here we have a package of highlights from Youtube. That first Japanese goal still infuriates me. But I'm too tired to write up the post exclusively about that right now. And I'm annoyed at Melbourne Victory too.