Sunday, March 25, 2007

My new career...

Along with being a scientist, engineering student, and professional swooner, I've decided to begin my new career in coaching. It hasn't gotten off too well, with our first "Meet and Greet" session not going ahead due to a lack of communication between either myself and Person B or Person A and Person B. Communication between myself and Person A is pretty good.

I'll label this post and future posts related to my coaching (mis-)adventures as "Coaching" for easy access. Whether you use this feature or not is up to you, and consequently not my problem.

Anyway, so I'll be coaching the U/16 girls team at a local junior club. I once played for the senior club that the junior club wants to be a feeder for. The funny side of this is that I don't think much of the senior club. But then, I haven't played with a senior club for more than a season, so really no senior club is going to get the Cecilia Seal of Approval.

Luckily the squad size is limited to 14, so we'll only end up with 14 goalkeepers.

In other news, I stumbled across a picture that would've given Dilevski a better opportunity to stake his claim as the A-League's Best Looking Player.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

My left foot

Or rather, Bolton's left leg... was he playing injured?

Dad and I were watching the match and noticed Bolton didn't seem quite like himself. Tentative and half-hearted we initially suspected he didn't feel like playing. The reason Dad thought of was no Socceroo call-up. Seriously, looking at the number two goalkeepers that we've had playing in the past few friendlies we certainly couldn't do any worse than Bolton, or even Beltrame, in my opinion. Perhaps he'd gone into a "what's the point?" frame of mind...

And then he fumbled that ball for the second goal (the first also being a goalkeeper 'error' although in hindsight, an injured left leg would also have had a significant role in preventing Bolton from diving to the right considering you need some push off from the left). Something was definitely up.

His goalkicks and any free-kicks he too were all weak, his supporting leg behind the ball, with no follow through. Which, going on my left leg hypothesis, makes sense as putting a good follow through with the right leg means putting the body weight on the left leg. He was also taking his time with all the kicks, even at 2-2 (which in my opinion is 'losing' considering Sydney were playing at home).

And then there was a moment when I'm sure I saw Bolton land normally on his left leg, and quickly distributed the ball. As the camera panned away from him he was hopping about. A second fumble eerily similar to the second goal began to confirm the suspicions of my Dad and I. It was almost as if Bolton was making a real effort not to use his left leg for landing or pushing off - even if it cost Sydney a goal. Luckily this 'fumble' had some bounce so Bolton caught it one-handed.

I could be wrong, but I'd like your opinions. Not that I have a massive amount of readers or that any of you are as goalkeeper 'obsessed' as I am.

I'm still a bit gutted about Willis - sure he didn't sit on his line and lacked some assertiveness, but he had the makings of a decent 'keeper. The last thing I need today is for Bolton to be injured. C'mon Beltrame, let me finish today on a high.

Sob sob sob... not.

Alas, Queensland Roar have lost one of their swooniest players, and I am absolutely heart-broken!


I'm not really.


Oh come on, can't you see I was kidding?!?

Great, now I'm the laughing stock of blog-reading A-League fans everywhere.

Fine then, if you're not going to take me seriously, just read this then!

Hmmm... I wonder what kind of labourer he plans to be... might have to convince a couple of my friends now in Brisbane to use his services...

No, I am not obsessed. It's just too early in the morning.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Barbieri playing in the Foxtel Cup

SeƱor Random left a comment on this blog while I was on my post-A-League-final/going-back-to-uni hiatus regarding Melissa Barbieri playing in the Foxtel Cup Reserves.

I exhausted my commentary on the Melbourne Victory forum, but I don’t think I ever explicity said how I felt about a woman playing in the men’s league. I only ended up posting my thoughts on the forum because I thought the boys were being short-sighted, even though I agree with them on the general concept that Barbieri shouldn’t be playing in the men’s league.

Yes, you read that right.


Football is a team event. The development of a player is dependent on their surroundings. In this sense, a ‘keeper can only be pushed as far as the opposition pushes them. The depth of quality in the Women’s Premier League isn’t all that far – so Barbieri has no way to be pushed to become a better player.

She even tried playing for the Preston Lions one season in an attempt to get more practice in game situations. While playing for her ‘true’ club, Box Hill Inter, she was hardly pushed to perform at her best because of the strength of the Box Hill team. Cranbourne (now Casey) Comets would have been the only real opposition.

So I understand the reasoning beching wanting to play in the men’s league, and I can understand why Matildas coaching staff, and possibly sponsors would want this to happen. I’ll admit if I was as her standard, it would be something that I’d pursue – although I’d take a different approach.

I’ll digress from the point here, but I think it will help the handful of readers understand where I’m coming from.

Playing with the men was something that I had more or less experienced in my short amateur goalkeeping career. The clubs that I’ve played at are irrelevant, but I’ll name them simply not to confuse myself and to give credit where it’s due to the goalkeeping coaches – some who I have forgotten their names. (I’m really REALLY bad with names.)

One of my first clubs was Mitcham – local club and the men played at Provisional League 2. Not one of the top leagues in Victoria, and perhaps the players aren’t as gifted as those that play Premier League, but very competitive nonetheless. While the goalkeeping coach that the club had there for a little while didn’t improve me technically like a later coach would, training with the guys increased my confidence dramatically. If you can save a decent hit by a guy, or have the confidence to take them one, you’ll be right with the women. Confidence does wonders for a goalkeeper – and I’m sure training with the guys helped me come out of my shell. To the outsider (i.e. non-‘keeper), I’m sure that was the season that s/he would declare that I had a screw loose.

A couple of years later, I played part of a season at Doncaster. Their women’s State 1 team had an average age of 15 or 16, was brand spanking new to football, and unsurprisingly was getting spanked by the opposition. There, they had a great goalkeeping coach (I’ve gushed about him elsewhere on this blog, but I won’t name him because I can’t remember the name of the Mitcham ‘keeping ‘coach’, so it wouldn’t be fair) and I trained with the State League 2 Men’s team.

Not only was Mark (oh, smeg it!) great, but training with the State 2 guys was an awesome experience. They were competitive during training, which pushed me, but they also looked after me, giving the appropriate feedback and advice when I needed it. When I completely stuffed up they would explain what I should have done, encouraged me to be more aggressive and to tell them where I wanted them positioned. That season was great for me in terms of development as a goalkeeper.

Bringing it back to Barbieri, I think she can get what she needs by training with the guys and perhaps by playing friendlies against men. Perhaps she has already tried it and found there to be no other way for her to become a better player than by joining a men’s Premier League team. But, by playing in the reserves league she has effectively taken the place of a promising youth.

I know she was cleared to play on a Friday afternnon, and played that very evening. So I really do feel for the reserves ‘keepers who’d been at pre-season, probably working their arses off, and then only one of them gets a chance to play – and even then, for only 45 minutes.

Regardless of how I feel about it, it’s been done now and best of luck to her. However I wish more luck to the kids* who are now not playing in the league that they deserve to.

*Reserves is U/21, so they’re younger than me, even if it’s only slightly. :oP

Fred and Greg Owens

I feel like writing about football again, but don’t have that much match material to rant about. So until the next ACL match, I think I’ll go over a few issues that have popped in the A-League and Australian football since that one-sided affair of Feb 18, 2007.

Just quickly, I’ll comment that I thought 6-0 was overkill. As much as I love Melbourne Victory, I’m a football fan first and foremost. I would have preferred to have seen a closely contested match where the fan would have been biting their nails, rather than the ruckus that was the final. Briefly, I preferred our 2nd leg semi-final win over Adelaide. It was more heartbreaking for the opposition. :)

Now onto the topic of the moment, Fred. Mike over at the Football Tragic has already commented on this. In short, the A-League is meant to be a professional league. Players, much like employees in any other company, will want what’s best for them. In Fred’s case, DC United have offered Fred the kind of financial security that A-League simply cannot offer due to salary cap restrictions.

There is no doubt that Fred was an amazing player, but the reality is that the A-League has a salary cap in order to be sustainable. The cap also create an even playing field across the whole league, preventing a cashed-up club from buying all the best players, and creating a closely contested competition. Clearly Perth and New Zealand had teething problems.

Back to Fred. A move to the US is also an opportunity to raise his young family closer to home. This is something that Central Coast has been able to offer Greg Owens. It has not gone done too well over at the Adelaide forum (it’s a similar response to that regarding Fred at the Melbourne forum…)

I hope that the two of them are happy where they are, or will be, going. Especially in the case of Owens, who had a horror February 18 but otherwise has the ability to pay much better football – if he keeps his head in check.

While I’m on Owens and his awful A-League final, I’ll just jump up and defend him for a moment. Regardless of if he was injured or not, or if he was injured and should have played or not, I don’t think left-back is quite the right position for a hot-headed, attacking-minded player like Owens.

P.S. Do you like my new Melbourne-ised look? :)

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Sydney are back!

I'm back too! It's been a while, but you can't get rid of me that easily!

I’m quite excited about this (as in Sydney's return to being decent), I was quite worried that they would be very poor representatives of the A-League, and consequently make our league seem like a joke! But to play in some style when it mattered most – away, in their first Asian Champions League match – wooooooooo! Luckily for everyone*, Culina has done an excellent job in moulding a team that plays free-flowing football.

But first, let’s go to the Adelaide match against Shandong Luneng Taishan (from China). Shandong started with blistering speed, and scored early. Fortunately for Adelaide, the assistant referee incorrectly deemed it as offside and the referee disallowed the goal. Every single other offside flagged by the assistant was spot-on though, and I’m assuming he hadn’t ‘warmed up’ yet with respect to the first one. I have to give Adelaide some credit for what they did next. Adelaide were completely out of the match, simply because of the speed that Shandong played their game. So when they had possession, Adelaide slowed the game right down to try and establish their own rhythm. Alright, so in the grand scheme of things this tactic didn’t really work. But aside from the own goal, Shandong were never really convinving winners… unlike Sydney…

It really was a sight to behold. I haven’t visited the Sydney forums yet, but I don’t particularly feel the need to. I hope the fans are happy. Not that I though Butcher was all that bad (anyone who plays at a World Cup is a semi-hero to me), and I didn’t find Sydney particularly fun to watch, but woah! Their football last night was smooth! Whatever Culina’s done, I’m a very happy football fan. I think Carney had a lot to do with it – he seems to be back to his best, and it made a difference.

Favourite moment was a draw between the start of the first goal and Talay’s completely surprised and excited face after he scored. I think Carney’s interception of the ball that was played back by Shanghai to the defender was lucky. But sometimes luck is all you need, and by attempting to get that ball Carney did more than some other players would have. And it was the fact that he intercepted the ball and it was the intercept that started the goal that made it one of my can’t-stop-grinning faces. Add the great 2nd touch to control the ball, and the perfectly timed pass in front of Corica, so that Corica could run onto the ball – beautiful stuff.

Talay’s shot was awesome. My jaw hit the floor and then I was grinning from ear to ear. But what I really liked was Talay’s excitement and slight-disbelief that he scored. I think not having any A-League matches has had a serious effect on my emotional senses – a Melbourne fan, happy because Sydney was playing well and winning!

Anyway, I only saw the first half as I really needed to get to bed. Call me weak, meh, at least Sydney didn’t concede while I was awake. Speaking of conceding… Valkanis… enough said I think. Well, not quite, perhaps Beltrame could have done more with the cross, or actually, perhaps Beltrame could have done something about the cross, so that it wasn’t touched by the Shandong player. There were a few great saves from Beltrame. Bolton also had a solid first half from what I saw and a good second half from what I read – even though he did concede one.

Sorry to regular readers who may have expected a different kind of post, but I’m just warming up again.

For a better review than what I've just knocked up, visit the Football Tragic.

In the meantime, Adelaide can look forward to these conditions on April 25th…

*Sydney fans, A-League supporters (as in those who support the A-League and want the A-League to succeed, even if it's at the [short-term] expense of their team), and other supporters who don't yet know what's good for them.

P.S. I'm meant to plug something, but I'm yet to give it a listen myself, so I won't be plugging it yet! (Sorry)

P.P.S. No Costanzo gushing today, he wasn't as spectacular as he had been, but I think the move up the field isn't the best for him. Still, he put it a good performance, and Adelaide don't really have the players to put in there... I also though Djite did a decent job of playing alone up front, and I agreed with the tactic.

P.P.P.S. Branko, can you please do something about your defence? Middleby's quick, but short (I wonder if he could ever attempt a header?) and lacks some strength. Topor-Stanley's the opposite - strong but slow. I can't really think of a solution at the moment except for the inclusion of Zadkovich on the right - he wasn't too bad under Butcher (muttered under breath).