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.


Neil said...

Cecilia, like yourself I had to wait a couple of days to write down my thoughts and even then I don't think they were still that coherent. As we discussed on Friday night Caceres definitely needs more game time - its time for either Brebner or Broxham to make way.

Mike Salter said...

Good read Cecilia, thanks.

I can't understand why Caceres hasn't been used more this season. Seeing that Fred drifted infield so often last season, Caceres was often your only real wide outlet, and that made him precious, IMO.

MV are crying out for some real width ATM with Keenan's form taking such a nosedive.

john said...

Great review Cecilia

I am speculating that Fred comes back as an 8 week guest (US season now over for him?).