Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The A-League Finals: Sydney vs. Newcastle

There are two ways to play football – either you make the ball do the work or you do the work yourself. You’ll find that less technically gifted teams tend to do the latter.

Whether Sydney is technically able to play good football is unknown, and their first half against Newcastle was based on killing their opposition early. Chasing every single ball, opportunity, player, whatever. Putting lots of pressure on the ball, closing down Newcastle as quickly as possible – essentially not letting Newcastle have any time to play. And the tactic worked. McFlynn successfully shackled Carle out of the first half, and with that the Newcastle midfield was non-existant, forced to attack through Griffiths and Eagleton. I can’t even remember who was on the left for Newcastle… nup… still can’t remember even after looking at the team list!

Covic made an error leading up to Brosque’s goal. He came off his line, but without having made his mind up to commit himself to punching the ball. Instead, he stood between either of the two places he should have been (at the ball or on his line) and effectively took himself out of the play. Goal to Sydney. Also, it was worrying to see two Sydney players spare in the box closest to the goal when the header went it. Where was Newcastle? If Brosque’s goal hadn’t gone in and popped back into play, should it have bounced to the right side of the goal, Sydney would’ve scored anyway.

The Newcastle defence was a shambles, and I hope that they revert to the defence prior to the Melbourne game, when they looked far more stable. The Newcastle defence was barely bothered vs. Melbourne, and so not an accurate measure of the line-up. This means getting rid of Okon… who I’m not a fan of anyway*.

However, the second goal could be put down to a lack of midfield… Milligan begins his run towards the box with about two-thirds of the pitch to go. No-one tracks him. Once he’s in the box, too late. Corica’s ball (which he had plenty of time to deliver) was perfect, and Sydney scored again.

However, things came unstuck for Sydney with the injury to McFlynn. Not that I think McFlynn is a good player (in fact, he’s a psycho in my eyes) – but his role in the team was to prevent Carle from having the ball. When McFlynn was injured and had to come off, Butcher replaced him with Petrovski. 2 goals up and another striker was put on… at this stage, I would have thought that Sydney would tighten the reigns in an effort not to concede any valuable away goals. Furthermore, by putting Petrovski and letting him play up front Carle was now free to have some fun. Put Rodriguez on the park and Newcastle were back to their normal game plan.

Butcher should have kept someone on Carle the whole time. Even if they weren’t as aggressive as McFlynn, someone needed to bother Carle. Van Egmond then added Rodriguez to the mix, taking off Coveny. Newcastle effectively had two more midfielders now than they had in the first half, and Butcher should have done something to put this to a stop. Either Brosque or Petrovski should have been dropped down to the mid-field, and if I had to choose I would’ve gone Petrovski. Brosque is too soft, and lacks the experience that Petrovski has.

Furthermore, Sydney simply were unable to play the kind of ‘football’ they were playing in the first half. As they themselves were doing the work, they ran out of petrol. And when the time came for them to step up to Newcastle, there was little they could do. Newcastle got going again, Rodriguez somehow scores, and the finals are still alive for Newcastle. Throughout all this time, the Newcastle defence was a shambles. Covic still hasn’t settled in by the looks of things, but finals time is not the time to do a Miron and tinker with the team.

Coming soon:
The A-League Finals: Adelaide vs. Melbourne

*Even when he played at that team which I love dearly but am a little ashamed to admit I still go for them considering we’re in a relegation battle at the Championship level – Leeds.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

The A-League Finals - Stage 1

Just a short post for the moment while I gather my thoughts.

Sydney vs. Newcastle
A disappoinyinh crowd witnessed Newcastle get runover by a Sydney team that played the kind of football I dislike - instead of making the ball do the work, they did the work themselves. As they ran out of puff, Newcastle got back into the match. Sure McFlynn's injury had something to do with this, but crucially I believe it was how Butcher responded to the injury that let Newcastle back in.

Adelaide vs. Melbourne
Melbourne should have gone to Adelaide with the intention of scoring at least one goal. However, it was evident early on that they were playing for a draw. As Adelaide kept getting chances, especially towards the end of the match, it was reducing the time that Melbourne would have to get one back in the event that Adelaide scored. It reminded me of the Socceroos biding their time against Italy, waiting for extra time - and extra time never came. Luckily for Melbourne however, Adelaide didn't score. It means we must win at the Dome next week, for a scored draw puts Adelaide through. If anything, the pressure's on us. If we get one goal, and Adelaide sneak one back, they're through. I hope Merrick aims for a 2-0 score, so we have a little buffer, just in case.

More to follow...

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Voting for the "best looking bloke in the A-League, in Australia, in the world, whatever" has begun

Although I should point out that it's become a player-specific award... and that I couldn't put a poll up at Perth, and I'm probably not going to put one up over at Kiwiland.

I'm giving each forum about a week to respond. Then I'll arrange for a 'national'-type of vote, where the home player is not in the list of choices as that would create a bias. If you haven't voted yet, vote now! Once the final 8 (plus Spase, I've decided to keep him in there as a true default) have been decided, I'll post photos up with a bit of a rant and maybe some quotes from fans about how good-looking they are.

Adelaide: Poll is located here. Choose from Burns, Cornthwaite, Dodd, Geraldi, Rech and Walsh. Currently Burns in equal 1st, which is amusing given he wasn't nominated on the Adelaide forum in the first place.

Sydney: These guys have come around a bit since the nominations were requested. I've now put up a poll, and then they wonder why Petrovski (surely they weren't serious), Fyfe or Dave (Carney or Zdrillic, I still don't know, but I suppose they mean the former) aren't there! Arrrggh! I can't be bothered fixing it up and it's partially their fault anyway. Oh, and their nominees were Bolton, Brockie, Corica, Milligan, Theissen (and his full head of hair), Topor-Stanley and Zadkovich.

Perth: Currently having a party because I said they were more amusing than Sydney while both forums were at the stage of making a mockery of the thread. I wasn't actually able to put a poll up at Perth, but they definitely have the most amusing thread. I have informed them that Colosimo will likely be their rep, which hasn't been taken too well. Muahahahaha.

Melbourne: This was such a list, that I couldn't fit them all into the 10 places that the forum site limited me to. The choices are Allsopp, Brebner, Broxham, Caceres, Leijer, Lia, Muscat, Theoklitos, Vargas, and the combined choice of Alessandro/Ferrante/Fred/Sarkies.

Queensland: What a wonderful forum to use! Unlike the others where I needed to create a new thread to post the poll, I could add it to the original one at Queensland. Also, I pretty much had unlimited places in the poll so I could give each of the nominees their own spot in the poll. Queensland are also the best-looking team, with their whopping 13 nominees. And they are Buess, Gibson, Griffin, Grossman, McCloughan, McKay, Murdocca, Ognenovski, Reddy, Vidosic, Wedau, Willis and default nominee Dilevski. Early days yet, but Spase is yet to post a vote. Even I'm very strongly tempted to vote against him and go for Mr Bad Luck...

Central Coast: I had been warned by Wayne not to put Gumprecht up as he had a 'head that only a mother could love.' Nevertheless I put him up as someone I know does like him. He very quickly got a vote... The other nominees are Brown, Hutchinson, McMaster, Mrdja, Petrie, Vukovic and Wilkinson.

Newcastle: I almost didn't put a poll in because of the strength that Eagleton had in the nomination thread. But I did put a poll in. Nevertheless, four votes in and it's four votes for different players. Aside from Eagleton, we have Carle, Griffiths, Kennedy, Necevski, North, Okon, Old and Rodriguez.

New Zealand: the only forum not to get a poll. I'm already on -1 karma at their forum, which doesn't bother me in the slightest. I've let them know who their nominees are, and they may come around. I doubt it though.

Monday, January 22, 2007

(Swoonable) idiot of the week

This week's swoon is more of a rant. Good-looking player in my opinion (and a few others too), but he was very disappointing on the pitch.

I hate it when players pick up stupid yellow cards. It's often the younger players who lack a bit of experience, and often get themselves booked for general recklessness. I've made a short post in the past about this as it is a pet hate of mine.

I would like to think that a player would earn a yellow (or red) card for a decent reason. This week a particular player stood out for me. Greg Owens came on late for Adelaide on the weekend, after the three points and second place had been stitched up.
He had quite an awful 18 minutes. First moment of misery occurred soon after his inclusion in the match, where a shooting opportunity where he didn't make contact with the ball. Now, this happens to a few players (eg. Vargas), but not really as obviously as what happened to Owens. Drew his right leg back, 'shot' with a bit of follow-through and he had a more impressive pirouette than Vargas. Although at least Owens' (lack-of)-action did cost Adelaide a goal.

The frustration that resulted from it did have a possibly worse affect though. Well, I assume that he would have been frustrated with his mis-timing and probably tried too hard to win the ball when he had a chance. And when he did have this chance, he put his entire body in the path of a player. It wasn't malicious at all, but I believe that it was unecessary. He should have known that he was already on three yellows, and that any stupidity of the tackling kind would result in a suspension.

Comparing the two ballerinas - where Melbourne didn't need the three points, Vargas is still available for next week (hoping that he just had a bad game against Newcastle). Owens, however, has now ruled himself out of the first leg of the finals match against Melbourne. From a Melbourne point of view, I shouldn't be complaining. But if I had to be honest, I'd want the A-League to be a success. It needs to be sustainable and produce good quality players. In my perfectionistic view of football, players who earn stupid yellows such as Owens (Melbourne's Adrian Leijer earns a few too, I'm not that one-eyed) affect the quality of the game.

Whether it be through giving away free-kicks or earning themselves a suspension for the next week (or couple of weeks if you're Leijer*), it's something that needs to be worked on. It may up to the individual player to decide that he will keep his cool, or up to their coach if the player needs to settle down.

From a swooning point of view, at least he'll be available for the Melbourne leg of the play-off. From a Victory supporter's perspective, here's hoping he doesn't score or provide an assist. Or recklessly tackle someone in a manner that injures them...

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Be careful what you wish for.

Now, I wanted Newcastle to finish in the top 4, because I thought van Egmond had done a brilliant job turning the team around, getting them to play good football, and consequently bringing crowds back to matches. Essentially, Con Constantine would be mad not to keep him. As things turned out, Newcastle needed to beat Melbourne in the final round...

They smegging demolished us! And like the Queensland match last week, I'm furious at Melbourne.

Let's look at the first goal - Allsopp had the ball, was facing our goal, smothered in Newcastle players. Let's forget to ask where the hell our right midfield (did we have one?) and right-back were (smegging Lia - grrrr), that's another issue which I won't cover with any detail today...

Back to Danny - Leijer was facing him, but far too close to risk passing the ball too. Vargas was relatively free in the middle, with Bridge nearby, but at least he wasn't outnumbered. I think Allsopp did the right thing, to try an maintain possession - you're struggling on the right, let's switch play to the uncrowded left side, using Vargas as a pivot point. Bridge read the ball and applied pressure to Vargas. Vargas received the ball, and turned around to shield it without having touched or made any attempt to control the ball. So, when Vargas ended up completely mistiming whatever he planned to do, the ball had not changed its path whatsoever. Making it easier for Bridge to do something, and something he did do... Even a slight touch would have altered the path, thrown Bridge's run off, even only slightly, but perhaps enough for Roddy to get back in to it, or for Theoklitos to smother the ball. Grrrr grrrr stomp stomp.

The second goal... trying to remember... (do I want to remember?) No, I don't want to - this was the Lia moment of how he cannot be good example so he set out to be a horrible warning. Again, credit to Bridge for following the play, and not assuming Lia won't control the ball. In fact, you'd assume he wouldn't control it really as Lia is truly awful...

The third goal - Have I told you how I dislike Theoklitos? If you're going to come out from under your goal, you come out and attack the ball (and player), you don't reach 16 yards and decide to just stand there and watch Coveny. I don't care if you thought that you were going to be ineffective. Come out, put pressure on the player - perhaps by forcing him to rush the shot he'll miss! But no! Theo's chicken...

The fourth goal - I'm over it now. Do I have to go through the pain, because this was a shambles. Complete and utter rubbish. I think Theo was left standing in the middle of nowhere again here, but with two opponents breaking through what can you do? Well, you may as well pressure the one with the ball - as I said before, he may just stuff up!

It is unfair to solely blame the defence for what happened. I'm a believer in defending from the front, and a reason why I'm not an Archie Thompson fan is because too often he will lose the ball and not try to fight for it back. But the main problem we have is a lack of width. I had a Caceres/Storey/wingers rant last week. And how did Newcastle exploit us? They used the width. Fred, Muscat and Brebs play as central midfielders, and were largely absent during the game - effectively giving us no mid-field.

On the left we had Alessandro, backed up by Byrnes. I think Byrne's needs a confidence boost, he is capable of playing decent football, just not lately. Alessandro's been figured out by other teams and is no longer effective going forward, and was never effective coming back. On the right we had Lia. I think most of Newcastle's goals came from the right, via Lia... who was effectively unprotected by the midfield...

Anyway, I saw this match at a pub (the Royal Derby) with some lovely Victory supporters, instead of the comfort of my own home. And it was probably a little more difficult for me to follow the match as I was getting far more fired up than usual when it comes to away matches. This, combined with Queensland's loss has set up a pretty poor weekend for me - can it get any worse? Yeah... if Central Coast win tomorrow, Newcastle come second.... NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! Going for Adelaide, two weeks in a row? Someone medicate me!

P.S. Very disappointed Steven Old didn't even feature as a benchwarmer.

Who's the "best looking bloke in the A-League, in Australia, in the world, whatever"?

From the most recent Queensland Roar podcast:

Stu: I’ve got a sneaky one here, you’ve done your last, I’ll do my last if you don’t mind. Spas Dilevski. Now, if he’s chocolate he’d eat himself, this boy, I’ll tell ya. So what he wanted for Christmas was some kind of nomination or award for the best looking bloke in the A-League, in Australia, in the world, whatever, he didn’t mind. As long as it was some kind of nomination for being good looking. I’ll tell ya, he couldn’t even win the best looking bloke his house, and he only lives with Massimo. Not saying Mass is an ugly–

Josh: Not having a crack at Mass in anyway.

Stu: No shape or form. It’s a two horse race…

Josh: And got pipped on the line!

Stu: He did!

Josh: Actually, not even pipped I think it was four lengths going away. I don’t think he’d want to hear that at all. He does rate himself.

And thus begins the search for the best looking A-League participant. I need to whittle nominations down to a manageable number, I've decided for 8 - one player from each team and have made a thread in each forum.

Perhaps I shouldn't have pointed out that I was from Melbourne, Adelaide think I'm spamming them. Ah well. If they don't want to participate their rep will be Greg Owens. They have been warned. They now seem to be ok with it, in fact things are now going pretty well. Unlike...

Sydney, who don't look to be taking it up at all. Okay, maybe a little... a Sydney fan posted Bolton on the Melbourne forum... turns out he's banned from the Sydney forum!

I can't tell what Perth are doing... they seem to be taking the piss out of it, but at least they're funnier than Sydney.

This is looking like a shambles...

Melbourne are going for it a bit, and just like the other forums, they're listing players from all teams.

Queensland's been pretty good too (sob, sob), along with the Mariners - where someone's put my link up anyway. Cheers to those two forums for taking it with a sense of humour. Jeccy, no-one's nominated Matty McKay yet!

Newcastle were the last forum added, as there were some probs getting onto the site in the first place last night. Like Queensland and the Mariners, this forum has also taken to this silly quest of mine like a duck to water.

And finally, New Zealand. There have been three replies so far, which is proportional to the other forums when you consider their crowds at home games. :P Sorry, couldn't resist.

I'm trying to get guys to respond to this, as surely you can assess whether a guy is good-looking or not, like girls can pick out and accept that other girls can be pretty. So, during the week when I get a rough idea of who's popular in each club I'll try to set up an anonymous poll for each forum. When I get my final 8, I'll then make each forum choose by removing the 'home' player. Hopefully this will take out any bias.

Oh, and Spase Dilevski might get nominated in the final lot by default. So it might be a final 9. I haven't decided yet. I wouldn't how I'd go to go about removing 2 options from the Queensland forum... Who will be "best looking bloke in the A-League, in Australia, in the world, whatever"? Dunno, but I'm abbreviating it to the BLBA award (Best Looking Bloke in the A-League - trying to stay true to McLaren's 'terminology.')

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

For Watt

Dear Watt,

This is what I wrote for Wayne, with some edits due to typographical errors/ambiguities!

I think our wings are an issue for us. Caceres and Storey (left and right) are ’soft’ players. They don’t go in hard.

And we have a defensive problem. Byrnes had a shocker against Perth, but is usually reliable. Leijer was suspended for the last two, and I will be happy to have him back. Vargas has done extremely well to slot into the back, and I like his ball distribution - often opting to play the ball out from defence rather than whack it up the park. New signing Kovacic is better off on the bench or not even on the squad list. He is extremely slow. Not something you’d want in a defender (it’s a reason why I don’t play there regardless of how much I like defensive positions). Heck, he had fresh legs and was still being out-run.

Pantelidis is been such a great plug throughout the season, and he plays hard - which I like. Lia was extremely disappointing last season and things haven’t changed. Alessandro didn’t play, but I doubt he would’ve helped us. Ferrante hasn’t been playing, but last season he showed that he was decent. Hopefully some game time will fix him up.

Muscat woke up on the wrong side of the bed, and it was a massive difference compared to the fire of Brebner against Perth, who was suspended for the week. Our other new signing, Broxham, has been a breath of fresh air. He make not be technically great, but with his can-do/never-give-up attitude and youth, it means that he can learn. Also, being short, he is great midfield material due to his low centre of gravity.

Sarkies finally showed his dead ball specialty against Perth, but you* missed his wonder corner against Queensland. It didn’t even get off the ground. And he’s also soft. While Sarkies is young, and can still learn, his attitude needs to change. He needs to be tougher, and once that happens I look forward to his development as a player.

I don’t like Archie - he doesn’t work hard, and often won’t even try to win the ball when he loses it up front. Danny didn’t play against Perth, but I can’t think that’s an excuse to use for his lucklusture performance against Queensland. And Fred was largely absent during the match.

I can see what Merrick’s doing - but I’d prefer for him to maybe change one player in the starting line-up and then put others in for the remaining 25, 20 or even 15 minutes of the match. Let each one integrate before forcing another change. But as I said, one week off from a game isn’t really an excuse. Especially since Murdocca seemed right as rain when he hasn’t played for a number of months.

You - this was directly to Wayne as he said he could only follow the match via radio and didn't actually see any of it.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The who needs coffee player of the week

Due to my knack of falling asleep whenever I get bored, I tend to be a bit of a caffeine addict. But, there are times when you don't need a cup of coffee to wake you up. Sometimes a cute footballer does the trick.

So, while I had already had a cup of coffee, it came to my attention that Newcastle's Steven Old is a bit of a cutie. Photos can be found at Getty Images. Photos won't link up properly... :(

Note: I'm going to try my hardest to put a new player in the swoon of the week. Usually the player needs to be halfway decent for me to realise he's there and consequently take a closer look. In this case, I blame a closely contested match, as I spotted Old before he had touched a ball - as he came off the bench. I'd seen him before, but I'm making an effort here to put a new swooning player each week.

Monday, January 15, 2007

The penalty against Newcastle

So I forgot to talk about the penalty in my previous post...

First, when it's a ball-to-hand incident, I am quite against awarding a penalty to the other team. Secondly, I thought Covic's footwork facing the penalty left much to be desired. To be honest, I considered that Colosimo would shoot to the left (i.e. 'keeper to dive to right) based on the approach he had to the ball (no angle) and that he's right footed. I don't like 'keepers to guess, but it can be read somewhat, roll the dice, eh? Just never guess during training.

Now back to Covic. Yes, he dived in the right direction, but he took a long time getting there. Why? Because his first move was a two-footed jump forward (to narrow the angle), followed by a push from the left foot to get to the right side of goal. Do it yourself, and you'll find it's two distinct movements. Considering it was likely that Colosimo would shoot to the right side of the goal ('keeper's p.o.v.), I would've taken one step forward with my left and then push off from that movement. Although it's still two moves, it can be far more fluid and consequently faster.

I suppose if Covic didn't read the kick or didn't want to gamble, then taking that two footed jump forward allowed him to reduce the angle and still gave him an option to go either left or right. However, since I did say out loud to my family to dive right, I'm not particularly happy with how Covic handled it. Heck, I could've been lucky to have 'guessed' which way Colosimo was going to shoot, but I doubt it. :-P Modest, aren't I? :-P :-P

Who's not biting their nails?

I had made some predictions for matches in earlier posts (here and here) as I had wanted certain teams in the top four and others out. Naturally, this has all come unstuck, partly because not all matches went my way and partly because I couldn't think of a single Sydney player I liked whereas I was very happy that Beltrame was back in goal. I also began the Adelaide vs. Sydney match going for Burns, but more on that later.

Round 20 began poorly for me, with the Kiwis unable to get 3 points and earning themselves the wooden spoon. Such a shame when considering their form of late... The Central Coast are now out, thanks to the kind of player every 'keeper wishes they had in their team - Richard Johnson. He also started the headwear trend for the round. Take away the on the line clearance and he still had a great game.

Edit at 10:40pm: Oh, and why did the CC keep shoulder charging Paston in situations where they had no chance to get the ball? It was ridiculous! And the fact that it was multiple players suggests that it was McKinna's doing...

I'll gloss over Friday night - great 'keeping display from Velaphi. Melbourne played so poorly I can't really commend Queensland, even if they had played well. Replay is on tomorrow, but I fear I'd end up in a foul mood again. Mori and Pantaledis carried on the headwear trend for the round (photo linked from mvfc.com), but took it too far such that no other player was game enough to try and up the ante on Panta, who had a nose that was still bleeding.

By comparison, I don't look that bad here now do I?
Except that my hair's far too short and a mess!

Anyway, back to the football... and the match that had me asleep for the first 22 minutes. Although I had wanted Adelaide out rather than Sydney, when the day came I decided that there was no player in the Sydney line up that I would cheer on as much as I cheer on Daniel Beltrame and Nathan Burns. Talented kid that Burns... Shame that he straightened his trailing leg during the match after he was tackled. Luckily Beltrame playing, making some great saves and reminding me of how in awe I am/was of Nigel Martyn. How can such a big guy get around so much? And when he lands - ouch! Hehe... I don't think Beltrame's as big as Martyn, and probably not as brilliant, but pretty damn good otherwise.

Regardless of how I was watching this match with a red eye, I was very disappointed in the number of opportunities Matthew Breeze gave Milligan. First Breeze pulls out a yellow for the mad Irishman, McFlynn. Next, Milligan fouls and only receives a talking to. An evil tackle here, and complete pulling of the man down there, and finally on his fifth offence after the warning Milligan receives his yellow. Should've easily been his second.

And if I bring up the officials, why not the linesman on the far side during the Perth/Newcastle encounter. Facing the sun, not wearing a cap, and paying too much attention to one thing to determine if a player is off-side or not. It's clear that most of our A-League assistants pay so much attention to just the ball that they miss everything else, including malicious tackles slightly off the ball and of course the off-sides. I feel sorry for Griffiths and Newcastle, especially as I wanted Newcastle to get a top four placing so that van Egmond would become the Newcastle coach.

Addition 10.25pm: I forgot to discuss the penalty. As it will be goalkeeper oriented again, I've made it a seperate post that is linked here.

Which brings me to a bit of a conundrum, and unfortunately Newcastle's going to lose out. Although we don't need the points, Melbourne must win this Friday to get a good run into the finals. As a result Sydney would be safe and Newcastle out. Even if Newcastle lose, I'd like Queensland to get a win at home, partly because they're playing at home and partly because I would also like them to get some momentum heading into the finals.

And on a final note, today I nick-named one of the lenses we use at work the Dilevski lens. No, I'm not obsessed, it just fits. It's an A-League thing, I even remember patients' names significantly better when I'm switching between computer systems if they remind me of players.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Reddy found guilty...

Not much to say, I've covered the incident already and concluded that I didn't think anything had really happened. Hopefully there'll be some news tomorrow about it. At the moment, all there is is this press release, and a rather strange ABC sport report, where the injured Willis is mentioned as the replacement... Elsewhere, the Age reports the signing of Tambo Velalphi, and the Courier Mail notes it's a 'one-week-suspension-cover.'

Does this mean you can cover suspended players to get a full roster? Or is it just for 'keepers? I, like others on the Qld forum, am a little confused.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Adelaide vs. Qld - focus on Reddy

Hamish asked about what I thought about the Reddy incident in my goalkeeper round up of the weekend, and I have to admit I didn't see the incident wher he stepped on Rech for reasons outlined in the comments of the original post.

In today's online edition of the Courier Mail, there's a cute little sequence of shots from the match covering the incident. And it looks nasty. It looks snazzier on the Courier Mail website, but I wanted all 4 pictures at once, and here they are:
My comments were:
It looks like Reddy could have done more to not step on Rech. I think he could have stepped forward to pass Rech over his head and then to wherever Reddy wanted to go. Look at it this way, if Reddy saw a white shirt on the ground I doubt he would've stepped on the grounded player.

Looking at this sequence, I feel a little more strongly about my comment. Especially since passing Rech over his head would've made Reddy go into his goals a bit, which I don't think would have been detrimental. Unfortunately I still haven't seen a entire play, where the ball was, etc.

Shot #1: Reddy prepares to go over the grounded player. I can't see him clearing the player in one move from here, something which fits with what Reddy has said. But it does look like there's space to take a small step before Rech and then jumping over him.
Shot #2: This just looks nasty. Looks.
Shot #3: He's now landed on Rech...
Shot #4: And he's off.

If I was in Reddy's position I would've taken a small step beforehand to move a little inside of goal (so you stay goal-side*) and jumped over Rech near his head. However, the women's game is slower (considerably slower if I think about the leagues I've played in), and so I would have the luxury of taking the extra step.

I really want Queensland to make it to the final four, so I am hoping that Reddy is not suspended. However, should this be the case, it would be interesting to find out what kind of contract McMaster has. Farina has mentioned Danny Milosevic, but I think he could also consider Necevski.

Edit 10.17pm, 9th Jan:
I completely forgot to describe what I meant by goal-side. I had a plan to say the following, "If you don't know what goal-side is you should be shot." Simply because of the number of times I've told my defenders to get goal-side and they just stare at me blankly. Imagine trying to prepare to face a corner, and then having to try and move everyone to be goal-side, without them knowing what it means! Let alone understanding why one should be goal-side! It makes me very very angry when people don't know basics...

A post solely dedicated to swooning.

I've been trying to write a complete nonsense post which was essentially just swooning. However, I've been getting caught up in the more critical aspects of the game. So I'm going to cheat and take the November 29 2006 entry from my old MSN space. With some edits...

Here or Girl's guide? Here!

I'm very sorry, but this entry contains football - it didn't quite belong on my A-League blog.

For those who don't know, I've been planning to move interstate once I finish uni. Just to get a break from Melbourne and forces me to move out, become independent, etc., etc.. Where will I go? Wherever it is, it MUST have an A-League team. Ideally, that team would be Queensland, considering that I am currently swooning over three of their players. Yes, three now. The two keepers that I have devoted previous entries to, and a midfielder. Which is, incidentally, my favourite position to play - that's right, I'd rather be a midfielder than a 'keeper... but I don't have the fitness for it. And until my knee's back in action, I can't get fit... can't play in the engine room.

So, where was I? Oh yes, the interstate plan. The fun of having an A-League team to semi-support (after Melbourne of course) is that I would join up as a member, sit in the members' section (if it's like Melbourne's set-up), and then when Melbourne comes around, dress up in the Melbourne kit and NOT be kicked out of the section! Coz I'm a member and all! Hehehe... it'd be fun.

I've mentioned my silly little plan to my lab - and my preference for Queensland... and when I told my lab my honours results, Catherine pointed out there were PhDs on offer in Brisbane. Not sure if she remember my Qld plans. Insert curses against the incomplete engineering degree I want to complete here.

For the record, Chad Gibson, that Qld player I dislike has moved into midfield. He is NOT the player that I've started swooning over - that player is Spase Dilevski. I haven't figured out what's made me change my mind over Dilevski - I used to poke fun at him because he nearly has no neck and it's weird. Feet - legs - torso - shoulders - head. There are arms too, but not important here. I'm still trying to figure out why I've decided to add him to my swoon list. But I didn't really watch him when Qld played Melbourne, and I missed Sydney's match against them on Friday night.

Oh, well, when I go to the Qld Roar site, SD's listed as a defender... but he's more of an anywhere kind of player. And he can kick with both feet!

So there you are, finally got around to a swooning post. A friend emailed me saying she didn't agree with me on Dilevski, but I think my eyesight's affected when he plays well. I don't know why I put this on the MSN spaces, as I was trying not to talk about football there because people would semi-jokingly-complain when I bumped into them... and my original intention for this blog was to swoon... oh well. I'm getting there.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

My wishlist, the Goalkeeping Gods, and some definitions

Where to start?

If we recall my post last week, I was hoping for a few things to happen in Round 19. Although Queensland and the Kiwis both won, there was no draw between Newcastle and the Mariners, and Perth managed to get a point.

Since I think van Egmond's done a great job as Newcastle coach, and would like to see him there next year, my wish-list will now includes Newcastle coming into the top 4. I've figured that regardless of the result against Melbourne, if New Zealand win their last two matches, Adelaide continue to lose, and Newcastle and Queensland win their non-Melbourne matches, then I get everything I want:
  • Kiwis don't come last,
  • Adelaide out of the top 4,
  • Queensland and Newcastle in top 4, and
  • Sydney might end up 3rd.
This means the Mariners miss out, sorry Wayne... even if Danny had smothered the ball (not that I solely blame the 'keeper, but I tend to watch 'keepers more than anyone else) I couldn't fit you into my top 4. Maybe if you beat the Knights, but I don't want them to come last...

As I said, I tend to watch 'keepers...

Both Paston and Covic had great matches this weekend. Nice to see Covic either settle in to the A-League, or simply have a good game. His first match was awful and his second only marginally better, so some crucial great saves were definitely good signs. I was feeling sorry for Ben Kennedy during the first two matches, but Covic's display against the Mariners probably showed why he's Newcastle's man between the sticks.

Paston was consistently good as per usual. However, with New Zealand having to hold on to the match, I think he could have employed some timewasting techniques. It was good to see Ricki Herbert employed some good subsitutions, Gao and Hickey taking their time on the floor, Bazeley getting distracted organising the team before AND after retrieving the ball before taking the throw-in, Milligan and Ceccoli taking the ball with them for a little bit once the ref confirmed a Kiwi throw - huh? Silly, silly Sydney players. Losing and wasting time on behalf of the opposition - how curteous! Back to Paston - everytime he saved the ball and went to ground, he should have stayed there for a bit before getting up and taking up his six seconds of holding the ball. Sure, Sydney would've beaten Paston had the two post-hitting shots not hit the post, or hit the post and gone in. But I'm a firm believer of goalkeeping faith. If it hits the post and it doesn't go in, it's not meant to be. If it happens again, the Goalkeeping Gods are making a mockery of you.

I've already made my Vukovic comments on Wayne's Fisherman's Friend blog.

Now let's move onto my favourite team with my least favourite goalkeepers - Melbourne. Theo's been given a break for the moment, so Galekovic is in between the sticks for the moment. Galekovic needs to soften* his hands. Too often, a shot comes his way and he parries it. Far too often. Sure, sometimes shots are hot, and it's best to parry rather than attempt to catch and the ball slips through. But please don't tell me every single Perth shot was hot! Just like last week, Galekovic can't do much with the high balls, often missing or mis-punching them. Perhaps he's too heavy? However, I was amazed he managed to catch a high one in the end, and a waist height one too. Must've been the Goalkeeping Gods making a mockery of me...

Tommich didn't have a bad game, he conceded two goals where he didn't have a chance. First, Brebner's shot was just-off-spot-on**. So fair enough Tommich didn't get to it. And once Sarkies got to the rebound Tommich had no chance. Second goal was well placed by Sarkies into the gap in the wall that I think Robinson was creating (the only thing he did all day - if it was Robinson). The way I see walls in front of goals is, you arrange the wall to cover the half of the goal where the front post is, and the 'keeper covers the back half, with the opportunity to move forward and cover what he can of the other half if necessary. Sarkies' shot went through the wall and to the front post. Hence, I can't blame Tommich can I?

I watched the Queensland match after I knew the result, which meant I couldn't sustain my concentration - no matter how hard I tried! So Reddy and Beltrame won't be commented on this week. Good to see that Beltrame looks to have replaced Bajic - he was awesome for Adelaide last season and in my opinion a far superior custodian than Bajic.

Paston was far busier than Bolton during his match - and I was quite actively cheering the Kiwis. Although Bolton was the 'keeper who conceded, I can't see how he could've helped stop the goal. It was from point blank, and well placed. Most players would've had difficulty is keeping the ball down and, unlike Bunce, would've skied the ball.

  • Just cushion the ball! When you make contact with the ball drop your hands back a little at the wrist. Practice by throwing a ball into a small elasticised net so it comes back at you hard.

**Just-off-spot-on: Perhaps I should explain 'spot-on' first!
  • When shooting to goal, one should aim for the far post. This is because the goalkeeper should be covering the near post. If the 'keeper is stupid and has not covered the near post, by all means, shoot there. Otherwise aim for the far post, and do this at training nights. Anyone can place a ball into an empty net, but the task isn't as easy when there's a capable goalkeeper. When you aim for the far post, the ball should hit the inside of the post. If it goes in because you have placed the ball perfectly and truly inside the post. If it comes back in play, it's because you've hit the point where the post is still 'inside' the goal in one axis/plane, but not the other.
So, Brebner hit the far post - which is 'spot-on', but the ball came back into play, so it was 'just-off'. That's how I would term it anyway.

Friday, January 05, 2007

About last night...

Dear the customer who passed by register 2 last night at about 10pm,

I am sorry that my actions last night may not have impressed you, but the news that my brother brought me was wonderful and well worth celebrating. For Adelaide to lose, it meant that Queensland had won! These are two great things!

When I arrived home, I discovered that a third great thing had happened - that Mori didn't score! Unfortunately he still played 90 minutes.

I hope that you enjoy your three tops, and that other item. Should you not be satisified, hold onto your receipt and make use of our hassle-free returns policy.

On behalf of management and staff, thank you for shopping at Kmart Burwood.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

At the start of round 19 we have...

...quite an interesting little situation at Queensland Roar. Looks like some of the players are sick with a stomach virus. Again. I'm wondering what the mode of transmission is... drink bottles at training?

Last time: Reccia, Milicic (both too sick to play), Ognenovski (played while sick and looked sluggish) and, a little later, Reddy (but he recovered in time to play that week.)

This time: Lynch, Milicic, and Ognenovski.

Hmmm.... Milicic and Ognenovski are both ill again...

Sorry, but the morbid side of me is quite fascinated by this.

Monday, January 01, 2007

At the end of round 18 we have...

...Newcastle, Central Coast and my semi-beloved Queensland all still with a chance.

Unfortunately, it looks like Queensland have the toughest run home, with matches against Adelaide and Melbourne away, and the final match at home against Sydney. I don't like losing at Telstra Dome because the train ride home is completely quiet with disappointed supporters... so that night may be a toughie for me, as we really don't need the points. However, should Franky continue to put his mate Mori in for the full 90 minutes (reminds me of Okon in the national team...), perhaps I shall not be too disappointed if Queensland lose. And of course it'd make the train ride bearable.

Mathematically, should Adelaide lose their remaining matches, Newcastle-CC draw their match and lose the rest, and Queensland win all matches bar Melbourne, they're in with a chance. I've taken into account that Newcastle will probably beat Perth, and am going for the Kiwis to win their last three matches. If Perth don't win another game, then the Kiwis won't come last!

However, knowing my luck, this won't all work out. Here's hoping!

Melbourne and the slow start

The length of time that it's taken Melbourne to click into gear the past three matches is beginning to slightly worry me. Against Sydney nothing ended up happening at all, but against the Kiwis and the Mariners, the other team has started the better, until about 15-20min when we finally wake up, and being to play our game.

It may have just been that the other teams came out all guns ablazing because they need the points or have something to prove - although all teams do, especially against Melbourne.

The most frustrating thing about this, is that while the other teams would play at a frenetic pace (as they would be in a rush to assert themselves and put a goal on the scoresheet for themselves), Melbourne would try to play at the same speed. I suppose this ties in with my time-wasting techniques, but aside from what to do when the ball is of the park, it's important to take your time when the ball is on the park too.

i.e. Win the ball, control it, and slow the play down. Look up, take your time deciding how to play the ball. Play high-percentage football so the other team cannot win the ball back. Play with the ball in the defence. Don't play the ball until you have been pressured to do so - make the other team come and get the ball. After all, they're in a rush, not you. They need the ball, not you.

Hope you all have a great 2007 - except for Adelaide and Sydney. :oP Well, at least when it comes to football. Happy New Year all!