Thursday, November 13, 2008

That was it.

Last night was a show of how far the A-League needs to come. It was also a show of how our Fox Sports commentators need to be more critical. With two commentators calling every game on Fox Sports, there is obviously the capacity for one person to be the play-by-play announcer and the other to offer some critical analysis of the came in progress.

Last night Andy Harper and Mike Cockerill did their usual jobs of describing the play - well, kinda. There were times last night that they would describe some of the play - or make general comments on how much better Gamba Osaka were than Adelaide. But they offer nothing to those who watch the game and want to really learn something. The sad part was that everything was easily blamed on Adelaide's smaller budget and how young the A-League is compared to the J-League. It was almost as if it wasn't Adelaide or its players' faults that they were being played off the park last week and last night.

Finally, a shining beacon of truth came along at half time. Ross Aloisi typically has me rolling my eyes - how can I take such a thug seriously in a suit and with a microphone in his hand? Well, it turns out that the thug in a suit was the only one who could either see the lack of spirit in the Adelaide boys or had the balls to actually voice his opinion. Craig Foster is another face of TV who is known for his criticism - but he tends to criticise everything possible. A lack of proper acknowledgment has worked against him and I know that many fans of football tend to switch off once he opens his mouth.

Last week Robbie Cornthwaite was a disappointment, whenever he was beaten or needed to back-track, he'd just jog along behind the play. No desperation. No hunger. Did he really want to be there? Last night, the same thing happened. But it took the half-time break for someone to point it out. Aloisi also criticised the rest of the defence. Unfortunately being an ex-player does not mean that you are able to be a good critic or offer that extra piece of information to fans about the tactics that are working, or conversely not working. Andy Harper anyone?

If a team was "built from the back," as Harper would say of Adelaide (or something like that), you would expect a team that had a rock-solid defence that would play the ball out. Instead Adelaide have a brainless defence - any time there was trouble, they would play hoof-ball forward. That was how the poor Birighitti ended up being put under pressure due to Valkanis, and how Gamba scored their first goal due to Ognenovski.

Unfortunately, it's a style of play that is deeply embedded in our football psyche - perhaps an artefact of so many youngsters being saturated with AFL. So until our youngsters stop playing Route 1, perhaps more hoof-ball is what we should not be suprised at seeing. We need to ensure our coaches at all levels readily criticise the style - after all making contact, whacking the ball with some strength, getting it in the right direction AND getting it to a team-mate is a lot to muster in one move. It is a risky move. That is not to say that players should not play that way if they can - but in all seriousness, first touch is something that is lacking in many of our A-League players. If such a basic skill is missing, how could we possibly expect success in more difficult skills?

Last night was not about Adelaide "choking" as some have said. It was a reflection of Australian club football. To lose 5-0 on aggregate would not only be a disappointment to Adelaide fans, but it should be a disappointment to all Australian football fans - regardless of which team you follow in the A-League, if any.


In other news, best wishes to Craig Moore and may he have a speedy recovery.


john said...

Great post Cecilia
Ross Aloisi - how quickly he seems to have forgotten how bad he was. I watched he first game commentating - appalling he kept changing his call on how was playing well and how wasn't.

Good on Adelaide. But next time I hope one of Australia's big towns - Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane gets to the final - as this would create more interest. Adelaide don't seem to want to let all their fans watch the game - passing up the opportunity to play at a bigger venue.
newcastle don't look any show of making a chip in Asia this year. Maybe this is why van Eggplant has lost his cool (Fox has shown him telling his players off a few times and their is continuing unrest - remember season one when players weren't paid there for a few months?)
And CCM - its all Matty Simon. If only Robbie Kruse wasn't more interested in nights out.

Ben Somerford said...

haha 'built from the back', that is textbook Andy Harper.