The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Round 12 of the A-League

THE GOOD

-You knew there was trouble afoot in Gosford when the man who pretty much is the Mariners, Lawrie McKinna, withdrew his support as an ambassador for the club. It was, of course, all because of a renewed push by the club’s private owner Mike Charlesworth to have more home games in North Sydney, chasing the upper more than middle class dollar.

McKinna has become even more militant in the last couple of weeks as the locals continue to revolt. The Mayor of Gosford and former Mariners coach organised ‘Stand up for the Mariners’ on the weekend using their first home game since the North Sydney debacle to show they want to stick firmly in Gosford – big sauce bottles and all.

It seemed to work with a protest march held and McKinna giving an impassioned speech to those faithful to their hometown to keep up the fight and not let the club lose its identity. As I’ve previously said, the one thing that the club has had more than any others is their connection with the local community and mindset of circle the wagons. Even Charlesworth said when first taking over that Gosford was the Mariners home and the coastal regional centre ‘wasn’t an NRL town anymore’.

The call to arms seemed to work for the cause on and off the pitch too. Just under 10,000 attended in the best turn out for a Mariners home game since the opening match this season, as they played out a mesmerising 3-3 draw with Brisbane Roar. What was even more memorable was three players who had either failed to fire – or been bizarrely left on the bench this season – all scored.

The veteran Eddy Bosnar equalised for the Mariners in a rare appearance off the bench (something which has caused more angst for fans). Then in the final 20 minutes which could only be described as ‘bat-shit mental’ the divisive Matt Simon scored his second in two weeks to show he may still have a career in the top league in Australia yet. Then, when pegged back to 2-2, the South Korean playmaker Seung Yong Kim – destined for the scrap heap in many pundit’s eyes after failing to settle – put the Mariners ahead again with a lovely volley.

With the Gosford ‘nationalism’ before the game and this exciting match, hopefully this begins to restore the connection between club and community and shows that they do, in fact, belong up the F3. This all can’t be a token gesture though.

-With Ange Postecoglou blooding enough players to fill four teams in recent times for the Socceroos, it was good to (at last) see the final squad of 23 being announced for next month’s Asian Cup. While there were some grumbles (how Aaron Mooy didn’t make that squad got me) the 23 is strong enough to win the whole thing on home soil. It was also great to see the Wanderers’ Tomi Juric sneak in to the squad giving us another option up front.

With no disrespect to Adam Taggart et. al. our only option for goal was Tim Cahill when in Brazil six months ago. With Robbie Kruse now back in the squad, and Nathan Burns in red hot form, we’re more potent for this tournament and expectations should be for the semi-finals. You always said you wanted to be judged on the Asian Cup, Ange. Well, here it is.

Actually, Mooy may have missed out because of his uncanny resemblance to the banjo playing hillbilly kid in Deliverance.

Take from that what you will…

-If ever there’s a ‘special teams’ player in the A-League it’s Gui Finkler. The Brazilian journeyman did it again on Saturday; rescuing Melbourne Victory in the last 10 minutes of the match with an exquisite free kick that denied a brave Newcastle. I’m not sure if it’s because his free kicks are so great that his other attributes are ignored, or that free kicks are all he is really good at means I see him as a one-trick-pony but he adds flair to the League. Whether the foul on Berisha that led to the goal was the right call, is another talking point all together.

Victory have Glory next down in Geelong, in a clash that most have been waiting for, for a long time. Personally for me – as a Cat – this is the first time I’ve ever wanted to see the home team at Kardinia Park in the dark blue and white go down to a team from Perth wearing purple.

THE BAD

-The bleating about Richard Garcia’s ‘disrespectful’ goal celebration by some is perhaps another example of double standards. Garcia, a former Melbourne Heart player, equalised against the now re-branded ‘Melbourne City’ and proceeded to point to his shirt number in response to the pantomime booing he got at the start of the game; booing that seemed to fire him up for the full 90 minutes in a near man of the match performance. Following the match fans and pundits alike criticised the disrespect he’d shown which resulted in a curt reply from the veteran on twitter claiming that ‘he never played for City. He played for Heart.’ Touche.

These same ones criticising his action were also perfectly okay with Shane Smeltz celebrating in the same way against his old side when he scored form the penalty spot a few weeks ago.

THE UGLY

-The Wanderers soap opera and speculation-fest drags on. After a poor – albeit controversial – loss to the in-form Phoenix at the weekend, more stories are emerging of trouble in the ranks. The un-rest seems to be stemming from signings brought in at the start of the season to help fill the massive void left by the departures of Ono, Mooy and Hersi.

It is widely understood that Brazilian playmaker Vitor Saba is on the outer at the Wanderers. He was first in trouble for an awful foul in the first Sydney derby that saw him sent off with a straight red at a pivotal moment in the game. After playing primarily off the bench he was in trouble again by voicing his disapproval about not starting most games to a newspaper. That latter incident is believed to be the one that has permanently ruined the relationship between coach Tony Popovic and his Brazilian signing that seems to be well past being saved. Saba being left out of the squad on Sunday seems to indicate this.

A clear-out is now being rumoured, with various reports circulating which suggest as many as eight players may be shown the door. There is also talk of a player revolt a revolt against Popovic stemming from his treatment of Saba and the recent stoush about payments. Most of the players allegedly being removed are signings from the start of the season. Unbelievable, considering what they had done a couple of months ago. While the Saba spat is very real and his days are numbered, the number of players who have fallen out with the Asian coach of the year is not truly known yet and is just hearsay at the moment.

About Dennis Gedling

RTR FM Presenter. Glory Guerrillas Producer and Co-Host. Contributer to Football Nation Radio and Football West. Worships at the feet of the mighty Cats, Socceroos, Matildas, West Perth, Glory and Glasgow's Green and White most of the time.

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