The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Round 21 of the A-League

THE GOOD

– Fear Ernie Merrick. Fear the Phoenix. Fear the shit fight that will happen if they qualify for the Asian Champions League and yet are not allowed to play. Those plucky kiwis with the coach who has the same amount of personality as an Easter Island Statue are top of the league after a massive win against former league leaders Perth in Perth which is rare in itself. While Glory and their supporters seemed to be on horse tranquilizers last Saturday night (see bad) a double from the Fijian marvel Roy Krishna put Phoenix on top after an impressive run of games against fellow challengers.

Unlike Glory in the past week or two the Phoenix deserve to be on top. The way they move the ball in their final third is equal to Victory with a tough set of defensive midfielders keeping the opposition rather honest . They also won this match without one of their most important of players, the star Socceroo Nathan Burns. Phoenix are a real chance for honours this season and no one can be down on their infectious and entertaining way they play the game. Those in the know at FFA HQ will be already finding ways to try and get the Grand Final switched from Wellington no doubt.

– Mention must be made of Sydney FC… again. Sunday’s game in the driving rain may have added to the sloppy defending and high scoring but it was pure entertainment with 11 goals shared between themselves and the in-form Brisbane Roar. It was, again, Janko that did the damage with a hattrick in the 6-5 win. Arnie won’t be happy with the goals conceded but they continue to march on with Frank Lowy probably off to his money bin to put together a contract offer that will hopefully keep Janko from returning to Europe. Then again there are whispers today that if he scores 15 goals he automatically triggers a clause which signs him for another season on more money which is nice for him considering he allegedly almost doubles the pay of the next marquee player in the league.

THE BAD

A very bad weekend for Glory. They had managed to duck and weave with the skill of a corrupt Louisiana Senator at an inquiry into fund misappropriations when it came to those attempting to knock them off top spot since the league resumed after the Asian Cup, but they have finally come unstuck. Whilst it’s only their fourth loss of the season it may prove to be their most costly. You could feel the sense of deflation in the crowd even before the game when walking in under threatening skies. The crowd was under 10,000 for a top of the table clash and with no spark of atmosphere and a half-arsed performance from a side that had shown promise in a gritty draw against the favourites Victory the week before. There were no positives to come from the game apart form a rare Zadkovich wonder goal.

The defence, which has been one of their cornerstones over the season, was all over the place and gifted Phoenix their two goals with the winner especially soft. Lowe was again as calm as a Hindu cow following the match saying they are still in hunt (which they are, looking at the table) but on current form is this really believable? Even Lowe’s tactics could be questioned for once with the attacking Chris Harold left on the bench when chasing the game while the much maligned former Socceroo Richard Garcia was subbed on. Then there was the persistence of playing both Da Silva and Marinkovic on the park at the same time when they could almost play the same position too. Like what has been said before, if they finish fifth in this very tight race for the finals after leading the league for so long then it would be a disastrous way to end a season.

– Poor Wanderers. It looks as though they are completely over it at the moment. Following an entertaining win over City midweek they had to drag together another knackered XI to take on Victory some 48 hours after the City game. Victory did what they were expected to do and put the fatigued and fragile Asian Champions to the sword. Coach Tony Popovic gave the indication he was over the league this season too, after the game, saying how the season has dragged on. They will of course probably go and win in their Asians Champions League match during the week now.

THE UGLY

– While City’s win against a side from the Jets made up of work experience kids and those doing community service was impressive, the crowd was not. City are still going for the finals this season with a decent side on paper but a crowd of just under 6,000 is awful. The old Melbourne Heart pulled crowds such as this but is it acceptable for these kind of attendances in the club’s brand new cashed up world? The Grand Prix was on so that may have been a factor but that’s at a stretch as far as any excuses go. City may also have to go without Josh Kennedy for a prolonged period of time. The heroic veteran was subbed off clutching his side and may be back on the treatment table again with another ailment that seems innocuous but puts him out for weeks, the story of his career.

– News of the National Youth League possibly disappearing is potentially ugly news. The league was started in 2008 as a stop gap until the FFA’s grand plan of the National Premier League system started in every state. Clubs like Perth Glory are paying almost half a million to fly their kids and reserves from the senior team around the country but have had enough, preferring to keep the team in their respective local league with the NPL now established and money tight. It seems logical but then there won’t be a team to play in for players coming back from injury or not selected in the first team squad during a large part of the A-League season. How do they stay fit from October to January when the local leagues are in their off-season? It’s a debate that like many others lately will be convoluted and baffling.

 

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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