The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Round 7 of the A-League

It seems to be all about the ‘culture’ of clubs this week.

THE GOOD

First there is the shifting focus of Sydney FC for the better. Pre-Arnie it was all about being the ‘bling’ team of the league for Sydney FC and looking like a training session in Newtown was like a Hype Williams music video. There has been big name signing such as Yorke and Del Piero, being the big club in the biggest city with having SBS and Fox Sports pundits surgically attaching their tongues to the club’s backside an added bonus.

Despite winning two titles with this attempt at being a swaggering big time charlie they’ve been in crisis more often than not with a heap of coaches and more worryingly CEOs coming and going over the 10 years of the league. Under Arnie though they’re now getting to be more workmanlike and cohesive with a prime example being their marquee player this season not being a former superstar way past his use by date with the rest of the squad full of journeymen. Mark Janko is much like Andy Keogh in that he’s also not over the hill and just here for a pay day. His decision to return from international duty with Austria and a game against Brazil to play for his club perhaps shows that.

It was a good thing Janko came back with his brace securing Sydney FC a 2-1 win down in Melbourne and keeping the sky blues’ undefeated run continuing. Arnie is now calling out the Wanderers in the press for the upcoming derby with his side quickly being moulded into the shape that finally won the Mariners a title. Oh and Terry Antonis, a player that keeps getting better as was said a few weeks ago.

-Glory is almost a mirror of what’s happening in Sydney with a new shift in attitude and culture. They share the fact that they’re both teams team who have players who are all pointing in the right direction after numerous years of being dysfunctional. They also have a signing who could still play at a decent level in Europe and a run that has them in the group of four breakaway leaders on the table. Despite the scoreline and close finish against the Phoenix Glory were far and away the better team on Friday night. Glory even had their chances when down to 10 men; the team being down to 10 men thanks to Ruben Zadkovic’s little cameo that earned him a red card. Both Sydney FC and Glory play each other in Round 9 and could be a defining game to see where they are both at.

THE BAD

-Are Western Sydney Wanderers still jet lagged or just have to get themselves together up front. It’s late November and while they have been a little sidetracked making history they still don’t have a win in the league this season. Their opponents on the weekend, the Jets, were embarrassed at home the week before by a team in crisis (Brisbane) and still managed to repel the Wanderers at Parramatta Stadium. The Wanderers have talent up there with a wonderful finish by Juric while Rukavystya has pace along with the witchcraft of Castelen to create chances but the clock is ticking to keep this season relevant.

The pundits keep saying every week the Wanderers will click and it’ll be back to happy days but it’s yet to happen which makes you think if the creative players like Ono and Mooy are now being missed. There was a lot of empty seats for a game advertised as ‘sold out’ too as well as the RBB again displaying another banner/tifo at the start of the game stating how wonderful they are…how wonderful the RBB is themselves that is and not the team out on the pitch.

Credit to the Jets for bouncing back from the previous week.

-The incident involving a flare at the Victory V Roar game again shows the ugly side of some of the more childish fans of the league again that think they’re from a cheaply made British hooligan movie. The FFA have to tread a fine line with how to weed out the idiots and not punish those who are there to create atmosphere as ‘active’ supporters. The ones that do put people in danger should have the book thrown at them of course.

-Corey Gamiero has been had a stellar start of the season after some lost years that has been commented about as a good at the start of the season. Tragically it will be up to a year before we see the Sydney FC striker back out on the field again after a nasty knee injury playing for the national U-23 side in Asia last week.

THE UGLY

-We now need to talk about Brisbane. Six months ago an absolute rocket of a goal from Luke Brattan won Roar the premier’s plate with weeks to spare. Roar then went on to win the double with Mike Mulvey leading the club back to the top for an unprecedented third time taking out coach of the year along the way. This week he’s attending job club down his local community rec centre.

Some would be shocked by the move by Roar to get rid of Mulvey but it’s been talked about that he’d lost the players some weeks ago and that was even after their shellacking of Newcastle the previous week; a win that papered over the cracks it seemed. Roar has developed a culture of expected high performance and of working together for the same goal. This starts with the club’s foreign owners and works down through the coaching staff and to the players in a regimented system that has been the envy of other clubs.

When a coach signs a player off the strength of DVD footage, refuses to take feedback and starts believing his own hype his cards are marked. It also didn’t help that Mulvey stopped working with the Director of Football who was placed there by the CEO of the club with the coach believing being a title winner gave him some currency to do things off his own bat. The move to also dump his assistant coach and replace him with Ron Smith (an absolute donkey when at Glory) also put the rest of the club offside.

An assistant is not just there to take instructions. They are there to offer alternative advice and pretty much challenge the head coach in a relationship that can be combative as it is successful (see the movie/read the book The Damned United). Mulvey didn’t want this kind of relationship anymore and wanted a ‘yes man’ instead. They may have won the double last season but that doesn’t excuse the present and Mulvey’s ego getting out of control was reflected in the results. The Roar made a complete hash up of getting the information out (Mulvey claims he wasn’t told before the press) but in their statement the comment about the coach not fitting the forward direction of the club and culture installed was probably bang on.

-The Mariners had another meek loss at home which was their third in a row at what used to be a fortress in Gosford. As mentioned previously they’ve managed to keep their head above water over the years by having an ‘us against them’ culture and connection to the local community. Judging by the dummy spit by long time leader John Hutchison and falling average crowds (9,374 to 7,619) they may be in jeopardy again.

It’s a catch-22 if they were to move some games to Sydney. Whilst the break even point for making money from attendances is lower at North Sydney Oval it robs the locals in Gosford of a side they have embraced since day one that could backfire on the club.

Tom Riordan has written further on this situation much better than I ever could in another article on the almanac site:

https://www.footyalmanac.com.au/mariners-predicament-represents-new-era-of-a-league-expansion/

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.

Comments

  1. Helen Gray (herd) says

    Hi,thanks for a good article but where’s the AU in this?
    Don’t they deserve an mention?:)

  2. Tom Riordan says

    Denis,

    Thanks for the plug, and marvellous coverage of the league.

    I wholeheartedly agree that the marquee player who most football fans have heard of because of their plight for a top division side in Europe, like as you said Keogh and Janko, is in many many ways better than the global superstar who has one year to offer, like Del Piero or Gallas. Both Sydney and Perth have learnt from their mistakes and are reaping the rewards.

  3. dennis gedling says

    Helen, all four of the top teams are quite decent at the moment so trying to spread the praise a bit at the moment. United I think are the best team to watch by a mile this season though so far. Big one this Friday.

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