The Good, The Bad & The Ugly of Round 1 of the A-League

THE GOOD

The A-League ensured there were blockbusters for Round One to announce the arrival of a new season and got them both in the prime viewing times of Friday and Saturday night. On Friday the Victory belted the Wanderers to lay down a claim that they would be the team to beat this season. Muscat is still unproven as a coach after inheriting the top job after Ange left for the Socceroos and questions also remained over if he could tame ‘The Colt from Old Regret’ that is Beshart Berisha. Do two wrong loose cannons make a right? So far so good it seems. The key is swearing like a trooper and bullying the fourth official in the technical area it seems.

 

On the Saturday Night it was ‘Villa Fest’ as it was all about the Spanish star who came off the bench and made it seem too easy with his first goal for his new side. Even the Sportsbet guy for the paid cross was dressed up as a Matador with every other Spanish stereotype thrown in this side of Franco. The story of the night for mine though was Damien Duff. The Irish winger hadn’t come to Australia under the same hype as his Spanish friend but was clearly a class above most on Saturday night and still showing he had the skills to pay for the necessary bills with his cut back to Villa for the goal was sublime. City still have their marquee man Robert Koren to come to that side too. The last game Koren played in? Oh just an FA Cup Final against Arsenal.

 

Another good news story from Saturday night were two players on either side who had been through a trough in their careers but now with the backing of their new coaches had a new lease on life. Corey Gamiero had been on Fulham and PSV’s books as a teenager but had come back to Australasia. After his return he struggled to readjust with the Phoenix on loan and then Sydney FC last season. In the off season though Graham Arnold has worked with the 21 year old which has already saw vast improvements with the striker prolific in the pre-season and then scoring an amazing goal against Melbourne City.

 

On the other side was James Brown. The young attacking midfielder was a stand out at the doomed Gold Coast United with the cheeky grin and a free kick to the equal of some of the best. Unfortunately his attitude and a wrong move to Newcastle curtailed his career until being given a chance by John Van’t Schip and Melbourne City. Van’t Schip liked what he saw of Brown and started him on Saturday night with the 23 year old almost scoring a wonder goal and linking up well with fellow young star Aaron Mooy and the former Roar star Eric Paartalu. Both Gamiero and Brown are players who are rare talents who are hopefully back on the right track with Brown one of the few Indigenous players in the league.
Gamiero’s goal would’ve been goal of the round if not for Adelaide’s Bruce Djite. The man once seen as ‘the next Viduka’ and perhaps that missing link the Socceroos need up front scored a thunderbolt against Brisbane Roar to equalise with the champions. United went on to win the game thanks to an own goal and score a stirring win to get their campaign off to a good start after losing their star Argentine Jeronimo Nuemann to Newcastle in the off-season and Michael Zullo back to Europe. This Friday’s showdown at Adelaide Oval against the Victory will be immense.

 

Perth Glory was another team that won away which is an event as rare as rocking horse shit and as often as a visit from Halley’s Comet along with 12 other smart arse comparisons. The fact it came in New Zealand was even more surprising and empowering for Kenny Lowe’s side considering it’s the world’s longest road trip in the sport domestically. It was the typical rudderless Glory for most of the first half but their new recruits were the difference in a 2-1 win thanks for a hell of a finish from the much maligned Australian youth international Jamie MacLaren who may have finally been put in a position that he could flourish in.

 

THE BAD

 

The AFL can be awful for commentary but the A-League takes it so another level.

 

On Saturday night the hype about Villa had the Fox Sports crew salivating and on the point of obsession that will see anyone else slapped with a 500 yard restraining order. “Villa’s going in to the changerooms early before half time!” “Villa is warming up!” “If you were David Villa what would you be thinking right now?” Perhaps he was thinking about how the Bachelor and Sam could ever split up and hoped they would sort out their differences. There was a game going on too it seemed.

 

In New Zealand the Sky Sports NZ commentary team kept it local and loyal to the point that you wonder if it was Rob Sitch and Ed Kavelee’s parody of NZ commentator characters from ‘Santo, Sam & Ed’ behind the mike. Apart from their tone of voice when the opposition scores makes them sound like their announcing the death of the Prime Minister the comparisons to modern day stars in the Europe are what makes it special.

 

“Oh Ben Sigmund! That was just like Vincent Kompany!”

 

“Jeremy Brockie is a bit like Sergio Aguero in that…”

 

Aguero is married to Diego Maradona’s daughter, just played in a World Cup Final and has scored 22 goals in 56 games for one of the top countries in the World Game. Brockie has scored 1 goal in over 40 games for New Zealand in an association featuring Tonga, American Samoa and Fiji. Bless em.

 

They may have been missing their two first choice defenders but the defeat of Wanderers was a worry for anyone who was a fan of the Red and Black. A penalty claim given may have changed the game when only 1-0 down but they were clearly second best for 99% of the night against Victory.

 

One worrying aspect for Wanderers is the loss of Ono, Hersi and Mooy, their three main attacking options in their first 2 season. Yes, they did make the final of the ACL without them but over a sustained season rather than two legged playoffs they can’t rely on that brutal back four of theirs every week. Over the long run unless they find players that can come somewhere close to those three then it could be the season Wanderers just don’t click.

 

Tony Popovic has already signed Nikita Rukavystya who has had his career slow to a crawl in Europe after being one of Glory’s few shining lights in the A-League. A lot will be put on him to play a Hersi like role playing a striker/winger role. Then there is the Brazilian Vitor Saba who has been brought in to replace Aaron Mooy as the sides #10. Brazilians have always been a coin toss in this league and especially in the early days. For every one Fred there’s five Claudinhos. They’re almost like a hereditary aristocratic heir to a royal family pre-World War 1. Are you going to get the noble leader and military genius as your new head of state or an interbred dip who will end up abdicating after a short and embarrassing reign?

 

 

 

THE UGLY

 

The Derby between the Central Coast Mariners and Newcastle Jets was yet another turgid affair with only a late goal deflected in off the young man mountain Mitch Duke being of interest. It hasn’t helped that the Jets haven’t been showing up to the party in recent years but it’s like these two teams are two 6 year olds being forced to fight for their old brother’s entertainment down the park rather than being arch rivals.

 

Perhaps a potential ugly but the plan for the retirement of FFA Chairman and ‘Saviour of Football’ (Copyright-2004) Frank Lowy has been unveiled. Will the league and sport in general prosper or flounder without Lowy even with Gallop calling the shots. Some would say Lowy’s interfering and alleged bias towards Sydney will finally be rid of. Some will see his business acumen and steadying hand as one of the main reasons the sport is now where it is with commercial value, skill level and above all respect in the sports community. The sport in this country is in a lot better position than the last time he left the sport after starting the NSL.

 

 

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. Malcolm Rulebook Ashwood says

    Thanks Dennis comprehensive wrap up and in . Adelaide a record crowd for soccer the city of churches is expected this Friday night we eagerly await

  2. The commentators can get starstruck but I reckon Fox has a terrific coverage of A-League. Some of the weekend’s games were ho-hum – and, in line with world trends the crowds were just OK at best – but it is an enjoyable comp at fair standard and bodes well for the future. Unlike some other Admins, they seem to understand their place in world pecking order and, though intending to improve that, want to stay solvent in the process.
    Managers’ behaviours frustrate me all of the time – I cannot understand an “out of control” reaction – surely the demand is for players to keep to the strategies and thus the message to them, and fans, is awful. How anyone can make rational calls when apoplectic is beyond me – but, then, I’m not the competitive beast that accepts such pressurised roles.

  3. Dennis Gedling says

    I think the admins have never really been aggressive with any comments saying they’ll be bigger than this or take over that. They do know their place to a degree. The league’s biggest threat is the Big Bash (and the One day World Cup to a lesser extent perhaps) but the season is on its way by the time they kick off.

    Malcolm, I did lay off on the editing on this one but was a fair bit to bring up with the way the league is top heavy at the start of the season with blockbusters to get everyone hooked in. I know Reds fans have been disappointed with Adelaide Oval the previous times they’ve used it but hopefully with the new stands it will take it to another level.

  4. Nice write up.

    Is there really a team called Gold Coast United?
    Is that just embarrassing, or did an group of local teams, each with their own history, merge into one entity? Mmmm, I wonder.

    Look forward to future installments.

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