The Good, The Bad & The Ugly of Round 5 of the A-League

THE GOOD

After 5 rounds and much debate over Spanish legends, big city derbies, historic Asian adventures and which team from should be favourites it’s the Glory who are top in not only in the A-League but in the women’s and youth competitions as well.

Sunday’s game for the neutral would’ve been like 90 minutes in an Iron Maiden to sit through but for Glory it was a telling victory and message to the rest of the competition that things have changed; particularly between the ears of the players. Previously Gosford had always been a house of pain for the team from Perth with only one draw and one victory (on penalties) in the 10 years they’ve had to travel there. The seaside ground with inflatable sauce bottles and $400,000 sea-craft in the harbour seemed to always turn the Glory in to mental midgets.

Yesterday was different. Thanks for a quite startling free kick from the Serbian midfielder Nebo they had the edge just before half time, then Djulbic, Thwaite and the sometimes maligned Vukovic ensured nothing got through. Glory could even afford to waste a couple of wonderful chances including one to man of the match Griffiths who somehow managed to miss from mere inches out, while Reddy denied both Maclaren and Keogh with some great saves.

Even the East Coast press is now starting to (slightly) warm to the Glory.  The trouble is that press also says that it’s because they’ve played out of form teams – even when deservedly praising the Glory there always seems to be a caveat. This week they have the Champions of Asia in what is perfect timing to get bums on seats at Perth Oval after their hastily and unfairly arranged FFA Cup Semi Final this Tuesday night in Bentleigh.

 

– Some joked about it being the battle of the confederations. The newly crowned Asian Champions Western Sydney up against the Wellington Phoenix (Geographically in Oceania but playing in an AFC league) in the early game on Friday. The joke was on Wanderers though as Phoenix more than deserved their win after being so meek against Victory on Monday night. Nathan Burns (who we mentioned two weeks ago) the chief destroyer with support from the so far impressive Dutch recruit Roly Bonevacia, who shows creativity whilst ruling the midfield with an iron fist; just the kind of player Ernie likes.

Phoenix could, like Glory, afford to miss some massive chances in this match with Louis Fenton putting himself in to the net rather than the ball whilst Michael McGlinchey’s penalty was poor to say the least. This was a nice win for Phoenix to upset the Wanderers and great for Oceania, considering that Fijian Roy Krishna set up the winner after a wonderful pass from Bonevacia.

 

-So Melbourne City was a bit David Villa focused? Never! Well, okay a little. The most complete team performance from City so far this season was up in Brisbane on Saturday night which happened to be the first game post-Villa. Aaron Mooy was irrepressible right at the time Ange is finalising his plans for the Asian Cup. The national side is in desperate need of a creative influence, and the #10 could provide it. The signing of Kennedy is great for the club too even if he is a little one dimensional and fragile. He’s a well known Socceroo and  will play his part on and off the pitch in his native town. Even the resident club donkey Mate Dugandzic scored against Brisbane.

 

-A lot has already been said this week but it was fitting that Les Murray said farewell to SBS and television on the 10th anniversary of the death his good friend and colleague Johnny Warren. Waleed Aly was spot on on Offsiders saying that we owe ‘Mr and Mrs Soccer’ a massive debt which we don’t understand yet as they were both true missionaries for the sport.  The minutes applause before every match and appreciation shown in the 74thminute of the United v Sydney game with a video display and banner was also a touching tribute to the cantankerous yet passionate old grump Warren.

 

THE BAD

-Refereeing has always been a sore point in the A-League. There have been calls for foreign referees to be introduced (and was trialled last season). There’s also the controversy with an official refereeing the 2012 decider having a partner who was an employee of the host club. Those calls for change could be made again after a decision by ref Alan Milner in the pulsating Adelaide v Sydney FC draw may have cost the visitors victory.

Nikola Petkovic scored from a quickly taken free kick, but the ball was brought back because Milner had claimed he was telling an opposition to play to get back before the ball was struck. It seemed straight forward by the rule book, but the issue is he blew the whistle after watching the ball go in the goal. It’s unsure whether this was just poor timing or poor decision making by the ref. The Sydney players thought the latter. While the FFA will no doubt support the argument of the official, this lack of communication between referees and players, along with some baffling decisions, makes it harder for the officials to gain respect and go beyond just being ‘the bastards in the black’.

 

-After praising Bruce Djite the previous week it’s horrible to find out the powerful striker has again succumbed to injury. The big man will be out for a month for a thigh strain just as he was hitting some rare form that had him on the cusp of a Socceroos call up. Going on some of the finishing on Friday night from his teammates in a game they largely controlled he will be missed.

 

-The Mariners have never had the best of crowd numbers despite having the full support of the local community. The crowd of 6000 or so for the game against Glory yesterday was more than a little disappointing. With the side not looking at their best this season playing ‘mossball’ this looks set to continue which puts pressure on the club (again) to be viable into the future. The Mariners can’t afford to be in crisis.

 

THE UGLY

-Where else do we go but to Brisbane for this section. Many said the Roar were set to struggle this season without Berisha and Franjic but the infighting and poor form has gone far beyond their horrible start to the 2012/13 season. If the walk out by Liam Miller was a little bit of smoke about the trouble, then the on-field blow up between Shane Steffanuto and the derided keeper Jamie Young was definitely the fire. It was rich from Steffanutto to criticise considering it was some horrible defending that let City score and not just the keepers naivety. Perhaps Steffanutto is also someone who should’ve been out the door as part of a regeneration process rather than given another deal at 34.

The senior players are not doing enough leading in this side – and that includes more people than Steffanutto. Where is Matt Smith? Where is Mozart himself Thomas Broich? Not only is the loss of Franjic being felt more than expected (his attacking style virtually gave the Roar an extra midfielder) but the continued absence of Michael Theo means they may have to go to a third keeper to plug the hole until his return.

-The FFA might finally consider having breaks during international weekends when they see how decimated both teams will be for ‘The Big Blue’. Sydney FC V Melbourne Victory is arguably the biggest fixture in the comp with many fans of both sides considering this the main rivalry. However, with the Socceroos, U-23 Socceroos and other international teams playing, both teams are to set to be missing many key players:

MELBOURNE VICTORY-Mark Milligan, Costa Barbarouses, Daniel Georgievski, Scott Galloway, Jason Geria, Connor Pain.

SYDNEY FC-Terry Antonis, Mark Janko, Corey Gamiero.

A host of other sides will also be missing some key players with the amount of All Whites in their squad particularly hurting the Phoenix. There are TV dollars at stake with Fox keen to push for A-League every weekend to keep the sponsors happy and keep momentum, but when a lot of half decent players are off on duty it belittles the competition in a way. Graham Arnold has already been vocal on the FFA falling in to line with FIFA dates and has been every since becoming an A-League coach. Will more follow?

Luckily for Glory though many fans haven’t warmed to Mitch Nicholls as yet and he’s off on Socceroos duty this weekend so some see as it a bonus.

 

 

 

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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