This is how you do it kids (that means you DeVere twiddling your thumbs there). From the Woves game on the weekend - Moore, DeVere and Sergio are all free but no one was getting in the captain's way, least of all any defenders, mark up Wolves! Click to enlarge:
The Roars mounted a come from behind win after the Wolves scored against the run of play shortly before half time. Only heroics from Wolves' keeper Adrian Ghidella had kept the game scoreless to that point. The Roar fielded a strong team With Mundy, Moore, Devere and McJosh in defence, Sarota, Nichols and Tiatto in midfield with Van Dijk up front and Kruse and Henrique alternating wings.
Its comforting to see the 433 being used in preseason after watching Farina persisting with a midfield diamond for half the season last term only to return almost too late to the 433 which had been so successful for the roar in the previous season.
Its never wise to draw too many conclusions from preseason matches (yep I'm looking at you Fury fans, its going to be ok... really...perhaps), the pitches are substandard (cow paddock today), the players are still regaining match fitness and the coaches are experimenting with lineups and tactics. However there were some interesting selection battles playing out particularly among the fringe squad members.
Lets start with the big one, Robbie Kruse. Having read about his impressive showing in earlier matches we were pleased to see Kruse in the starting line up and he did not disappoint. He appears to have put on some bulk and used his new found strength to bring a more physical approach to his game. Tracking back and holding of challenges, he appears less sulky and tougher (that might just be because he has ditched that head-band arrangement). He and the lively Henrique provided an almost constant threat from wide and were the main creators in the first half. We hope that Kruse can replicate this kind of form on the big stage as he is an entertaining player to watch.
Matt Mundy worked hard at right back bombing forward to link with Kruse at every opportunity. His distribution was a little erratic but his defending and endeavor was first rate. Although Mundy will have his work cut out breaking into the first choice back four, he looks to be the perfect versatile utility defender to provide cover right across the back four and will surely get plenty of chances to shine this season. Mundy brings a strong, all action physical presence to the right flank, the news is not good for Ben Griffin.
Adam Sarota also covered plenty of ground but still appears a little light wight in the center of midfield. While he was tidy enough here, there must be doubts over his strength and pace at a-league level.
Bob Malcolm came on shortly before half time for Tiatto (hopefully nothing serious there) and despite our secret wish that he would not, looked every inch exactly the midfield enforcer the Roar require. Early rumors that Malcolm was being considered primarily to partner Moore in central defence were disappointing given Luke Devere's outstanding progress, but here in central midfield Malcolm dominated, tackling well and maintaining possession with clever distribution.
Isaka Cernak came on in the second half and provided plenty of headaches for the Wolfs wide defenders flitting from wing to wing and showing moments of outrageous athleticism. Expect Cernack to get some game time this season despite the heavy competition from Henrique and Kruse.
Finally and perhaps most impressively, Luke Brattan came on for the last 15 minutes or so. It was TRD's first glimpse of the lad at senior level level and from his first touch he looked assured and capable. Slotting into a deepish role in central midfield, Brattan kept things very neat and tidy and even sent a series of accurate raking 30 yard passes out to Cernak on the left wing. He did not give the ball away once and played a significant role in the last goal by playing a cool pass to put Charlie Miller through to earn what seemed to be a pretty soft penalty.
Brattan could be the suprise of the season. With Murdocca injured and Mackay not yet certain to return from China, Brattan's chance may come sooner than anyone expected but the 18 year looks ready for the challenge.
With just over a month to go and such heavy competition for places, its hard to believe that Farina is clear on what his strongest team is - we certainly have no idea. The Celtic game will provide a tougher test for those on the edge.
So apparently a disgruntled senior socceroo who has been in the squad for ten years has chosen to send an anonymous email spilling the beans on the off-field antics of the socceroos. None of the current team made their debut in 1999 and apart from Schwartzer who is mentioned in the email, only Neil, Kewel and Chipperfield have been in the roos for more than 10 years (not Sterjovski as I wrote to the Tele below before checking wiki).
For some reason this anonymous player, who we can only assume must be Kewel or Chipperfield as it is a criticism of team leadership which implicates the Captain Neil, chose to send this email two a rugby league blogger notorious for his anti football stance which is well documented by Mike at The Football Tragic. Are we to believe that in the best interests of the game a concerned Socceroo has chosen to confide in The Daily Telle's Phil "Its not football" Rothfield and Rebecca "socca is for girls" Wilson?
Or is it possible that the email is from a Football hater who did not realise that it would be very rare for a player to be in the soceroos for ten years and also did not realise that while they only became aware of football with the 2006 world cup, it probably did not actually turnthe socceroos into "big-time charlies".
The Telle claim the email was confirmed by a phone call. I would want more proof than that before I published these kind of allegations. Especially when should they be true the list of possible anonymous whistle blowers is very short.
We sent this comment to Phil and Wilson this morning, but wont hold our breath for a response, or even publication.
"Seems very unlikely to me that a Socceroo would choose Rebecca and Phil to confide in. No offence intended, but there is no shortage of dedicated Soccer Journos who have a proud record of criticising the national set up and the FFA.
If a socceroo who had been in the national team for ten years had really written this, it is unlikely that they would have mentioned that fact, as so few players have achieved that feat. Of the current squad, none have been in the socceroos as long as Shwartzer and only Kewel, Chipperfield and Stirjiovski have been in the team for 10 years.
Also the idea that the lads have started feeling like "Big-time Charlies" and that it has got worse since the world cup sounds like an assumption that would be made by a non-football person. The world cup did not turn these players into big stars, European football did. The media and fan attention they get playing for their european clubs would be much more likely to go to their head than the vaguely increased profile of the socceroos in australia since 2006.
Also seems odd that the email has no salutation or request for anonymity. I think we should take this anonymous email with a pinch of salt."
So its only a pre-season friendly, but TRD recons these state derbys are already heaps of fun! The Roars "thrash" (in the words of the official BR website) Fury 4-0. We have no idea who fury had on the park, it could have been their youth team for all we know, but a win is a win. Cant resist quoting from Fury blog The Journal:
"Despite his squad being depleted by injury & player unavailability Ian Ferguson expects his troops to make a strong statement in tonight’s match against Qld counterparts Brisbane Roar..."
Oh Well, to be fair its early days. Fury will have key players on deck for the season proper and God on their side, literally.
After what was by all accounts another stand out performance in the Roar's 4-0 win over the Sunshine Coast, Robbie Kruse looks set to make a genuine push for first team selection this season.
Even more encouraging is the dominant win after losing the corresponding fixture last season 1-0. Stability might be the key this season however TRD still harbors doubts about the ability of Tim Smitts and David Dodd at A-League level.
As for Kruse, we know he can do it, it is more a question of whether he will? Another good show against Peninsula tonight will have the critics wondering.
Edit: Ok so that did not go so well. What was by the sound of things a young Roar downed one nil by Peninsula, however the Official web page is once again talking up Kruse's contribution.
Two games in and after a worryingly even sounding game against Redlands City Devils the Roars have regrouped to record a much more comfortable win over Brisbane Olympic. Those who made it to the games seem most excited about the emergence of snack sized Brazilian winger Henrique and the reemergence of Robbie "Boom Boom" Kruse. The form of these two right sided winger/strikers has the potential to create a selection headache for Frank Farina, and a bigger head ache for right sided winger/striker Reindaldo as he returns form injury. Meanwhile Isaac Cernak and Adam Sarota may well OD on panadole before the season gets underway.
A similar dilemma occurs in the attacking midfield position with Cernak is again relegated behind the inspirational Charlie Miller and the inspired Mitch Nichols. Both of whom would surely be automatic picks in most A-League sides. The prospect of having to leave one of these crowd favorites on the bench after their duel heroics last season may tempt Farina to push Nichols wide compounding the overcrowding on the right wing.
Nichols is a star in the centre of the pitch but is wasted on the wing, particularly if it would keep Henrique, Reinaldo and Kruse on the bench. Move further back and the Midfield options begin to look worryingly thin. With loss of Seo, one would assume that packer will move to the right side of defense and Tiatto will spend most of the season in his natural left fullback position. This leaves David Dodd struggling to fit into a large Tiatto shaped hole in front of the back four. Don't panic.