Well it has taken a while for TRD to get motivated enough to write after what was, as Michael Flynn pointed out in his latest ever entertaining blog,the third season in a row Adelaide have delivered the final blow to the hearts of Roar fans. Now that the same team have stolen the only consistent goal scorer the club has ever had, the extent to which the team will need to be rebuilt for next season is becoming clearer.
The season has seen much of the team dismantled with Miller, Reddy, Moore, Tiatto and now Sergio Van Dijk leaving and there is a good chance that others will follow before next season. Tommy Oar, Luke DeVere and Michael Zullo are all a chance to leave for Holland. McJosh could well retire, while China is beckoning new captain Matt Mackay. Time will tell if Bryce remains, but his age will count against him.
This plausible if hypothetical exodus would leave Murdocca, Reinaldo, Collen, Nicholls and Henrique as the key players left to build a squad around. Its not a bad start and leaves plenty of scope for Postacolou to build the team he wants. As the coach has rightly pointed out - it is not as if a champion team have been dismantled - he has managed, in a very short space of time, to dismantle a rubbish team and build new one equally as rubbish. So... the jury is out.
Who should it be?
The obvious choice for the remainder of the season would be current vice captain McJosh who would also seem to be Moore's obvious replacement at centre-half. Having said that, Postacoglou has talked of building a long term project over three to four years. As McJosh is unlikely to still be playing in three years it might be time to install the captain that Postacoglou feels will see the team through this project.
The Roar Deal's choice would be Matt McKay. A foundation player and a constant in the first team, McKay bleeds orange on the pitch and never gives up. During his injured period this season it was clear that the team missed his drive from midfield and his incisive running and passing.
McKay's fitness means that he rarely needs to be substituted, rested or miss matches through niggling injuries. That kind of fitness can only be the result of hard work and a professional approach off the pitch. McKay is a scrapper, a pro and a highly underated footballer and as such fits Postacolgou's mould perfectly. Don't be suprised to see him take the armband in the next match and keep it for years to come.
A while ago I wrote somewhere (perhaps Johns blog?) that I thought Craig Moore would have the professionalism to but any personal differences with Postacolou aside for the good of the club. Seems I was wrong.
The Courier Mail is reporting that Craig Moore has announced that he will be leaving the Roar for good in January because his relationship with Postacoglou is strained beyond repair. From a fans point f view this is hugely dissapointing, yet another body blow to end what my fellow Roar blogger John has accurately labled the Roar's Annus Horribilus.
Lately Moore's heart has not looked in it, distracted by the world cup, upset by the loss of his mates Farina and Miller, Moore's form has dipped so low that Socceroo fans have been as concerned as Roar fans. By leaving the club in its time of need Moore has spat in the face of the loyal fans scampered of the sinking ship.
According to Hammish's account of the account of the game, Moore did not even lead the players over to thank the fans who travelled in numbers down to skilled park and then had to watch the team be mauled. Not good enough, time to go, if the Roar are going to stay in the top six they need all hand on deck and giving !00%. McJosh and Devere have never let the club down and will remain one of the best central parings in the league.
So well done to the club for backing the coach when presented with Moore's unprofessional and arrogant "him or me" ultimatum. A managers job becomes impossible once players sense he does not have the board's complete backing. However marks off for keeping the fans in the dark. The Roar's webpage does not mention that Moore has resigned (do they think we will not notice he is gone??). More points off for the pathetic Chairman's Christmas message. Three pathetic lines of best wishes - we don't need or want the chairman's best wishes - we want some news about the direction of the club, the vision, what is the game plan...
Loyal fans will continue to support the club in Moore's absence, but they wont support a club without a plan to give them some hope. Even if it a modest one to gradually rebuild the squad and the support.
Tonight was going to be a big night, not just for the Roar but for me. Ange Postacoglou's first game at Suncorp was to be my last (for this season at least). Not because I agreed with the bunch of blokes sitting behind me at the last game who swore the would not return after central coast were gifted a third goal, but because my partner and I had given up the lease on the Paddington flat I have rented for six years, sold everything we owned, quit our jobs and are about to move to Vietnam.
Even the lads who had finally given up on the Roars after 5 frustrating seasons were coming along tonight to help me enjoy my last game and welcome the new coach (the lure of $15 tickets didn't hurt either). Tonight was to be just one of several "lasts" one experiences before a big move. Another came on monday night as I played my last game of Futsal during which I somehow ended up upside-down in the net with my leg caught up behind me, rupturing my ACL and damaging my MCL (knee ligaments for those who have spent less time at the physio than me this week) and god knows what else (had MRI this morning). So after 4 days of physio and visits to specialists, tonight I will be watching the game from the couch while icing my knee in a desperate attempt to heel in time to get on a one way flight to Vietnam in a fortnight.
If I make it to Vietnam I hope to continue TRD and stay in touch with the A-League via the webnet which seems to be faster and more ubiquitous in Hanoi than Brisbane. From what I can tell the Vietnamese are football mad with the 2006 world cup tv ratings among the top ten countries in the world.
There is still a chance that I will require surgery and will have to remain in Brisbane for another few months. This would be more than a little inconvenient as we have nowhere to live and I will have to ask for my job back and eat some serious humble pie after enjoying my impending departure just a little too enthusiastically. The silver lining will be watching the Roar's recovery first hand... so Ange, it better be good. Lets start with a win tonight, I think it can happen (mind you, I also thought a failed ACL was like when the Jets didn't make it though to the knock out rounds of the Asian Champion's League).
If things go poorly for the Roars today, the club could be sitting at the bottom of the table by the end of the game. It would be the first time in the clubs short history and in some ways a fitting end to a period of rapid and unexpected decline.
Last place would be fitting ground zero for Ange Postacoglou and a provide a strong mandate for change. Postacoglou will need a strong mandate if we are to believe the stories of a divided dressing room ruled by a clutch of senior pros who set a poor example both on and off the field for the young stars.
This may of course be complete rubbish, but it is tempting to believe that the injuries to Mackay, Murdocca, Packer and Reinaldo robbed the team not only of its most consistent players but of of it's middle generation, exacerbating the divide between the young turks and the old guard.
The good news is that Postacoglou has been making all right noises since his appointment. Insisting on players being fit will eb a popular move with fans who excused Miller as he huffed and puffed his way thought his first season given his lack of match practice, but who's patience is wearing thin with Malcolm and Miller still clearly overweight 11 rounds into this season. Postacoglou's first challenge will be to get the players unified and ready to play for the shirt. A close second will be to fix the defence which has leaked 10 goals in the last 5 games.
Bob Malcolm is the obvious fall guy here, but the problems extend further. None the less dropping Malcolm must be Postacoglou's first step both to pacify those frustrated fans who are left and to send a strong message to the paying group that there will be no untouchables under the new regime. With fitness clouds hanging over Franic and Packer and Moore and Tiatto out it will take some balls to drop Malcolm in favor of Mundy or youth teamer Bowles. Lets see what you have Ange.
As these things tend to happen, the most tumultuous time in the Roar's history has coincided with the busiest time in TDR's proffesional career. Having literally not had time to digest the events, TRD is in a bit of a daze. Hopefully this weekend things will become clearer, five minutes will appear uncluttered by real world commitments, and some considered thoughts will appear on this page.
Until then, lets hope the Roar Board understand that fans will not brook Farina's sacking for whatever reason unless a replacement who can bring a pedegree or proven level of tactical sofistication that Farina could not. This rules out Ange Postecoglou, Kossie (god forbid!) and Paul Okon. While the pace setters in the A-League are looking to managers who can bring a new level to the A-League, the Roar must not sack a reasonabley capable, high profile, popular and sucessfull manager and replace him with someone who has failed at this level before or is unproven. It would be comercial and sporting suicide.
The promise of Ange Postecoglou will not bring the fans back through the gates and long time Roar nemisis Kossie will drive them away.
A combination of self destructive naval gazing and sokka haters latching on to the first scent of new football vulnerability is leading to an absurd situation where A-League match attendances are becoming a bigger talking point than match results. So much so, that as much as we sympathise with Con's sensible view that we should return the focus to the pitch, there is no point blogging at the moment without mentioning the crowd numbers. They are the elephant in the room (perhaps the elephant not in the room). This is a particular shame at a time when the A-League is full of intrigue and the action on the park is better than ever.
Saturday’s 6500 crowd is being widely reported as a disaster and the beginning of the end for the Brisbane Roar. However everything was wrong with the scheduling, football finals were in progress across Brisbane on Saturday afternoon, the bridge to Brisbane was run the day after, the Broncos and the Lions are reaching the most exciting part of their seasons and many folk would have been caught of guard by the second home game in a row. The Broncos’ crowds dipped for the first time in their fourth season but they made a small recovery in the fifth – the Roar may yet follow the same pattern.
Next blog we will get onto the real issue – how to fill the gaping Matt and Mass shaped holes in the Roar midfield (the obvious answer would have been to sign Jonas Salley but Gold Coast have already done that!) . Please, no-one say David “your worse than your brother, worse than you brooother” Dodd.
Th A-League is notoriously hard to predict but I'm not sure many pundits got it as completely wrong as TRD last year. Undeterred here is the results of this seasons crystal ball gazing...
10th:No one has ever done so badly as to come 10th in the A-league before, the worst any team has previously managed is 8th. Last year it was Newcastle and to fair they were pretty rubbish, Gold coast are going to have to be truly awful to do beat them, but we are confident they can manage it. Mad coach, Overgrown Cane Toad in a toupe for an owner, side full of forwards, Gold Coast will score goals, leak goals, implode mid season and finish last. Glad to have them on board.
9th:Having strived but ultimately failed to be as rubbish as Newcastle Jets last season, the Phoenix have lost the best striker in the League. Smeltz, frustrated by the 'Nux inability to match the Jets for shear incompetence, has chosen to join a proper bunch of losers at Gold Coast. All power to him. The 'Nux for their part, relieved of Smeltz's goal scoring habit should have no problems finishing behind the Jets this season.
8th:Mariners – There is no doubt Matt Simon was one of the stories of the A-League last year, but the young target man will have his work cut out to repeat his scoring feats without Jedinak pulling the strings. Lets face it, the Marinators’ consistently negative tactics home and away shit us all to tears. 8th place. (Edit: see this prediction game is already going pair shaped...)
7th:Newcastle have had such a roller-coaster time in the A-League we are loath to predict anything at all… who knows how they will go? Much will depend on how the club handles Ljubo Milosevic, the volatile defender is their best player and keeping him happy on and off the pitch could be their biggest challenge. They have goals in them up front and looked impressive against the Roar in preseason, but with the Jets you just never know what is around the corner.
6th: Fury – Many folks are laughing at the Fury, and its not just the lime green shirts and silly name, its because they have no defence, no midfield and no fans. The one thing Fury do have that virtually no other team in the league has, is a proven goal poach up front. Virtually all A-league teams convert chances at an appallingly bad rate. Even if Fury don’t create too many chances, Fowler will finish them.
5th:Perth Glory, the sleeping giant of the A-League looks to have finally awoken (oh barf barf -yeh, well you try to think of something exciting to say about Glory). Perth started to look much better last season and the undoubted quality of their new socceroos (using the term in the broadest possible sense) ensure that they are right up there at the end of the season. They will be hoping that Sterjo can avoid an Aloisi style introduction to the A-League.
4th: Adelaide don’t look up to much on paper this season, lets face it they ever do, but when push comes to shove/trip/kick/dive they always seem to manage to grind out results with ruthless effectiveness. The big difference this year is the suspect looking defence, we wont be the first or last to point out that the loss of the Og monster will be felt and the last minute inclusion of Mark Rudan may not make up for it. Having said that, Robbie Cornthwaite and Scott Jamieson are fantastic young players at the back for the reds. Predicting the success of imports has not traditionally been a strength of this blog, so we will have to wait and see if Owusu can provide what is required, there has been much talk of him playing alongside Cristiano, but to be honest we cant see Adelaide switching from their flood the midfield mentality, and to be fair, why change a winning formula?
3rd:Sydney FC, now with less Kossie and all the more likable for it. With Gold Coast firmly out-blinging them, the Smurfs have had to search for a new identity and the may well have found it in their new-found quiet latte sipping, tan leather jacket wearing, short passing self satisfaction. The gold chains and diamond studs are gone and a confident, tactical, smooth talking aura has arrived, perhaps increasingthe urgency for the A-League to add a 2nd Sydney team to represent those to the western end of Parramatta Road who like their leather jackets black and their football hard an fast. Sydney have had the most impressive preseason of all the teams (with the possible exception of the Gold Coast but I ain’t going to mention that) and one cant help suspect that it is due to having a half decent gaffer for the first time since they last won the championship. Aloisi has not exactly bee racking up goals in the preseason, but who needs Aloisi when you have Kofi Danning? Sydney will come third, a lack of depth at the back will prevent them going the whole way.
2nd: I need to perform some kind of act of contrition to pacify Victory fans after predicting they would flop last season. So I am going to predict they will beat Sydney to second despite nagging feeling that the new Sydney might actually pip them to the post. Victory have remained stable during the off season and this should avoid the post Premiership hangover they suffered in version 3, where the loss of key players caused severe disruption. In fact, this could be the first time that a Premiership winning squad has had the opportunity to defend the title largely intact without being torn apart before the next season, expect them to get even better. Of course most other squads have strengthened but have they done enough to catch the champions?
1st:The one thing I was nearly right about last year was that Roar would win (I did say nearly). So I will give it another go and hope for the best. "Brisbane" have had a nightmare preseason, barely winning a game, constant injury problems, Murdocca's broken leg, training ground bust ups, ticket price controversy and only one new signing.
So why will they win? Because this season Farina is working with a relatively stable squad and with a bit of luck the Roar can avoid the appalling early season form which plagued the Roar in the last two seasons. In both of the last two seasons Farina started the season by trying to shoehorn the squad into a 442 diamond formation to accommodate two strikers. In both seasons the Roar only hit their straps when the formation changed to a one up front with two wingers system. With the squad's over abundance of talented wingers we can safely assume that this pitfall will be avoided this season. By our rough calculations - if the Roar had managed the same success rate in the first part of the season as they had in the rest - they would have won the minor championship in the past two seasons. Therefore it stands to reason that they will win this year... doesn't it..?
Gold coast United Coach Miron Blighberg sat in the stands at Ballymore on the weekend grinning from ear to ear as the Roars stuttered and sputtered to a 2-0 defeat against the Newcastle Jets. Should we be concerned?
Last season the Roar looked dreadful in preseason and went on to be dreadful for the entire first half of the season, only hitting their straps when it seemed almost too late. After a barnstorming finish to the season including stellar performances against the strongest sides in the league, fans could be forgiven for hoping that the relatively settled squad will start the season with the same fluidity and success as they finished the last.Unfortunately the preseason performances have been more reminiscent of Phoenix on an off day than the Roar side which stormed into the final series last term.
The truth is, that of the first eleven that took the Roars to the brink of triumph last season, only Moore, Van Dijk and Nichols have been regular starters in preseason. The current starting eleven is a shadow of last year’s team.
Despite the fact that other clubs have been strengthening their squads voraciously with quality players such as Burns, Coyne, Sterjovski, David Williams, Robbie Fowler, Joel Porter, Jason Culina and Lloyd Owusu, instead the Roars have lost superstar Tahj Minniecon to Gold Coast and flirted half heartedly with the idea of signing
big bad fat bald Bob Malcolm – so short of fitness that despite spending the majority of the preseason with the club, he is yet to play more than half a game.
Not only has the squad not been strengthened and lost one of its most potent attacking weapons in Minniecon, but injury has deprived Farina of Murdocca (who’s injury, not coincidently, roughly coincided with the slump in preseason form), Zullo and Tiatto – all linchpin of the side which performed so brilliantly at the end of last season. David Dodd, Reinaldo and Tommy Oar are also injured and Matt McKay has only just returned from his loan stint in China, having missed most of the preseason preparations.
In defence Moore and DeVere have been fixtures in the center during preseason, but last year’s full back heroes Tiatto and Packer have been largely covered by youngsters Matt Mundy and the ungainly and not so speedy Josh McCloughin who is clearly more comfortable and effective at centre half.
In midfield Nichols has been the senior figure, playing a deeper role in Murdocca’s absence, last year’s rough diamond has looked frustrated, cranky and puffed. Let’s hope inflated expectations don’t consign him to Kruse style second season blues. Now that McKay has returned the third midfield slot in Farina’s 433 seems likely to go to last years Youth League player of the season Adam Sarota, or (should he ever manage to regain fitness) Bob Malcolm. Neither has been particularly impressive in preseason. Sarota is clearly not used to scrapping in the centre of the pitch and seems to lack the positional sense and physical intensity to play the role. Malcolm has played well when on the pitch, but concerns about his ability to return to full fitness may be at centre of the delay in signing him to a contract.
The same concern must be hovering over Charlie Miller, who is yet to put ninety minutes together and was rested against Newcastle due to a niggling injury. Not mention Reinaldo who has sat in the stands for the entire preseason.