Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Sydney vs Central Coast - Post Game

Now I am against the sacking of Branko as I think the problems Sydney are experiencing were mostly out of his control, namely the unavailability of players and an extremely under strength and unbalanced squad of players to work with. However, what a difference a week makes! Was I watching the same team on Sunday that I have been watching all season? Well to be fair I actually wasn't, with 4 key personnel and positional changes from last week, the most notable being the signing of Michael Bridges.

Sydney lineup up as follows and to me is probably the strongest lineup and formation that we can possibly offer and it showed on the park.


Zad, Milligan, Corica and Bridges come in and the most note worthy omission being Rudan. Once again it has been proven that Sydney cannot play with a centre back pairing of Rudan and Poppa in any formation. They are just too similar in their physical attributes (The word "Plank" comes to mind...) and style of play. Without Rudan today thanks to a suspension, Poppa actually had quite a solid game and his throughball for Brosque's second was absolutely divine! I also want to give props to Fyfe who cops a lot of shit but really should be included in Sydney's first choice back three every week. His agility, although nothing special was evident tonight and we can thank the guy for keeping Aloisi off the score sheet.

The only issue that I had with Branko was that Sydney still hadn't settled on a formation. With our squad, the 3-5-2 wingback system is in my opinion the strongest that we can offer and I pray to god that Kossie sees this too. Middleby, Zad and "Nick the Greek" (Don't make me pronounce the kids last name please!) all played well and offer us something out wide. I just get the vibe that Zad doesn't like playing there and seems to get fed up with it in the middle of games, throwing his hands on his hips and playing below 100%. Its just his versitility that is keeping him in the starting lineup as he can play on both wings as well as the centre of the park. NtG also handled himself admirably up against the much more solid and experienced Gumprecht when he was given the chance and has to be putting pressure on his teammates for another start.

I am now coming around to the idea of Juninho and Corica working together in the same midfield. Both looked sharp on the ball, either running at defenders or with swift one twos providing a link between defense and attack. I always knew that the midfield was there for something and finally we played the type of football that is good to watch. I couldn't beleive it to be honest and was just in shock and almost in awe of how we were knocking the ball around and actually moving!

Brosque and Bridges can also take a lot of the credit for the 'sexy socca' on show. The way Bridges anticipated the ball and was moving non stop in behind the Mariners defense from the first whistle just reeked of class. I am so pleased with how this signing is turning out. Everyone wants to compare him to Aloisi so I suppose I will join the bandwagon... Bridges > Aloisi. I loved the Cove chanting "What a waste of money, what a waste of money" when Aloisi skewed another shot wide down the Cove end of the field. He heard it straight away and gave us a clap which I thought was good too.

I can't see Kossie making many changes for next week but I think he has to think about the holding midfield position and Talay vs McFlynn. I think its been shown that both at once are not needed in this system but personally I would go with McFlynn. Talay's passing range is better (although only marginally these days) but I think McFlynn is more competent in this area than many give him credit for and with Juninho and Corica around him could be excused if he was a little below par. It is his defensive work in breaking up play where his big plus is and it could be argued that he would have been on hand to shut down Hutchinson before he was allowed to shoot for his two absolutely sublime goals. Worth a thought?

All up, a hectically negative week has ended on a big positive and I am very content with where things are headed right now. Yes its only one game but the signs are there that we can go on with it throughout the rest of the season now. I'm also really excited for my first away trip of the season. I have a uni exam on Saturday morning in Wollongong and am pumped to head up to Newcastle straight after I am done. Wooooo!


Sunday, October 21, 2007

Sydney vs Adelaide - Post Game

Another home game and another missed opportunity. This time however there is noone to blame but ourselves.

With the unexpected late withdrawal of Milligan thanks to an injury and the ludicrous suspensions of Corica and Zadkovich, I think our already unbalanced squad just about bottomed out.

What frustrates me the most is that we are now 9 rounds in and we still have not settled on a system or style of play. 3-5-2 one week followed by 4-5-1, even a few 3-6-1s chucked in there for the sake of it. Tonight what Branko drew out of his hat was a 3-5-2:


Like I have been preaching all season, Poppa and Rudan together once again didn’t work. Nathan Burns made them look like the statues that they are and once again showed class well beyond his 19 years. 2010 he WILL be wearing the green and gold mark my words. This kid is so far above anyone in the league that its not funny. With Fyfe rounding out the back 3… No I’ll stop myself there.

Now I rate Robbie Middleby. He never stops trying and quite often changes games. Tonight he again, in a wingback role, looked one of our most dangerous outlets. You could see he was a little short on match fitness but now Zad is once again considered a centre mid, he surely is higher up the pecking order than Casey for this position. So Why didn't the players use the flanks more? Playing this system, our main attacking outlets should be the wings! I just get more and more disheartened every week watching this team that just cannot play football....

On the left flank, 17 year old Nick Tsattalios (Nick the Greek for us that are ‘lingually challenged’) was finally given his chance and I think took it with both hands. He was always going to be a little bit of a liability in defense but he offered a lot going forward, never afraid to take on his man and seemed to have a decent passing range, continuously looking for one twos. For me, this League is all about youth. They are the most exciting to watch and especially this season have proved to be the most talented on the pitch. I was stoked to see NtG but was disappointed that Biddle missed out.

Talay is not the player that he was when he first came back. His passing range doesn’t seem to exist anymore and he is definitely not capable of playing a lone holding midfield role even with a central back 3. Also, I would like to know Branko’s thinking behind bringing a 2nd holding midfielder in McFlynn on for Casey while 1-0 down at home and already doing well in the possession stakes??!! Casey needed to be subbed but surely Zdrilic from the remaining subs was the only option? Does he now regret not putting Biddle on the bench as a replacement for NtG who he obviously had in his mind would be subbed early on?

Brosque, Patrick and Juninho all were quite good in attack. I love the way that Patrick will take players on and try things but sometimes I think he slows things down too much and unnecessarily. Same can be said for Brosque on some occasions however, unlike Patrick, he is at his best when running at players. Adelaide defended strong and were well organised. Yes Patrick hit the bar but to be honest, we never looked like scoring. I will also hold my judgment on Juninho off for another week as we all know he is playing well below fitness.

Looking to next week there are a few positives. Corica, Zad, Milligan and Bridges all to come in, and with Rudan suspended it forces the Poppa/Rudan statue partnership to be broken.


Monday, October 08, 2007

Sydney vs Melbourne - Post Game

I love the culture of Australian football where we can all be mates before and after the match, sharing a beer and a friendly sing song in the same pub or on the street. We all happily do this with everyone... except with Melbourne. Its as though Melbourne's traveling fans think they are some sort football factory style 'hools' who have a respect level of zero for their fellow A-League fans or hosting cities. Seriously what is up? We have all worked so hard to drag our game from the gutter and you want to continue with this?

Sydney's fan mentality coming into this match was all about standing tall and not letting Melbourne walk over anyone and do as they please and we achieved that goal. There was no violent confrontations and the Melbourne fans moved on. From a Sydney point of view, belting the shit out of each other with scarves on our faces is not what football in Australia is about and I am proud of the way the situation was handled by all. However props to Melbourne for their numbers and support for their team.

Too bad the spectacle on the pitch wasn't as fun to watch and be a part of as the battle in the stands. I'm sick of continuously anti-Sydney, biased refereeing at home! I know week in week out it sounds like I am just a whining, biased fan but every week I leave the ground feeling hard done by. This weekend it wasn't just about the red card but a lot of little fouls and cards that were either given to Sydney or not given to Melbourne. Two examples that spring to mind is when Brosque had a foul called on him for backing into a Melbourne defender when he was clearly being pulled down or when Muscat was not booked for moving the ball on a free kick after Shields had talked to him and specifically told him to wait for the whistle until the wall and defense was set.

As for the Corica incident I suppose it could have gone either way... I am a certified referee and am a believer that especially that early in such an important and emotion filled game like this one that Shields should have given Corica a yellow then a stern talking to him and both captains, telling them that enough is enough and calm it down before just whipping out a straight red... Listening to Craig Foster on TWG yesterday (yes I know thats always a mistake) he was of the opinion that as a FIFA referee, Shields was marked on only body language and cards given. Not for how he used his charisma and talk to calm the game. Surely this should be the case in games where he is reffing non English speaking countries but in an Australian domestic club game surely common sense and a bit of a chat should be used.

As for the game, Branko changed a winning team obviously to accommodate Poppa which I don't really agree with but they actually played great football under the circumstances. Lets also just say that Melbourne are in no way the football team that they were last season and Sydney actually looked the much better side when allowed to play.






It's not worth talking individually about a 10 man performance and I don't really feel excited enough about the game to do it but I will say that I definitely left the ground proud to be a Sydney fan. The lads fighting performance on the pitch as well as my fellow 'brothers' in the stands make it worthwhile showing up every week. Thats what football is all about to me! Can't wait to do it all again next week!


Monday, October 01, 2007

Sydney vs Newcastle - Post Game

I couldn't watch all of last weeks game in Brisbane because I am 'Foxtel impaired' and couldn't get to the pub because of work so I thought there was no point in trying to write about it. The thing I want to say about that game is: PATRICK! Also an honorable mention to what sounded like an epic effort and return to form Bolton and Rudan.

Onto this weeks match... Its always good to win at home and failing to get the three points here during the first 5 weeks made it so much sweeter. Although I can't see Branko losing his job for anything this season, there were whispers about his decisions starting to creep forward and this game seemed like a must win. Both for the sake of his job as well as Sydney's season, both on and off the pitch.

Sydney started something resembling:


I was happy that Branko didn't touch the backline combination that for once all season didn't look like crumbing everytime the opposition got the ball. With Popovic available for selection again, I really thought that Branko would be soft and either drop someone or rearrange the formation to include his 'mate'. Once again Milligan was solid in defense and Rudan did enough, in my opinion, to keep Poppa on the bench for another week. My only gripe with Milligan's game was some long balls the he just hit and hoped for the best on. Not your game mate, what are you doing?! Fyfe and Casey still aren't fullbacks but meh, neither made me cry this match.

It was also interesting to see Zad keep his spot in midfield, pushing Talay to the bench so as to make way for Juninho. I'm not Zad's biggest fan although I suppose it is good that he will always try something with the ball going forward and take shots, something noone in Sydney's side seems to ever do. Something different to Talay, and the breath of fresh air in midfield seemed to work with Sydney controlling possession and playing with confidence again. Though I do wonder how much of this you can put down to the presence of Juninho?

However, this is where I want to bring up the issue of refereeing again. Wouldn't it be smart to protect the 'marquee' and more skilled players on the ball from rash challenges and shoulders? Juninho has copped way too much of this throughout the season and surely enough is enough and the referees have to take some responsibility. This just increases our reputation of being 'overly physical' which I know isn't the right way of describing how we play the game. Juninhos little fist punch into the air when he finally got a foul given to him summed up how we all felt.

Corica again was quite average in a role where he wasn't the lone playmaker and forced to play wider. I have said previously that Patrick should play as the man up front and let Brosque run off him but the more I see of the guy, the more I see him coming back into midfield to collect the ball and start running at, and beating players. Could he maybe fill some of the attacking midfield void, tracking back if Corica was to spend some time on the bench and saved for later in the game? Patrick really deserves another chance to start. Yes he has only impressed off the bench but with more exposure to our style of play I think its time to try him again, either in place of Corica as said before which would require a little tweaking of the formation or in place of Santalab who although was impressive chasing everything and trying his guts out, I just don't think he is quite up to standard.

Brosque again showed why he has been the best player for Sydney this season, looking confident with the ball at his feet and running at defenses as well as getting into positions for Juninho and... Just Juninho to provide him with top class service. What a ball from the little master and what composure in front of goal from Brosque to cut back inside and slot the ball home in traffic. Two home games in a row and two composed finishes from Sydney. What is going on??!!

Oh and Newcastle don't forget that 'we have jobs and money' and you have a 'fat fucking has been'. ;) Jardel was an absolute joke. Thats the only way to describe his fitness and ability to run and shoot. I don't care if you embarrass yourself but please don't embarrass the league. I hope you know what you are doing up there with this clown...