Here again are my highlights and lowlights of the weekend that was. Get involved each week by sending me your thoughts and opinions by using #FCAUHighLow, @FootballCentAU & @Matthew_Berry
Sunday’s match between Melbourne Victory and Newcastle saw the A-League reach a milestone of 1000 games since the competition’s inception. While the league has had some negatives in the past with clubs coming and going and marquee players not quite living up to their status, the A-League has come along in leaps and bounds since the first game kicked off in 2005.
While there are plenty of ‘memories’ from the eight previous seasons, winning the grand final is the most poignant for the supporters. Sydney winning the inaugral title in 2006, Victory’s six nil thumping of Adelaide in the following year’s decider, Brisbane’s win in 2011 in a game Mariners fans choose to forget, and Central Coast’s win in April, their first championship after three grand final defeats. A lot has happened in 1000 games, so here’s to the next 1000, hopefully it’s just as interesting and exciting.
A very entertaining game for the neutral was played out on Friday night as the Glory defeated Wellington 4-2. While the three points is important for Perth, the most encouraging part of this match was that the side had an average age of 22. Some clubs around the league are more recently seeing the importance of giving their younger players a chance at the senior level. With senior players William Gallas and Jacob Burns out (plus Steve Pantelidis leaving for Malaysia), Alistair Edwards was able to give his youth players a chance in the Glory’s first team and they didn’t let him down. Plenty of positive things are happening out west, and some clubs should take notice.
Harry Kewell finally made his long awaited return for the Melbourne Heart on the weekend coming off the bench midway through the second half. Regardless of what you think of Harry’s situation over the previous weeks (which had turned into somewhat of a circus) it was great to see one of Australia’s greatest footballers back on the park. If he can now play regularly and earn a starting spot, I believe he has plenty to give the Heart in their attempts to move up the ladder. He provides a welcome spark for John Aloisi’s men, which is something they desperately need.
Poor Crowd Behaviour
While those three words are usually associated with violence and flares being ripped, I’d rather focus on players being booed. My first example is Saturday night’s game between Central Coast and Sydney. Pedj Bojic was not received well by the home crowd when he was introduced over the PA system and then every time he touched the ball. Now while I don’t mind players being booed, I don’t think Bojic deserved it. He left the Mariners to save traveling up the coast most days of the week which is somewhat understandable. He didn’t leave purely for more money, or for what he believed may have been more success at Sydney, he did it for the location of both clubs relative to where he lived. While he hasn’t been at his best this season, he helped his former club win a championship last season, which is something Mariners fans have forgotten quite quickly.
My second example occurred yesterday with the injury to Scott Neville. While ‘staying down’ has slowly crept in with some players in the league, fans have become more disgruntled by it’s occurrence, and Victory fans booing Neville was poor form. Hopefully the supporters giving Neville grief, felt stupid as he sat on the Newcastle bench in a knee brace.
Take The Lead, Don’t Get The Result
Again this section includes Melbourne Heart and Adelaide United and their ability to ‘throw away’ leads. Adelaide at home on Friday night took the early advantage over the table topping Brisbane Roar, however like so many times this season they were over run and lost. The Heart are much the same. They took the advantage during the first half against the Wanderers, and yet straight after half time conceded the equaliser. While they were able to hang on for a point, again for the Red & White it’s another loss of two points. While I don’t expect John Aloisi or Josep Gombau to be sacked before the Christmas/New Year period, the pressure continues to mount on both coaches.