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Monday, 31 December 2007

Channel 7 anti-football award nomination 2007

Nominee: John Coomber....review of the year...guess who forgot Women's football, the Matilda's.

Don't know who I'm laughing with more, John Coombers year in review, or Spiros Zavos' description of the so-called brilliant round-up.

Matilda's boys! Women's football at the women's World Cup in China 2007. The biggest women's sporting tournament of the year. Bigger than the Netball, the Swimming put together, but then brilliant superb sports journo's like yourself would know that!

Over 35,000 crowd average at every game. Huge interest in Australia and in countries across the globe. Best achievement by the Matilda's ever.....and surprise surprise the boys didn't think it was worth a mention.

So I've nominated John for the www.nearpost.blogspot.com 2007 media anti-football awards of the year. Awarded to the Aussie journo who does his best to ignore the game.

Don't worry John you've no chance of winning, you've too much competition, but Spiros you could sneak up the list:)

Carry on lads!

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Sunday, 30 December 2007

Croatia's Joe Simunic talks to Nearpost radio this week


On the Nearpost show New Year's Day 6.30pm 98.3fm this week we have:

We have an interview with Hertha Berlin and Croatia star, former Canberran Joe Simunic. (Joe was spotted at Canberra airport coming home for Christmas!)

All the A-League wrap including an interview with Sydney FC's Brendan Sanatalab on that goal.
Rob Janssens steps in for Arif and gives us his big issue of the week.
Matildas news.
Futsal National Championships about to start in Canberra and all the local news.

WANT TO HELP SPREAD THE GAME IN AUSTRALIA
Have you got any Australian football on your community radio station? Or any local station for that matter?

You can now get the Nearpost first half hour, the national bit, on your local Community station wherever you are in Australia. Contact your local community station and tell them to get the show on.

It's Australian, it's A-League, Socceroos and Matildas and more and your local station can get the show each week from the CBAA website.

Otherwise catch the podcast here on Wednesday each week.

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Australians love to see Sydney FC play...just not in Sydney



or so it seems.

2007/08 season.
Adelaide v Sydney FC 25,000 record crowd
Central Coast v Sydney FC 17,500 record crowd

2006/07
Newcastle Jets v Sydney FC 24,000 record crowd
Queensland Roar v Sydney FC 32,000 record crowd
Melbourne Victory v Sydney FC 50,000 record crowd

Even when they played away at Telstra Stadium, against some unknown American side they pulled 80,000!

So maybe Sydney should announce they are playing Sydney FC this week. Can you imagine the rush for tickets at Aussie Stadium.

Mate, we hate Sydney I wanna see that lot thrashed!

Got a better idea how to get more people to a game in Sydney?

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Friday, 28 December 2007

Ten things you won't see or hear in the A-League

A record crowd for football in Sydney.
Adam Biddle shoot with his right foot into an empty net.
Kristian Sarkies bending it like Beckham, or Cassio for that matter.
Ernie Merrick saying, "Victory, we're crap."
Bobby Petta playing two full matches in a row for Adelaide.
Lawrie McKinna saying, "We're a poor side but we're fit and we're top."
Juninho score.
Channel Nine saying, "Record crowds in Gosford, Adelaide this football is great!"
Carlos Hernandez scoring from outside the box with a pile driver.
Danny Tiatto asking the guy he's just maimed if he's alright.
Con Constantine saying, "Yep I wasted stacks of dosh on Mario, and Gary was right all along."

Feel free to add your own!

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Sydney Breeze past Adelaide in front of record crowd

Another week another goal conceded for Sydney FC
Another week another game against 10 men for Sydney FC
Another week another win for Sydney FC.

But are Sydney any good...against 11 men?


The Crowd.


Absolutely fantastic to see 25,000 plus decked out in red at Adelaide Oval for football. And don't those Adelaide fans wear the colours. A great sight.

The Game.


Sydney started woeful...again. Easily outplayed last week in Gosford conceding two. In Adelaide, United were slow out of the blocks, maybe the heat, but Sydney were slower.

When Adelaide went 1 up through a Kristian Sarkies goal, Sydney were in disarray, and had been for some time.

Passes going astray from midfield. Little sight of Steve Corica or any of the forwards.

And both Tony Popovic and Mark Milligan were caught up field for the Adelaide break which Bobby Petta did his best to slow down to give the lads a chance to get back, but it didn't work as headless Chook Ruben Zadkovich collided with Clint Bolton and Sarkies slotted the loose ball

The Send-Off.

Ball over the top by Poppa, Alex Brosque caught it has to be said by Robbie Cornthwaite and the softest of soft red cards awarded by referee Matthew Breeze. It wouldn't have surprised me to see Alex Brosque get booked for milking it.

And suddenly Sydney were back in a game they had again looked second best in all night.

Game changed. Sydney slow men, Steve Corica, Poppa and Terry McFlynn were able to get more involved. The confidence of the team lifted immediately in direct proportion to the Adelaide side who seemed to lose the game in that one moment.

The future

Adelaide are gone surely, but if Bobby Petta can remain fit they may still sneak in the four. Every game is a Cup Final for them. But realistically they are out.

Sydney? Who knows? They still look ordinary very ordinary against eleven but who would bet against them.

Well I would:)

Highlights


Bobby Petta's performance. A joy in the forward line, away from the wing. Hope he stays fit.

Brendan Santalab's wonderful wonderful goal.

The red-shirted Adelaide crowd a record in South Australia and another great night to ponder for the future of our wee game in this country.


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Record crowd for football in South Australia


Last season Melbourne Victory and Newcastle Jets produced record crowds.

Last night Adelaide hit 25,000 and earlier this season the Central Coast 17500 and Wellington over 14,000.

Regional centres getting record crowds.

And they will be back. Maybe not every week, but slowly but surely they will come.

Australia 2007 has been another very very promising year for football.

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Best Mariners in Australia....to get another huge crowd



"It’s an exciting time of the year and you can really sense the buzz around town ahead of what will be another massive event at the Gosford Waterfront next Monday," said Mariners Executive Chairman Lyall Gorman.

"The message we’d like to send to patrons is very clear – you simply cannot arrive at Bluetongue Stadium after 4pm and expect to purchase your ticket without delay, such will be the volume of people in and around Gosford City."

It is going to be a great game. You can feel it. Mariners need the win, have a few injuries, but of course The Victory still have the firepower to upset any team. Honest, they do!

The Mariners have become the new Perth Glory of the old NSL, slowly slowly building a model all clubs outside the big three cities should/could follow.

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Labor to provide $32 million over TWO years.

The Liberals announced $16 million over four years for football as the Howard era ended.

And with that appointments of coach's, reports released and various other items and plans were announced.

But Kate Lundy announced $32 million for football if Labor were elected.

Not only is it more money, it's a smaller time span.

And the big news is it's $16 million each year for the first two years!

Which means that football could go back for more in two years time.

Oh happy days.

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Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Central Coast Mariners v Sydney FC

A lot has been written about this fantastic nine goal game of football, but with the passage of time I'm thinking....

17,500 in Gosford on the Saturday before Christmas, the so-called busiest day of the year must have given Ben Buckley and Co a few early christmas presents.

Perhaps Boxing Day football should be launched. A re-vamp of the Xmas "week-off" and the planning of extra games over the Christmas/New Year period should be considered.

Football is on the rise.

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Boxing Day football? Would it work?

I know we're all supposed to get as many beers out as possible today and either go to the MCG today or watch as much cricket on the telly.

Don't believe me?

The Australian's Mike Coward implores us to get to the ground today for the good of the game, to show support for test matches etc.

Fine if you love your cricket and clearly many do, but I was wondering if it is time to introduce a full round of A-League football games. There are many Australians who can cope with more than one sport on a given day, even better live sport in their city.




The cricket is an institution, but it's only played in Melbourne and only during the day.

So bring on the football in NZ, and Perth where time difference could work favourably. Sydney and Central Coast could also do with a litle football on Boxing Day.

I reckon this country can cope with two sports in one day across the nation, and does anyone outside of Sydney Yacht club really care about that Boat race?

Australia has changed forever. Cricket, apart from the English tests, isn't really getting the crowds or interest it once was.

So come on FFA never mind worrying about the AFL and NRL season's let's build tradition and walk right over the summer festivals and the cricket season.

Expand the season with a couple of more teams and throw in a few extra Christmas rounds to liven things up, and watch the cricket administrators chuck in a few more of those fantastic twenty twenty games to get everyone cricket focused.

The Central Coast/Sydney game showed me many things the other night. But most of all it showed me the value of strategic games placed around the Xmas period.

17,500 in Gosford on the Saturday BEFORE Xmas.

Boxing Day football, it's got a ring

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Dean Heffernan: Bad break but is he really a Socceroo

The Heff has been pushed and pushed over the last few weeks as almost a definite starter in the Socceroos Qatar World Cup qualifying game in February.

But he broke his tibia in the "classic game" between the Mariners and Sydney FC on Saturday night.

But was Dean Heffernan really ready for the job? No way, ask Adam Biddle!

Of course he can't play now but hearing so many experts calling for Heffernan to start at left-back left me wondering what these so-called experts have been watching this season.

Heffernan scored heaps of goals from left-back in season one. Everyone agreed this was amazing for a full-back and amazing for the A-League.

Off to Germany he went but never got a game with Nurnburg Hyundai A-League FC.

Why not?

According to Dean the three ball sessions per day in Germany were significantly different to the one ball session and one gym session per day he has had with the Mariners since he has been back.

"I'm hoping my touch has improved at least with all that ball work," Dean told me at a pre-season game in Canberra in July.

So now Dean is out, perhaps cooler heads can analyse his performances.

He's still attacking although not scoring. In recent games against Sydney, where it was party time, and Adelaide away, his forward movement has been important for his team. Although I reckon his forward play hasn't been as effective as it was in season one.

His defending has been woeful. Discipline problems persist. At free-kicks and corners he can play a very dangerous game of elbowing the opponent in the head. A high-risk strategy.

And worryingly to me all season has been his defensive capabilities. Maybe this is why he never got a game in Germany.

And Saturday revealed the worst and perhaps most important part of a possible left-sided Socceroos game.

With the scores at 3-3. The Mariners were back in the game, despite their ten-men. Somehow Tony Popovic had contrived to earn the Mariners a penalty. His experience:) Either way the ten-man were back at 3-3 and looking like a point.

Then Adam Biddle the Sydney FC winger tore away with the Heff, chasing hard. One on one. Pace and experience against Biddle.

A great test for the Qatar game I thought.

Biddle not only got to the ball first, kept it and bashed the Heff off, then managed to waltz around him without even a sniff of Lionel Messi type skill.

And the Heff had done nothing, neither forced him wide, held him up or tackled. He didn't even make a foul, very unlike the Heff or any A-League professionals in such a situation but there you go.

Biddle went in and scored. A great goal.

For me Qatar will probably pose more threat, more pace, skill and more craft than Biddle has yet to show. And the Heff could have been cruelly exposed.

We need him in the A-League. The Mariners love him. I love to watch him go forward, but he is not an international defender in any one's terms.

Defence first eh Pim and then the rest of the stuff.

Dean Heffernan should not be our first choice Socceroo left-back for the home qualifiers.

If it is to be an A-League player, Nikolai Topor-Stanley or maybe even Matt Thompson from the Jets.

I'd go with Topor-Stanley. A player on the rise, an Olyroo with experience and the outstanding left-back of the A-League this season. And with Asian Champions League football he has played at a higher level than the Heff.

A bit to learn, who hasn't, but he'll be in good shape should we actually get to the World Cup. Still young and raring to go.

For the Heff hopefully a speedy recovery. Football can be a cruel game. On Saturday night in one of the best domestic football games this country has ever seen, the Heff's season and immediate footballing future was ripped away from him.

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Tuesday, 25 December 2007

Nearpost Xmas Radio Special.

Happy Christmas to all the football fans of Australia and what better way to celebrate a Christmas on the net than with an Australian Bloggers Xmas Special Podcast.

The Bloggers Special can be downloaded here


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The bloggers can write, but can they talk!

Show starts with my top ten moments of the Australian football year..then it's blogger heaven.

And thanks to all the Bloggers for their views during the year and for their time in this and various other interviews they have provided during 2007.

Mike Salter The Football Tragic describes his journey,

Sarah Duncombe Totally the World Game on who makes her mad in football fandom,

Eric Daams MVFC rediscovering football Australian style after his Ajax inspired early years,

Neil Zimmerman Victory in Melbourne blogspot how his passion for football deepened,

Hamish Alcorn Down Under Football on Dad and son's their life journey.

Tony Tannous Roundball Analyst talks Asia,

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Sunday, 23 December 2007

FNQ Official Mission for A-League

With all the talk of the A-League expanding I have been sent on an all expenses paid trip to review the possibility of an A-League team in Far North Queensland.

Interim report;

Port Douglas; Too hot for attacking football, too hot for the crowds and too hot for much of anything.

Coaches in suits? Won't happen.
Sweaty armpits? Will happen.
Water breaks? Needed every five or so.
Tropical downpours..could add to the fun, excitement of the league.
Will suit the slower, older, more experienced player.

And what a game in Gosford. 17,000 plus nine goals, and Mr. Experience, Tony Popovic wishing he was good enough to get a contract in Japan's...second division.

Still he's got experience!

Have a great few days, next post will be the radio show on Christmas day and then slowly the football speak will return....in more conducive climates.

A team in Townsville? Interim report, never mind the computer, says NO!

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Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Melbourne Victory to the Pan-Pacs?

Rumours abound, but it looks like the FFA will send a team to the Beckham-fest in Hawaii in February from outside the A-League Final Four.

After all if it was a done deal for the Champions for 2007/08 that would have been announced surely.

So who are we gonna send?

Sydney or Melbourne?

With Victory looking likely to miss out, but needing games to prepare for Asia, but your money on Melbourne Victory.

Payback for missing the Beckham Sydney-fest. Who knows who cares, but my house is on The Victory.....once they are mathematically unable to get into the Final series.

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On the Nearpost radio tonight

We have interviews, prizes and all the football news you could ever want to hear!

Melbourne Victory CEO Gary Cole and Commercial Manager Geoff Miles on Victory's Asian Champions League campaign
Matilda's Star Heather Garriock
Signed Mariners ball to be won
Capital Football CEO Heather Reid
A-League wrap.
Arif's big issue
Local football.
Quiz, music and stuff!

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Steve Bryant writes in Football Fever in the Telly today.

Good to see Steve Bryant, local Canberra football legend, writing a wee post in today's Daily Telegraph.

I don't agree with what he says. I'd rather see Australia playing 14 games of World Cup Qualifiers every four years and MISS out on World Cup qualification then play two games against the fifth placed South American side, even if we are now capable of beating that fifth placed side these days.

Great to see another Canberra football fan in print....I think that makes two of us now!!!

Read Steve's article below:

Steve writes:

Don't start moaning now about the group of death for us to go through to the World Cup Finals.

The Australian game has been complaining more than 20 years that it's not fair, yet now we are having a go about the draw for qualifying through Asia.

In the past, as we all know, we had to realistically play two games-one away and one at home- against the fifth placed South American side.
Looking at that, we can match anybody on our own soil with our right team playing and with the right coach can go to any place in the world and be smart enough to come away in not too bad shape, which I thought was something of a luxury.

Now we are looking at playing full-strength international sides where most of the time we will not have our full complement, in hostile places with immense heat and possibly having to use A-League players who do not have any experience of such environments and maybe just aren't good enough.

We should have kept quiet about he back door entry we formerly had because most international sides would be laughing if FIFA said to them, "play two games win on aggregate and you have secured a place in the World Cup."

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Tickets on sale for Pan-Pacs but which Aussie team will go?

The Beckham fest in February in Hawaii includes J-League Cup Champs Gamba Osaka and American Champs Houston Dynamo's and an Aussie side.

Which one?

No-one knows. Will it be the Champions?

How hard is it to announce the team which will play from Australia, after all there are only seven teams.

Press Release below.

Pan-Pacific Championship Tickets

on Sale This Wednesday

Prices start as low as $10 (USD) to watch international soccer stars including David Beckham, Brian Ching and Satoshi Yamaguchi, converge on Hawaii for a new international tournament in February 2008



NEW YORK (Monday, December 17, 2007) – The perfect holiday gift for soccer fans will be available starting this week when tickets for the inaugural edition of the Pan-Pacific Championship (PPC) go on sale to the general public beginning at 6:00 a.m. (Australian Eastern Time) on Wednesday, December 19.



This marquee international soccer tournament will be held on February 20 and 23, 2008 at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, HI. Fans may purchase individual tickets online at www.ticketmaster.com. Tickets can also be purchased at the Aloha Stadium Box Office, located at 99-500 Salt Lake Boulevard in Honolulu, open Monday to Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. local time. For further information, call the Box Office at +(808) 486-9300.



The four clubs participating in the 2008 tournament include the reigning MLS Cup champion Houston Dynamo and Haleiwa, Hawaii native Brian Ching; the current J.League Yamazaki Nabisco Cup Champion Gamba Osaka, featuring 19-year-old Japanese sensation Michihiro Yasuda and J.League star Satoshi Yamaguchi; the 2007 SuperLiga finalists Los Angeles Galaxy, whose international roster includes English superstar David Beckham and perennial MLS all-star Landon Donovan; and a representative team from the Australian Hyundai A-League to be announced at a later date. The week-long event will also consist of festivities organized by Major League Soccer for the Hawaii youth soccer community.



Each ticket for the Pan-Pacific Championship will allow fans to attend both matches of the respective doubleheader. Advance tickets for the international showcase range from as low as $10-$50 (USD) for the Semifinal doubleheader and $15-$60 (USD) for the second doubleheader featuring the third place match and PPC Final. Special rates for children 12 are available.



For group ticket inquiries and other Pan-Pacific Championship information, please visit the tournament’s official website, www.PPChampionship.net.



ALOHA STADIUM: HONOLULU, HAWAII (all times local)



Wednesday, February 20, 2008 (Semifinals)

Los Angeles Galaxy (MLS) vs. Gamba Osaka (J.League) - 6:00 PM

Houston Dynamo (MLS) vs. Hyundai A-League Representative TBD - 8:30 PM



Saturday, February 23, 2008

Third Place Match – TBD - 6:00 PM

PPC Final – TBD - 8:30 PM


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On the podcast this week.

On the nearpost this week:download here

Arif's big issue, who are the best players in the A-League
Interview with Matilda's Star Heather Garriock
A-League Wrap.
Interview with Melbourne Victory's CEO Gary Cole and on the Victory into Asia.
Capital Football CEO Heather Reid on the A-League, Capital Football Academy review, W-League and more.


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Monday, 17 December 2007

Melbourne Victory into Asia, but not for long!

Group G
Melbourne Victory
Chonburi FC (Thailand
Gamba Osaka (Japan)
Chunnam Dragons (Korea Rep)

Group E
Changchun Yatai (China)
Adelaide United
Pohang Steelers (Korea Rep)
Binh Duong (Vietnam)

My December picks: Adelaide could progress, Melbourne to get heaps of frequent flyer points but not much else on current form.


A tough group for the Champions of Australia. One which sees the Japanese side Gamba Osaka come to Melbourne, along with South Koreans Chunnam Dragons and Thai side Chonburi FC.

Victory will have to improve a lot if they are to have any chance of progressing. In the three years of the A-League Victory have had two dismal seasons and one which relied heavily on away form and the pace of Fred and Archie Thompson.

Not much tactical strategy has been in evidence in previous years and as a result Melbourne fans won't be expecting too much in their first foray into Asia.

Adelaide on the other hand, have done it all before. Most importantly there Coach Aurelio Vidmar has tested the waters in Asia.

With the pace and craft of Bruce Djite and Nathan Burns already tested in Asia through the Asian Champions League and Olyroo experiences I would expect Adelaide to have serious hopes about being the first Australian side to progress to the group stage.

One draw back maybe the reliance to give ageing forward Paul Agostino significant game time. International football is a young man's game while Agostino has done well in Australia, it is noticeable that Adelaide's best performance come when the zestful Djite leads the line.

Will Vidmar be strong enough to pick the right side for Asia?

Ernie Merrick? Well what is his best side? Does he know? And if he does can it get a result?

Unlikely.


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Sunday, 16 December 2007

Joel scores a pearler!

Melbourne Victory slumped out of the A-League final series with a 3-1 home defeat to the Newcastle Jets.

The Victory can still do it mathematically but if you have been watching them all season you will know they have no chance.

Joel Griffiths knows they are gone, he wants to play them every week.

Kev Muscat, Ernie Merrick and all of the 22,000 fans at the Dome yesterday know it's all all over.


Victory started poorly. The Jets were breaking at pace. Denni outpacing Seb Rayall and finding plenty of space.

But Victory scored through Carlos Hernandez. Surely if ever a team would get some confidence it would be Victory.

But the forward threat of Melbourne doesn't concern many these days.

And the Jets have a canny coach who works a plan. He may not have the names of Victory, Gary Van Egmond may even have to play the Chairman's picks but he works a system and that is why they are in the top four.

They also have Joel Griffiths. Held tightly by Matty Kemp, Griffiths moved away to find space and orchestrated one of the goals of the season from Brazilian Denni.

Victory conceded before half-time and again after half-time.

What a goal. Griffiths bent it from outside the post. A joy to watch.

And Griffiths finished the job as the Victory defence's soft-centre appeared once more.

Kevin Muscat was half the player he was last year, Kaz Patafta looked tired, Archie Thompson tried but couldn't finish when required.

Victory were lively in parts, but simply, they are not a team.

Confidence is low across the park and the Jets enjoyed an easy victory.

The Jets are on a roll. Have the home support to bring the team home in the final games and enough creativity in Denni, Griffiths and Bridge to cause a few problems.

Victory have the Asian Champions League draw tomorrow. But Ernie is still playing the same tactics with or without Fred.

Time to regroup for the Victory, plan for the ACL, but with the current tactics and confidence the fans won't be expecting too much from Australia's biggest club.

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2007: Top Ten Australian Football moments

Favourite moments of the Year?


Thought it was time to review the year. Australian football had the Asia Cup, the A-League 6-0 Grand Final, Matilda's World Cup and release of the Technical Report. New Players broke through, and the game kicked on to a new level.

Here are my top ten football moments in descending order.

Coming in at:
10. John Howard handing over $16 million to the FFA. Finally we can have the Technical Report released, a Coach for the Socceroos, A Women's A-League expected, A Youth League to come, and Christmas still to come:)

9.Collette McCallum bends it like, you know who, to score against Canada in the World Cup.

8. David Carney surprising us all by stepping up to Socceroo level, at left back. The A-League rose a notch with Carney's performances in Asia.

7. Football on Channel Ten. Sydney beat Beckham 5-3. We purists weren't sure but 80,000 at a friendly, pumped on FTA Television. A highlight of sorts.

6. Bruce Djite. Watching Bruce at work is absolutely joyous. coupled with the rise of the young players in the A-League. Robbie Kruse Michael Zullo Nathan Burns and Nikita Rukavystya to name a few. Great to see.

5. Steve Corica's goal away to Shanghai Shenhua in the opening game of Sydney FC's Asian Champions League campaign. The first Australian goal in the ACL. That it was away from home in China was special. That it was a superb goal and a great goal for Australian football merely added to the sense of history.

4. The Olyroos defeating Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and others to reach the Olympics. Well done to Graham Arnold, and Robert Baan. A great achievement, even in the crucial goal in the last game was the hand of Leijer!

3. Lisa De Vanna scores that vital goal against Norway in the World Cup. A breath-taking piece of football, and at such a crucial part of the game.

2. Archie Thompson leaving the field in the Grand Final after having scored 5 for Melbourne Victory in their 6-0 thrashing of Adelaide United. The crowd roared his name as he walked around the stadium with the game still in play. It was amazing to see in the Dome, in the city of AFL. Pinched myself!

1. Cheryl Salisbury stroking the ball home in the last minutes of the crucial World Cup game against Canada. With the score at 2-1 Australia were out. History was made as Lisa De Vanna tricked her way into the box. Salisbury scored. The Matilda's went to the World Cup Quarter Finals for the first time ever.

and joint first...Live on FTA The Matilda's brought the women's game into mainstream Australian sport for the first time. People didn't just talk football, they talked women's football.

Missed any, I'm sure I have..feel free to tell me what I missed and add your favourite moment.

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Sydney how Rude!

Sydney were thrashed 4-2 at home to Perth Glory last night.

But the fans still gave Mark Rudan an amazing send-off by any one's standards.

God help them when he's gone, it could be embarrassing!

Mark Rudan was playing his last game before leaving for Japan's lucrative second division.

Sydney FC had to just fall over the line against a very weakened Perth Glory to jump into the top four.

But they couldn't do it.

Mark Milligan had perhaps his worst game ever for any team he has played for. Billy Celeski took full advantage of Milligan's errors and scored three times.

Celeski's goals should not be undervalued in a league where few players have scored consistently.

And if Alex Brosque had been able to convert his chances, and they were easy, Sydney somehow could still have won.

So maybe it's the players. Not Terry Butcher, not Brank Culina and not John Kosmina.

Maybe the all coaches were just okay, but the playing staff just aren't up to the job.

The Glory despite having many players, key players out, finished Sydney off with ease.

Four goals conceded by a Kosmina side at home. A side with a great defence, supposedly. Although last night the best part of the Sydney side matched the usual attacking display.

Both were woeful.

What a good decision to let go of your best defender with a few crucial games to go!

Rudan over Popovic. I'd take the loyal man, the younger man every time.

But Terry McFlynn was poor, Alex Brosque doesn't finish consistently enough. He will never win a Championship for any club. He's too nice in front of goal.

And John Kosmina is getting it all wrong, although clearly let down by Milligan, McFlynn, Brosque and others.

And Sydney amazingly can still get in the four. Next weeks game against the Mariners is important, but should they lose they are still alive.

One starts to wonder exactly what Kossie has brought to the team. More than Butcher? More than Branko?

And recent evidence, it's hard to see.

As for Dave Mitchell if his team has now scored 4, 3 and 4 in their last six games. Wow!

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Friday, 14 December 2007

Glory for the Mariners as they Roar to Victory over Adelaide

We're gonna win the league and now you're gonna believe us...



Would you bet against them?

A seriously depleted Adelaide United side were pushed aside by the cute signing of John Aloisi.

The Mariners beat Adelaide 2-1 at Hindmarsh tonight. They were strong, organised and not particularly pretty to watch.

Australia's best team may have one foot in Asia but their percentage play, direct and strong running don't get me out of my big comfy seat too often.

Adelaide nearly always do. But without Nathan Burns, Ange Costanzo, Bobby Petta, Jason Spagnuola, Diego and Bruce Djite in the first eleven it was always going to be a tough ask.

Things were so bad Aurelio Vidmar gave Kristian Sarkies a start. This after telling the world how bad he was!

Did it motivate him? He played okay, but really was out thought and out played by the Mariners midfield.

If Sarkies was supposed to be the United creative force in the first half, Adelaide's lack of any meaningful attacks must be his concern.

Cassio attacked, but unfortunately from just outside his box. Andrew Clark robbed him and John Aloisi scored comfortably.

When Sasho Petrovski scored early in the second half it looked like the game was over.

But Aloisi contrived to miss chances, each one easier than the last. But he made another telling contribution to the Mariners.

He's fast becoming the best ever returning Socceroo.

And Vidmar reacted by bringing on Bruce Djite. In the last twenty minutes the quality of Adelaide's play lifted immediately. Paul Agostino beat the superb Danny Vukovic with a backward header from the penalty spot.

Game on.

Travis Dodd had two great chances to score.

Pim Verbeek would have been delighted to see Bruce Djite light up the night.

And suddenly Adelaide were in the match. Surely the Mariners couldn't let it slip.

And they held on but it was close, when in truth it could have been four or five to the Mariners before United scored.

Adelaide were poor, very poor. Maybe Sarkies should be questioning his coaches tactics. They were dire. The team produced nothing for seventy minutes and then could have snatched a draw.

The Mariners will not meet many more ordinary sides than Adelaide this season.

An easy three points, but not a true test of the Mariners quality, given the players missing for United.

But a foot closer to Asia, and a win over Sydney next week and they'll be six points clear with four to play.

Time to get the passports out for the Scottish Mariners?


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A-League big round this weekend!

Will Kaz Patafta start in Melbourne? I think so.
Will Mark Rudan sign off with a win? I think so.
Will Victory defeat Joel Griffiths? I think so.
Will the Roar win away? I think NO.
Will the Mariners win at Hindmarsh? I think no.
Will Pim Verbeek be impressed? I think so:)

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Sarkies bagged by Aurelio Vidmar!

Kristian Sarkies is a dead ball specialist so everyone says. This is the gist of what Aurelio Vidmar, Adelaide United's Coach said last night on Total Football.

"But you know what" continues Aurelio "he's never scored a goal from a free-kick."

And the bagging didn't stop there!

And Sarkies was dropped last week from the squad. Still holds an Olyroos place and suffered similar humiliation in Melbourne last season despite Hiddink taking him to train on at the World Cup.

Should Aurelio Vidmar have bagged a player, a young player so publicly on Televison.

Bad move Aurelio. Have you ever heard the great managers like Alex Ferguson do such a thing to a young player.

Great TV, but really the player had no right of reply. Very undignified and perhaps we can put it down to first year mistake. But really with his experience in the game, Vidamr should no better.

If he has told Sarkies what is required, then surely that is good enough to see how the player responds.

Can't imagine Sarkies or the other players will be to impressed by the public bagging.

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Pim Verbeek on Total Football..and Robbie still underwhelmed?

Pim Verbeek on Total Football last night.



And it was great, great TV.

Last week Robbie Slater was asked on the show what he thought of our new coach.

"Underwhelmed."

And guess what happened this week?

Show opens with Pim Verbeek sitting alongside Simon Hill and Robbie Slater. And Andy Harper starts the show by asking Robbie about his thoughts on the Coach and remembering he said "you were underwhelmed."

And Robbie was great. He handled it well answered honestly but was made to account for his previous comment. Great TV, and well-handled by Robbie.

And Simon Hill had to answer to similar sentiments with the new Coach alongside.

Pim Verbeek what of him?

Dignified, Dutch and way way to skilled for our football media. Shades of Guus I thought.

He spoke authoratively, confidently with pride in his appointment and the job. He knows what to expect, has a graps of the problems, and opportunities ahead.

If his first interview is anything to go by our future is in calm, safe hands. And once again like Guus, he will bring a language of football to our media, to our fans. About tactics, coaching and strategy. The likes of which we have rarely heard under Frank Farina, Terry Venables, Graham Arnold, Eddie Thompson and co.
And I suspect Robbie and Simon would have left slightly less concerned about the appointment. Has off to the Total Football team, and hats off to Pim Verbeek.Oh and it seems he will explore which players he can get back for the first World Cup game. Good to see no stone unturned.


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Thursday, 13 December 2007

So what it's a FIFA date...some could come, couldn't they?


February 6th. The most important date in the sporting calender next year.The start of the Australian Asian World Cup campaign.

And it's a FIFA date.

But no-one is coming from overseas or so we are told?

Why not?

The African guys who play for Chelseas are off for the African Cup for a few weeks in, yes you guesssed it, February.

Diedier Drodgba, Michael Essien and co.

But the Aussies can't come for a FIFA date.

What would it mean?

Missing one game, so they left Europe on a Tuesday or Wednesday if they had no midweek game and were excused the weekend game. Yes excused by their employer to play for their country!

Lucas Neill crucial to West Ham, maybe. Tim Cahill crucial to Everton, probably. But is Mark Viduka, Harry Kewell, Brett Emerton, Mark Scharzwer, Josh Kennedy, Michael Beauchamp, Luke Wilkshire and many others so so important to their club that missing one game, just one game for a World Cup Qualifier, not possible.

Surely Nurenburg, Blackburn and even Liverpool could release their Aussies for one game.

Are we being softened up for the inevitable?

Surely one or seven overseas stars could talk with their clubs and get released.

To say none are available.

Dream on. Are we even going to ask, or just rely on the A-League guys.

I don't doubt the ability of the A-League guys but wouldn't mind adding a little bit of depth in a few places.

Tell me Pim Verbeek you will ask the question. You will won't you, because just maybe some of the Australians would like to come and play for their National team.

And I'm happy to ring round the lads and the managers. Give me the numbers and I'll do it. For my Country!

Any thoughts?

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Sally Shipard on the Women's A-League Challenge


Sally Shipard takes to the field for Sydney FC this weekend. Sally updates us on the Inaugural Women’s A-league Challenge and her time in the Beckham Scrum.

Sally's post starts here:

The Inaugural Women’s A-league Challenge commenced 3 weeks ago

In sunny Newcastle. The Newcastle Jets team defeated Sydney FC 4-2. All players for both teams were notified one week in advance leading in to the opening game.

One week of preparation was not sufficient enough as most of the girls who had recently competed at the World Cup in China had been resting since their Quarter-final appearance against Brazil.

However there were 6 goals, so there was some entertainment for the growing crowd, as spectators began to arrive for the Men’s A-League clash between Central Coast Mariners (CCM) and the Newcastle Jets.

Hopefully everyone enjoyed the game, after all the 3 game challenge is a trial to see how the Australian public react to a Female league.

After spending a week in Newcastle preparing for the match with my adopted team the Newcastle Jets, I made my way down to Sydney just in time to watch a ‘David Beckham’ training session. I was to complete a few days of work experience with a few different companies before heading home to Canberra.

It was very exciting to be watching the Galaxy train, although I must admit my eyes were trans-fixed on the mighty Beckham. Which I believe was the case for every journo and photographer who were present.

On the night of the match, I was in the media box with the journo’s from the Newspapers who were to write their stories for the following days print.

The majority of them had dead-lines for 12pm that night. It was fascinating to see how it worked. A very male dominated industry was something in which I noticed. Hopefully I will be one of the many women to influence that change. I was able to attend the post-match press conference.

I gained a great insight into the world of media that night and just how much of an impact one guy can have on a countries perspective of Football. Amazing!

Our A-league challenge re-commenced in Brisbane on the weekend just gone, a curtain raiser to the much anticipated Men’s game between the CCM and the Brisbane Roar.

The way in which the teams are selected for the games are quite simple, whichever Matilda or Young Matilda is available to play they get on the team sheet. The teams are as even as possible in order for the games to be competitive.

It would have been nice if there were more goals scored, the final score was only 1-0 to the Newcastle Jets.

The crowd would have been more involved if that were the case.

Hopefully this weekend in Sydney the match will be entertaining. As the purpose of these games is to ‘showcase’ what we are capable of and to make a positive impact on the Australian public, we want to prove to the FFA and a potential sponsor that if a Womens A-league competition was established, it would be more than viable.

Stay tuned for updates in December

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Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Capital Football CEO inducted into FFA Hall of Fame

Congratulations To Capital Football's Heather Reid on her induction to the FFA's Hall of Fame.



Heather has devoted her life to the game. Administration, Leadership, Volunteer and Player are just a few of the roles Heather has taken on.

Heather joins other Canberrans such as Gordon Dunster and Harry Williams in the Hall of Fame.

And you can hear Heather Reid on the Nearpost Radio and Podcast next week on 2xx 98.3fm, Tuesday at 6.30pm.


From the FFA.
ROLL OF HONOUR (DISTINGUISHED)

HEATHER REID (Canberra)
Current Chief Executive of Capital Football Heather has devoted three decades as a volunteer, player, coach and administrator. Foundation member of the ACT Women’s Association in 1979 and was an advocate for the establishment of a Women’s World Cup and admission to the Olympic Games. She is a Life Member of the ACT Women's Sport Association, and in 2000 was awarded the Australian Sports Medal.

Australia’s most-capped Socceroo and current Central Coast Mariners Assistant Coach Alex Tobin heads a list of nine inductees into the Australian Football Hall of Fame for 2007 which was announced in Sydney today.



The full list of players inducted for 2007 are Alex Tobin, long-serving Matildas defender Anissa Tann, 1980’s Socceroo goalkeeper Terry Greedy and defender Steve Blair. In the non-playing category international referee Eddie Lennie, current Capital Football Chief Executive and long-serving administrator Heather Reid, plus former administrators John Barclay, Ted Rowley and Trixie Tagg have also been inducted. * See below for biographies.



Tobin is the sole inductee for 2007 in the highest playing category - Hall of Champions. In an 11-year national team career Tobin became Australia’s most-capped male footballer with 87 full international appearances. He was an ever-present in the Socceroo team throughout the 1990’s and appeared in two World Cup campaigns. He also captained Australia on 30 occasions, which places him third behind only Peter Wilson and Paul Wade as Australia’s most-experienced skipper.



In a remarkable club career Tobin made far more national domestic appearances than other player in Australian history amassing a total of 522 matches over a 20-year period. He won three National Soccer League championships and two nationals cup titles in his home-town with Adelaide City, before playing the final years of his career with Parramatta Power and Northern Spirit.







The Australian football Hall of Fame was established in 1999 and recognises both players and non-players for their contribution to the sport on a national basis.



A system of awards exists at three distinct levels, with separate but equivalent groups for both ‘on the field’ and ‘off the field’ contributions.



1. Hall of Champions (players) / Hall of Honour (non players)



2. Medal of Excellence (players) / Roll of Honour (non players)



3. Award of Distinction (players) / Roll of Honour (non players)




PLAYERS



HALL OF CHAMPIONS



ALEX TOBIN (current home city – Sydney)




MEDAL OF EXCELLENCE

ANISSA TANN (Sydney)
Born in Sydney 10 October, 1967, Anissa became the first male or female Australian footballer to reach 100 caps. Over a 14-year national team career which commenced in 1988, she played 102 full internationals for Australia scoring eight goals and captained her country on many occasions. She competed in the 1988 pilot Women’s World Cup in China and played in the 1995, 1999 World Cups and also the 2000 Olympics in her home-town of Sydney.


AWARD OF DISTINCTION

TERRY GREEDY (Central Coast)
Born 27 August, 1955 in Sydney, Terry had a lengthy career with the Socceroos where he played in 16 full internationals and a total of 38 appearances in all matches. Was first-choice Australian goalkeeper for several years including the 1985 World Cup qualifying campaign. He was also long-serving goalkeeper with St George in the national league winning a national championship in 1983.

STEVE BLAIR (Melbourne)
Born in Scotland 18 December, 1961, Steve played 24 times for Australia with 13 full internationals, including the World Cup qualifier against New Zealand in 1981. Selected for the Young Socceroos at the 1981 FIFA World Youth Cup hosted in Australia. Competed in 338 NSL matches for South Melbourne scoring 14 goals in a 13-year career where he won two national championships.


NON PLAYERS

HALL OF HONOUR

EDDIE LENNIE (Perth)
Born 5 October, 1959 Glasgow, Eddie officiated 165 Scottish senior games before coming to Australia in 1991. He controlled 195 NSL matches including four grand finals. Refereed three matches at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and also officiated at the 1998 World Cup in France. Since retiring in 2004, he has been a FIFA referees instructor for Oceania and held numerous positions in Western Australia.


ROLL OF HONOUR (DISTINGUISHED)

HEATHER REID (Canberra)
Current Chief Executive of Capital Football Heather has devoted three decades as a volunteer, player, coach and administrator. Foundation member of the ACT Women’s Association in 1979 and was an advocate for the establishment of a Women’s World Cup and admission to the Olympic Games. She is a Life Member of the ACT Women's Sport Association, and in 2000 was awarded the Australian Sports Medal.


ROLL OF HONOUR (MERITORIOUS)

TED ROWLEY (Adelaide)
Born Audley, England and came to Western Australia 1900 to form the Kalgoorlie club before moving to Adelaide in 1908. Played State league for 14 years and represented South Australia nine times. Chairman South Australian Association 1940, president 1948-54. Now deceased Ted was the State representative on the Australian Soccer Council, national selector and the first South Australian to be awarded Life Membership of the Australian Soccer Association. Life member of the South Australian Association and had the Association ground named after him in 1938.

JOHN BARCLAY (Melbourne)
Born Rosyth, Scotland 13 November, 1927. John has extensive administration experience with Australia and Victoria, and made his first tour as Australian team manager in 1967 to Asia and then World Cup qualifiers in 1969. Executive member with the Australian governing body he was also the team manager for the Socceroos at the 1974 World Cup finals. Life member of the Victorian Soccer Federation and the Australian Soccer Federation.

TRIXIE TAGG (Sydney)
Born in Holland, Trixie was a pioneer of women’s football in Australia. She commenced playing for the St George team in 1968 which had a nine-year unbeaten run throughout the 1970s before winning selection for NSW and Australian teams. Coached Australia on the 1981 New Zealand tour, winning all four matches and managed NSW at the 1985 national championships.


Candidates for the Australian football Hall of Fame are considered via nomination by the Hall of Fame Honours Committee. A nomination form is sent to State and Territory bodies annually and is also available from the FFA. Players are not eligible for inclusion in the Hall of Fame until three years after the end of their playing career.

For more information on the FFA Hall of Fame, click on the following link,



http://www.footballaustralia.com.au/InsideFFA/default.aspx?s=insideffa_hof_about




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Canberra Media Anti-Football Award Nominee

Who is your nominee for the Australian and Canberra anti-football awards.

Updated entry 12.12.07

There are two awards, The National Channel 7 award and the Channel 7 Canberra award to be handed out at the end of the year.

Get your entries in!

1. The National Channel 7 award goes to The Australian journalist who writes, talks the best anti-football stuff. Nominees are now open.

Channel 7 bought the rights to the old NSL ,but in the sentiment of a recent Court Case, "with the intention of killing the game, by not showing the games!"

2. The Channel 7 Canberra award.



Of course all nominees have the opportunity to come and discuss their nominee on-air on the Nearpost radio show.

And just wondering about how I should present the awards:)...Chaser style I suppose:)


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Free To Air Football in 2008 for the Women's A-League



With Netball moving from the ABC to Fox Sports next year, the ABC has little significant live sport.

So discussion have been taking place for a while now to get women's football on the ABC in 2008.

And the sounds are all very positive.

Now won't that be great for women's football, our kids, in fact every football fan in the country. Good on the ABC.

And I reckon they'll bust the Netball viewing figures pretty quickly:)

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The future is Asia: ACTAS boys touring China!

See updates in the comments attached

Canberra's Youth (And Goulbourn's) taste the future.

All aboard, this one stops in China lads!

What a fantastic initiative by the Australian Capital Territory Academy of Sport(ACTAS). And what a commitment by the parents involved to fund their sons football and life journey.


The ACTAS boys team under 15 and 16's left Canberra on Sydney for a ten day of China, in particular Guangzhou,and QingYuan City, GuangDong Province.

A 4am start, a road trip to Sydney to save money, and the trip was under way.

It's no mean squad either. Chris Bush represents the Joeys (the Under 17 Australian National side) and Alex Meibusch, Steven Lustica, Ben Mitchell and Jonathan Reis may catch the eye of many Canberra football watchers. Either for their local football exploits, or for being sons of famous Canberran footballers of days gone by, or both.

First game, for the record, was against a team from Guanghzou, a team thought to be younger than the ACTAS boys. The ACTAS boys won 5-0.

Luke Pilkington, Sam Munro, Dino, Tom Rogic and Zvonimir Rogic all scored.

And any win in International football these days is great! So well done lads.

And with Australia's national sides playing in Asia, surely local football academies will be undertaking more of such trips in the future to give their players crucial experience. Hat's off to ACTAS for organising this trip.

Dare I say a bench mark has been set. Wonderful initiative.

Here's the touring squad:

Codey Larkin
James Bradbury
Luke Pilkington
Sam Munro
Edgar Daly
Jonathan Reis
Dean Tomeski
Zvonimir Rogic
Ben Mitchell
Alex Meibush
Chris Bush
Andrew Gibson
Declan Poon
Tom Rogic
Steven Lustica

Staff
Milan Milovanovic
Alan Bradbury
Lino Fiorese
Jennifer McKenzie
Kendall Rixon

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Podcast: All the Manchester United terrace chants!

On the poddie this week, download here

powered by ODEO

Interviews with:
Coerver Coaching Alfred Galustian
1. How it all started
2. Who Alfred has coached and worked with, and his views on Australian football
Adelaide United's Shaun Ontong
Manchester United fan Brendan Flanagan and those terrace chants
Arif's big issue
All the A-League predictions
Women's football coming to the ABC, looks like it.

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Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Mark Rudan or Tony Popovic? Sydney FC Loyalty?

So Mark Rudan is off to join former Sydney FC Coach Pierre Littbarski in Japan on a "lucrative" two year deal.

And I'm left wondering about Sydney FC, loyalty and the wage packet of Tony Popovic.

Sydney FC letting Rudan go is a massive loss for Sydney, the A-League and fans across the country.

Yeah good move Sydney. Replace your Captain with a Captain, only an older and slower one.

And serves you right if Poppa is injured or sent-off between now and the Grand Final. Who are you going to call on then?

The A-League has built some personality. Kevin Muscat, Matt Mackay, Ange Costanzo are just three who spring to mind.

All have been here from the start, all play passionately for their clubs. Just what we, the fans, need.

For Sydney, Mark Rudan has been my stand-out.

Left out by Littbarski early on. Returned, dignified, to become the face of Sydney FC.

Who can forget the goal he scored in the semi-final against Adelaide in season one.
Or the run only last week in the final minute to win the game for Sydney. Or his performances in the Asian Champions League.

Club Captain. A true blue. A Sydney boy.

And then Sydney buy returning Socceroo, albeit belatedly, Tony Popovic. Who after struggling for weeks is starting to look okay.

He's a lot older than Rudan. And he's shown little commitment to the cause, before his contracts across the World ran out.

Now he's Sydney through and through and Captain as well. At the expense of Rudan.

And so Rudan, who's contract runs out this year is off, to Japan on a two year deal.

Will Poppa still be playing in two years? How slow will he be? Is he so much better than Rudan? Not in the A-League, not yet, he isn't.

Loyalty from fans for a new league. Loyalty from players. Loyalty from the clubs. Everyone wants and expects loyalty.

Everyone except Sydney FC.

Rudan's contract presumably was an ordinary one given the salary cap, and probably not increased for the coming seasons.

Do you think Poppa is on less than Rudan?

Rudan should have been offered a contract for two further years, increaing his current deal, and Poppa should never have been signed.

Will Poppa play two more seasons? Unlikely, not without injuries and further enforced rests due to send-offs. Most of which will be due to his ageing legs.

I have no problem with Poppa personally. Of course, merely Sydney FC.

You let Dwight Yorke go. Littbarski. And Topor-Stanley and now Rudan.

Building loyalty takes awhile. Rudan was one who gave to the Sydney cause in bucket loads. It takes time.

The Roar away at the end of last season, Shanghai away, A-League Grand Final, were some of Rudan's great fighting performances.

His reward? Stripped of the Captaincy for Johnny Come Lately, and forced to go and play second division in Japan for two years.

Come on Sydney, for the good of the game. Lift yours.

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Australia v Qatar..are you getting worried?

Maybe you should be.

Look at the number of naturalised Qatar players in or around the National squad.

Talal Al- Bloushi(Kuwait)
Abdullah Koni (Senegal)
Sebastian Quintana (Uruguay)
Mohamed Saqr (Senegal)
Hussein Yasser Abdulrahman(Egypt)
Ali Mejbel(Iraq)
Wesam Rizik(Kuwait/Palestine)
Qasem Burhan(Sudan)

Outside the squad
Mohamed Haris(Iraq)
Anas Muberak(Ghana)
Sayyed Al Bechir(Mauritania)
Magid Mohamed(Sudan)
Ali Nasser(Yemen)

Willing to play
Fabio Cesar Montezine(Brazil)-midfielder
Leonardo Pisculichi(Argentina)Argentine youth team
Marcio Emerson Passos(Brazil)J League MVP 2003,TOP SCORER 2004
Marconi Ameral (Brazil)

And what do we have?

A load of overpaid guys who won't miss one game for their clubs in England to play for their country, even though the actual game is on a FIFA date.

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Monday, 10 December 2007

Shaun Ontong on the Nearpost Tuesday!

On the Nearpost tonight, we have interviews with Adelaide United's former Belnorth junior Shaun Ontong, Coerver Coaching International Director Alfred Galustian, A MUFC fan talks to us about his Old Trafford visits this season and Women's A-League, Quiz, Arif's Big Issue, and A-League and Capital Football local clubs news.

98.3FM 6:30pm-7:30pm

Miss the show? Get the podcast here on Wednesday morning.

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Sunday, 9 December 2007

Robbie Kruse works his magic again.

Queensland Roar 2. Central Coast Mariners 1



The Roar are coming, in fact so are everyone else!

The Mariners were desperate for a win against their nearest challengers and took the lead through a John Aloisi tap in.

The Fox Sports commentators claimed Matt Simon passed it across goal, but we all knew it was a dreadful dreadful shot which Aloisi tucked home.

1-0 to the Mariners and one foot in Asia.

But then it all went wrong.




Robbie Kruse attacked Dean Heffernan who is being caught out defensively time and time again this season. Kruse fired the ball in and ageing Tony Vidmar lifted a tired leg and steered it home for an own goal.

Then Kruse played the ball of the match to set Matt McKay free he and Danny Tiatto exchanged passes and Mackay scored with a deflected shot off Tony Vidmar.

Craig Moore and John Aloisi had a great battle, and great games. Matt Simon worked his socks off and caused the Roar's defence a host of problems.

Greg Owens hit the post, and had chance to level it at the death, but the Roar should have been out of sight.

Massimo Murdocha and Matt Mackay are small in height but motor all over the park and set the Roar's tempo. Even on this humid night they never stopped.

The Mariners couldn't match them and were lucky to take the lead and luckier still to remain within a goal of the Roar all night.

Thanks to Danny Vukovic. He was outstanding saving time and time again from anyone who tried to hit the ball as hard and as straight as possible for the Roar.

Robbie Kruse, for me, was the man of the match. A sheer joy to watch. Danny Tiatto played his role well.

The Mariners missed the creativity of John Hutchison or Tom Pondeljak but tried hard to earn a point.

Justice prevailed. The better team won.

A fiercely competitive game, a great crowd of 16,442, and the league minor premiership and that guaranteed place in Asia is wide open.

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Saturday, 8 December 2007

Victory on the edge!

Melbourne Victory hang on to their season.....?



Melbourne Victory 2 Adelaide United 2.

Wild scenes greeted the Richard Alagich own goal in the 92nd minute. Just like last night in Sydney a late late goal sent the home fans crazy.

And Melbourne fans are certainly passionate.



Ernie Merrick was booed for taking off Kaz Patafta, booed for not taking off Matty Kemp earlier, and booed whenever his face appeared on the screen in the stadium.

Yet, somehow with the score 2-0 to Adelaide in a must win game for Melbourne, Victory and Ernie lived to fight at least one more day.

It doesn't get like this in Port Vale, Ernie?

There is passion in Melbourne, and tonight the team responded.

Adelaide scored first and controlled most of the first twenty minutes but Victory lifted with Kaz Patafta and Archie Thompson inspiring perhaps Melbourne's best plays of the season.

At half-time Victory were looking good. But things soon worsened as United's Coach tightened his midfield closing Patafta and then watched as the initiative switched to Adelaide. Paul Agostino reacted quicker than Kevin Muscat to ball that came off the post, and just as he'd done in the first half he scored from close in.

2-0. This was going to get ugly at the Dome.

But if there is one player in Melbourne with pride and pace this season. It is Archie Thompson. When the chips have been going against Victory in the last few games, Archie has still looked the player most likely.

And he darted in the box and earned a penalty. And despite Leandro Love's desires never fail Muscat slotted it.

2-1 Game on.

Well not really. Victory went from bad to worse. Created nothing. Carlos Hernandez, Adrian Caceres and Leandro Love got worse if that was possible.

And then Nathan Burns stretched and pulled his hamstring. Why the ref stopped the game I'll never know. It's not life threatening and was nowhere near the ball.

But the crowd sensed something. Against 10 men now as United had used their subs, the Melbourne crowd lifted.

Bruce Djite. Hooray he's back but he gave a way a soft foul in injury time and Richard Alagich somehow managed to head one home. An own goal. 2-2
Victory and Ernie survived.

It was a great game for the neutral. Open and attacking. I think Melbourne's first half display actually meant Victory were more than just a team with a big crowd.

They showed they could play.

But in the second half they had nothing, not really.

Kaz Patafta had replaced Grant Brebner, Hallelujah Ernie. With Nicky Ward to come. Shunt Carlos and maybe there will be a team with mobility and creativity.

It's a big ask but this Melbourne team could still do it.

Matty Kemp left the field a disheartened man. Sad to see in modern sport. The Victory fans could take no more.

But really booing a player so loudly, so often, can do nothing for a players performance.

In fact supporting and encouraging can actually lift players to super human efforts.

Methinks the Melbourne football fans have a lot to learn. But don't worry some of them have told me I'm too soft and know little.

Adelaide? How did they draw this one?

It's a worry. With ten or eleven they should have seen this one out, and maybe this is why Adelaide despite all their wonderful football won't make the Grand Final this year.

Great game, full of passion both on and off the field with plenty of skill on the park...from Adelaide.

Will Ernie be there next week. I'm starting to wonder, are you?

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Kaz Patafta starts in Melbourne



Canberra's Kaz Patafta got his first start in the A-League in Melbourne Victory's 2-2draw with Adelaide United.



And Kaz did well, very well.

It was noticeable that Patafta was involved in some outstanding ball interplay. His quick feet and vision assisting Melbourne to produce some of it's best football of the season in the first half.

Questions have been raised regarding Patafta's size and physicality but he defended tackled effectively but more importantly provided some much needed craft and intelligence in the forward third.

And yet Victory down 2-0 took him off in the 60th minute.

The crowd weren't happy but possibly in his first game Patafta was tiring.

Either way an excellent start, albeit about 14 games to late, for the boy from Canberra.

Will he start next week?

Who knows but if he doesn't it will just confirm what many think that Ernie Merrick is devoid of ideas to get his team back up the table.

Watch this space.

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Sydney: Where art thou?



10,700 turned up in Sydney last night to watch a crucial A-League game between Sydney and Newcastle Jets. Everyone else had spent their money watching David Beckham last week.

It could have been worse..


In fact given Sydney had a belated 2 for 1 ticket offer after the Galaxy game, who knows how many would have turned up without it!

The weather, no trains, poor football, poor location, Sydney people are fickle, are just a few of the reasons given why crowds are so poor.

Whatever the reason the crowd is concerning, very concerning at Sydney FC, given we are three years in, the game was a local derby, and of course 80,000 plus watch Sydney's Beckham friendly the other day.

Did the entertainment game actually devalue the A-League in the eyes of supporters?

Either way, worrying times in Sydney and for the rest of the football community.

What is to be done?

Whatever is to be done, it's going to be a slow slow build.

What Sydney would give for a first season 25,000 crowd against Melbourne, Adelaide or the Central Coast!

Perhaps the strong first season crowds saw Dwight Yorke shunted and a winning coach in Pierre Littbarski booted. And with that the new fragile supporter base was lost.

Imagine building a winning side, in your very first season, and removing the winners, the one man marketing machine in Yorke, and the winning coach Littbarski.

Littbarski even thanked the crowd for their loyalty with a banner before the final game. Big deal? I think so.

How does a club build loyalty. Don't know, but Sydney seemed to lose it the minute they released these two.

It's a long, but not impossible, way back. The whole club, the manager, the players and the supporter base have to continue to do their bit, and someone somewhere has to find the key.

It's there, somewhere, Sydney just have to find it.

What's the alternative? How much lower can Sydney go? Let's not go there...just yet!

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Sydney FC: Season still alive..just!

Sydney won 1-0 against Newcastle in Sydney last night, Steve Corica scoring in the last minute.

Meanwhile the Wellington Phoenix thumped Perth Glory 3-0 in Wellington.

Steve Corica scored late on, very late. In fact as they say in Newcastle after Griffith's winner last week against The Roar, Stevie did a Joel.

90 plus 2. Great work from Mark Rudan and Terry Mcflynn. McFlynn must have been watching Juninho in training over the last few weeks.

Inside the box, most A-League players would have hammered it only to see it blocked by a defender.

Not McFlynn.

He twisted and scooped when we demanded it to be hit. He placed it, oh so delicately, beyond Tarik Elrich, who turned only to see Steve Corica rising to head home.

Marvellous, marvellous moment.

The Jets are a well structured side, who won't attack. Not early and never in real numbers. So they are hard to beat, and in Joel Griffiths and Mark Bridge they can cause trouble to any side.

When the headless chook of the week Ruben Zadkovich got sent-of for lunging after the Ref had blown for an earlier foul, John Kosmina the Sydney coach could see his season roosted:)

But somehow Sydney remained strong.

Their defence being their strong point, remained unchallenged.

A title winning defence? Maybe, just maybe.

The Jets, lacked Denni, and didn't really contribute to an attacking game. And Sydney well there play is good until the final third where it often breaks down.

Michael Bridges should have scored twice, and he does produce some wonderful link play but Alex Brosque lacks the vision to link and return the ball quickly and effectively with Bridges.

Still Sydney won, their season is alive, and who would bet against them now. Not me.

The Jets are in trouble. Rumblings over player transfers, Mario Jardel and ongoing garbage between the moneybags Chairman Con Constantine and Coach Gary Van Egmond mean this season could yet implode for the Jets. Who would be against that? Not me!

Wellington won 3-0 over a resurgent Glory! No Simon Colosimo, no Jamie Downey, no victory, no surprise.

Two sent-off for the Glory including Nikolai Topor-Stanley, means Dave Mitchell's messiah like rise over the last few weeks, is no surety to continue.

With Topor-Stanley and Jamie Harnwell off last night, it will be a weakened Glory that goes to work next week.

For the Phoenix a comforatable win in front of their home support, finally. And they are off the bottom. Good for them.

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Friday, 7 December 2007

A-League: All eyes on Melbourne Victory?


The Victory desperately need a win and a lift, The Phoenix to face the latest Aussie upstart, Sydney without Juninho but Joel's in town so the entertainment factor is guaranteed, and can the Roar sink the Mariners?

See the predictions below.

Tonight the games start with The Phoenix at home to a renewed Perth Glory.

Nikita Rukavtsya. All eyes will be on him. He is starting to set the league on fire.

Australian Institute of Sport Coach Steve O'Connor told me this week, "it will be interesting to see how he goes when he fills out, he has a big frame."

And goals, four now, a more central role under Dave Mitchell be afraid Wellington very afraid.

Phoenix at home are always entertaining. Perth are missing key influence Simon Colisimo.

1-1 this one.

Sydney FC v Newcastle Jets

1-1.

Sydney still don't score. Steve Corica is older and hasn't produced much this year, and Juninho is injured. So where will the goals come from, the creativity for Alex Brosque?

It's all on the ageing Corica, so one maybe all Sydney can produce. The Jets are no MLS team. Cheaper no doubt but better.

Hope Steve Bigbutt is playing, and how come Super Mario gets criticised for his weight but no-one dares mention Mr Laybutt? How does a player who is playing football get so overweight?

You tell me?

Melbourne Victory v Adelaide United.

Oh my god!Bruce Djite is back, just what Ernie Merrick didn't need. And Victory saviour Nicky Ward isn't available.

The guy can motor and this may be just what Victory need. But tonight it may all end in tears.

Adelaide have sneaky Nathan Burns coming back into form. An away win with ten.

Victory 0-2 Adelaide.

Queensland Roar v The Central Coast Mariners

Mariners don't play well away from home. Have you noticed that?

The Roar are getting harder to beat at home, although the Jets sorted that last week. The Roar have lost Michael Zullo, Robbie Kruse looks tired and the busy busy Roar could be in trouble again tonight.

Who will convert for the Roar?

We know who will for the Mariners. And that could be the difference.

Roar 1 Mariners 2.

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Finally the Socceroos have a Coach

It is my belief that Australian football takes off come February 6th. We've never had the quality and amount competitive international games that we are going to have over the next two years and then beyond.

The game has an A-League, Asian Champions League, Women's League, Youth League and much much more in place or about to come.

The man appointed to the most important job in modern Australian sport is Pim Verbeek, a Dutchman.




It took a while, it might have been our second or even tenth choice who knows, but we have a Coach.

Pim is going to live in Australia or at least spend most of his time here. That to me is just as important perhaps than who he is or what he has done.

It sends a message to all future coaches.

It shows the respect he is giving the Australia job, also enables him to promote the game in this country, in a way that a long-term European Coach could never do.

He has been across Asia in various coaching position, and took South Korea to third place in the Asia Cup.

And he was missing his best four Korean players, all European based, so perhaps third place was a good achievement.

It's not an exciting appointment. Won't really raise the profile of the game with non-football fans in Australia, but will long-term if he gets the team through 14 games of qualification and on to the World Cup.

So he ticks my boxes. A man with plenty of Asian football experience. Also heaps of European experience and he is a man on the rise, or will be if he succeeds with Australia.

And he is a coach:) Finally.

And well done to Ben Buckley, and the team, for getting someone in quickly after the Dick "impoverished" Advocaat debacle.

So Pim's our man. Good luck Pim.

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Thursday, 6 December 2007

Nearpost podcast: Fox Sports Simon Hill, Matildas Star Sally Shipard and A-League, Capital Football news.

This weeks podcast can be downloaded here


powered by ODEO

Apologies for the technical quality.

On the poddie this week:
Matilda's Star Sally Shipard
Fox Sports Simon Hill his journey, his thoughts on Aussie football, SBS and more!
Arif and his A-League tips

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Andrew Young on Ronaldo, Adrian Leijer, the EPL and AFL!



Canberra's Andrew Young is the Strength and Conditioning Coach at Fulham in the English Premier League. Which means he gets to sit on the bench at all the grounds in the EPL.

On Tuesday it was Old Trafford.

Read Andrew's excellent update below on life in the Premiership with Fulham



As I write, we are between games having just returned from a 0-2 loss away at Old Trafford on Monday night and awaiting another tough game away to Tim Cahill's Everton this coming Saturday afternoon.

Currently sitting 14th on the table, it has been an interesting season for us here at Fulham FC. Whilst putting in some good performances at home, our nemesis has again been our away form.

Although it should be noted that we played the big 4 in our first 7 games away from home, the highlight of which was nearly snatching a win at Stamford Bridge in a 1-1 draw with Chelsea in October.


Travelling up on plane up to Manchester at the weekend, I must admit that I was quite hopeful of getting something out of the game. Especially as I was sitting next to Danny Murphy (ex Liverpool & England international) who was a 3 times 1-0 winner away at Old Trafford. He politely reminded me that he scored the winning goal there on all 3 occasions!

Warming the boys up in front of the 75,000 Old Trafford faithful was quite a surreal moment in the context of being a former Canberran playing in front of a 2000 people at Bruce Stadium in the old NSL!

But in the end, it was really just another game and there was not really any time to lose focus away from preparing the team properly. I have to say that United were superb with the likes of Ronaldo, Tevez, Rooney and Giggs always a threat in one on one situations and so solid at the back with Vidic, Evra and co.

In the end, a Ronaldo brace either side of half time killed us off. On the way back to London after the game, I found out that it was my 100th Premier League game on the bench. Nice ....... but not quite the same as 3 points!


The hectic traditional Christmas program awaits us later this month when we have games against Wigan (22 December), Spurs (26th), Birmingham (28th) and the Chelsea home derby on New Years day.

This is a time when club's with smaller playing squads, like ourselves, are really tested to the limit by the big clubs in terms of the effect of injuries, suspensions and fatigue on our squad.

And yes, we do have to train on Christmas day! Most of the Premier League clubs then enter the FA Cup 3rd round played in early January. We have drawn Bristol Rovers at home which will be a far from easy encounter as any Premier League scalp is highly prized by lower league clubs.


Olyroo's boy, Adrian Leijer, has settled in really well at Fulham after his transfer from Melbourne Victory earlier in the year. He has obviously been doing a fair bit of travelling helping the Olyroo's to qualify for the Beijing Olympics, even scoring a goal he tells me!

Although he has not made his Premier League debut yet, he was on the bench last month at Anfield and travelled with the squad to Old Trafford. He is a great lad and is highly thought of by the coaching staff and is learning his trade every day training alongside the likes of international centre back's Dejan Stefanovic and Carlos Bocanegra.

Like me though, he is starting to miss the Aussie sunshine especially as it currently goes dark at about 3.30pm in the afternoon on training days!


In recent weeks, our Performance & Sports Science department have received benchmarking and research visits from several Australian professional sporting organisations such as the AIS and AFL clubs Carlton and the Western Bulldogs.

It was great to spend some time with coaches Rodney Eade and Brett Rattin and the exchange of ideas was very beneficial to both parties. It is great to know that they consider Fulham to be a leader in this field and I am really looking forward to making return visits when I get back to Australia at the end of the season.


In other news, I was fortunate enough to be involved in the Socceroo's camp and match against Nigeria in London last month. It was great to catch up with all the boys and hear those familiar Aussie accents.

Acting National Coach Rob Baan did a great job preparing the team at very short notice and despite missing several key players, we were very happy with the 1-0 win against the No 1 ranked team in Africa.

It was a thrill for me to take the team out onto Craven Cottage, my home ground at Fulham, although I must admit some of the groundsmen were a bit confused when they saw me!

Rob Baan proudly announced after the game that he was now the only undefeated National Team manager in 2 countries ...... apparently he also once caretaker managed Holland for one game and won that game as well!


Anyway, that's my news from London for now. Wishing everyone back home a very happy and warm christmas!


Andrew

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Wednesday, 5 December 2007

All the photo's from the Nearpost launch in Canberra

There was a great atmosphere at the launch of the Nearpost radio show in Canberra last night. Most of the photo's are labelled and I will fix up the rest ASAP.

Nicole Somi, Arif Hossein and myself, Eamonn Flanagan would like everyone for their great support.


Simon Hill, Sally Shipard and Nicole Somi in the Nearpost studio.



More photo's below


Belconnen United's Matt Grayson and University of Canberra Lecturer Simon Brady
Eilis Fitt and Hannah Janssens making a speech.


From the right Capital Football CEO Heather Reid, Matildas Manager Jo Sanders enjoying a drink with Nick Backhouse, Keith Lee and Yvonne Lee.

A couple of maths teachers if ever I saw two! In the foreground is Ian Shepherd, Maths teacher and Sports nut with fellow maths teacher Gerry Ianno counting every sandwich Shep has eaten tonight.

Gerry teaches at Lake Ginninderra College in Canberra. Most if not all of the Australian Institute of Sports students go to Lake G. He taught Shaun Ontong all the maths he knows!



Simon Hill showing no signs of nerves before his huge moment on the Nearpost. Clearly his stint as MC of the Asia Football Confederation awards ceremony last week helped him with his latest gig.




Zek Patafta, Alisdair Grocock, and Steve McIntyre looking the goods. Steve wore a wonderful shirt to the launch. Showing the route of Maradona's goal against England in the 1986 World Cup. No, not the "cheated goal" the out of this world goal.




Belconnen United Coach Steve Forshaw, "Yes, I'm back next season," and Elliot Zwangobani, Canberra FC's Premier winning defender and former Australian Futsalroo, showing fierce rival Belconnen United and Canberra FC can mix!
Did Steve ask the question?

"So where are you playing next year Elliott?"








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Melbourne Victory Ward off a final's miss?

Exciting news in Melbourne as the Victory sign Olyroo Nicky Ward from QPR in England.

This could be the key to a Victory revival. The guy has energy to burn, plays midfield, where Victory are so pedestrian and may just be the missing link.



If he can link with Archie Thompson and Danny Allsopp and I would suspect he can Victory may well scrape a win over Adelaide.

And one win could be enough to lift this team, the whole club and the supporter base.

Is it too late for Victory to sneak into the finals?

Well almost, but they aren't that bad a side. And have enough key players who could lift that extra bit if they get a win.

Nicky Ward isn't the saviour but he could provide the energy to release the pressure off Grant Brebner, Carlos Hernandez, Adrian Caceres and co.

Suddenly I think things are looking up for Victory. Ernie Merrick has to play him.He will. He's desperate and like I mention in my earlier post on Victory this week Coaches often change when they are desperate.

Victory fans seem to think Ernie won't play him. He's too young.

Ernie will. He's desperate. Besides he's no Kaz Patafta or Kristian Sarkies. He's 22 and proven in the A-League from the first season.

The A-League suddenly got a whole lot more interesting!

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There's humour in Victory!




Think it speaks for itself. See blog earlier this week.

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Nearpost...Officially launched by Simon Hill.

Simon Hill launched the Nearpost in Canberra last night. There was a great turnout from the football community.


Former Young Matilda and Nearpost Host Nicole Somi, Matilda's Star Sally Shipard, Fox Sports Simon Hill, Nearpost Host Arif Hossein, and Nearpost blogger myself Eamonn Flanagan.

A great night was had at the launch of the Nearpost radio show in Canberra last night.

Lot's of photo's and podcast to come.

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Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Melbourne Victory Champions to Chumps?

Now the Victory only have two out of the last eighteen points.

And if you read the Victory forums the fans are not happy. Not happy with Ernie Merrick or many of the players.

But what's to be done?

Let's be clear it's not too late, not yet. But Ernie is starting to panic. Look at the coaching changes on the weekend.

Of course the sack is the quickest option.

But after a dreadful first season Ernie won the title on the back of some great away performances with a very mobile front three. Should he be sacked?

Well by A-League Coaching standards, clearly. But given he produced a side capable of winning a title he should be given longer.

Or else every club will continue to get rid of one, maybe two managers each season. That would be a disaster, but if so, thank god the league is only 21 games!

And Ernie may be off anyway. His resume turned up at Port "Who" Vale by chance. Ahem!

And the team is clearly demoralised if not split.

Ljubo Milicevic Kevin Muscat, Archie Thompson and others have had problems this season.

The key off-season signings did look great. Not anymore.

Ljubo, Kaz Patafta, Carlos Hernandex, Joe Keenan, Leandro Love and Matthew Kemp. On paper every one was an improvement on what the squad had before.

Sunday at the Glory, Archie was outstanding. An early goal could have changed Victory's game.

And remember ten man Victory, just a few weeks ago at the table-topping Central Coast were superb, but they lost.

Ernie has lost his confidence it seems to me.

Leandro Love, tried, tested and dropped at least for now. Kaz Patafta neither tried nor tested.

Carlos Hernandez tried and dropped away to Perth. That speaks volumes about Ernie's thoughts.

Joe Keenan moved to right side, then back to left. After intially impressing he has created little in forward play.

Danny Allsopp is in a slump, again. Archie has to score all the goals and who can expect it of anyone.

So Adrian Caceres was left out early in the season, and fans wanted him in. In he came, and has scored a couple of nice goals but threatens rather than achieves.

And Grant Brebner. He plays the ball so long. And yet he's pivotal to the Victory game plan.

Look at the Jets, the Glory on the weekend, The Mariners, Sydney in Asia and Adelaide. At their best they play short and quick.

It wouldn't take much to fix the Victory. But changing the defensive midfield structure must be worth a try.

Kevin Muscat, Leigh Broxham Carlos Hernandez and Kaz Patafta. More forward movement, More creativity and a different style. Maybe even Adrian Caceres with Danny Allsopp coming on from the bench.

Victory have relied on long balls, and the energy of Fred last season, to win games.

Without this "luck" factor, which arrived and left with Fred, Victory have to find another way, before it's too late.

Grant Brebner is no Fred. Nor is he expected to be, but to me when he lifts his head to play a wonderful 40 metre pass the Victory season goes with it.

The pass could work, looks good, but nothing comes of it.

And the Brebner and Muscat is midfield means you are never going to attack in numbers. Both together are too slow too motor forward into the box.

Time to give Grant a wee rest, and that could force Victory's hand.

Frank Farina had his hand forced by results and it worked. Perth Glory have done the same in leaving out Mate Dragojavic.

Fortune favours the brave. Coaches who have stuck by the Simon Lynch's,Ante Milicic's, David Zdrillic, and Dragojavic's because of a players reputation or because they signed them have been found wanting in the results area.

Graham Arnold stuck by Lucas Neill, Vinny Grella and Patrick Kisnorbo in the Asia Cup. He changed because he had to, and sneaked through the group.

The top managers mould their teams irrespective of the name or reputation of the player.

Maybe that is why the Central Coast and not Melbourne Victory are top!


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