Saturday, 4 February 2012

Canberra United: Why we were the best!

Les Murray on SBS's website wrote an article about the W-League coming of age this year - presumably because he watched the Grand Final and enjoyed it. Apparently the league is full of players with great technical skills this year!

Rubbish Les - not much has changed. The point being the standard from the top few teams has always been pretty high and remains so. So thanks Les but no thanks!

Canberra United won the league this year and deservedly so. Unbeaten throughout the season new Coach Jitka Klimkova gets a well-deserved wrap.

United have been strong in every A-League season, due in the main to CEO Heather Reid's passion for the club and desire to go beyond the other clubs, particularly regional clubs, in terms of salary payments and innovations.

It is noted that Canberra is the only team without an A-League side sapping all the funds and maybe that is to our advantage. Certainly hasn't harmed our crowds.

Robbie Hooker (now Socceroos Assistant Coach) Ray Junna (AIS Coach) lead the team in the first three years. And now Jitka; who's training schedule and attacking philosophy puts her Czech mate at Sydney FC to shame.

Ashleigh and Nicole Sykes, Ellie Brush, Lydia Williams, Sally Shipard, Caitlin Munoz, Grace Gill and Jenny Bisset were some who have played under all of these coaches and it seems developed and improved. Who wouldn't have improved?

Interestingly all Coaches played all of the above players in the same position for each of their terms in charge. Only Jitka had the luxury of pushing Caitlin Munoz into midfield due to the new attacking signings this season.

So, Jitka inherited an increasingly mature group of players already fiercely competitive and players who have learnt under quality coaches.

In Jitka they had another quality coach.

Add in Michelle Heyman, goalscoring freak, signed since the Mariners went defunct a couple of years ago, and US import Taryn Hemmings, one of the signings of the season, and the team was always going to be hard to beat.

In my view Brisbane and Sydney were not so hot this season. Lacking a little in cohesion; in Sydney's case despite an attacking squad, and in Brisbane the forward firepower was not the Roar of old.

Sarah Walsh and Heather Garriock - key Sydney players in the past are no longer at their peak.

Remove injured Lauren Colthorpe and Elise Kellond Knight from the Roar and again a team is lesser.

United deserved to win. As exciting an attacking line-up as you could ever hope for.

When Caitlin Munoz or Jenny Bisset had the ball at their feet you could almost hear the drools as they looked up.

In front was the pacy and skilful Ashleigh Sykes, goal scoring machine Michelle Heyman, Queensland young flyer the quickly improving Hayley Razo, add in the late addition of Emma Kete and of course the supremely talented, highly skilful and pacy American Taryn Hemmings and which defence was ever going to stop them?


This truly was a great Canberra United side - a side it should be said that had developed under Robbie Hooker and Ray Junna. Jitka to her credit took the team to another level.

And a note on United keeper Lydia Williams - prone to the occasional gaff in previous years she secured the Matildas spot over the last 12 months - and has turned in a fantastic season between the sticks. Early days but if she remains in this sort of form - and again she continues to improve - Lydia must be in the top three keepers in the World.

A more confident, athletic keeper I've yet to see in the W-League.

Controlled, attacking, fast football that was United under Jitka, our Czech Coach. Viteslav eat your heart out. Les you need to watch more W-League.

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