Posts tagged ‘Kevin Muscat’
It is not often that a referee awards three penalties in a game and receives not criticism. Throw in an additional sending off and still not criticism and one would think the man in black/yellow or green, has had a good game. Peter Green the man in the middle for the Perth Glory against Melbourne Victory certainly did have a good game.
He bravely and correctly awarded a penalty against Victory’s Adrian Leijer for holding in the box, after he had just warned the player, when many would have had another word. He was also correct with both of the other spot kick decisions.
Initially many in the crowd felt that Steve Pantelidis may have milked Danny Allsopp’s high challenge that saw the Victory striker sent from the field, especially as following treatment there was absolutely no limp as he left the field to rejoin play after receiving treatment. On the replays again the referee was spot on the challenge was high and studs were raised.
Yet after the game everyone was talking about three decisions he did not give in the game.
In the 16th minute Kewell was late and high with a challenge on Glory’s Evan Berger. He received quite rightly a yellow card, although many wondered if a player such as Jacob Burns or Steve Pantelidis had been guilty of the challenge whether they would have got off so lightly. Reputations rightly or wrongly affecting outcomes.
Then in the second half there were not one, but two occasions where Harry Kewell appeared to dive searching for a penalty. One of these instants it appeared it was either a penalty, or a dive. The referee did not award the penalty; therefore it should have been a dive and a yellow card, which would have meant that the Victory’s star man was having an early bath.
The card never came and Kewell has since admitted that he “technically” dived.
Having had such an outstanding game it was sad that Mr. Green was remembered for the decision he failed to make rather than the good ones he did make.
We have witnessed it with Kevin Muscat, Craig Moore and now Harry Kewell, big name players who bring people through the turnstiles, who appear to get away with challenges that others would not based on their reputations. If the A League is to be taken seriously this must stop now.
News that a second Socceroo is returning home as Brett Emerton prepares to sign for Sydney FC confirms the end of an era for Australian Football. Many are hailing his return and Melbourne Victory’s signing of Harry Kewell as a major coup and one that is great for football in Australia, forgive this writer for not being quiet so enthused.
Many thought that Kewell would return to his hometown, but it may appear that Sydney were wise to invest in Emerton rather than the injury prone Kewell.
Harry Kewell possessed immense footballing talent, and there is also no doubt that at times he has been much maligned, often wrongly, sometimes justifiably, as his manager endeavours to obtain the best deal possible for his client.
Emerton too has had a wonderful career in Europe with Feyenoord and Blackburn Rovers and has always managed to let his football do the talking, although the recent game against Wales showed the talking is becoming more of a whisper at international level as age and injuries begin to catch up with him.
The A League is a tougher league than many realize, and the pace is very different to the European leagues. As has been seen in previous seasons some attacking players from these leagues have struggled to adjust.
If we look at those former Socceroos who have returned to the A League to finish their careers it is the defenders who have stood out, Kevin Muscat, Craig Moore and Tony Vidmar. The attacking players have all struggled, Stan Lazarides, John Aloisi, Mile Sterjovski to name a few.
Both Emerton and Kewell are going to have to buck that trend. Kewell is going to have to realize if he plays the role discussed, behind the front two, that his teammates may not think as quickly as he does on the park. Emerton will find that his pace may not be there and will have to rely on his ability to keep possession and hold onto the ball, to bring other players into the game. There is no doubt his delivery from the wing will be a huge bonus to Sydney FC.
Kewell was touted by Melbourne Victory as being the best player of his generation, a statement that is open to opinion, there is no doubt that he has been marketed the best.
Kewell is going to have to hit the ground running when he arrives in Australia a month before the start of the A League season to convince many that this is a good move for Melbourne Victory, and The Hyundai A League. The same will apply to Emerton.
It appears that the FFA see the signing of these two as a Marketing coup, something that will help garner interest in a flagging Hyundai A League, if that is the case it also has a feel of desperation about it from those close to the game, almost a last roll of the dice, to pull punters in.
As always when Harry Kewell is involved the non-football media go into an excited frenzy. Emerton will not create such stir. Kewell is quoted on the Melbourne Victory website as stating, “I am proud to be Australian and want to give something back to the game there. It has always been my ambition to play in my home country and I am very pleased to have that opportunity by playing for Melbourne Victory.”
There are many questions surrounding Kewell’s signing, had his manager been able to land him a contract overseas would he be playing in Australia next season? Had he still not harboured hopes of playing in the 2014 World Cup would he have signed a three-year deal? Why when on the Australian sporting rich list with earnings reported as being $10.5million, would you want a percentage of the increase in attendance income, sponsorship income and membership income, which has been reported?
Emerton’s return appears to have more to do with where he is at in his football life.
Kewell has stated that he wishes to play in a third world cup but this move could see that dream end in tears. It is one thing to return to Australia to prolong your career, and play under the nose of the Australian coach, but as witnessed in Jason Culina, eventually the standard that you attained playing in superior leagues in Europe begins to slip, and whether Harry Kewell in three years is still of a standard that warrants selection for the World Cup should Australia, qualify only time will tell. Interestingly Emerton has not been drawn on his aspirations to play in Brazil in 2014.
The only way Harry Kewell will win over his doubters is by maintaining fitness, and maintaining high standards on the pitch. With such a short A league season that could prove a challenge over three years.
If Kewell fails and Emerton disappoints don’t expect clubs to be shelling out big bucks on returning Socceroos, as so far it has been a gamble that has rarely paid off, especially with attacking players.
Pim Verbeek is not far away from announcing his Socceroos squad for the World Cup and there are many who are waiting in anticipation, as star players are either injured or simply not playing.
That aside another issue that will be interesting to watch play out after the World Cup, will be the performance of those players who returned to Australia to put themselves under the nose of the national coach.
One hopes that the spur of a place in the Asia Cup squad will keep them motivated in the immediate future once a new coach is unveiled. But it does make one wonder whether the drive will be the same as it was this year, especially after ten years overseas. Not everyone has the drive of Kevin Muscat.
Which raises the issue of whether returning players of this standard should not be placed on performance based contracts.
Perth Glory, had two marquee players who to be honest returned from Europe and for various reasons hardly were seen on the park, and when they were it was hard to be fair and assess whether they had been worth the investment.
Players returning to the Hyundai A league who have played to a reasonable level in Europe and who are at the top end of an A League’s salary cap, should not have money issues in the current football climate, if they have been sensible. Therefore if they have come back to perform, rather than simply claim an early retirement fund, they would not mind a base salary with bonuses built in for goals, wins, Finals and Championships, or would they?
If the Hyundai A league is get out of the financial predicament that it finds itself in, the issue of the Marquee player and the returning high or mid profile Australian player needs to be looked at carefully, as the ultimate cost to the game is the young talent coming through.
The A league season gets under way this Thursday and we have two new teams taking the league to ten teams in total. The question will be was the league ready for the extra teams or have they simply diluted the talent pool? Whatever the answer, it was important to have more games played in the A league, as the 8 team league meant that the season was over as soon as it started. Having two more teams enter next year is likely to be far more detrimental than the two this year. Especially following the interest that is expected to be generated by the World Cup, the FFA cannot afford a substandard national competition. Perth Glory have shown how having poor marketing and a poor team after the World Cup means you miss out on so much and it takes a couple of years to recover. So how will the teams in the coming season fare. Some have gone for low key pre-season games while others have played plenty, time will tell which has paid dividends.
My predictions are as follows:
Sydney FC have more or less slipped under the radar, they have been unbeaten in pre-season and new coach Vitezslav Lavicka has gone about his business quietly and assuredly. This is probably a great appointment following all the back- stabbing there last year, as the new man comes in with no allegiances to local politics and can stamp his mark on the team. The highest profile signing is Byun Sung-Hwan a defender from Korea, which implies an emphasis on defence. It is worth noting that in 12 pre-season games they only conceded 1 goal and scored 25. If Lavicka can keep his ambitious back room staff under control and avoid the fate of Julius Caesar, I believe Sydney will top the league.
As for who will come second I am torn between two teams, new boys Gold Coast United or Melbourne Victory. I will plump for Gold Coast, although I worry that outspoken coach Miron Bleiberg will be the one to derail their campaign. They have recruited well and have a squad that will be the envy of many, but Bleiberg tends to antagonise opposition players and coaches and this could back fire on the team. They too have been undefeated in pre-season with the best victory being a 2-1 win over EPL side Fulham. Jason Culina is their star signing, and it will be interesting to see how he handles the pressure. His return to the A league could see him miss out on a World Cup berth unless he shows that he is a class above his team mates and stands out on a week by week basis.
Despite being torn between the Victory and the Gold Coast for second, I believe the Perth Glory will come third. Dave Mitchell has recruited well although there are areas of concern. On paper with everyone fit it is a great squad and if he finishes out of the top five it could well be the end of his coaching career in Australia, so he has a lot riding on this season. Mitchell favours a 4-4-2 formation yet the question is does the squad have four definite defenders? Left back is an area of concern, Scott Neville will be the first choice right back, but he will need to be managed well to get the best out of him over a prolonged season. Up front there is promise, but these front men are going to need to be serviced properly. In pre-season this was a concern. Sikora needs to slow his runs to the standard of the players around him to be effective, as they will not be able to think at his speed. A good start essential, but may not come following a very low profile pre-season.
Melbourne Victory are my tip for fourth place. It was good news for the club to sign Costa Rican Carlos Hernandez for three years and also the services of Kevin Muscat for another season, but there are areas of concern. Glen Moss had a great Confederations Cup for New Zealand but he does not command his box the way Michael Theoklitos did, and they will miss the latter’s presence in goal. Up front is another area of concern. Ernie Merrick has blended youth and age in midfield well and the Thompson and Allsopp partnership has been very successful for the Victory, but last year the shine looked to have gone from Archie Thompson. If he does not manage to fire then the Victory will not achieve the standards they have in the past.
Adelaide United are always contenders, and as in the old NSL have every right to claim to be the hotbed of Australian football. The concern will be what is happening off the pitch with the FFA running the club until new owners are found. Credit where it is due the FFA have conceded they made mistakes running the Glory and will not make the same mistakes again, but it will be a distraction. Coach Aurelio Vidmar has signed Ghanaian international Lloyd Owusu from Cheltenham Town, and hopes he will have the impact that Eugene Dadi had at Perth for Adelaide. He was prolific at Brentford, but in 89 games since 2007 with 3 clubs he has scored 24 goals at an average of a goal every 3.7 games, well down on his average before 2007 which was a goal every 2.9 games, which would imply he is on the wane. Hopefully for Adelaide fans this is not the case. The talent to watch is Francesco Monterosso, who was being talked about two years ago as a young talent.
Frank Farina has done a great job with Brisbane Roar – or Queensland Roar as they were prior to last season – who played some wonderful football, but regrettably they have yet to make a grand final or win the league. I fear that this season could be the morning after the lord mayor’s ball for the Brisbane Roar. Is their defence strong enough, can Craig Moore keep them tight at the back? The loss of Massimo Murdocca will hurt them in the engine room of the midfield, having broken his leg in training. This will be a year of transition for the Roar with rebuilding for the next two seasons vital.
The Central Coast Mariners have always been competitive in the A league and in fact are the most consistent team in terms of their league placings. They too were unbeaten in their pre-season, and the Asia Champions league highlighted the need for change. Adam Kwasnik returns from the Phoenix and McKinna hopes to shore up the defence with English recruit Chris Doig. This season will not be their year as they rebuild and the shenanigans in the off season where people were trying to manoeuvre Graham Arnold into the coaching role and Lawrie McKinnna be moved upstairs cannot have been good for the club.
Newcastle Jets, again I fear off field issues will derail the Jets. Con Constantine, the owner, of the Jets is no doubt going to still be at odds with the FFA over their poaching of coach Gary van Egmond, and understandably so. If clubs cannot approach a manager without permission, then the games administrators should not either. The English FA always ask the clubs before appointing the national manager. Sadly this is a legacy of having people from ‘the game we don’t mention’ running football. Branko Culina’s appointment saddened me as it was a case of recycling what we have already seen, and when was he last successful? Surely we need to see A league clubs appointing up and coming talent from the state leagues or the coaching side will never move forward? The Jets have played the least pre-season games, and I fear that personalities will clash as there are some very outspoken personnel on board. In fact I am tipping 8th as I believe the talent they have will see them rise this high.
Wellington Phoenix had six of their team with coach Ricki Herbert at the Confederations Cup and they struggled. Paul Ifill is their most exciting signing a striker from Crystal Palace with good pedigree, but the concern is the supply-line to him. Diego signed from Adelaide along with Daniel may be the answer, but consistency will be the key. Leo Bertos, if he is the option will not be the answer. Chris Greenacre is another English important whose career in the UK looked to be on the wane, at 31 he is going to have to fire early or the pressure will mount. Tim Brown is a key in midfield and Sigmund at the back was the only Phoenix player to shine in South Africa, if he can build on that they will upset many teams but will not challenge for the title.
North Queensland Fury, sadly look like a team of A league cast-offs. Maybe they should have called themselves North Queensland castaways. I fear that this will be a very long and frustrating season for coach Ian Ferguson. The coup of signing Robbie Fowler is one over which the jury is out, and many wonder whether he will last until Christmas, which could cause a new set of problems. Talent is there with the likes of David Williams and Fred Agius who on his day is one of the most exciting players going around, but there are question marks over the players around them having enough experience to support them. Robbie Middleby is coming to the end a of a good career and one feels a lot rests on his aging shoulders along with those of Ufuk Talay. Players being given a chance to play regular first team football include James Robinson, Jason Spagnulo, Jeremy Brockie, Jacob Timpano, Chris Tadrosse and unless they step up it is going to be a very long season for the Fury.
As they say in the Olympics ‘may the games begin’ and may I be proved wrong!