Tag Archives: a-league

Tuesday musing – Farewell Ange and Aussies off to a bolter in the Ashes

I have been a longtime supporter of Ange Postecoglou and was especially pleased when he was appointed as Socceroos coach to replace Holger Osieck. There can be no doubt that Ange has turned the team’s fortunes around as at one stage the Socceroos had slumped to number 100 in the FIFA world rankings but he now has them back at 39 after qualifying for the World Cup. Ange also managed to win an Asian Championship along the way so he is definitely leaving the National team in a lot better shape than when he took over. Given that success I was most disappointed that he decided to pull the pin on his time as the manager of the team. A bit like David Gallup, I am puzzled as to why you would walk away after having scaled the mountain the hard way. It reminds me of David Hall, who was the original trainer of Maykbe Diva. After the first Melbourne Cup win he went overseas to pursue a training career leaving the Diva with Lee Freedman to chalk up two more wins. At least he had the first win! The search is now on for a new manager and I have heard many names mentioned including current Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold, Brisbane Roar coach John Aloisi, former Western Sydney Wanderers coach Tony Popovic, Melbourne Victory’s Kevin Muscat and, in a blast from the past, Aussie Guus Hiddink. I hope the powers that be stick with a well credentialled Aussie coach. Personally I think Arnold has the ability to do the top job. He already knows the difficulties having been the Socceroos coach from 2006-2007 and he has been a success in the national competition with his A League side currently holding all three trophies.

Great to see the Ashes series has started as it is the most anticipated series in world cricket. In the recently completed First Test, the Australians gained the ascendancy after being able to scratch out a slim first innings lead then managed to take some crucial, early second innings wickets. The Aussie speed trio of Hazlewood, Cummins and Starc were wonderful and had the English on the back foot in both innings. Providing the three can stay fit, they will be more than a handful for the English over the final four tests. A special mention to the skipper too. Steve Smith’s innings was the real difference between the sides and the only reason the Aussies had a first innings lead. Without his contribution we would have been facing a sizeable deficit to make up and that would have completely turned the tables. Our top order needs to take a leaf out of Smith’s book and seek to occupy the crease rather than go after quick runs all the time. After all it is a ‘Test’ not a 20/20 game.

Weekend musing – A- League Final, Collingwood’s good recovery after playing Anzac Day game…

The A-League grand final is on this Sunday with Sydney FC the clear favourite going up against Melbourne Victory. Sydney have only lost one game this season and has beaten Victory on three occasions, but the pressure is on Sydney as they are expected to win. The Victory have nothing to lose and an early goal could cause panic in the Sydney ranks. The Victory certainly have the talent to win the game and as with most cases involving the world game, they just need to take their chances. I am going to go out on a limb and pick the Victory to win 2-0.

Whatever the Collingwood fitness staff have at their disposal the other teams should be trying to emulate it. Back in 2010 they backed up for the grand final replay in a lot better shape than St Kilda and last Sunday they did it again with a five day break after the Anzac Day game. Essendon were clearly off their game on Sunday against Melbourne who had a similar break, whereas Collingwood faced Geelong who had two clear days break on them and yet Collingwood finished strongly and won the game easily in the end.

Just on the Melbourne/Essendon game, the Bombers finally got to play the Demons at Etihad instead of the MCG, however, the Demons had already played twice at the venue this year and it was the Bombers first appearance there so any perceived advantage was lost. he first half was one of the worst halves of football I have seen from both teams. Melbourne were a lot cleaner in the second half and deserved the win.

Have a great weekend!

Weekend musing – 3rd test wrap up, AFL rookie draft, Melbourne City take the FFA Cup……

Sfan OB6The 3rd test against South Africa was a dead rubber, but it was good to see the revitalised Australian team turn around their fortunes and get a win on the board. There were three debutantes playing in the game and I was impressed with Renshaw & Hanscombe. Unfortunately, Maddinson got a very good ball early in his only hanscombinnings, so it was impossible to say if he will be any good. Renshaw resisted very well on the first night and while he only made 10 in the first innings, he showed similar application in the second innings. In the second innings the commentators were criticising his slow play which was somewhat in contrast with their lamenting in the first and second tests the lack of players that could stick around. He was in his first test, they had plenty of time, so I could not see the issue. He did seem to play and miss a lot, but I think on some of those “misses” he actually deliberately played inside the line. Hanscombe got a 50 in his first dig and then hit the winning run so a very promising debut.

The cricket now moves to a one day series against New Zealand, which seems to be a puzzling piece of scheduling .

Sticking with cricket it was great to see the Bushrangers get up against South Australia after conceding a first innings lead. Just reminding the Australian selectors that there is some quality south of the border.

Monday saw the AFL Rookie Draft and there seemed to be a clear pattern of recruiters getting in ruckmen and taller players. There filipovicwas 27 players (ound half of the draft) over 190cm and ten of those were ruckmen. It does seem clear that clubs are not willing to waste a pick on a ruckman who may take 3-5 years to develop. This is a wise strategy, but does it jeopardise the future of ruckmen picking the AFL over basketball? I really think this is something which could cause long term problems with participation and needs to be monitored by the AFL.

Great to see Melbourne City win the FFA Cup on Wednesday night in a clash of the current top two teams in the A-League. I have been a little concerned about the City defence, but holding Sydney FC to atim cahill clean sheet perhaps indicates that my concerns were misplaced. On present form these two teams will be in contention at the end of the season and a win to City does provide some psychological advantage. Also great to see Tim Cahill amongst the goals….an inspired signing for Melbourne City.

Have a great weekend!

Weekend musing – Fremantle Dockers demise, A-League finals fixturing & Alex Rance

Chris Barwin HillsThis time last year the Fremantle Football Club were the only undefeated team in the AFL, this year they are the only team not to win a game. What has happened? One of the reasons is personnel, they are an aging list and some of their key players are injured, but thefyffe main issue looks to be a change of game plan. It would seem they are trying to play more in the Hawthorn style, but unfortunately they don’t have the skill to execute that type of play. Their negative, lock down style of play got them to a Grand Final and save for a bout of stage fright and poor umpiring, they could easily have won that game, why change? I think they should revert to the style of football that made them successful. It may not be pretty, but it worked.

I have also got to have a say about the scheduling in the A-League. Melbourne City were scheduled to play after a five day break and while the best team on the night won the match, the fatigue factor Melb citycertainly influenced the margin. Then you had Brisbane who had played on the previous Friday playing on the Sunday. Why didn’t Brisbane play on the Friday and Melbourne on the Sunday which would have been the fairest outcome. To compound the issue, the grand finalists have also been mismatched by the schedule with Adelaide playing at home on an eight day break playing the Wanderers on a six day break. At least in the AFL each side gets a seven day break leading into the final match of the season. How do you take a competition seriously with scheduling like that for a marquee game? By the way, I don’t care who wins this final.

I know that a lot of other people have commented on Mick Malthouse’s comment that Alex Rance should have been let off by the AFL Match Review Panel on the basis of his good character, but IUnknown-2 could not let it pass without comment. What Rance did may have been out of character, however, he still did it and it was intentional. To excuse someone in that situation would be a total miscarriage of justice. Did it deserve 2 weeks? Maybe one would have been sufficient on the basis of impact/injury, but a suspension was definitely required. Good character may lead to a reduced sentence, but guilt is guilt.

Have a great weekend!

Friday musing – Adam Voges, flares at A League games…..

Chris Barwin HillsI was interested to see that after Adam Voges had a lucky reprieve last week after being bowled on an incorrect call of “no ball”, that some of the commentators were calling for him to be given out in these circumstances.  This was based on the circumstances where the batsman is given “not out’ when it is later discovered that the vogesbowler has over stepped. I must say as much as I am usually more in the bowler’s camp than the batsman’s camp, this does not make sense and should not even be considered. When the batsman gets the call of “no ball”, his reaction is to have a go at the delivery with impunity and the level of application and concentration changes. It may be that the batsman does not even pick up the call and they don’t change their shot, but that would be impossible to adjudicate on. Leave things be for goodness sake!

We had the second instance of flares at an A-League game in the last two weeks and I must say I just don’t get it. Flares seem to be part of flaresthe unwanted fabric of soccer but make no appearance at any other sporting contest in this country. I don’t understand the rationale for flares at the soccer. That is not the issue I am looking at today though. Today’s issue is that now both Melbourne Victory and the West Sydney Wanderers could be subject to sabotage by opposition supporters. If it was a question of making the finals or finishing on top, what is going to stop someone dressing up as a Victory or Wanderers’ supporter and setting off a flare? Aside from the responsibility needing to rest with the crowd to retain offenders until security can apprehend them, how about people just generally showing some commonsense and

Have a great weekend!

Weekend musing – Chris Gayle, Big Bash League, A League…..

Chris Barwin HillsWell we are back in the swing of things for the new year and the biggest story in sport this week had nothing to do with the actual sport, but the comments by Chris Gayle to Mel McLaughlin in an interview after his innings in the Big Bash. I did not see the interview live, but heard it replayed the following day. My initial thought was chris gaylethat it could have been a set up given Gayle’s playboy image, but was assured that McLaughlin was not comfortable with it. There is no excuse for Gayle, what he did was wrong and it warranted a fine and he won’t be asked back so he has cooked his own goose, but did it warrant the analysis that it got? The ABC ran a story on the 7.30 Report and it was the hot topic on talk back radio. No one died and no one was physically hurt or threatened and whilst I am sure Mel McLaughlin didn’t appreciate the comments or the attention the incident created, let’s keep it in perspective. Obviously a slow news day.

This was not unlike the Dustin Martin, chopstick incident where the martinmedia pushed the story, whilst the woman who was threatened, did not want to make too big a deal of it. Having said that, the Martin incident would appear to be a lot worse than what Chris Gayle said. On the scale of transgressions, I think being physically threatened is worse than inappropriate language.

In the meantime, the Big Bash has gone from strength to strength and I doubt that Cricket Australia will get better crowds for the ODI series against India. 80,000 at the MCG for a domestic 20/20 game is amazing and the scheduling is perfect for night time viewing. I don’t have a team, I like both the Melbourne teams with a leaning towards the Renegades, but that could be a reaction against the Eddie Maguire aligned Stars.

I went to the soccer at Skilled Stadium last night and there was another good crowd in attendance. I think there is a bit of a push to have an A-League or a Big Bash team based in Geelong. I believe marinersthere is enough interest down here, but I am not sure if there would be enough corporate support. That being said there seems to be enough crowd support to warrant more A-League fixtures and Big Bash games once Skilled Stadium has been upgraded.

Have a great weekend!

Friday musing – Jose Mourinho, Louis Van Gaal, A League, West Indies….

Chris Barwin HillsWell the Chelsea manager’s job continues to be a poisoned chalice with Jose Mourinho being moved on by the same Club for a second josetime the year after he took the title. It is pretty clear his team is not playing for him and being on the brink of the relegation zone, it did look to be inevitable and a case of when, not if.

Sticking with the EPL, Louis Van Gaal has also come in for some stick louisas well. While Manchester United have not been winning, they certainly haven’t been conceding many goals with the least “goals against” in the League so I don’t think it is all doom and gloom or as bad as the situation at Chelsea.

On the local scene we have the big local A League derby this weekend with Melbourne City coming off three very impressive wins as Unknown-4opposed to Melbourne Victory coming off three disappointing losses. The form guide couldn’t be more opposite. Personally I would like to see City continue their winning ways as they have been quite entertaining slotting the goals away at a consistent rate.

The Hobart test match finished, as predicted by most of the pundits, smithwith an easy victory to the Australians. I think it is time the ICC stepped into the West Indies situation to provide more finance and support. Cricket needs a strong West Indian team as they are the only test playing “nation” in that part of the world and like the AFL commission fostering football in the northern states, the ICC have the same responsibility to world cricket.

Have a great weekend!

Weekend musing – Golf, Cricket, Soccer……..

Chris Barwin HillsWell not only is Jordan Spieth the number one golfer in the world, he is also the number one tipster in the world having tipped Matt Jones to win the Australian Open title last weekend. Knowing that Jones is a jonesfriend of his and that he had tipped him to win, it got me thinking if Spieth had allowed Jones to win, not necessarily consciously, but maybe unconsciously. Watching the final hole with an eagle chance to put him into a play off, Spieth’s putt looked a little unconvincing. Putting aside my conspiracy theory, a great effort by Jones holding off the world number 1 in Spieth and a former world number 1 in Adam Scott.

The final test against the Kiwi’s in Adelaide last weekend nevillbreathed some life into the cricket despite it only going for three days. Finally the ball carried sway with the top score of only 66 being made by Peter Nevill the Australian keeper. The day/night concept was an undoubted success, but common sense should dictate that not every Test should be played in that format.

The Kiwi’s continued to fair badly with the DRS with Nathan Lyon getting a reprieve. The ICC has since come out and advised that the decision was wrong, however, the third umpire has to be absolutely sure if he is going to overturn the officiating umpires decision and 1440188864611there was certainly some doubt in my mind. The other decision which I think requires some review was the decision to send Mitchell Starc out to bat in the dying stages of the game. I had no problem with Starc going out there and trying to belt a few boundaries, but why not send him in before Peter Siddle and not when there was one ball to go in the over. Fortunately it didn’t matter and Australia got home.

Melbourne City have strung together two 5-1 results in a row in the mooyA-League and they should make hay before the January transfer window, because if Aaron Mooy is not picked up by a European side I would be very surprised. He appears to be a class above his opponents and deserves a chance for higher honours.

Have a great weekend!

Friday musing – A-League final, AFL, Mick Malthouse, NBA Playoffs, Andrew Bogut…..

Chris Barwin HillsThe biggest thing in local sport in the last week was the A-League grand final and what a comprehensive result for the Melbourne Victory. They were aggressive and positive from the start and played almost the complete game. Sydney FC only had two real shots on goal and both went straight to the keeper. Speaking of the keeper, Lawrence Thomas, in my far from expert opinion, he is better than
the injured Nathan Coe so they didn’t lose anything there. I think in Unknown-4the previous week Melbourne City put more pressure on the Victory defence for the same score line. This is perhaps the most complete side to take out the title and while they lost and drew a few games during the year that they should have won, it was evident that if they clicked no other side in the competition could beat them. Mark Milligan was a deserved winner of the Joe Marston Medal and it is surprising that he has not find greater success overseas.

In the AFL it is interesting to see the issue about the head high tackles and the tactics employed by the likes of Lindsay Thomas in drawing free kicks. I raised this issue earlier in the year and players Unknown-3that drop their knees and dip/raise their shoulders are almost impossible for the umpires to detect even though it is the equivalent of ducking the head. I think it is unfair to be critical of the likes of Thomas, the Selwoods, Shoey and Puopolo when coaches from all teams should be teaching the players the same tricks. Every supporter hates when these frees are paid against them, but delight when they go in their favour.

The heat on Mick Malthouse continues and it reminded me of when Ron Barassi went back to Melbourne. He had been successful at two clubs, but could not work his magic a third time. I think the main issue at Carlton is their atrocious disposal. They win the ball in Unknown-2contested situations and then give it straight back to the opposition. I think they could be a sneaky chance tonight against Geelong, but I am still not prepared to pick them. My upset for the round is the Saints to topple West Coast.

The NBA finals are entering the final phases and wouldn’t it be great Unknownif the Golden State Warriors played off against the Cleveland Cavaliers so we could be guaranteed an Australian was on the winning side. Andrew Bogut v Matthew Dellavadova. From a personal point of view I Unknown-1would like to see the Golden State Warriors win the title for Andrew Bogut given his constant battles with injury he deserves the reward.

Have a great weekend!

Friday musing – WADA wades in with an appeal in the Essendon supplements saga, A League final…

Chris Barwin HillsWell Tuesday morning I awoke from my slumbers to the news that I had not anticipated. WADA had lodged an appeal against the AFL Tribunal’s decision in the Essendon supplements saga. I had not considered that WADA would have much interest in a domestic sport where the team under investigation had not actually won anything, as opposed to the Lance Armstrong/Marion Jones cases.

This seems to be very much driven by ASADA’s Ben McDevitt as it is hard to see why WADA would instigate an appeal without a strong push from him. I must say his comments after the original decision 1427929273480was handed down smacked of sour grapes. In addition, if the case is as flimsy as was reported, it is hard to see why an international body would want to touch it. The big concern is still the very low standard of proof required.

Another confounding issue here is the innocence of the players. I don’t think any one thinks the players knowingly took a banned substance. I am sure the club didn’t sanction banned substances, so if banned substances were administered (and I understand there is no direct evidence that they were) why continue to pursue this matter?

There is no doubt the club should have taken more care to ensure that the records and the substances were all properly approved and documented, but the club has been dealt with by the AFL. What has Unknowncome out this week was that there was a spreadsheet as to what the club believes was administered. This should put to one side the comments that the club didn’t even know what was administered to the players, because clearly they knew what they believed was administered and anything else would have been administered without their knowledge and consent.

It is quite ironic that revelations regarding the use of stem cell injections to aid recovery from injury came out in the same week that WADA decided to appeal. I resolve not to make any further comments on this sorry issue until CAS decide on the appeal.

Moving away from this blight on the local sporting landscape to the A-League grand final, it would have been interesting to see what sort of crowd they may have got if the game was to be played at the graham-arnoldMCG. I have heard suggestions of 70,000 and that would not be out of the realms of possibility and would match the expected crowd for the Richmond -v- Collingwood game at the same venue. Either way you would think that the game would still attract a greater audience than the Western Bulldogs -v- Freemantle game at Etihad Stadium.

I am hoping for a Melbourne Victory win and while a lot of the focus has been on their strike power up forward, I think the key to this game will be the captain, Mark Milligan. Should the Victory win, I think he is every chance to be named the Joe Marston medalist.

Have a great weekend!