Tag Archives: melbourne-victory

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.

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 – UFC & Ronda Rousey hit Melbourne

Chris Barwin HillsNot much has grabbed my imagination this week.  It’s been business as usual on the Aussie sports scene

The Australian cricket team won as expected and the Socceroos also won as expected. Melbourne United in the NBL had been winning unitedbefore last night with one of their wins with a bit of help from the match officials. Melbourne Victory won the FFA cup as expected. Nothing in horse racing was as near as interesting as the Melbourne Cup, save for the racing being a bit more interesting due to a less biased track.

One thing which has created a bit of discussion around the traps is the UFC event featuring Ronda Rousey at Etihad Stadium this weekend. I am not a big fan of UFC, but I don’t mind it and it is certainly more interesting than main stream boxing these days. I rouseydo not subscribe to the view that it is too brutal as I think the sport is well governed and there are probably less injuries in the UFC than there are in boxing. I think one of the reasons why the UFC has somewhat supplanted boxing as the preferred “blood sport” is that it does not appear to be controlled by the likes of Don King and other entrepreneurs and it doesn’t have the multiple factions and associations that have split world boxing. If boxing wants to reclaim lost ground they need to win back the public and have one unified governing body to control the sport world wide.

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!

Friday musing – Soccer & penalties

Chris Barwin HillsThis week there has been a bit of controversy around penalties in soccer. First there was the Seb Ryall penalty in the Melbourne Victory v Sydney game on the weekend and then the Wayne Rooney penalty in the FA Cup match between Manchester United and Preston during the week.

There have been calls for a video review of penalties and I must say that I support this call. Penalties are often the difference between winning and losing and seem to usually favour the home side.

When a penalty is given there should be absolutely no doubt that it was justified. I know I have been against the DRS in cricket because it often creates as many questions as it answers, but in soccer the video review is usually pretty clear and when in doubt it would simply revert to the referee’s decision.  

Some pundits suggest it may hold up the game, but there are plenty of stoppages in the game anyway so shy not spend a little extra time and get it right.

What are your thoughts?

Have a great weekend!

Friday musing is back – Test Cricket, Big Bash, Asian Cup & more

Chris Barwin HillsHappy New Year!

Well it is all about the cricket at this time of the year and my first observation relates to the standard of pitches that have been produced for the series against India. For as well as Virat Kohli and Steve Smith have played, there has been a lot of runs and not many wickets.

A lot of the Australian wickets have gone in the chase for quick runs. I wonder if the Indian authorities warned their Australian counterparts about preparing wickets to suit Mitchell Johnson. Johnson has struggled on these pitches with only one session in Brisbane where has been truly dangerous. It is hard to be too critical when there has been two results from the first three tests, with Australia batting India out of the Melbourne test to ensure they won the series.

However, I am sure if these pitches had been presented to the English last year there is no way we could have won 5-0. Nathan Lyon will be the number one bowler for the series and who would have predicted that at the start? I think in many ways for as well as the Indians have played, their fielding and catching has been sub-standard and you can’t keep dropping catches and win matches.

I hark back to one of those ill fated series in the 1980s against the West Indies when the Aussies dropped at least 30 catches. When you are playing one of the best teams in the world you have to limit their scoring not let them off the hook.

Continuing the cricket theme I have a comment about the Phil Hughes tributes. When does it all get too much?  I understand the test team has been truly rocked by what happened and it is quite unparalleled in cricket, however, I think we are getting very close to putting a lid on the tributes. His family have been decidedly absent from the public eye and I now think it is time for the players pay their respects in private.

Finally on the cricket, I have watched a little of the Big Bash and it is great to sit down and watch a bit of sport at night time and see a result. I am sure Channel 10 are rapt they have the rights. My accolade goes out to Brad Hogg playing for the Perth Scorchers. At 43 years of age he came on the other night and landed his spinners perfectly and essentially set up the win for Perth. Amazing!

The Asian Cup starts tonight and I must say my enthusiasm has yet to be piqued. Perhaps once it gets going I will be more interested, but at this stage the jury is out.

Continuing the World Game theme, I went to the Melbourne Victory v Perth Glory game last week in Geelong and while the result was not so good and it was still very hot, the crowd and the atmosphere were very good. I think of the AFL venues, Kardinia Park lends itself to soccer because it has narrow wings. The Victory have two more games at the venue in the next two years and my guess is the experiment will be continued or even expanded.

Have a great weekend!

Friday musing – Melbourne Heart, the Ashes, Jarrod Lyle…….

Chris Barwin HillsI was watching the Melbourne Heart on SBS2 last Friday night and looking at the crowd, there was more noise coming from the West Sydney Wanderers crowd than the Heart supporters.  It occurred to me that the Wanderers have established a profile because they are linked to an area of Sydney, whereas the Melbourne Heart supporters are probably made up of soccer fans who do not follow the Melbourne Victory.  The Heart really needs a profile that people can relate to, otherwise I can see them disappearing before too much longer.  This is compounded by their inability to win games.  They really deserved a draw against the Wanderers, but didn’t have the class to capitalise on their opportunities.  It doesn’t help that Harry Kewell can’t get on the park.  Whoever owns the rights to the Heart should consider relocating to Geelong or establishing a base in an area of Melbourne which has a strong soccer culture.

I was also interested to see that George Bailey and Mitchell Johnson have been named for the 1st Test starting next week in Brisbane.  I think naming George Bailey has some risk based on his performances in India where batting records were established with big run chases, so clearly the pitches were batting friendly strips.  His 1st class average is below 40, but then again so is that of Alex Doolan who was the other batsman in contention.  My guess is that the selectors opted for Bailey because he can assume the captaincy should Michael Clarke’s back let him down again.  I think if Cameron White can turn a few of his 50s into 100s then he could come back into contention as well.

Turning to Mitchell Johnson, we all know that at his best he is a redoubtable cricketer and a fine
fast-bowler, but at his worst he is a liability.  He has probably got another chance because of the injuries to the young incumbents and while I remain sceptical, I certainly hope he strikes form and punches a few holes in the England batting order.

Great to see Jarrod Lyle make a good comeback yesterday and let us hope he makes the cut for the Australian Masters.

Have a good weekend all!