Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Queensland Roar 0 Sydney 1

Sydney's goal silences the crowd, not that it was making much noise anyway.

I am a bit bored. The football is atrocious, the worst I've ever paid to see. And I've paid to see Gloucester City, so we are definitely talking bad. My back has been hurting at the football; I think it's standing for two hours that does it.

How terrible it is to age! Even if I was inclined, I would not believe in a god that allowed life to be so shit. How can there be a god who loves you but permits congenital disorders that twist humans into monsters? This isn't a new question, of course, but the answers are never satisfactory. Perhaps, you might say, God created the universe and then let it be, set up the clockwork and let it run. Well, if he did, what would be the point of him? You would certainly be wasting your time praying to him, and you might praise him but continually kissing his butt wouldn't seem to have much point.

I think it's a central dilemma for Christians: either God intervenes or he does not. Most seem to think he does. But if he does, why does he not intervene more? He seems to answer very few prayers. God is inscrutable, Christians say. Now us rational types know that is a blunt rationalisation of God's not having any actual discernible impact on the world, but besides that, Christians, to maintain their faith, have to compartmentalise their beliefs. God loves me but he allows me to suffer? Doesn't seem very loving. The suffering is in some way good for me? Well, why then wouldn't he reward me for causing suffering for others?

Above all else, the notion that a loving god would give you a rather trying seventy-year entrance exam for your eternal reward is preposterous. I would not believe in a god like that even if he visited me personally (I'd put that down to the skunk).

They serve only midstrength beer at the stadium. It's not hideously priced at five bucks a pint (it looks like a pint; Australia has been metric for quite a long time and wholeheartedly so -- unlike the UK, where most people use imperial measures and can't understand metric measures well, even those like me who are well aware what they are) but you can't get drunk on it without a concerted effort. And I am going to have one of those nights anyway, where I drink a fair bit but don't feel any drunker at midnight than I did at seven, when I'd only had a couple. I am feeling a little sour anyway; I wouldn't make a good drunk even if I did get there. Everyone in town seems to be 17. I feel too old. Everywhere is too noisy. Mind you, I didn't like noisy pubs when I was 17 myself, or ever. Australian pubs differ from English ones. They are usually brightly lit and very loud, not the cosy hideyholes that I am used to. You cannot have a quiet chat in Gilhooleys or the Paddo Tavern. But Australian pubs did not grow out of social meeting places, but out of places to drink heavily. And that's still what they are: focused on drink, not socialising. People are not friendly in pubs here. They hardly could be; you practically need to be hugging someone to be able to hear them.

The Paddo Tavern is typically Australian. It's far too big, is not comfortable and the music blares. The barmaids all wear cowboy hats and crop tops. There is some sort of cowboy theme to the place, but I've never quite figured out why. The beer is overpriced and too cold for an evening that isn't all that warm. But it's a better place for a drink than Gilhooleys. I've never been to Ireland, but I'd be surprised if pubs there were so cold and inhuman as Gilhooleys. It is just so fucking loud!

Which cannot be said of the crowd, silent and sulky after Sydney score. Queensland are the better side, but they don't look like scoring. Farina seems unaware of their tactical deficiencies, let alone of the deficiencies of some of the players.

Queensland's main problem is that they are so cumbersome. When they go forward, they do so slowly, and the players bunch. A crafty player like Milicic finds he has no space, and is nullified. If the ball was played up front quickly, he would be able to stretch the defence more. I don't mean the keeper should hammer it up the pitch. Reddy does that and every time we surrender possession. None of our strikers is strong in the air, and Reddy doesn't seem to be aiming at them anyway. We should be moving the ball out quickly to the wings, but we don't seem to have anyone stationed on the wings. Our play is very narrow, which allows Sydney to keep a compact shape.

I've realised that Farina patterns his game on the way it's played in Italy. There, teams build up slowly, using careful technical play to create openings. They defend deep, and do not press the opposition. They tend to play fairly narrow because they are looking to make short, accurate passes. This is a fine way to play if you are technically strong. At A-League level, it's rubbish. An English style would be much more effective: press the opposition, push up and compress the midfield (not the final third, which is what Queensland end up doing), use width to create opportunities, play the ball quickly and directly. In other words, play to your limitations; don't pretend you are Roma or Inter. Of course, this style of play would be better served by bigger, stronger players, but any player can get fit, and a willingness to get stuck in can go a long way.

The crowd moan about the referee, but for once, he had a good game. Tiatto was best on pitch, industrious and neat, but he lacks creativity (and is sometimes poorly positioned, given that he seems completely onefooted and can't pass effectively when on the righthand side of the pitch), closely ahead of Seo, who again has a good match, only let down by some uncharacteristically poor tackling -- he is such a threat coming forward that you can only wonder what great things we might achieve if his vision and accuracy were employed further forward in midfield, where he belongs. Reinaldo is again very poor, but Milicic and Lynch are even worse, although it's not wholly their fault that they are ineffective when the team is not playing to their strengths. McKay has a poor match, as does Marcinho, who passes poorly and fails to get into the box when we do get the ball "wide" (wide of the box more often than actually wide), which is criminal in an "attacking" midfielder. Moore and McLoughan are solid enough, but Griffin simply is not a professional footballer. His distribution is abysmal; his positioning worse; and when he gets forward, he is a liability, because when he inevitably loses the ball, he leaves a huge hole behind him on the opposition's right. When he comes on, Zullo again looks ineffective. He is simply too small and too slow to make it as a pro, and I don't think he will. Murdocca, also small and incapable of going past players, is okay when he comes on. For the last ten minutes we have the glorious sight of donkey centreback Ognenovski up front, where he is almost entirely ineffective. The ball is pumped up to him, but despite his height and bulk, he is no good in the air and worse with his feet, so he does nothing. Lumbering, clueless, slow: he is a good symbol of the Roar.


At 12:44 am, Blogger Father Luke said...

"Everyone in town seems to be 17"

Fuckin aye. Ain't it the god damned truth.

- -
Father Luke

At 2:50 am, Blogger Don said...

17's too young anyway. It's the 27 year olds that send me over.

I don't mind aging so much except that I'm vain. Photographs reveal I've no cause to be, but the mirror lies well enough. Maybe because mirrors are always in dim light.

I enjoy reading about different national styles of football. That's another thing we've missed out on for being large enough to get away with being so isolated.

At 9:53 pm, Anonymous OldBloke said...

There's an old Onion (I think) front page with the headline "God answers disabled boy's prayer" (or similar) then under the pic of the boy, in slightly smaller type "Says No"


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