Monday, October 08, 2007

Queensland Roar 2 Wellington Phoenix 1

After Friday's match, Frank Farina again displayed his cluelessness. We did the same things, he said, but we just put our chances away.

But we didn't do the same things. For some of the first half, we played much more directly, getting the ball forward quickly. We even showed some small signs of pressing Wellington in the middle of the park, although they were so unkeen on playing any football and so pisspoor at doing so that they generally coughed up the ball without the need of pressure.

The difference was clear. We picked two young lads, Kruse and Zullo, who had something to prove and put the effort in to prove it. Both were lively and exciting on the ball; both showed more movement in one half than the likes of Reinaldo have managed all season. How many more matches Reinaldo can spend standing around doing fuck all before even Farina notices that he's useless is one of those mysteries.

It wasn't very promising at first glance. We seemed to be playing 31311 (yes, as mad as that looks), with three central defenders, a right wingback, two central and one leftsided midfielders, a man in the hole if the hole were moved twenty yards to the right, and Reinaldo "spearheading" the attack. So Farina had gone some way to providing the width we had lacked, but the obvious solution -- simply to play 442 -- had again escaped him.

Zullo in particular was magnificent, running hard, scoring and setting up the second. His movement and energy were excellent, and it was a pity he ran out of puff, succumbing to cramp in the second half. But Farina will draw the wrong lesson from this match: he will conclude that it was the player mix that was wrong, when it was actually the playing style. As the second half showed! We slowed back down in the second period, and didn't look at all effective. We were never in much danger, because Wellington were simply awful, but we showed frailty at the back yet again, conceding a silly late goal. But Frank, look at how we got our goals! Both came from aggressive pushes forward, with men getting into the box to get on the end of early balls. How many times this season have I found myself yelling "play it early", only to be frustrated as one of our inept midfielders slowed it back down and passed it square.

Talking of yelling, I have to mention that game. A pub full of overconfident Aussies and pommies hoping that it wouldn't be a thrashing made for a great atmosphere to watch the rugby world cup game. I don't think I've ever been anywhere that loud -- not even watching England play in the real world cup. Brilliant stuff. At half time, a woman called me over. Hello, I thought, I've pulled! But no, this was someone I used to work with in the UK. I had completely forgotten her, but she remembered me. We had been quite good friends, so it was quite embarrassing to have forgotten. But I put it down to age. I'm nearly *mumbletymumble* and she's probably only just thirty. And I've been around a bit. Still, it's nice to know that there's one person in this world I actually made a good impression on.

But back to the Roar. Zullo was best on field, but Kruse also played very well, at least for the first half. Seo was excellent again -- still wasted at right back, although he does get forward as much as he can. Moore was also solid, but the other two centre backs looked a bit out of sorts, particularly Ognedonkey, who combines lack of pace with lack of talent on the ball to make a rounded donkey. McKay was hopeless: his problem is that he cannot pass. He's much loved by the fans, and very much overrated by the press here, who think he should play for Australia. Really, they should look at how a quality midfielder such as Cahill plays, or even at someone like Tiatto. Tiatto has many of the limitations of McKay but is ten times the player. He works hard, positions himself well and his passing, although never flashy, is always neat. I'm becoming a big fan of his. Marcinho, not so much. He had a decent game, but I think he would be much more effective if he looked to offload the ball more quickly and took a better option than running at defenders who are able to close him out because we play so narrow. Reinaldo was entirely ineffective and again missed good chances. He has to be dropped now. I'm not sure who we can replace him with though: Lynch was poor again when he came on (just not well suited by the slow buildup, and neither is Milicic). Maybe we could play Murdocca, Marcinho, Tiatto, Zullo across the midfield and put Kruse up front? Maybe Minniecon should have his chance? I don't know how this is all looking in training, so it's hard to say what Farina should do. Except to play 442. It looks much our best option with the players we have.


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