Five things we learned this week in the A-League

The problems run at lot deeper than first thought at the Wanderers

The A-League table has an upside down look to it this season with last year’s top three – Brisbane Roar, Western Sydney Wanderers, and Central Coast Mariners – all sitting in the bottom four this time round.

Western Sydney’s form in particular is a massive concern with zero wins to their name from nine games, and they took just one point from games at home to the Roar and away to Adelaide United over the past week.

They were absolutely destroyed by Adelaide at Coopers Stadium, with the hosts enjoying a whopping 86% possession in the second half and 81% overall.

 

The result was never really in doubt once Wanderers captain Nikolai Topor-Stanley was sent off in the 16th minute, though the margin of victory should have been much greater for the Reds.

It’s not just on the field that Tony Popovic’s Asian Champions are having problems with news emerging that the players threatening to boycott the Club World Cup over a dispute around bonuses they should receive.

The figure offered by the club (10% of prize money earned) is below the players’ expectations (50%), throwing their participation in doubt ahead of an opening fixture against Cruz Azul on 13 December.

So far, neither side is budging and time is running out for a satisfactory resolution.

Glory’s ability to win on the road has been a catalyst for their great start

Perth Glory remain surprise leaders of the A-League after nine rounds following their comeback win against Sydney FC last Thursday night.

After largely dominating the first half, they fell behind when their ex-striker Shane Smeltz scored from the spot after a horrendous handball decision was given against Dino Djulbic.

Glory’s resilience was tested by their excellent character again came to fore as first Rostyn Griffiths equalised with a header from Nebojsa Marinkovic’s free kick, before Andy Keogh netted an 86th minute penalty.

 

Left back Scott Jamieson was the man taken down in the area, and both he and Josh Risdon have been key to the team’s success this season with their ability to get forward and join the attack.

Indeed, Risdon’s form has resulted in an international call up to the provisional Socceroos squad of 46 for next month’s Asian Cup that will be held on home soil.

Last season Glory picked up just points six (from a possible forty-two) on the road; this time out they have ten from five games.

The Newcastle Jets really should have signed Nathan Burns permanently.

Another week and another implosion by the Newcastle Jets who blew a lead against the Wellington Phoenix to lose 3-1 in their own backyard.

After Joel Griffiths had put the Jets in front in the first half before Nathan Burns, who was on loan at Newcastle last season, raced through to round goalkeeper Ben Kennedy to equalise.

The Jets opted not to sign Burns on a permanent basis due to concerns over a knee problem so the Socceroo signed for the Nix during the offseason and is now the A-League’s leading marksman with eight goals in nine games, including the club’s first ever hat-trick.

 

Michael McGlinchey and Roy Krishna, with a belter from about 25-yards got the other goals for Wellington who have turned into an excellent side to watch under Ernie Merrick.

Due signing Roly Bonevacia, who came through the Ajax youth system, has been particularly impressive and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see some big clubs start sniffing around if his form keeps up.

The problem for us was our medical advice at the time was that he was high risk because of his knee. So we reluctantly made the decision not to sign him.

– Jets CEO Robbie Middleby on Nathan Burns

Moving the Mariners is not the solution

A-League supporters are always waiting for talk around which club will go to the wall next, following in the footsteps of the New Zealand Knights, North Queensland Fury, and Gold Coast United.

The Central Coast Mariners have stepped up to the plate, a club that has always been run on a modest budget in a small catchment area relative to most, if not all, of the league’s other clubs.

With crowd numbers down for their home games at Gosford Stadium, the owners decided to shift some games to North Sydney in the hope of tapping into that market.

 

Last Friday night they hosted Melbourne Victory on an oval that was widely criticised given it featured a rock hard cricket wicket through the middle, something that greatly irked visiting coach Kevin Muscat.

A lightning storm didn’t help matters, and comments from those connected with Fox Sports bemoaning the venue as a whole did nothing to suggest that it is sustainable going forward.

Victory ran out comfortable 3-0 winners in front of a crowd that wasn’t any better than the Mariners would have gotten on the Central Coast.

Football has gone back 20 years tonight, playing on a cricket pitch. I have to say the grounds man did a remarkable job getting it in the condition it was in, but in this day and age the steps we have taken forward as a code…we have taken a backward step tonight.

– Victory coach Kevin Muscat on playing at North Sydney Oval

No light at the end of the tunnel for Brisbane Roar

Last seasons champions Brisbane Roar have managed just two wins so far and it will take a minor miracle for them to retain their trophy next May.

Having lost top scorer Besart Berisha to Melbourne Victory during the winter break, title winning manager Mike Mulvey was given the boot, and now star playmaker Thomas Broich has been ruled out until the new year through injury.

News also broke this week that skipper Matt Smith now wants out of the club having received an offer from a side in Thailand, though Roar are keen to retain the centre back.

 

Their latest outing saw them slump to 1-0 defeat against an equally underwhelming Melbourne City side at AAMI Park in front of just 7721 spectators.

City’s David Villa inspired bubble has firmly burst and not even the arrival of Australian striker Josh Kennedy in January will make up the poor results.

Coach John van ‘t Schip has been given the dreaded vote of confidence so the smart money is on him to be sent packing next.

Author Details

Neil Sherwin

Co-editor of BackPageFootball.com. Writes mostly on Premier League and A-League with contributions to other sites including TheFootballSack, InBedWithMaradona and Bloomberg's BSports. Has featured on The Guardian's Football Weekly.

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