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|A-League Round Five Talking Points|
Round five of the A-League was certainly a riveting weekend of football. Enthusiasts indulged in some exciting clashing, which were not devoid of drama, tension and its fair share of controversy.
Melbourne Victory were left depleted, gallantly fighting A-League front-runners Brisbane Roar with a nine-man show, ultimately sharing the spoils and extending the Roar’s impressive unbeaten streak to 33 games. Sydney FC battled its way back from a two-goal deficit against Gold Coast United, to remarkably steal the points with a dubious penalty in stoppage-time, sending the Sky Blues faithful into ecstasy. Although, United boss Miron Bleiberg didn’t share the analogous emotions. While, the Mariners and Jets tasted triumph, there were no winners between Adelaide and Heart, whilst entertaining; a point favoured neither side dwindling in the bottom half of the table.
There were several talking points to come out of the weekend’s fixtures. Let’s analyse some of the key issues and incidents.
Whilst refereeing is seemingly an arduous assignment, the inconsistency illustrated with the officiating this season has been a major point of concern. We’ve seen several instances where referees have made atrocious decisions, consequently impacting on the result of particular fixtures.
When Heart hosted Sydney, we saw the visitors awarded a corner – when it palpably should have been a goal-kick – subsequently the Sky Blues equalised from the resulting corner in stoppage time. Furthermore, during the match between Wellington and Victory, an assistant referee called for offside from a Melbourne throw-in, whilst the same official disallowed Archie Thompson from scoring an impressive brace when onside by a good two metres. Football supporters understand, and accept mistakes from the officials, although when they are of this magnitude – in a professional environment – mediocrity should not be accepted.
The most contentious matter was Matthew Foschini’s dismissal in the 37thminute against Brisbane Roar last Saturday night. After correctly showing Ante Covic his marching a minute into proceedings, referee Ben Williams obnoxiously dismissed the full-back, for a challenge on Thomas Broich which, in all honesty was worthy of a yellow ticket at best. Yes, the challenge was mistimed and late, although it was not worthy of a sending off by any means. This unfortunately changed the whole complexion of the tie – with Victory on the back-foot defending with nine men – and should have never come into fruition. If an incident like this was worthy of an early shower, then anticipate to see an array of red cards in the coming weeks – assuming the officiating will be of a consistent nature.
Football is a physical sport, and while it’s imperative to clean up the game, the sport will not win over many fans with this outlandish, drastic approach from the men in charge.
Appeals board (Match Review Panel):
As discussed, Foschini was issued with a red card for a clumsy challenge on Broich. With cultivating support from the media and its fans, Victory, rightly attempted to appeal the decision – in order to abolish the mandatory one-week suspension.
However, Football Federation Australia responded irritably. Here is a segment of their press release:
“The MRP unanimously determined that the Obvious Error Application should be rejected and that the decision of the Referee to award the Red Card was justified. The MRP unanimously determined that the Obvious Error Application of the Club was frivolous for the purposes of clause 9.8 of the A-League Disciplinary Regulations.”
To add salt to the wound, the MRP decided to append an additional week to Foschini’s ban, on the grounds of a “frivolous” appeal. Labelling Melbourne Victory’s appeal in such manner, implying self-righteousness, is disrespectful to the club, and significantly to its ardent supporters. It displays a level of arrogance, to reply in such a poor, inarticulate way.
If a club fervently believes the referee has made an error, it has a right to voice their opinions, on behalf of its brand and fans. Disregarding the matter with such insolent behaviour is a sour look on the MRP, and its relationship with the lifeblood of Australian football, the clubs itself.
AntonyGolec’s Twitter fiasco:
Adelaide United youngster Antony Golec, 21, has landed himself in hot water, following his distasteful remarks towards referee Ben Williams, via social medium Twitter. He criticised the performance of referee Williams during the heated encounter at Etihad Stadium between Melbourne and Brisbane.
Golec originally tweeted: "Ben Williams worst referee ever'', before explicitly writing a homophobic message entailing: "Ben Williams you are gay, biggest homo going around, you gypsie."
The defender’s remarks were ostensibly unintelligent and dim-witted. Since then, Golec has been forced to apologise, with an expected reprimand forthcoming by the FFA. It is a valuable reminder to social media addicts, that if used incorrectly, it can incur severe ramifications. As your mother may have once told you, “If you’ve got nothing good to say, don’t say anything.”
Miron Bleiberg’s sensational rant:
Some may call him impertinent; others may think he is a comical genius, whichever way you desire to depict him, Miron Bleiberg coveys entertainment. His colourful, yet audacious character has grabbed the headlines once again. Evidently frustrated with his side’s 3-2 defeat – conceding a questionable spot-kick in stoppage time to gift Sydney FC victory – the Gold Coast boss didn’t hide his emotions, in what was an incredible post-match press-conference, acutely aimed at the A-League hierarchy.
"My feeling and my players' feeling is the referee fell for any excuse in order to give Sydney the game," he revealed in the post-match press-conference.
If that wasn’t enough to make the headlines, the charismatic boss continued his rant, visibly irritated at the turn of events.
"The other type of referee is the one we call the 'homey' one. You know why they are the 'homey' one? Because all the time they favour the home team. Even when it's 50-50, it goes the way of the home team."
Bleiberg has since apologised for his outlandish remarks.
Ange’s Postecoglou’s tactical breakdown:
While an exhilarating encounter unfolded at Etihad Stadium last Saturday night, in rather contentious circumstances, Melbourne Victory found itself deteriorating – reduced to nine men after 37 minutes – seemingly fighting for survival against a rampant Brisbane Roar outfit seeking to continue its extraordinary unbeaten run to 33 matches.
Diminished to playing with two less players – in conjunction with a debutant 19-year-old goalkeeper – Victory fought ferociously, defending their goal for an hour to share the points with a team portrayed as the best to have played in an Australian domestic competition. Whilst Melbourne displayed traits exemplifying courage, fortitude and heart, it was Brisbane who failed to break down the stern Victory resistance.
Brisbane, renowned for their patient, yet effective football ethos, comprising of working the ball out from the back, accompanied with high levels of ball retention has been their trademark under coach Ange Postecoglou. While its game-plan has been efficient, the Roar didn’t use their two-man advantage to their benefit. With a young, inexperienced keeper in goal for Melbourne, the Roar didn’t test the custodian enough, nor apply strenuous pressure on the opposition’s goal. Yes, Lawrence Thomas was called into action on more than one occasion, although the Roar could, and should have applied further strain on the Victory’s defensive line. Brisbane were mulish on their football philosophy, not desiring to take a risk, or try a different approach to break down the gallant Melbourne, spurred on by a passionate crowd just shy of 25,000. Opportunities to take on an opponent, whip an early cross or take an unexpected long shot were not evident.
Whilst it is difficult to criticise the manner Brisbane go about their football, on this occasion is appeared the Roar didn’t have a “Plan B” to utilise. Without question, Brisbane is a force to be reckoned with, although teams may not hold the same fear when locking horns with the table-toppers.
Follow Robert on Twitter @RobertDiFabio