Monday, October 09, 2006


The Miron Show

Post-match press conferences at Aussie Stadium are often tediously predictable. From the managers, a few clichés along the “lads did well” lines, a couple of slyly derogatory remarks about refereeing decisions, and a studied avoidance of any questions dealing with the actual tactical nuts and bolts. From the players, often little more than the odd syllable here and there.

All that changed yesterday, when the Miron Show came to town.

James Brown, on his excellent blog, has begun a “Miron Quote of the Week” segment, and having now seen Mr. Bleiberg in glorious flow, I can only heartily applaud his decision.

To start with, Queensland’s manager joyfully dispensed with the convention that the journos ask the questions, and the manager dutifully responds. Before Ray Gatt could pose his customary opener, Bleiberg decided to tell us the story of the game. This was quite an experience.

Auxiliary verbs mysteriously disappeared from Bleiberg’s sentences as he whimsically worked his way through the major events of the Sydney v. Queensland game, taking a moment to urge FIFA to calculate injury time in half-minutes from now on (seeing that Sydney’s equalizer had been scored in the final thirty seconds of first half injury time).

The canons of English word order were thrown out the window as Bleiberg dispensed with typical managerial pretence to state that Queensland were playing for a draw from about the 60-minute mark. Surprising honesty, given that few managers would readily admit to such a negative approach. Yet to Bleiberg, it was merely the appropriate approach, given the opposition and the occasion.

The hearts of ESL teachers everywhere were broken as Bleiberg keenly outlined his tactics to the assembled coaches at the back of the room.

In all seriousness, it was very refreshing to hear a manager talk in quite specific detail about his tactical approach; he had expected the pressure on Sydney’s backline from Reinaldo, Lynch and Milicic to entice them to go long more often than not (they did), he then counted on McCloughan and Ognenovski to dominate David Zdrilic in the air (they did), and he furthermore entrusted Matt McKay and Massimo Murdocca with the task of cleaning up the “second balls” (on the whole, they mnaged to do this). All aimed at nullifying Benito Carbone, and all pretty successful.

Of course, this may have been merely wisdom after the event; with Bleiberg, you can never be quite sure.

One thing, however, I am sure of: yesterday afternoon, Miron Bleiberg was a definite breath of fresh air.

Good to see Bleiberg come out of the "coaches closet" and admit he was happy to play for the draw. I still have difficulty with his goalkeeper rotation plan, while understanding it's intentions Reddy's clean sheet record was something I wouldn't have toyed with purely because I decided something pre-season or whenever.

Closing out Carbone's game was done well, denying him the ball as often as they could and not giving him the room he enjoyed the week before.
...Good to see Bleiberg come out of the "coaches closet" and admit he was happy to play for the draw....

Yeah, that really took me aback. I've seen coaches who'd obviously decided to shut up shop still trying to pretend they were "just wanting the team to play football" or whatever, when quizzed on the point. As I said, a breath of fresh air!

...Closing out Carbone's game was done well, denying him the ball as often as they could and not giving him the room he enjoyed the week before....

Yeah, excellently done. He just couldn't get into the game.

A bit of it, IMO, had to do with the fact that Zdrilic was completely mastered in the air. I don't think he managed an aerial flick-on, for Beni or anyone else, all game.
Miron is about the entertainment business. He realises that selling tickets is necessary for a-league survival.

I met him last year in the middle of the period when both the home crowd and the press (or was it the other way around?) were calling for his replacement (with Frank Farina - my tip for Newcastle now). He was very stowick. His attitude is constant whether he is winning or losing. What ever will be will be.

He realises that the local press often don't know much about the game and therefore need to be led a little to get the public's interest.

I thought Muscat's comments after the Melbourne game were poor. Miron helped get the crowd up to 25k that day. There is so much media noise and other distractions that football has to speak-up. Managers have to be both interesting and honest and that is Miron. I was glad he has been able to stay on.
Hi John,

...I thought Muscat's comments after the Melbourne game were poor....

Didn't catch them, what did he say?
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