Thursday, November 09, 2006

 

Imperfect 10

From the way some people carry on, you would think that there is a deep, dark conspiracy in Australian football to keep Nick Carle out of the national team.

Successive Australian managers have shunned him, despite the fact that he is, as most would admit, easily the most technically gifted Australian player still playing here.

Les Murray recently offered some perceptive comments on Carle (using them as parentheses for a robust exculpation of Nick Theodorakopoulos). Les compared him – not without reason – to another fine Australian midfielder of South American descent, Oscar Crino.

Like Crino, Carle is a genuine No. 10, a technically accomplished playmaker, ideally suited to the “three-quarter” role beloved of Italian purists.

When on song, he can be wonderfully exciting to watch. His cameo performance in the home Olympic playoff against New Zealand in 2004, after coming on as substitute, was stunning. Never have I seen a newly-arrived player turn a game so quickly and decisively.

Yet Frank Farina was never truly convinced by Carle, and the erstwhile national manager left him at home for the Athens tournament itself – a very poor decision, I feel.

This season, he has been used more sensibly by Newcastle’s two managers than he ever was by Richard Money, and he has flourished. His picture-book goal against Adelaide capped a fine individual performance, and against Sydney on Saturday he again caused plenty of problems with his fluent, enterprising play.

Yet there is one element of Carle’s game that is still lacking, and that is sharpness in front of goal.

It was easy to forget, in the afterglow of Carle’s strike against Adelaide, that this was his first goal in a long, long time. Too often he works his way into good scoring positions, only to make a poor fist of the shot.

Twice, against Sydney, he cut inside from the right into an excellent position, but in both cases Clint Bolton was not troubled; the first shot flew over, while the second was directed straight at the Sydney FC gloveman. In both cases, too, Carle was able to use his preferred left foot.

Against Adelaide, before his moment of triumph, it was the same story.

In many ways, Carle has matured this season. He contributes in defence far more, and he seems less prone to moments of hot-headedness. He is, in my view, not far off being a player of true international class.

With some more reliable finishing skills, the jigsaw will be complete.

Comments:
Even this article I feel is doing him too much justice.

He's got too little substance overall. When does he ever provide that defence-splitting pass? Yes, he may shimmy past three men, stepover and then slice the ball with his left foot - but what does it ever come to? It's not just his shooting that's off but his overall contribution.

So far this season he has 3 assists in 12 games played. Certainly not horrible, but for a player with such hype I'd expect more tbh. Last year he had 6 in 24 for the same average.

He has all the ingredients, and I must admit that he has been one of the keys of the Jets' resurgence under Van Egmond (and if he can keep this form up for a season I may start to talk differently). But I feel that as he's just about to turn 25 one might wonder whether the potential to go "world class" passed him by.
 
Ahh that game against New Zealand...

Aussie fans not being allowed to wave a big Australian flag... at an Australian match... on Australia day...

How far we have come in just 2 years?

Funnily enough I reckon that game was the turning point for Elrich to get more game time in the seniors. Its funny, Carle was probably better in that game but he went one way and Elrich went the other.
 
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