Saturday, November 04, 2006
Making the Numbers Count - update
It is not the first time a numerical advantage has been more of a curse than a blessing for the Mariners this season. Against Newcastle recently, McKinna’s side lost the plot after Paul Okon was sent off for tripping a goal-bound Adam Kwasnik; they soon conceded a goal, and in fact should have conceded a penalty as well.
Apart from demonstrating that Vuko Tomasevic simply should not be playing in defence, what last night’s game appeared to indicate was that the Mariners are uncomfortable playing with a numerical advantage.
I feel – and this is mere speculation – that the Mariners may have taken their “underdog” status too much to heart.
The constant message we received last year from both the media and McKinna was that this was a club without “stars”, who relied on hard work, good organization and collective spirit (perhaps a significant word, that last one, given the provenance of most of the original Mariners players).
All true, of course. And the horrible sequence of injuries they suffered last season made their eventual achievement in reaching the grand final all the more impressive. McKinna has much to be proud of.
But such a reputation can have an effect on the players’ mentality, and the “thriving in adversity” tag that the Mariners have attracted perhaps engenders a sense of confusion when they suddenly become the favourites.
That’s about the only explanation I can offer for the team’s listless performance in the second half last night, and their meek surrender to Newcastle in the derby a few weeks ago.
That said, I don't think it was just a case of confusion for the Mariners in the second half last night. For mine, they also appeared to settle for a one goal lead against nine men, looking to wind down the clock by keeping possession in the opposition half. Of course, they really should've looked to put on another one or two goals. I mean, one of their specialties are players breaking forward from midfield, but they didn't do it! Well actually they did, right at the end when they were desperate to score and Mrdja backheeled through the Victory defence to McMaster, and it gave them their best chance of the second half.
Along with the team, I think McKinna's a bit green in these situations too. He coached a struggling Northern Spirit team in the NSL and had to get through an awful lot with the Mariners last season. He's a bright, attentive coach though, so I expect these "confusion" matters to be growing pains for him as a coach in the long-run.
That said CCM also didn't get to the goal line enough and were putting insufficient balls in from further out than ideal, playing into Melbourne's hands. It needed someone to take it by the balls, quicken the tempo a little and use the extra men effectively.
As I said, Gumprecht.
No question about that....
Absolutely no denying that, but eleven professional footballers should be able to pick off a nine-man team of roughly the same standard (I know Melbourne have stepped up a gear this year, but they're hardly in a different league from the Coasties).
Good point you make about spreading the ball wide, too, Gilby...I find this is a very common problem for teams that go a man up. You've got to stretch the opposition quickly and often to make the nuerical advantage count, IMO.
As ever the Melbourne fans were great, more than 28,000 of them.
Sorry, but it just seems to me like the Mariners have received nothing but criticism in A-League fan/media circles for their performance when they gave a compelling match a fair share of its best moments. Not that it makes up for their second half, but you would think that they lost an entire match while two players up throughout judging simply by the post-match reaction.
Agreed in the first half they were very competitive, more competitive (against Melbourne) than Sydney in Sydney for example.