Monday, November 27, 2006

 

Up for the Dome

Melbourne Victory’s move to Telstra Dome has been a godsend from a broader point of view. Attendances have been staggering, the atmosphere (in the opinion of many) has rivalled that of a plum European club fixture, and the football has often been of a very high quality.

I wonder, though, whether the move has been a mixed blessing for Ernie Merrick’s side.

Melbourne have only scored four points from their last four home games, while remaining a devastating unit on the road. And although their most recent loss – to Newcastle on Sunday – can partly be put down to injuries, I feel that opposing teams are now treating a game at Telstra Dome like the proverbial cup final. Newcastle certainly did.

Terry Butcher claimed during the week that Sydney FC were still, given their status as champions, the team everyone wanted to beat. It’s in Butcher’s interest to say this, of course, but I doubt even he seriously believes it any more.

The Central Coast came roaring out of the blocks in their thrilling 3-3 draw with Melbourne a few weeks back, although they faltered later. Adelaide produced easily their best performance of the season in the memorable Round 8 encounter at the Dome, probably the best game in the history of the competition.

On Sunday, it was a similar story. Ivan Necevski, playing his first competitive game since his miserable afternoon at Bossley Park in the state league grand final, gave a performance that befitted the occasion; perhaps the most impressive A-League debut by a local since Dario Vidosic’s decisive half-hour in Round 1 (which, sadly, he has not come close to matching since).

The rest of the Newcastle team followed suit; in particular, the central midfield pairing of Musialik and Kohler, who have played such a pivotal role in Newcastle’s revival, were robust and incisive. Nick Carle, although diligently marked by Steve Pantelidis, produced a few moments of brilliance.

Come the finals, will Melbourne’s impressive football theatre work to their detriment, bringing the very best out of visiting sides?

Comments:
"Terry Butcher claimed during the week that Sydney FC were still, given their status as champions, the team everyone wanted to beat. It’s in Butcher’s interest to say this, of course, but I doubt even he seriously believes it any more."

Why would you doubt Tel, he still thinks he's a football coach/manager so the "team to beat" isn't much of a stretch ?

Any truth to the rumour that during the half time break the players sit on their chairs and yell "Look behind you" as he goes through the actions and moving to and fro across the floor ?

Ahh, the characters that make up football.

(The merlot is nice tonight Mike ;-) )
 
Second on the table despite having a squad with more holes than Swiss cheese for most of the season.

I'll take it.

But I do admire your persistence, Gilby. ;-)
 
Terry Butcher, he's our friend...


As for the Dome, aside from the recent blips their stats there are mighty impressive. Especially when compared to Olympic Park. Even that 2 points dropped v.s. the Mariners was a brilliant effort circumstances considered.

The Dome will sell out during the Finals Series, it will make for some epic football.
 
Mike, apologies for high jacking your post, but this Jazza geeza’s comment on TB being “our friend” can not go unchallenged.
I have been visiting the Cove’s website recently to gauge the views of his fellow “Beer Hall Putschists” and I get the impression there is a concerted effort to hose down criticisms and present the “Party line “ on the Butcher. (I hope I am incorrect.)
Certainly the feeling from the members section is that Butcher has not delivered anything additional to what a local manager would deliver.
Further it would appear that the paying public agrees and is voting with their feet ( or dollars) given the slide in attendance figures this year, even though we are winning games again.
Perhaps winning isn’t the “be all & end all” we thought it was and in addition to winning SydneySiders want something extra? Spoilt or discerning, a matter of interpretation, I guess.

From a neutral’s perspective the Victory have been a joy to watch this year and surely provide the template for the best way forward for other A league clubs.
From a SydneySiders viewpoint it pains me that FC is no longer the standard bearer.
Recently there has been much talk of what standards we should apply to guest players, perhaps we should apply similar standards to A League Managers, just a thought.

I accept the players he has had to work with have “issues”, but the Manager does have a major impact on what takes place on the park.
I expect more from a foreign / guest manager.

Butcher our friend, I think not!
Johno
 
Johnno, I'm interested in your comment

"...the feeling from the members section is that Butcher has not delivered anything additional to what a local manager would deliver."

What were you expecting? Played 14, won 14? And all games won by at least three goals? If you were, keep taking the meds: the opposition (with the exception of Queensland and NZK) are far from as poor as they were last year.

Butcher's hands have been tied by last years poor fiscal management of the club: it's scandalous that a city like Sydney, with it's fair-weather, fickle supporting culture, cannot lure a permanent marquee player. And the injuries and suspensions to THE key players in his squad (I'm talking about Carney, Milligan, Corica, and Middleby)..as Mikey will attest, I'm no SUFC lover, but even I was impressed by some of Friday night's play.

They keep playing like that, I might even go again. Hell, I might even pay for a ticket.
 
Hi Johno, you're not hijacking the post at all as far as I'm concerned...

...Certainly the feeling from the members section is that Butcher has not delivered anything additional to what a local manager would deliver....

It's hard to tell (again, let's just keep in mind that he's only had a full squad for three games, from which we've picked up nine points and scored nine goals), but I actually tend to agree. There seemed to be an ideological preference for a foreign coach from the Bugno board, hence the decision to go with Butcher rather than, for instance, Culina, Nick Theo or McKinna (who very, very nearly took the gig, incidentally).

...Further it would appear that the paying public agrees and is voting with their feet ( or dollars) given the slide in attendance figures this year, even though we are winning games again.
Perhaps winning isn’t the “be all & end all” we thought it was and in addition to winning SydneySiders want something extra? Spoilt or discerning, a matter of interpretation, I guess....

The Yorke factor can't be underestimated here, though. When we've had our best players available, we've been producing football no worse than last year's, TBH. Mind you, games like the home draws v. Perth and Qld were not exactly easy on the eye, I'll give you that.

...From a neutral’s perspective the Victory have been a joy to watch this year...

Couldn't agree more,

...and surely provide the template for the best way forward for other A league clubs....

Well, maybe. Last year everyone was claiming Sydney FC were providing the template.

There are some aspects of the way Melbourne has gone about their business this year that I think we would do well to emulate, definitely.
 
...I have been visiting the Cove’s website recently to gauge the views of his fellow “Beer Hall Putschists” and I get the impression there is a concerted effort to hose down criticisms and present the “Party line “ on the Butcher. (I hope I am incorrect.)...

Most certainly. I am well acquainted with the owner of the site and he would do no such thing. It's more that the anti-English bias is there to be fought against than any real criticsm (which is always accepted if justified).

Just think, if Melbourne had lost Caceres, Alessandro, Storey, Fred, Brebner, Muscat, Leijer and Vargas in similar vein to the way we've lost Carney, Brosque, Middleby, Milligan, McFlynn, Timpano and Rudan would they be in 2nd place at this point? I think not...
For mine it's a testament to TB's ability, and the strength of the squad (however small it may be) that we are still in this situation after it all.

He's been far from perfect (CCM away was diabolical, mistakes were made v.s. Perth, Newy and QLD at home), and he'll admit that... But the way things stand now he's done a very good job on the football side of things.

Interestingly enough Butcher was given the job to his background of working with no money (he had even less at Motherwell!), developing players, attacking football against odds and man-management. He's fighting back now and we're seeing it on the pitch.

Terry Butcher... He's our friend.
 
Out of those four games mentioned, Newcastle was the only side who came down to TD and played real football. Adelaide have an excuse because what they do works, and they did dominate midfield for much of the match.

Cup final or no, we're as vulnerable as anyone who wants to play to their strengths etc.
 
"Out of those four games mentioned, Newcastle was the only side who came down to TD and played real football. Adelaide have an excuse because what they do works, and they did dominate midfield for much of the match."

Personally, apart from Perth, I've thought every away team that's played at Docklands has played good football (in CCM's case, they did until half-time, but even so, their pathetic second half was more of a mental than tactical issue).
 
...Personally, apart from Perth, I've thought every away team that's played at Docklands has played good football...

I agree.

CMU, I think you're being a bit unfair to Adelaide (in saying that NUJ were the only side to play "real football" at Docklands). Kozzie's boys played outstandingly well there in Round 8, IMHO.
 
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