Saturday, December 16, 2006
It was always a little anomalous to have a New Zealand side in the A-League, especially considering that the Kingz experiment in the old NSL was not exactly a stunning success.
But given Australia’s move into Asia, it was particularly strange. Even if the Knights had won the minor premiership or the A-League proper last season, they were, it now appears, ineligible for Asian club competition.
The mistakes have been many, both on and off the pitch. John Adshead’s implicit belief that aged plodders from the lower tiers of English football could cut it in the A-League was quickly proved false last term; we were regularly informed that the Knights had altered their philosophy for the current season, and yet one of the first players signed was Scot Gemmill – the archetypal English league journeyman.
In any case, the Knights’ player roster this season has been a horrible mishmash, with short-term contracts flying around like confetti and no perceptible continuity. Injuries have not helped in this regard, it’s true.
But it is scarcely a coincidence that the Knights’ two best players this season have been Che Bunce and Noah Hickey…two locals. Mark Paston has been in tremendous form of late as well.
Given the odd premise of a club team (a) supposedly representing an entire nation and (b) taking part in another country’s competition, surely it was vital for there to be a significant local presence in the team. Not only for the sake of team spirit and sense of purpose, not only for the sake of football development in New Zealand, but so that the fans could identify with the team more closely.
And yet promising youngsters like Kris Bright, Jeremy Brockie, Jeremy Christie and Cole Tinkler were blithely jettisoned after season one. Third-rate British imports like Darren Bazeley and Sean Devine, on the other hand, remained.
I thought he looked a good prospect, TBH (a bright prospect, perhaps? ;-) ). Certainly the sort of player the fans, the younger ones in particular, could have identified with more than plodders like Bazeley et al.
If the franchise stays in NZ (which may be likely, actually), I hope the FFA express in the strongest possible terms to whatever new consortium may spring up that the recruiting process has to reflect a strong NZ "identity".
Hickey - Bunce ---- Old --- ??
Bertos Christie Webster White
They can't get rid of the likes of Emblem, Devine and Bazeley quick enough - rubbish players who are state leaguers at best.
Probably not, but would I be wide of the mark in saying that maybe the FFA was past caring?
Gawd it's a mess.