Friday, March 02, 2007


Be My Guest - yet another update

Pierre van Hooijdonk to Perth? Sound the trumpets! Well, loud enough to drown out those Brian Deane echoes, anyway.

Yes, van Hooijdonk is a class above Deane as a player. But he’ll be nearly 38 by the time the next A-League season begins. And, most importantly of all, it’s another guest stint.

I would’ve thought that this season’s experiences would be enough to make any A-League club think very, very seriously before going in for a guest signing. And Pierre van Hooijdonk may be a name familiar to long-term followers of the game, but to the man in the street, he’s just another Dutchman.

A recent piece by Paul Gardner – not always the most balanced of writers, but always thought-provoking – should be required reading for the CEOs of A-League clubs (although one can ignore the cringeworthy “scandalous” comment about the lack of Brazilians). Melbourne Victory achieved success this season by looking, not for fading Euro A-Listers, but for underpaid, under-rated players capable of bringing both entertainment and added bite to their side. And I’m not only referring to Fred and the peripheral Alessandro, but to Grant Brebner, anonymous when he arrived, but vital to Melbourne’s success.

In some A-League squads, there’s a worrying age range: plenty of over-30s, plenty of under-24s, and not many in the middle. Significantly, that is not the case for Melbourne Victory.

But back to the guest issue. Dwight Yorke’s value, both on-field and off-field, was his presence at Sydney FC for the whole season. Kazu, Benito Carbone and Romario have come and gone, and despite how well they played (and all three did play well at times), their presence adversely affected their teams’ results, in the long (and sometimes the short) term.

At the moment, I feel the league needs more Freds, and fewer Romarios.

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