Sunday, March 11, 2007


Freddie Freeloader

Plenty of hand-wringing over the apparent move to DC United by Melbourne's superb playmaker Fred. His agent even went to the trouble of explaining his actions on the Melbourne Victory fans' forum, only to be shot down in flames (as it were) for his troubles.

The only criticism of Fred's behaviour with any validity is that he previously made some wistful statements about making Melbourne his home over the years to come...which may or may not have been ingenuous. Otherwise, why should he not go? He has a young family, financial stability is obviously important to him, and he will be closer to his native Brazil.

The question that arises for A-League clubs is whether they should be more willing to take a risk on multi-year contracts for promising "unknowns". That it would be a risk is shown by the fact that the two other Brazilians signed by Melbourne did not, on the whole, provide value for money. Claudinho, too, apparently found the culture shock too much for him - another factor to be taken into account.

But I digress.

Fred's part in Melbourne's success this season was absolutely pivotal. He was arguably the player of the season - realistically, only Kevin Muscat and Nick Carle are comparable, in terms of influence - and he would (will?) be sorely, sorely missed.

On the upside, it could be the chance for Kristian Sarkies to finally come out of his shell. The youngster has been disappointingly inconsistent for the past two seasons, but the lack of regular first-team action surely has much to do with this (especially in the 2006/07 season). His promise is obvious; whether he can make something of it in the long term is a different matter.

Could we have seen, in Fred's intelligent, precise promptings for many of the goals in the grand final, Melbourne Victory's past...and, in Sarkies' thumping final goal, their future?

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