Friday, October 05, 2007
The Brazilian Gamble
Right from the beginning of the season, there has been an undercurrent of hostility towards the new Brazilian crew in the A-League from some of the Fox commentators, Robbie Slater in particular. The fact that Mr. Lynch has built his piece around a quote from another member of the Fox brigade is surely no coincidence.
Certainly, the pre-competition hype was excessive. The samba cliché has become quite nauseating (no love for the bossa nova, folks?). But did we really expect the league to suddenly burst into life with the addition of a few players who had, for the most part, not quite made the grade in their native land?
The fact is that acquiring players from South America was always going to be, up to a point, a gamble.
Consider the case of Melbourne Victory last year. Their hit rate was one out of three; Claudinho found homesickness and the language barrier (among other things, perhaps) too much for him, while Alessandro was ultimately shown up as something of a one-trick pony (despite the best efforts of those Brazil tragics out Artarmon way to talk him up).
Yet the one out of three, Fred, was a crucial component in Melbourne Victory's success last season. He did bring invention and flair to the league.
The hit rate was never likely to be that much higher this season, given the humble provenance of many of the players. So far, Felipe has made perhaps the best impression; his clubmate Daniel has been influential at times, as has Melbourne's Leandro Love.
Marcinho has disappointed, while Mario Jardel is clearly nowhere near properly match-fit just yet.
As for the others, it's surely too early to make a definitive assessment. In general, they have shown a tendency to dwell on the ball a little too long, and to value showmanship over teamwork at times. But this is what adaptation to a new league is all about: some will adjust, and thrive; others will emulate Claudinho. No surprises there.
Perhaps the good news in all this is that the younger local players are no longer intimidated by a foreign presence in the league. Nor, if we are to judge on the opening few rounds, are they overawed by the returning Socceroo elder statesmen; Nathan Burns and Bruce Djite caused Craig Moore no end of trouble in the former Socceroo captain's very first outing.
Andrew Orsatti has a different take on that little matter, however. I recommend you to Shane Castro's blog for a robust dissection of this latest piece of agenda-drenched SBS editorial drivel.
Of course this sort of equation gonna be risky, but hey... Lynch, the Scotsman in the Roar, has proved to be as much of a dud as any Brazilian, and the fact is every import is a risk.
I wonder sometimes if some of these commentators enjoy the game of soccer. If they don't, can they please shut up and let those of us who are in love with the game have fun?
One thing is, you cant expect to bring players from a totally different culture where the game is played slower and based on possession and ball to a feet, to a league that at the moment is very physical (at times very over-physical) and where alot of teams dont focus on playing possession based football and expect them to immediately perform..
Its not jsut the Brazilians too.. there are good Australian players that arent being picked who have those types of qualities but just wont be able to manage in the A-league. Look at how our Olyroos played under Baan.. the games were possession based and our players looked so much more comfortable.
But back to the issue at hand, one thing imports can bring are new ideals that we dont see enough in our game. For instance, having the balls to take the opposition player on.... sometimes they fail but when they succeed it is something our Australian players can learn from too.. because we have very few players that do this. Furthermore the crowds love it, especially those who have never been to football before.. that is a huge element of what they want to see..
I mean its hilarious, we have a foreign player and salary cap and STILL people complain about the quality of the imports....
As for Andrew Orsatti okay he may have gone too far in some senses, but he is not trying to avoid the issue, unlike some of the other commentators i have heard in recent times...
I think we are doing the right thing and need to keep gambling on imports. The mentality that we have everything possible at home is a very dangerous one in the world of football, which people must realise is very much an INTERNATIONAL game..