Saturday, October 20, 2007


The Hare and the Fox

Michael Zullo and Robbie Kruse...the Burns and Djite of A-League season 2007/08?

It's great to see more young talent coming through in the A-League, and the two Queensland Roar tyros have certainly made a strong impression in the last few weeks. They have shown some inexperience at times, but it's fair to say that Frank Farina's team would not have experienced their recent revival without the contributions of the duo.

Most of the focus seems to have been on Zullo thus far. Not surprising, since his lightning pace has been the most overt sign of the threat posed by Queensland's young troops. Last night, he terrorized the Newcastle defence in the first half, once setting up Robbie Kruse for Queensland's goal, and once bursting into the box to be mainfestly tripped, in what should undoubtedly have been a penalty.

Yet something interesting happened in the second half. After he brought down Troy Hearfield for the penalty that gave Newcastle their equalizer, Zullo's head went down...quite literally. His body language after the spot-kick was awarded was painfully expressive; the confidence had gone. No wonder he was a fairly peripheral figure thereafter.

There are still elements of his game that need work, too; his crossing is somewhat hit-and-miss, and he shows little inclination to tuck inside when required. And his temperament, it seems, is a little fragile.

Having said that, he is a wonderful young prospect.

Robbie Kruse is perhaps the more promising of the two, however. If Zullo is the hare, Kruse is the fox; he does not possess Zullo's pace, but makes up for it with greater guile and excellent ball control. He has already shown a pleasing knack for drawing fouls, particularly evident when he won Queensland's second-half penalty, utterly deceiving Steve Laybutt (who has looked extremely ponderous so far in the A-League).

Kruse can score goals, but he showed in the first half with his brisk turn and through-ball to Marcinho (who was mediocre once again) that he can play provider effectively as well.

Agree that it's not time yet to rejoice, "The New Ronaldinho," for either of them, but hell, what a breath of fresh air. Nice sum-up.

That's the first time I've seen Laybutt or known anything about him. First impression? Ugly fat bastard.
...That's the first time I've seen Laybutt or known anything about him. First impression? Ugly fat bastard....

Now don't hold back, Hamish, give us your unfettered opinion... ;-)

He can play. Contrary to popular opinion, he's done well enough for the Socceroos in the past when called upon. But he looks way off the pace (and overweight) at the moment.
I was a big Laybutt fan for the Brisbane Strikers. I was always worried when he was playing for Farina-era Socceroos teams though. He was definitely off the pace last night.

As for Zullo, he's my favourite player to watch in the entire world. He has been since I saw him play as a 16 year old for the Strikers in the BPL.

Hopefully Mitch Nicholls can get a start in Marcinho's advanced midfield role next weekend. He's a player who was always scoring like mad in the local leagues.
It really tickles me about these boys that they ain't imports - not even from another state, they ain't marquee players, and they ain't even AIS grads. They learned their football in Brisbane town and are now playing at the top for Brisbane town.

Fairytales aren't this good.

interesting to see how many of the previous Joeys have come thru.

Zullo wasn't in the last World Cup squad, a few were like Kruse, Spiranovic, Patafta, Broxham, Oostendoorp..but a lot seem to have gone walkabout
Kruse was a standout alongside Patafta during the last Joeys campaign IMHO.

I had thought Farina rated Tahj Minniecon higher, he's not ruled out by injury is he?
Minniecon has had a few injuries and also national setup callups which has meant he has only been available very sporadically for the last month or two.

He looked good in pre-season so here's hoping he's on the mend.
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