Saturday, December 15, 2007


Frail Fox

A sad change has come over Robbie Kruse.

The lively, clever fox of the middle rounds cut an absolutely pitiful figure last night against the Phoenix (ironically, the very opponents against whom he played so superbly little over a month ago). Pushed off the ball far too easily throughout, by Karl Dodd in particular, and woefully indecisive in possession, he certainly gave credence to the theory that he is a little lightweight for the professional game as yet. It was an act of mercy for Frank Farina to pull him off shortly after the hour.

What is Farina to do to restore Kruse's confidence, which looks to be at a very low ebb at present? In my view, he could do worse than to switch Kruse over to the left, onto his better foot, and allow Marcinho to patrol the opposite flank. Although Marcinho does appear to prefer cutting inside and letting fly from the edge of the box, his shooting at goal has been so poor this season that it doesn't seem much of a loss. Rather, by occupying a right-sided role and tucking inside when appropriate (as Kruse has been loath to do), Marcinho could provide some much-needed support for Reinaldo while allowing Mr. Perpetual Motion himself, Hyuk-Su Seo, to do the touchline work. A better overall shape for Queensland, I would think.

As for the Phoenix, they were unlucky not to win a game which they dominated from the twenty-minute mark, playing some very good football at times. Shane Smeltz has been one of the best strikers in the league this season, offering not only a muscular presence in the final third and a good finish, but some fine close control as well (witness the way he turned deftly away from two defenders in the 31st minute before slipping a neat through-ball in to the forward line).

There's certainly a good foundation for the Wellington club to build on, even if this season has ultimately been somewhat disappointing in the on-field department. Another quality midfielder to complement the inventive Felipe would have to be at the top of Ricki Herbert's shopping list for 2008/09; for all the efforts of the likes of Michael Ferrante, Vince Lia and Ross Aloisi, they don't quite cut the mustard.

See, this is what i dont like if he is getting pushed off the ball illegally the referees have to do their part to stop this...

I dont want Kruse to have to simply change his style to be a more physical type of player and sacrifice his most valuable asset, his technique and skill...

Agree on Wellington phoenix and bringing in a new player, Felipe is fantastic he embarasses opposing players so often... but he needs support.. i cant understand why they arent starting Daniel.. he is one of the best crossers in the league...
...See, this is what i dont like if he is getting pushed off the ball illegally the referees have to do their part to stop this...

Nope, last night he wasn't being pushed off illegally. Dodd and others were simply taking advantage of his indecision and putting in a tackle, or getting themselves between him and the ball.

Two things about him I've thought recently: (1) he needs to learn when to cut inside, a player like him can't hug the touchline for the whole game, he's not that type, (2) he doesn't often have the pace to beat his man for sheer speed, but he seems to be losing the confidence to rely on his close control and draw fouls (which he did so well earlier on in the season).

This is the sort of situation where you really earn your spurs as a man-manager. Farina will either give him back his confidence (in whatever way), or he'll become another Jonti Richter.
Well this is the problem developing young players in a league such as ours.

Are we patient with Kruse - and help him through this difficult development phase of his career? Or does winning games become the priority?

Kruse still needs to develop his technique. It's just unfortunate that he also needs a minimum level of physicality to be able to be compete in the A-league. This becomes a distraction for the skills he really needs to be focusing on at this point.
have been very impressed with Smeltz this season. In particular his hold up play and finishing, which have both been of a player very sure of himself.

has done well to come back from his injury problems and being dumped by adelaide a few seasons back.
Don't agree entirely here, Kruse-control did set up goals this week and last week. Now no-one wants to be embarrassed by him. When he had Zullo on the other side, defences were automatically stretched as they nervously watched over their shoulders for an impossibly long switch or heave from the Og-man (had a laugh when the Fox guys called him this as well).

On his own it is harder. Marcinho can be exciting to watch and if not exciting then fun, but he isn't 'my man the playmaker of playmakers' and occasionally seems to be going for goal himself.

I really like Mitch Nichols. He is very mature as a football thinker and his game is progressing. He needs more time on the pitch.
No Mike got this one wrong I reckon
He set up both goals last week..and generally played well...

I reckon he's tired, lacking a bit of sharpness..most young players go through it..

his eye for the ball and the pass is a rare skill, don't need to worry about Kruse, in three or four years he may well be playing as a main striker

didn't see the game in NZ but he just looks a bit tired to me over the last few weeks but still has an eye for a quick pass, hence he stands out for me
Frank warned early on that both Kruse and Zullo had injuries and they would need to be used carefully.

I hear people banging on about young players needing 40 games per year - but across the A-League I see players struggling with what we have. More variety is what we need (more teams) not necessarily more games. Although I'd us to be not too far out of season when we play Asian clubs.
we definetly need a longer season not only for the younger players, but for everyone , keeps players in condition and match fit...
also helps the standard of the league
I think you're being a tad harsh on the young lad there Mikey. I agree he did have a poor game (even though he still had a hand in the Roar goal). But just last week he was the difference (with McKay) in beating the league leaders, CCM.

He provided the cross for the own goal (with both great control technique and ability to get around his marker), and then more importantly he provided that delightful through ball to Tiatto, to set up the second goal. Shoot back to the Victory game, and he was easily MoM.

I agree that his frame is a bit light, but that just happens to some players who are only 19. Give him another pre-season and he will be more prepared. I don't think we'll even see his best for about another 2 years.

At the moment, I think it is more to do with the inconsistencies of age. The only players who provide consistency at such a tender age, generally have more physical presence (Rooney is the perfect example). Even wonder boy Burns has been suffering from such malaise.

Another factor was the important Zullo/Kruse combo. The sheer explosiveness Zullo provides down the left flank, has at times, opened up the field more to allow Kruse to exploit.

I don't think we've seen close to his best yet.
Consensus seems to be against me on this one! I still think he's a great young prospect, but it does look to me like he's on a slow slide, in confidence terms at least, ATM...the sort of thing that needs to be corrected quite quickly IMO.
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