Sunday, March 23, 2008
Friendly Fire - update #5
In fact, the game showed up many of the deficiencies of the A-League as a whole quite nicely, to wit:
- A dismal lack of width. After two good early forays by James Troisi on the left, hardly any of the Australian moves ended with a player getting in behind the defence. With Harry Kewell playing infield and Adam Griffiths not getting forward all that often, there was no similar option on the right, and Troisi seemed to lose some confidence as the first half wore on, eventually disappearing from view.
Given that the Singaporeans were massed in the centre, surely the wide avenues needed to be used more effectively.
- A lack of movement (diagonal movement in particular) up front. The initial strike pairing was a little unbalanced in any case, with Archie Thompson and Mark Bridge both preferring to play facing the goal, but the midfielders frequently had few options for a genuinely penetrating through-ball.
- One touch too many in midfield. As we have so often seen in the A-League this season, the players tended to receive the ball and then look for an option, rather than assess the situation before the ball arrived. Our midfield play was somewhat stale as a result (not helped by the dreadful pitch, it's true).
- An inability (or an unwillingness) to switch the play effectively. Passing the ball around the U at the back under no pressure is all very well, but moving the play crisply across the field further up the park is something that has not been much in evidence this A-League season.
Against all that, it's worth remembering that the players were out of season, in unfamiliar conditions, on a woeful surface. Yet they could have been expected to create more than just a couple of half-chances in 90 minues against a largely inferior side.
Individual performances? Mile Jedinak has done his chances of future call-ups no harm at all with last night's performance. Michael Beauchamp, despite some good moments, looked very sluggish at times against the speedy Indra, who also posed Australia problems the last time the sides met. Australia's issues in central defence are a long way from being resolved.
James Holland moved around a fair bit, had some neat touches, but ultimately contributed surprisingly little. Nathan Burns, when he arrived, did somewhat better than against Changchun, when he was eclipsed in the centre of the park by the experienced Gabriel Melkam, but he still looks some way off his best form. His final passes went astray more often than not.
Although the Socceroos punctiliously avoided the "direct route" last night, even when Bruce Djite entered the frame, it seemed the sort of game where such a tactic, used judiciously, might have been effective. Yes, Thompson and Bridge were unlikely to get anywhere in the air against the likes of Baihakki Khaizan in defence early on, but later on it was surely worth a try at times.
All in all, a dreary game, but perhaps not a wasted one, from a lessons-to-be-learned point of view.
Mind you, that's about the only point on which we disagree Peng...most of your other observations I concur with. Including the view that some of Verbeek's selections and subs were a bit strange (Broxham at RB?!?).
Starting Thompson and Bridge together on that pitch is probably the dumbest thing I've seen for a while.
The condition of the pitch, Djite on the bench ...
Don't the dutch know that sometimes it's just a plain and sensible thing to do????
Can Archie beat a man these days.
Agree on the width.