Wednesday, March 26, 2008
A Lucky Point
In short, Pim Verbeek and his men dodged a bullet. Ultimately, the result is an acceptable and even a good one - but there must be some questions over Verbeek's tactics and substitutions (or lack thereof).
To start with the positives: Australia looked very comfortable in the opening half-hour, holding onto the ball neatly in midfield and at the back. Yet there was clearly going to be very little penetration, with David Carney and Luke Wilkshire rarely getting forward to good effect and Jason Culina, the supposed playmaker, preferring to drop deep and play square balls.
And Mark Bresciano as striker? It was very strange. After the early injury to Archie Thompson, Mark Bridge was the obvious man to take his place. Yet it was Brett Holman, a second striker, who filled the breach. Thus giving the Socceroos no options out wide, no-one to hold the ball up at the point, and no-one to break through the midfield.
Perhaps it was a canny strategy in the sapping conditions, but it gave the Chinese the chance to take the initiative...a chance which they strangely spurned.
Instead, the Chinese were putting their faith in a simple tactic which worked surprisingly often - the long ball into the wide channels, in between the outside members of the back three and the wing-backs, to connect with a diagonal run from one of the forwards. Michael Beauchamp had particular trouble early on against Zhu Ting, while even the slower Han Peng occasionally got the drop on the Australian backline.
The defensive instincts of both Carney and Wilkshire are not perfect, and Verbeek was somewhat lucky that Beauchamp improved as the game progressed, and that Jade North did a superb job on the other side.
In the second half, the Socceroos became distinctly ragged, and they were frankly crying out for a substitution. Bresciano was the first to tire (as against Qatar), but even Vince Grella and Carl Valeri were looking vulnerable as the half wore on. Verbeek's decision to leave his starting line-up, plus Holman, to gasp to the finish line was questionable at best.
Vladimir Petrovic, by contrast, introduced Qu Bo up front in the final minutes...and the experienced striker, full of legs, caused the Australian back three no end of trouble. Again, the penalty decision was incorrect, but it wouldn't have been a surprise had the Chinese nicked a goal at the close.
A final comment on the refereeing: appalling. Sun Jihai should undoubtedly have seen red for that horrific tackle on Luke Wilkshire; that he did not even receive a yellow was simply a disgrace.
Erm...you might have noticed the penalty in the 89th minute?
I thought the Chinese were quite likely to nick one in those last ten minutes, with a fresh man up front against some very tired legs.
Not that the Chinese coach distinguished himself otherwise. Can't believe he put them in camp for three weeks at altitude only to play safety-first long-ball-into-the-channels stuff.
Not to mention the 20 odd foul throws that were allowed.
On that performance, not many people will be putting money on China to leave our shores with a point.
Who was Verbeek about to bring on at the death? Jedinak, possibly for Valeri? It looked to me that he didn't want to throw away all possibility of winning by taking off Bresciano, say in the 75th minute. Would it have been considred a better decision if Carney had beaten his man to Bresciano's injury time pass and slotted it home?
I'm pretty happy. Two 0-0s against much lower ranked teams, but these are tough times for the national team.
Schwarzer got the ball as far as I could see.
As the game moved forward, I agree that Pim did not adjust very well and importantly, he again failed with his substitutions (or lack thereof). That is somewhat concerning, as substitutions can be the true mark of a manager.
What I can take from the past 2 games, that I have been impressed by, has been our ability to control the tempo of the game. Given the short period he's had the 1st team squad together, a positive foundation is there. I think after June we'll be able to judge Pim better, for good or ill.
Regardless of Mr Verbeek's opinions on the quality of the A-League, playing in a 2nd (or third or fourth) rate league is always better than being paid to watch a major European league from the stands.
Don't think so. It was hardly an ideal situation last night and at the end of the day we got a result, but IMO he could have done better.
...What I can take from the past 2 games, that I have been impressed by, has been our ability to control the tempo of the game....
Yeah, that was impressive last night. We played very smart in the back third, very Italian, dare I say.
Mind you, it's easier to control the tempo when the opposition puts you under no pressure at all.
...It is also of note that in a lacklustre, uncreative and lumbering display (from both sides), the standout performer was Jade North....
Undoubtedly. Man of the match by quite some way, for mine.
No it wasn't a penalty just as the penalty against Italy wasn't.
Schwarzer got the ball. Hartd to say the player was impeded. You have to go past the Keeper for that to happen and the keeper misses the ball.
You will notice against Italy the ball goes one way and the player another.
A decent Ref would pick that up.
Two Chinese should have been sent off. Disgraceful tackles.
Both Brescanio and Carney should have scored from our only two chances.
Still after all that with that squad I am happy and now very confident we will get through to the next round perhaps even be undefeated.
Bridge was probably the best replacement from those who were available, but yep, Nicky would have been a good option had he been there.
I was amazed that Bresc stayed on for the full ninety, TBH.
I for one will be disappointed if Carle isn't in any of those teams.
I think both the central and right hand side of defence is fine but the left is empty if Carney gets injured.
And that is the crux of the issue. Our coach appeared to rigidly stick to a pre game plan despite what was unfolding on the park. Timid or just plain lack of genuine tactical nous? Doesn't auger well for the inevitable tougher assignments ahead. Good read, Mike. Altho' for mine the penalty decision was indeed correct. Schwarzer made a complete hash of the challenge.
China with prep at altitiude should have put more work on the socceroos to help tire them out. Both sides are guilty of lack of variation.
No substitutes may be a lack of confidence in the bench or may be Peter didn't want to change what he saw as a strong settled combination that was rarely in trouble ? I for one would have made a change or two.
We were playing at altitiude with a sickness struck squad
What do you think would have happened if we just tried to constantly attack playing a more direct style(which you guys would have most likely preferred)
That is the Australia of old, and no doubt we would have not been so lucky and China most likely would've scored on the break
No suprise reading some of the comments here, most of you are from the Sydney FC boards right.. who are completely Anti-Verbeek, Pro Australian only coach
Was Burns called into the squad late? He didn't seem to be in the running after Singapore.
No Brescanio a over-rated player. Notice the change in quality in dead ball situations now with Luke.
I would also like someone up front who is quick with Kennedy.
Is there a modern day Peter Sharne around?
I haven't got the time or the energy to go into my views now, but I would like to say that I have come to this blog from another and am pleased to find it devoid of explicit content and raging racism. As much as i love the twgf, I am going to have to leave it behind for now.
In reference to Nicky Carle, I think he was not picked in consultation with Pim. Nicky is fighting for his first team status, and he felt that that was more important than the China match.