Saturday, February 21, 2009
Frank Farina, I feel, made a strategical error by not going for the jugular from the outset. With Queensland on a high and Adelaide surely still lacking some of their earlier self-belief, it was very strange that Queensland's defence sat so far back when in possession early on, leaving themselves few options for a constructive pass. As a result, Adelaide took the initiative after an inconclusive first ten minutes, and even returned to their slick possession game of the middle rounds at times. The midfield looked much improved by the presence of Fabian Barbiero and especially Jonas Salley, whose substitution in the second half was utterly inexplicable.
Queensland's midfield, by comparison, was impotent in the first period. My recent encomium of Matt McKay was bound to curse him: he had an awful first half by his standards, with Massimo Murdocca not doing much better. On the wings, Michael Zullo lost his intriguing battle with Daniel Mullen on points despite slipping past him once or twice, while Isaka Cernak was prone to telegraphing his intentions throughout. Both the wide men managed to tee up Mitch Nichols for a shot before the break, but the blond three-quarter man had an absolute nightmare evening in front of goal.
Apart from Fabian Barbiero's thunderous strike, Adelaide might have had one or two more in the first half but for a couple of over-hasty offside calls (it was not a good night for the linesmen in general). After the break, however, their control of the game dissipated.
It was largely Queensland's defenders who made the difference, pushing forward much more freely and confidently than before. After a couple of half-chances for the home side on the break, the Roar took over completely, and their dominance was exacerbated by the departure of Salley (more politics?). But with Queensland pitifully unable to trouble Eugene Galekovic from the edge of the area and largely toothless from set-pieces, it never looked like being their night.
Can Adelaide, then, put their embarrassing semi-final aggregate loss behind them and pull off a shock at the Telstra Dome? Although they looked a more balanced team tonight, I doubt they will be able to break their Melbourne hoodoo. The defence still looks a shade too ponderous to counter the swift movement of Messrs. Thompson, Allsopp and Hernandez, and cleaving to a lone striker - as we saw once again tonight - means that chances will be at a relative premium.
Melbourne by 2-0, in my opinion.
Why did this remind me of your 2007 PF review... To quote:
"Tactically, I felt that both managers missed a trick in their initial deployments, and in the same area of the park... As for Gary van Egmond’s decision to leave Steve Eagleton on the bench for the entire game, it might just have been the mistake that has cost him a place in the grand final. It was not that Andrew Durante had a bad game, but with Burns ineffectual on the Adelaide left, the right was Newcastle’s obvious avenue for attack throughout; Joel Griffiths did indeed make significant inroads, but he largely lacked the support on the overlap that he has had from Eagleton so often this season."
It doesn't excuse Frankie, but is this again saying more for the finals format than anything else? Or is my ranting about the unfairness of it as stated in other parts getting too ridiculous? ;-)
What I mean is, both Queensland tonight and Newcastle then went into the PF on a role and playing some of the best football in the league. Come the game though, away from home and playing their second consecutive do-or-die tie, both seemed to question themselves a bit too much initially, to their cost and eventual downfall. Admittedly the current Adelaide side were in a worse mental state than the 2007 one and Queensland did a worse job than Newcastle, though.
But this finals format gives third and fourth so much more to do than the top two. Did Adelaide really deserve as much advantage (double chance, two home games) over Queensland? In a better balanced 1 vs. 4 and 2 vs. 3 format, would Farina have made this strategical error against Adelaide early in the finals series without such a demanding route to deal with (or would it have mattered so much in a home-and-away tie)?
Again, I'm not excusing him. But maybe he deserved to make the error in the grand final having qualified for the ACL, put it that way. And even then, for some reason, I feel he might have been more willing to go for the jugular in the GF with just one game left, all-or-nothing. I don't feel the current format does a lot for the attacking willingness of third and fourth after the minor semi-final.
It's worth comparing the quality of the respective games too. I was half asleep tonight (jetlag, would have been half-asleep however good the game was, remember Argentina - Ivory Coast? ;-) ), but I thought it was a pretty pathetic PF while the 2007 one was a bit of an epic. It's a fair representation of the difference in quality of the seasons right now IMHO, although this one is probably a bit better than the last.
And apologies for the AU negativity to any Adelaide fans. Maybe they did deserve to have things so much easier in the finals and an ACL birth considering all the crap they've had to deal with recently that they shouldn't have to, just like in 2007.
i hope frank learns from this match. pretty teams generally play pretty football not because they have artistic souls or something, its because this is the most effective style of play for that team.
of course, if mr nichols hadn`t shanked so many shots, the result could have been very different.
I also initially thought it was due to politics that Salley was inexplicably subbed off.
however it turn out he had a hamstring injury and quoting vidmar "unfortunately his hamstrings were about to come off the bone before he came off
however it turn out he had a hamstring injury and quoting vidmar "unfortunately his hamstrings were about to come off the bone before he came off...
That's interesting. I actually thought he looked a bit peeved when he was hooked.
If you're interested for the citation of that quote
You're right, that Salley did look a bit peeve.
It would be bit interesting if he wasn't injured and that's just an excuse Vidmar gave the media.
Think the Roar players looked nervous. Perhaps it was them being hesitant rather than any specific instructions from Farina that stopped them from getting forward with any fluency early. They may have been frighten of making a mistake and conceeding.
Surely the game plan must have been to hit AU early. Everyone knows that is the best way to beat them. The longer they keep a clean sheet, the more chance they will snipe one and win.
Melbourne do this brilliantly, getting one early and forcing Adelaide to come out and play, usually with disasterous concequences for AU.
As for Salley I just assumed it was a lack of match fitness. Should also not underestimate the impact of Miller on that last 20 minutes. He demanded a lot of attention and helped Mitch to wriggle free more often.