Two Melbourne Victory fans not able to go to the game. Two separate cities. One in Melbourne. One in Canberra. One at a bar. One at home. One doesn’t have access twitter so starts texting the other. This is the result.
Even with such a short history such as Melbourne Victory’s can you imagine life without the team we have all grown to love over the last eight years. Well that’s the fate that may face fans of Spanish side, Real Oviedo - one of Spain’s most famous football clubs. Faced with possibility of their club disappearing off the face of the earth Real Oviedo have taken the rare step of offering shares in their club to the general public so that they may have the chance of raising the necessary €2 million required by the 17th November. What had started as a plea to Spanish football fans for fans has spread throughout the world with a lot of credit going to The Guardian’s Spanish football expert, Sid Lowe, who also happens to be a Real Oviedo fan.
It has almost been five years since I last went on an away trip but when way back when the fixture was released I saw that Melbourne Victory were travelling north to play Sydney on my birthday I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to reacquaint myself with the joys of the away game. And luckily for me what a game it turned out to be. In fact it turned out to be one of the best birthday presents ever.
Having been away overseas for the first three weeks of the season last night provided me with my first opportunity to see the “newish looking” Melbourne Victory in action. The number of beverages that were consumed before and during the game precludes me from providing any detailed tactical analysis of the game and despite the result I was relatively pleased with what I saw.
If you have been living under a rock or in Canberra like myself* you may have not realised that Melbourne Victory was back in action for the 2012-13 as it played its first preseason friendly on Tuesday night against State League 1 side Port Melbourne Sharks. A match which they won 2-1.
It was of course Ange Postecoglou’s first game in charge and with expectations high it was interesting to follow from afar the comments of fans as to how they were playing under the tutelage of the former Queensland Brisbane Roar manager. Overall it appears that there was much to be pleased about and at this early stage it is already a marked improvement on the debacle that was last season. Of course you get those who expect us to be already playing like Barcelona or at the very least like Brisbane Roar of the last two seasons. But with such a high turnover from last season and a lot of new faces expecting instant result is just plain ludicrous. It would be like myself playing a few hands on OnlinePoker.com and then thinking I could match it in a high stakes tournament. In fact I would be surprised if the Victory were to be playing the style Ange wants consistently by the middle of the season.
With new recruit Marcos Flores yet to arrive in the country due to visa issues much attention was focused on new recruits Guilherme Finkler and Jonathan Bru and by all accounts their unofficial debuts were impressive with the Brazilian Finkler picking up the opening goal. Of course the arrival of Flores is much anticipated, especially by myself as it will go a long way to filling the void in both my heart and the hearts of many Victory fans left by the departure of Carlos Hernandez. It will also mean that I won’t feel so guilty about salivating over an opposition player as I did during Flores’ time at Adelaide United. It will be interesting to see how he fits into Ange’s system and in fact I look forward to seeing what Ange’s system actually looks like whether it be in the flesh or on the television, which is more likely the case.
The Port Melbourne match was the first in a series of five friendlies against VPL and State League opposition over the next five weeks and I will be looking forward to hearing how the team progresses towards the start of the new season and for those actually attend those games it would be good to hear some feedback first hand in boring lonely ol’ Canberra (aka the place without an A-League side).
* - I actually knew the game was on.
With the FFA releasing the fixture for the 2012-13 season it’s time for my annual look at the highlights/lowlights of the draw from a Melbourne Victory point of view.
- Finally Melbourne Victory get to play two home games against Melbourne Heart. Both of which are to be played at Etihad Stadium, which is a tiny bit of a disappointment. The first of these derbies takes place in the first round of the season and is a good way to kick off the season’s festivities.
- There is an away game in Sydney on my birthday which brings the very distinct possibility of a road trip - the first for at least five seasons. Speaking of road trips it is good to see that Adelaide finally gets to host us in two of our three encounters. That’s a road trip I have always wanted to do.
- It is good to see that the Australia Day match against the aforementioned Sydney has been maintained although in my opinion it should alternate from city to city every season.
- There should be some cracking crowds for the first three Victory games as they firstly host Heart, then travel north for Ange’s return to Suncorp Stadium and then a return for our only home game against Adelaide.
Thank you Tom Pondeljak for all your efforts in Melbourne Victory colours. Especially that goal in the 2008-09 Grand Final. A true professional.
When I originally began this blog way back in 2007 one of the main inspirations was the American-based site Pitch Invasion. Over time I have visited it less and less and thus was extremely pleased when I heard that editor, Tom Dunmore would be releasing a best of book that would encapsulate the very best of what Pitch Invasion had to offer. So having now bought and read the book I have also reviewed it and you can read that review over at the very excellent Valderramarama.
So who would have thought that it would take twenty-one matches for someone to realise the key to Melbourne Victory’s success would be a functional midfield. Who would have thought? How much do they pay these people?
Way back in October not long after the season had started even I could see that the problem with the Victory’s lack of early season success was down to a massive hole in midfield. That hole resulted in a disconnection between the attacking members of the team and those mainly tasked with doing defensive duties. Up until the weekend under Jim Magilton’s reign we had seen that gaping hole still there which resulted in countless long balls hoofed up to our five foot nothing forwards only to be cleared predictably by their opponents. In the derby it resulted in Kristian Sarkies having so much time on the ball that he was actually able to hit a pass to a teammate and not an opposition player. It resulted in some of the most dire football that I have even seen from the Victory, even worse than some of the crap dished up in our first season.1
So disheartened by the derby performance last week I was about to write a diatribe on why Magilton wasn’t the man for the Melbourne Victory job in the long term but time constraints and suitable lack of inspiration and swear words meant that I only wrote about one hundred words before Friday night’s kickoff. In many ways I am glad that I didn’t write that diatribe because Friday night’s performance gave me a glimmer of hope that I thought may have already been killed off. In light of that I will reserve my judgement on the Northern Irishman (or Scotsman if you read Australia’s most popular newspaper as voted by themselves) until the end of season.
So what was actually different from the previous twenty matches that allowed the team to play what appeared to be a functional and vaguely entertaining brand of football with a midfield that actually worked against the Central Coast Mariners. Well after some pretty dire football in the last couple of weeks Magilton actually decided to do something different. Recent loan signing Mark Milligan was moved to the centre of midfield from the centre of defence, a change brought about mostly by the recent signing (to the end of the season I think) of Spanish defender Ubay Luzardo, played his first game in the blue and white on Friday night. Paired with Milligan was Jimmy Jeggo (whose very name conjures up images of millions of swooning Korean girls - don’t google that by the way), who picked up his first ever start. This midfield combination was in stark contrast to the previous combination of Broxham and Brebner as it was more mobile and could actual provide that much need link between defence and attack. In other words it provided some fluidity to the Melbourne midfield. Up ahead from right to left were Marco Rojas, Carlos Hernandez (who made a much needed return to the starting XI) and Harry Kewell. These three played behind Archie Thompson, who reprised his role as the lone striker. Some may have called it a 4-4-1-1 formation but I prefer to call it a 4-2-3-1 formation as illustrated below. But no matter what you call it, the main thing was that it actually worked.
So there you have it a functional midfield which gave us a team that played liked a team and not a collection of individuals and instantly things look a bit better on the pitch. Let’s hope that continues this week against Brisbane Roar and we don’t again resort to old habits.
After last week’s Australia Day match against Sydney FC I had intended to ride my bike home but unfortunately on my way to the game my back tyre had gone completely flat so instead of riding home I had to walk my bike to Flinders Street Station in order to get home. Whilst the same thought may have occurred if I had been in the saddle but as I pushed my bike alongside the Yarra River with thousands of other fans I came to the conclusion that it was time to call it quits on Melbourne Victory’s season.
Whilst many would think that with nine matches to go in the season that this a big call but let me clarify what calling it quits means for me. After experiencing another match where the team again threw away a lead I decided that after all the troubles that this season has entailed that I have decided withdraw my emotional attachment from the team for the rest of the season. I will still go to games and still watch them when they play interstate but it will be more from the stand point of a supportive observer rather than a full-on fan with the result being of no consequence. This is mainly due to the fact that I believe nothing will come of this season - a season at its beginning promised so much but in the end won’t probably even deliver a finals appearance.
However, it must be added that this role of a supportive observer is null and void for the upcoming Melbourne Derby.