Posts Tagged ‘harry kewell’

A new man but still a bit of same old, same old

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

So there we have it. Jim Magilton’s first game in charge of Melbourne Victory. We may all have been hoping for a first up win but unfortunately Adelaide United didn’t get the message and the match ended 1-1 in what was must be said was a very cliched match of two halves.

For those expecting dramatic changes in his first game would have been sadly disappointed as the starting line-up was pretty much the same the played the weekend before against Newcastle with the only change being the inclusion of Adrian Leijer for Petar Franjic, which was hardly a suprising move. What was interesting was Magilton’s use of the bench with Jean Carlos Solorzano, Diogo Ferreira and the aforementioned Franjic being his substitutes. For someone who is probably used to having a larger bench it was interesting that for his substitutes he went for a striker, midfielder and a defender along with the mandatory goalkeeper. It was a fairly conservative choice and I’m sure we will see a different bench once he gets used to having only a four man bench.

As I alluded to in my opening it was a game of two halves as the Victory shot out of blocks at the start of their game as has been their want of late and save for the efforts of Eugene Galekovic, the woodwork and some poor finishing the home team could well have been more than a goal up come the half time whistle. Kewell continued his recent renaissance out of the left and it was his early match trickery that not only set up the first goal but also created a plethora of other chances that unfortunately weren’t converted. He combined well on in the left hand-side with Fabio, who had his best game for the club although apart from a few blemishes has been pretty consistent throughout the season. It wasn’t all just Kewell in that early match dominance with Hernandez, Thompson and Allsopp all looking dangerous.

However as been the case through most of the season the team couldn’t put a whole match together as Adelaide fought their way back into the match and dominated much of the second half, save for a few chances for the Victory. Whilst the first half was full of free-flowing football the second half was in stark contrast as we resorted to long hopeful balls to the forwards as the connection between defence to midfield and beyond seemed to disappear. After a pleasing first half it was a little disappointing to see the team resort to type in the second half as the opposition stepped up their game and for most of the time looked bereft of ideas.

There is obviously plenty of work for Magilton to do in the coming weeks but his first up effort obviously displeased Australia’s self-proclaimed football oracle No. 1 Barcelona fan, Craig Foster who had probably been saving this piece up all week. This prompted a misguided twitter response from Robbie Slater, who is personal friend of Magilton which in turn prompted this well-written response by Mike Tuckerman on The Roar which pretty much summed up the thoughts of most level-headed football supporters who have a dose of reality unlike the aforementioned Foster and Slater.

2011 in review

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

As 2011 draws to its conclusion it’s time again to take a look at the year that was for the Melbourne Victory. It was a year full on drama with an extended off-season break providing plenty of talking points off the pitch whilst the action on the field hasn’t quite hit the high notes that everyone was hoping for at its beginning.

High point of the Year

Both on an off the pitch there has been very few highs as far the Victory are concerned but during the extended off season the launch of the Melbourne Victory kit by adidas and it’s accompanying launch video was one of my high points of the season. It’s just a pity that what has happened on the pitch hasn’t quite matched it.

Low point of the Year

Going out of the finals in the first week for the first ever time was a fairly low point but nothing matches the handling of the dismissal of Ernie Merrick after one ACL match. New chairman Anthony di Pietro’s handling of the whole scenario was nothing short of unprofessional and as I wrote as such at the time for Australian FourFourTwo: “Sacking a manager is a difficult thing but when you announce such a decision how about showing some conviction in the action that you are taking. You looked about convincing as me trying to pass myself off as a football player.”

Game of the Year

Whilst it may not have been exactly pretty the 2-2 draw against Brisbane Roar with only nine men has to be my match of the year. Never have I been at a game where the crowd has got so behind the team as they frustrated the then unbeaten Roar like no team had done before. It was one of those games that should have kick started the season but unfortunately it wasn’t to be as we have spluttered on.

Goal of the Year

There hasn’t been too many highlights in this department this year but it would have to be a toss up between Archie Thompson’s second goal for Brisbane Roar earlier this season or Diogo Ferreira’s almost perfect volley against Wellington Phoenix a couple of weeks ago. However for pure individual brilliance it has to be Thompson’s effort as he not only bamboozled the defender but also former team mate Michael Theoklitos to give Melbourne Victory a 2-1 lead with only ten men.

Signing of the Year

This is pretty much a no contest as nothing comes close to the signing of Harry Kewell. While he is yet to deliver on the pitch Kewell has well and truly delivered off the pitch with two crowds of around 40,000 for our first two home games generating plenty of publicity.

Harry Kewell Shirt Presentation

Coaching decision of the Year

2011 definitely wasn’t a year of game changing coaching decisions but whoever was responsible for the signing of Ante Covic on the eve of the first game of the season has to get some credit. Time and time again the giant keeper has come to the rescue of the team and without him we would be a much worse position that we already are at the moment.

Best favour from an opposition player

There hasn’t been too many of these this year but Brett Emerton’s penalty in the first match of the season that was saved by Ante Covic has to be this best favour from an opposition player for the year. If we had a lost that one we probably would have been in a slightly worse position than we already are at the moment.

Stalemate to start the season

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

Sydney FC vs Melbourne Victory

After what seemed like an interminably long off-season the A-League finally got back underway last weekend as the Victory took on Sydney FC in what seems to be some sort of start of season tradition. And like many before them it ended in a draw but as far as 0-0 draws go it was pretty exciting with the respective goalkeepers stealing the limelight from Harry Kewell and Brett Emerton, who were making their A-League debuts.

From a Melbourne Victory point of view there were a few fresh faces making their debuts, none so more than new manager/coach Mehmet Durakovic, who had his first official game in charge and whilst it wasn’t a perfect performance there was some good pointers that if worked on could make for an exciting year. With the absence of Carlos Hernandez due to international duty, Durakovic set the midfield up with two holding midfielders in the form of Billy Celeski and Grant Brebner with Harry Kewell playing a roaming role behind Danny Allsopp with Archie Thompson and debutant Marco Rojas providing the width and pace. At the back were Vargas and Leijer centrally with another debutant Fabio and Matthew Foschini playing as full backs.

Without Hernandez absent it was a somewhat lopsided formation and in many respects the midfield lacked a bit of focus as the gap between Brebner and Celeski and the front three gave Sydney a little too much space, something which they exploited early on and it was only some heroics from new goalkeeper Ante Čović that kept Sydney FC from scoring early on. He further improved on his performance with that penalty save from Brett Emerton and one can see Tando Velaphi struggling to return to the starting XI once he returns from injury.

All three starting debutantes made good debuts with the most high profile, Harry Kewell having one of the best opportunities to break the deadlock midway through the first half. Despite having gone almost five months without competitive football, Kewell looked very much at home in free roaming role and some of his combinations with Archie Thompson were a sight to behold. One criticism that could be levelled at Kewell is that at times he seemed a little desperate to get on the scoresheet, particularly as the deadlock dragged on. When Hernandez returns next week against Adelaide week it will be interesting to see how Durakovic can fit both into the team, especially on the road.

Marco Rojas, the young New Zealander formerly of Wellington Phoenix, showed plenty of signs that he will be a useful addition this season providing the width that Melbourne Victory fans always seemed so much to crave during the reign of Ernie Merrick. What was especially pleasing was that at the end of some pulsating runs he was able to put in some quality final balls with ones for Kewell and Allsopp that forced great saves from Sydney goalkeeper, Liam Reddy.

Fabio, the latest in a string of Brazilians to play for the Victory, showed that he could be a good acquisition at full back despite giving away the penalty through a somewhat clumsy challenge on Mark Bridge. What caught the eye was his work rate providing an attacking outlet but also making sure to get back in defence and making a number of crucial interceptions. Both Jean-Carlos Solorzano and Isaka Cernak also saw pitch time but it was limited so a proper assessment would be a little unfair.

Next up is Adelaide in Adelaide and after our run of ten consecutive wins, the South Australians have won the last two with the last one coming in the final round last season. Adelaide will be coming off a poor performance against Perth Glory and will be looking to turn it around in front of their home fans. Like many such matches between the two teams it should be a cracker.

It’s so Kewell now that Harry is at Melbourne Victory

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

So after almost three months of speculation Melbourne Victory finally got around to announcing what Anthony Di Pietro described as the biggest signing in Australian sport as he confirmed the signing of Harry Kewell on a three-year deal.

The signing of Kewell means that fans of Australian football will for the first time get to see this country’s most high-profile football player playing club football but for a time there it seemed it wasn’t going to be worth the effort. All the constant to and froing and media speculation about supposed deals and counter-deals left a sour taste in many a fans’ mouth as Melbourne Victory and SydneyFC fought for Kewell’s signature (although to be fair I don’t think Sydney were actually ever in the hunt). Even this little blogger had enough at one stage when it looked like any deal to see Kewell to return to Australia had fallen through as I made the following (in hindsight) rather rash statements on twitter:

“So is Harry Kewelll not returning to the #aleague because Bernie #Mandic is basically a greedy fucker?”

“It was a perfect opportunity for #Kewell to give something back to Australian football, but greed sadly got in the way”

So now that is everything is fine and dandy and Kewell has been signed up and I’m even considering getting his name put on one of those fancy Melbourne Victory shirts it will definitely be interesting what sort of effect he will have both on and off the field. Kewell’s class on the pitch has never been questioned and with much less rigorous nature of an A-League season the threat of injury one would think would be mitigated to some extent. One does wonder though how Mehmet Durakovic is actually going to fit him into the starting XI with the likes of Marco Rojas and Isaka Cernak already signed up.

But is off the field where Kewell will probably have the most impact with his signing surely signalling an upswing in crowds both here in Melbourne and on the road. Already there are signs that he is having an effect with the Melbourne Victory membership hotline running hot since his signing and the club announced a membership cap of 18,000 people. But it will be his ability to pull in the non A-League punter that could very well set the A-League on a new and exciting course.

Confessions of a media whore

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

It seems of late that I seem to be appearing in the media a little of late and have even attending my first ever press conference. Here are a recent example of me being a bit of a media whore:

In Australian FourFourTwo’s Fifth Birthday Edition that’s out now I contributed to their memorable Harry Kewell moments piece:

In November 2010 Australian FourFourTwo

And in close-up.

In November 2010 442 Close Up