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Arnold: Sydney derby too big for little Wanderland

Thu, 27/11/2014 - 13:36
In a comment that is sure to rile their fierce neighbours, Arnold declared the Wanderers’ Parramatta base was not at all intimidating. A sell-out crowd of around 20,000 is set to cram into ‘Wanderland’ on Saturday. The Sky Blues boss, who describes the Wanderers’ home ground as a “beautiful little football stadium” believes the match would be better suited at a venue with a bigger capacity. Football Federation Australia are open to the prospect of moving one derby match a season to the bigger ANZ Stadium, which has a capacity of over 83,000. But Arnold threw a hand-grenade at the Wanderers by suggesting only their home matches should be moved to allow more fans in. "I don't think derbies should be taken away from here (Allianz Stadium)," Arnold told reporters on Thursday. "We get 44,000, maybe they should think about taking the derby away from Parramatta because it only fits 18,000. “It's more money in the bank for them if they move one of their derbies to ANZ but for us here 44,000 packed I don’t think we need to move one of ours. "….The Wanderers have had two crowds of 14,000 and this game will be the first that is a sell-out of 18,000 and we’re looking forward to the occasion. "They are passionate and great supporters and they’ve brought a lot to the A-League but for me it's not an intimidating place to go. It's a beautiful little football stadium and it’s a great place to play at.” Those comments are sure to get Arnold a hot reception on Saturday night but he is also expect things to be just as fiery on the pitch as well with the hosts desperate for a win. The Sky Blues boss has been impressed with the Wanderers’ form in recent weeks and believes their new signings like Vitor Saba, Romeo Castelen and Nikita Rukavytsya are starting to settle. One of Sydney’s new boys, marquee man Marc Janko, has settled quickly with his brace last weekend ensuring a 2-1 win over Melbourne City. “He’s a great guy and you can see his motivation and desire for the club to miss the Brazil friendly game to come back and play for Sydney (last weekend),” Arnold said of Janko. “Sydney means a lot to him, he’s on a one-year contract and he wants an extension so he’s motivated. “There can be an element of risk (with international players) if you don’t do your due diligence. We knew what Marc was about and we did a lot of homework on him not only as a player but as a person. “We knew his qualities and if he’s still a current international for Austria he definitely has the quality. For me it was never a risk and we expect him to get even better towards the end of the season.” Sydney will be without midfielder Milos Dimitrijevic through suspension, with Arnold revealing Ali Abbas, Peter Triantis and Rhyan Grant were the candidates to replace him in the middle of the park.
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Muscat not banking on unsettled Reds

Thu, 27/11/2014 - 13:17
Gombau is understood to be on a shortlist of candidates to fill the vacant position of head coach at J.League side, Yokohama F Marinos. The Spaniard, speaking in the wake of a 2-0 win away to Central Coast on Sunday, indicated it would take a lot for him to walk out on the Reds part-way through his second season with the club. It remains to be seen if concern over the future of their coach will have a negative impact on the Reds when the team – which boasts a large contingent of Spanish-speaking players – takes on Victory at AAMI Park. Muscat for one though isn't banking on any psychological advantage, the boss of the Big V preferring to concentrate on matters within his control. "It's probably a question for him (Gombau) or the players," Muscat said. "Certainly not any of my concern. Two minutes wasted thinking about that situation is two minutes I've wasted not putting into one of our boys. I've haven't given it any thought at all." The focus as ever at the navy blue and whites has been ensuring a high level of performance and Muscat wants it to be business as usual from his in-form side, who drew 1-1 away to Adelaide after a tense, even contest in Round 2. "We know we're capable of scoring goals, we know we're capable of attacking teams and looking threatening," he said. "That's the challenge for the team tomorrow. Really put them (Adelaide) on the back foot." Victory had a special guest coach at training on Thursday, with former Socceroo turned television pundit Mark Bosnich - in Melbourne for a club function - offering unsolicited advice to strikers and goalkeepers alike from his position behind the nets. "I think the keepers would have taken a lot out of that," Muscat joked when asked about the ex-Manchester United man's input. Asked if Bosnich had appointed himself to that backroom staff, Muscat replied: "He always does, doesn't he?"
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Home to stay: Valeri rediscovers his edge

Wed, 26/11/2014 - 22:49
Valeri and his wife, who hails from Melbourne, and their two children moved into a new house this week, having collected the keys on Friday morning ahead of Victory’s clash with Brisbane Roar. It’s confirmation that the 30-year-old midfielder, who had spent the past decade in Italy, is content back in Australia having inked a three-year deal with Victory in June after “losing his edge” overseas. “Europe is over for me,” Valeri told FourFourTwo. “For me it would be hard to go back to Europe. If there was any doubt in my mind, it’s over now. “My family and I are very happy here. We couldn’t have come to a better place. “I’ve found an extra passion for something I was already passionate about. I want to do extra, I want to stay at the training ground, I want to do the promotional stuff – everything.” Valeri’s renewed enthusiasm has gone some way to bringing back his best on the field, having endured a lean final few years in Italy, battling injury and selection issues at Sassuolo and Ternana. It has also revived his Socceroos ambitions. Having played all three matches at the 2010 World Cup, he missed Brazil 2014 altogether. However, Valeri earned a recall for September’s friendlies against Belgium and Saudi Arabia, and is a chance to make the Asian Cup squad. While the former Inter Milan junior prefers not to speak too much about the Socceroos, he acknowledges his move home has been great for his international chances. “I needed this at this point in my career,” Valeri said. “I’m 30-years-old, I’d been overseas a long time, done lots of good things and I lost that edge in Italy. “I’ve found a new enthusiasm and even more love for my football.” “It’s refreshing. I love working with Musky and his staff. The club speaks for itself. “I’m really happy at the moment – hopefully things can keep going well for us.” Valeri has vast experience in Italy’s second tier, but said he was loving the Victory fans. “Our crowd is fantastic,” he said. “It’s one of the most supportive crowds I’ve played in front of. “They really get behind us and come out in numbers every week. “I’m not just saying that because I’m here now. It’s the type of crowd you get – the families with kids, plus the fanatics behind us who you can hear sing every song perfectly. “My friends and family are addicted to coming because of the atmosphere.”
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FFA Cup welcomes Northern Territory next year

Wed, 26/11/2014 - 20:39
Football Federation Northern Territory has been granted a direct slot into the round of 32 at the expense of Football NSW whose allocation drops from seven to five. One slot has been handed over to FFNT and the other going to South Australian club MetroStars - the winner of the 2014 National Premier Leagues competition. The inaugural year of the Cup has been an outstanding success with the final between Adelaide United and Perth Glory at Coopers Stadium on December 16 already a sell-out and expected to attract a 16,000-plus crowd. Planning is well underway for next year’s edition of the competition. Hyundai A-League boss, Damien de Bohun, said the inclusion of the Northern Territory sets the Cup apart from any other top-level sporting competition in the country. “The popularity, interest and unheralded amount of media coverage during the inaugural edition has already established the Westfield FFA Cup as part of the Australian sporting landscape,” de Bohun said. “Now having an entrant from Football Federation Northern Territory from next year will make the Westfield FFA Cup a truly national competition. “In allocating the slots for next year, it’s important to note that the Westfield FFA Cup is still in its infancy, and after reviewing all of the feedback, this model is the most appropriate for (next year). “We will continue to review the success of this model as the (Cup) further develops and will not rule out the possibility of making changes in the future to improve the competition.” Football NSW will continue to have the highest number of slots with five, while Football Queensland and Football Federation Victoria will each have four slots each, Northern NSW Football and Football West two slots, and Capital Football, Football Federation Northern Territory, Football Federation South Australia and Football Federation Tasmania one slot apiece. The 21 Member Federations slots, coupled with the slot allocated to the National Premier Leagues Champions, plus the slots for the 10 A-League clubs, make up the entrants in the Westfield FFA Cup Round of 32. The match schedule for the Westfield FFA Cup 2015 will be announced in the coming months.
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A-League Preview: Brisbane begin life after Mulvey

Wed, 26/11/2014 - 14:06
Victory and Adelaide open the matchday with their second contest of the season, after their first battle ended 1-1 at the Adelaide Oval in October. Fresh from scoring his first goals in an Adelaide shirt in their 2-0 win over the Central Coast Mariners on Sunday, forward Pablo Sanchez said he was anticipating a tough clash at AAMI Park in Melbourne. "We know that it will be a very important match for us and for them as well," Sanchez said of the match pitting the second (Adelaide) against third. "We need to follow the same line and keep improving because we are winning but we need more of the same." Perth Glory are poised to maintain their spot at the top of the table, when they travel to face a Brisbane side who will play for the first time following the stepping down of championship-winning coach Mike Mulvey. Frans Thijssen will be in the technical area for Brisbane on an interim basis, and the former Netherlands international said he will put an emphasis on possession. "If you want to get back in the race you can't afford to make mistakes," Thijssen said ahead of his bow as stand-in coach. "I like players who are good on the ball. "Hopefully we can start playing. I like to play football from defence. "We have to have good players who don't lose balls." On Saturday night, AFC Champions League winners Western Sydney Wanderers will continue their pursuit of a drought-breaking league triumph when they host city rivals Sydney FC. Graham Arnold's Sydney FC are unbeaten in seven games, however, and will look to prolong Western Sydney's Asian title hangover. On Sunday, Melbourne City will look to bridge the gap between them and fifth-placed Wellington Phoenix when they travel to New Zealand. John van 't Schip's City sit in sixth, three points behind Wellington, with the latter having lost three of their past four after a promising start to the campaign. Wrapping up the weekend's action is a battle of the two strugglers in the F3 derby between the Mariners and the winless Newcastle Jets. The two clubs have one win between them this season, although the Jets look closer to a breakthrough win after drawing with Western Sydney in Parramatta last time out.
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Top 10 Most Booked A-League Players

Wed, 26/11/2014 - 09:53
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Flores rallies Jets: Were ready for the fight!

Wed, 26/11/2014 - 09:07
The Jets host the Mariners in the F3 derby on Sunday in what is looming as a season-defining clash for both clubs. Despite a morale-boosting 1-1 draw against Western Sydney Wanderers FC last weekend, the Jets remain winless this season while the Mariners have one victory from the first derby back in Round 1. The Jets' last clash at Hunter Stadium saw them humbled 4-0 by fellow strugglers Brisbane Roar FC and Flores declared it’s time to make amends. “I will tell you, this is going to be the most important week in our year,” Flores told reporters on Tuesday. “I texted Sammy Gallagher before he come to training today to see if he’s going to be ready for the most important week of the year. “It’s a derby, we want to get our first three points. The last performance in front of our home supporters was the worst we have seen. “We performed okay against the Wanderers – now it’s time to shine at our home and we have to put a fight out there if we want to win.” Flores underlined his importance to the Jets with a starring performance on the weekend, showing his quality in the middle of the park and scoring the equaliser which won his side a point. After a difficult year which saw him rupture his ACL and then be released from the Mariners before getting a lifeline in Newcastle, Flores is now looking ahead. “I live life with three words, ‘life goes on’,” the Argentine playmaker said. “Now I’ve overcome my injury, 10 months on. If you told me I would have lived this challenge that I’m living now in this club I could take the injury because things happen for a reason. “We’re building something that in my point of view with support of everyone who works in the office of Newcastle Jets, every member…we will get there. "It’s tough but we are men and we’re ready for the fight.”
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Smith follows Mulvey out the door

Tue, 25/11/2014 - 21:11
Smith was appointed to the Roar staff by Mulvey in June this year. The former Perth Glory boss and AIS Head Coach told FourFourTwo he resigned immediately after the man known as "Magic Mike" was shown the door. “When I came here to work with Mike I actually said to him, whatever happens I think there’s the potential next year for the wheels to come off a bit because of all the changes and everyone’s a year older,” Smith said. “I said if the worst comes to the worst and you get fired, I’ll be out the door the next day. I’ve got no interest in staying here or taking over from you." Mulvey was dismissed on Sunday, six matches into the 2014-15 season and just five months after guiding the Queensland club to the A-League championship. Media ran reports of his axing hours before he was officially notified. Smith said of how events unfolded: “What’s happened has happened. I think it was sad and to find out you’ve been fired over the radio is poor form. The club are acutely aware of that. But it is what it is. “My position was quite clear. I wasn’t really interested whether the club wanted me to stay or not, or whether I got the bullet with him, I was going to leave with him.” Smith coached in Iceland, Malaysia and Australia, and served a number of different coaching roles with the Socceroos. He was appointed interim head coach of the Socceroos in 2005 until the hiring of Guus Hiddink and successfully ran the AIS football program for nine years. Most recently, he spent several months managing Pahang FA in the Malaysian Super League. “On a personal level I was really enjoying working with Mike and the players,” Smith said. “The margins between winning and losing are extremely fine. We lost five games and two of those were to own goals and one of those was from a corner in the 93rd minute. “Nobody battered us. It wasn’t like we were getting battered every week. We actually dominated more than we got dominated in games but things have changed. That’s the good thing about the game, the game evolves. “I’ve known Mike for 25 years or more. When he asked me to come and be on the stuff I said the timing’s good mate, I know I can work with you. I’ll bring a few things to the table, which I did, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. “I’m just disappointed because I felt right now, OK there’s a few little stutters on the way, but it’s something we can fix.” Meanwhile Brisbane Roar has announced the club’s National Youth League coach, Jeff Hopkins, will move into the role of assistant under interim coach Frans Thijssen.
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Safros Sydney: Second-half blues

Tue, 25/11/2014 - 11:29
Most exasperating, and Ned Zelic sounding like a six year old on a sugar high didn’t help. Sydney had every right to feel confident going into the match despite our less than impressive away record to Melbourne City/Heart. The home side has shown nothing so far to indicate that they will be title contenders at season end, so three points were there for the taking. The lead up to the game proved a mixed blessing. Terry Antonis was back after his FFA-imposed international suspension. On top of which, the super talent has penned another two year deal with the club. Somehow I don’t believe he’ll see out the contract so the club stands to pocket a handy transfer fee should a European club come in for gifted playmaker. And in further good news, marquee Marc Janko decided to cut his international week short and immerse himself in preparation for the away fixture at AAMI Park. After Shane Smeltz’s performance the weekend before he may have felt the need to put his best foot forward. This joy, however, very quickly turned to despair upon hearing of the plight of young Sky Blue starlet Corey Gameiro. The in-form striker tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), an injury that takes up to a year to fully overcome. That it happened in a meaningless Olyroo friendly makes little difference – he could have done his ACL in the next club game or training session. Speedy recovery to Gameiro and I can’t wait to see him back in Sky Blue banging the goals in once again. And in a bizarre twist of fate, it was wonderful to see Rhyan Grant back out on the pitch after his own ACL nightmare, doubtless to great cheers in his home town of Canowindra. We have a talented player back in the squad – it feels like a new signing - and his presence has improved our depth. No doubt the competitive utility will be aiming to play every week. Back to AAMI Park and while it wasn’t entirely one way traffic, Sydney had the majority of the first half, creating a number of chances but converting just one and letting the home side off the hook. Frustration. It was a classic “game of two halves” as City almost completely dominated after the break. Suddenly we could no longer string passes together and Melbourne had us sitting deeper and deeper. The Sydney midfield, so effective in the first half, was barely sighted in the second, reduced to doing little more than donkey work as it kept turning over possession to the home side. That said, City played little more than glorified “piggy in the middle” and for all their possession – 62%! - their end product was negligible. While their attack lacked cutting edge and the touch of class that David Villa briefly provided, it also demonstrates Sydney’s defensive solidity across the park and our new-found ability to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Coincidentally, not twelve hours later Manchester United would defeat a rampant Arsenal away from home despite an almost identical 61% percent possession deficit. The moral of the story? It isn’t the size of the possession stat that matters. It’s what you do with it. Controversy 1 - Penalty or no penalty? Kris Griffiths-Jones could have called it either way. Vedran Janjetovic did not deliberately get up to impede Damien Duff but did end up bringing him down in the box. It could neither have been called a certain, stonewall penalty nor can the most one-eyed of us proclaim that it was never a penalty. This one went our way. Plenty haven’t. Controversy 2 – Second yellow for time wasting There was no certainty that Milos Dimitrijevic was going to be the one taking the corner, which means that Griffiths-Jones should not have penalised the Serb for time wasting. The midfielder’s job was to receive the ball and hold it up near the flag. Simply adding on an extra thirty seconds or so would have solved the problem. That said, while I believe the ref got this one wrong, I like Griffiths-Jones’ manner on the field and the way he communicates with players. He appears calm and in control of his emotions and I remain impressed. He is certainly one of the better ones. Goalkeeper Vedran Janjetovic was once again superb while the backline worked well as a unit. The midfield was a different story – dominant in the first half but mostly taking the wrong option in the second. The sub-plot was Antonis and Aaron Mooy fighting it out for the night’s “best long passer” award. Mooy impressed, but some of Antonis’ long balls with his left foot, often curled to Bernie Ibini out on the right, were simply a delight. As for Ibini and the Westfield Sports High graduate finally showed what he can offer. His decision making was superb and he took the right option far more often than not. Ibini’s passing and movement was sharp and incisive and he used his pace to good effect. His cross for Marc Janko’s opener was Beckam-esque. It really was that good. Well done Bernie, more of the same please. Alex Brosque was quiet on the ball once again but Janko had an incredible match. His work rate belied his large frame and the Sydney #21 covered every blade of grass throughout the contest. Add his goal line clearance to his two well taken goals and that’s a hat-trick in my book. A gap is beginning to open up between the top four and the rest of the A-League ladder. There is no reason why Sydney FC should not be challenging for the top two come the business end of the season. We are nowhere near the finished article and I suspect that, like Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson, the Sky Blues will really start hitting their straps after Christmas. With Melbourne Victory facing Adelaide United on Friday night, the Sydney Derby gives us the chance to leapfrog at least one of them, while best case scenario will see us jump into first spot on the ladder by the end of round eight. But the table will matter not a jot when we take on the hapless Wanderers at Pirtek Stadium. Cross town rivalry is bigger than that. The hosts have been struggling while Sydney will be without the massively influential Dimitrijevic. Will Nicky Carle, not even on the bench in Melbourne, gain a reprieve? Arnie could do a whole lot worse. I suspect Abbas will continue in midfield in front of young Alex Gersbach and together with Sash Ognenovski resume his battle with eleven Wanderers and the RBB. It should be fun to watch. The 13 point gap between local rivals would be cutting deep and the Wanderers will be desperate as pressure mounts, but so will Sydney, never this season found wanting in hunger and bloody minded determination. I suspect it will be ugly more than it will be pretty but we should have the weapons to pile some more misery on the home side. And if we do, should Poppa start looking over his shoulder?
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Breakdown: How Kenny kept Glory one step ahead

Tue, 25/11/2014 - 02:59
They seemed especially keen to play quick, direct football, trying to hit the space in behind Wellington’s back four whenever they had the ball. Keogh naturally sprints in behind, while Hersi, now back in his familiar right-sided role, also chased balls over the top, both able to out-sprint the Wellington defenders. If it weren’t for the poor timing of their runs (Perth were caught offside 10 times in this match, nearly an A-League record for this season) they might have added to their goal tally. As it was, Perth did take the lead from this exact ploy. In the second minute, Dino Djulbic’s long pass over the top freed Hersi in behind, who dribbled to the byline and then put across a dangerous cross that Daniel De Silva somehow bundled over the line. Significant, too, was the fact that Djulbic was even free to play the pass. In recent weeks, a recurring tactical feature of Wellington Phoenix has been Ernie Merrick’s unusual asymmetrical formations, which here had Jeremy Brockie playing high up as a right-sided forward but Roy Krishna dropping much deeper on the left. Here, as Krishna tracked right-back Josh Risdon, and Brockie essentially marked Michael Thwaite – Perth’s left-sided centre-back – it left right-sided centre-back Djulbic free on the ball. With the #10 in the lopsided 4-4-2 diamond, Nathan Burns, focusing on marking Rostyn Griffiths, the onus fell on Roly Bonevacia to move forward from a deep, left-sided central midfield position to press Djulbic. Often, though, the distance was too great to cover and Djulbic was responsible for several penetrative forward passes, taking advantage of his freedom just as Mark Milligan, Matthew Spiranovic and Osama Malik have done so in recent weeks. Recognising the problems in his lopsided system, Merrick made a half-time adjustment. Krishna was asked to defend higher up, basically making it a proper 4-4-2 diamond – a strike pairing of Krishna and Brockie closing down on the Perth centre-backs, and Burns tucked in behind and still marking Griffiths. Now, though, the ‘free’ players were Perth’s full-backs, and both Scott Jamieson and Risdon took advantage of the lack of a direct opponent to get into advanced positions. The latter, in particular, got forward to overlap past Risdon and create 2v1 situations against Wellington’s left-back Tom Doyle, exploiting the lack of natural width in a diamond formation. Crucially, Risdon provided the assist for Perth’s second – Keogh’s volley – which eventually proved the winner after Wellington mounted a fightback following Ruben Zadkovich’s farcical red card. Although Mitch Nichols has suggested Kenny Lowe doesn’t do any opposition scouting or preparation for upcoming fixtures, the Perth coach revealed his pleasure post-match at the nature of the two goals, suggesting both came from moves worked on at the training ground. Through clever exploitation of the weaknesses in both Wellington’s original formation, and their tweaked system in the second half, Perth continued their undefeated start to the season with a 2-1 victory. Tim Palmer writes extensively on A-League tactics
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Roar probe Mulvey sack leak

Mon, 24/11/2014 - 16:41
Mulvey, who guided the club to the A-League title last season, was informed of his dismissal late on Sunday afternoon, several hours after a report claiming he had been removed had been published by the Courier Mail. Speaking at the unveiling of interim coach Frans Thijssen on Monday, Dobson acknowledge a major failing had occurred within the club's lines of communication. "What happened yesterday in terms of process was not what we envisaged," he said. "It was not something we wanted to do and it's not how we wanted to operate. "Obviously we had a leak, we had a breach and we are investigating that breach. It is not something we take lightly. It's not something we accept as a club and it's not the way that we conduct ourselves." According to Dobson, Mulvey has been removed in a bid to salvage the Roar's A-League and 2015 AFC Champions League hopes, the team having managed to record just one win in six games so far this term. The managing director stopped short of confirming poor results had cost Mulvey his job, instead claiming the sacking was a result of 'deviation' from the club's football philosophy. "This has been a tough process and not a decision that was reached lightly," he said. "We are not giving up on this season and we are not giving up on the AFC Champions League campaign. "Part of the reason this was done early in the season is to ensure we have a strong AFC Champions League campaign." Veteran Dutch coach Thijssen became available to replace Mulvey after previously being courted for a backroom role alongside director of football Ken Stead. "Frans was originally looked at for a Technical Director position at the club, which is why he's already in Brisbane," Dobson said. "Frans is here to work with Ken Stead on bringing back our football philosophy. "We are not looking at one man but a senior group, Frans with the support of Ken."
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Rescuing Roar not an easy job - Thijssen

Mon, 24/11/2014 - 16:20
Title-winning boss Mike Mulvey was sacked on Sunday after recording just one win from six matches this season, to be replaced on a temporary basis by Thijssen. The Dutchman will share coaching duties with director of football Ken Stead, before moving to a technical director role next season, following the appointment of a long-term successor. "I am happy to be in Australia," Thijssen was quoted as saying by Brisbane Roar's Twitter account. "I know this is not an easy job. "The training session this morning was very sharp. Hopefully we can turn this season around." Asked at a press conference if Mulvey had lost the dressing room or fallen out with senior players, Smith said: "It's upset the playing group that it's come to this." Pressed on how much responsibility rests with the squad for Mulvey's departure and the team's poor form, the captain added: "We're the ones that go out there on a Saturday afternoon and perform." "Do I like where we're placed at the moment? Of course I don't. "Do I take a slice of the accountability? Of course, I'm captain of this club. I can't sit here and say I'm happy."
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A-League: Five things we learned from round seven

Mon, 24/11/2014 - 13:01
1. Victory loss the last straw for Mulvey Football is a tough sport. Just six games into the Brisbane Roar's new A-League season and title-winning coach Mike Mulvey finds himself unemployed – his reputation diminished. Against Melbourne Victory, Brisbane Roar looked a shadow of their best. Their lack of possession was a worry, but even more so the number of free kicks conceded in their own half. A Jade North own-goal didn't help the visitor's cause. The summer departures of Besart Berisha and Ivan Franjic were always going to be detrimental for the champions. Recent reports suggest that player unrest and losing control over his dressing room ultimately led to the departure of Mulvey. The jury is still out on whether Mulvey's sacking was justified. Now though, it seems, expectations of a title defence are no longer realistic and the Roar have a long way to go before reaching the summit of Australian football again. 2. Nix away slump continues Ernie Merrick desperately needs to address Wellington Phoenix's poor away form. From their previous eight away fixtures, the Nix have won just one and conceded 24 goals. The Phoenix have a side which is capable of challenging the best and they have shown snippets of their potential. They'll need to improve their fortunes across the Tasman, however, if they are to cement a finals berth. Ironically, their most recent away loss was to Perth Glory, a side which struggled for any sort of away form last season, but now find themselves as league leaders. Kenny Lowe's men continue to win with their uncompromisingly unsophisticated style of play, which, so far, has reaped the rewards. Their upcoming fixtures will truly test their mettle though. The Glory will face Brisbane Roar away before taking on Sydney FC away as well. Is it too early to call them title contenders? Who knows. What is for sure though is that their recent success has been a joy to watch, and the emergence of a 'dark horse' will undoubtedly do the league a wealth of good. 3. Janko shows his true colours Some claim that the A-League for marquees is nothing more than just a pre-retirement stint to lengthen their career. For Marc Janko, though, the league is another opportunity to add more accolades to his already decorated CV. Despite international duty, news emerged that the 31-year-old left the Austrian camp as they were preparing to face Brazil in order to return to Sydney FC fresh and 'in good shape'. His match-winning brace on the weekend only further enhances his reputation as a selfless player ready to put his club before country. And while the Austrian international struggled early on, Janko has now arguably hit his stride and a big season awaits. 4. Wanderers' poor form inexcusable The Western Sydney Wanderers are accustomed to making headlines around the nation. Now though, they find themselves on the front page of sport dailies for all the wrong reasons. The Asian Champions are currently sitting in last place on two points after six matches. And with one game in hand, are 16 points adrift from league leaders Perth Glory and four points off top six. Their most recent draw against Newcastle Jets is inexcusable. Despite a lively start to the game where the Wanderer's front three looked the goods, last season’s runners-up were happy to sit back and defend rather than take a proactive approach. Gaps in defence were duly exploited by the Jets quartet of Jeronimo Neumann, Edson Montano, David Carney and Marcos Flores who perhaps should've scored more than their solitary goal. With Wanderers coach Tony Popovic playing what looks to be the core of his starting XI, it seems this could be the wake-up season for the Red and Black. There were positive signs however – Nikita Rukavytsya and Romeo Castelen both looked dangerous when given the ball and Vitor Saba finally looks like finding some sort of form. Regardless, they'll desperately need a win in Saturday’s Sydney derby to revive their finals hopes. 5. Reds strike whenneeded most For the first 45 minutes Adelaide United were all over the Central Coast Mariners. Yet, despite their dominance, you felt as though the Mariners might just be able to hang on and perhaps force the issue in the second half. That was not the case, however, as a quick fire Pablo Sanchez double within the space of two minutes effectively sealed the win for Gombau's men before half time. For the Mariners, it was match which showed their deficiencies as a side. Their lack of conviction in attack, and uncharacteristic defensive lapses, ultimately cost the Gosford outfit the game. The Reds, though, march on. However, they face a tough fixture against third-placed Melbourne Victory next week.
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Postecoglou says irrevocable breakage behind Mulvey axing

Mon, 24/11/2014 - 12:21
Mulvey was dismissed on Sunday, six matches into the 2014-15 season and just five months after guiding the Queensland club to the A-League championship. With just one win to date so far this season, results have been undeniably poor at Suncorp Stadium. But Socceroos coach Postecoglou, who won the title twice with the Roar, feels the sacking is about more than just on-field issues. "We talk about results a great deal," he said on Fox Sports. "Results are a contributing factor but a coach usually loses his job because of ... four key relationships. "You've got your board, your players, your supporters and the media. You break one of them irrevocably, it will cost you your job. “Because if it's just about results, then Popa (Western Sydney coach Tony Popovic) is in a similar boat. But he's not under pressure. Popa's still managing those relationships well," he said, referring to the Wanderers' winless start to the domestic campaign. "We don't know the story behind it. For a coach to lose his job so soon after having the ultimate success, which is what everyone strives for, suggests there's been an irrevocable breakage in one of those relationships. We can only guess which one that is." Aloisi, who was axed as Melbourne Heart coach in January, also suggested turmoil away from the pitch may have cost Mulvey. "As a coach, your job's not only to coach the players, you're also there to ... manage the board, manage supporters, the media," he said. "It's a big job and you need to do all of those things well. "Maybe he hasn't done something well and that's why he's gone." According to Aloisi, the Roar's 1-0 loss to Melbourne Victory on Friday is unlikely to have been the tipping point for the club's owners. "I don't think it came down to this game," he said. "From the outside looking in, it's that they were waiting for someone to replace him. It would have been two weeks ago when they lost to Melbourne City at home. We don't know the ins and outs of what's happening at the club, but something's broken there."
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Brisbane Roar appoint Frans Thijssen interim coach

Mon, 24/11/2014 - 11:37
Thijssen, 62, has coaching experience from the mid-90s, leading Vitesse, De Graafschap, Fortuna Sittard and Swedish club Malmo, but most recently held a youth coaching role at UAE outfit Al Jazira in 2009. He is better known for his exploits as a midfielder, winning the UEFA Cup with Ipswich Town and claiming the English Player of the Year award in 1981. He also played for NEC Nijmegen, FC Twente and Nottingham Forest and Vancouver Whitecaps before returning home to play in Holland. Roar managing director Sean Dobson Thijssen’s appointment is effective immediately and he will conduct his first training session with the 2013/14 Premiers and Champions on Tuesday morning. “Brisbane Roar FC believe Frans Thijssen’s background and experience will be a significant asset to the club,” Dobson said. "The Brisbane Roar FC board have every confidence Frans Thijssen will inject new vigour into the team and Brisbane Roar’s Hyundai A-League title defence. Mulvey stepped down immediately from his coaching post after meeting with Roar management on Sunday. Dobson said as a result of a review by the Brisbane Roar FC board, which began immediately following the A-League 2013/14 season and included the first games of the club’s 2014/15 title defence, Mulvey was informed he would no longer hold the position of head coach.
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Top 10 Best International Preseason Games

Mon, 24/11/2014 - 10:02
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Moss rues two sloppy minutes

Mon, 24/11/2014 - 09:47
CLICK HERE FOR MATCH PICS The game was evenly balanced after 35 minutes, with the Mariners enjoying more shots on goal while possession stats were near 50-50, but a quick-fire double from Pablo Sanchez put the visitors into an unassailable lead shortly before half-time. “I thought the first 40 (minutes) we gave as good as we got and it was two sloppy minutes of defending,” Moss said after the match. “Two inexcusable goals we gave away and that gave us a mountain to climb and clearly that mountain was too high in the second half.” There were eight yellow cards shown in the game – two of them to Nick Montgomery – which Moss said was far too high. “There were some key decisions that didn’t go our way today and I thought Montgomery’s red card was harsh. “Particularly the first yellow he was dished out and there’s a fair case for certain referees in this league to be a bit card-happy and we certainly saw that today.” Later in the second half, Anthony Caceres went down in the box under the challenge of a couple of defenders and goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic, but the referee waved play-on to the disgust of the Gosford crowd. “Then there’s a massive decision on Anthony Caceres for a penalty at 2-0 down and 2-1 if we score it and anywhere else on the pitch it’s a foul so I can’t for the life of me work out why it wasn’t given in that instance,” said Moss. The coach also played down a heated exchange between himself and captain John Hutchinson, who was taken off in the 64th minute, saying it was simply a show of passion in the heat of the moment. “Emotions were running high, we were frustrated and ‘Hutch’ is a 10-year servant of this club and captain of the football team and he was frustrated. “I love that about Hutch – that he’s emotional, that he cares. “It wasn’t the time or the place, but that will be dealt with in-house and it needs to be ironed out quick-smart and I’ve already had a chat to Hutch and the staff about it. “Under my watch I demand respect and discipline from everyone and that will be reinforced this week.”
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Gombau plays down Yokohama link

Mon, 24/11/2014 - 09:23
Gombau has been linked to the Japanese side following the departure of their former coach Yasuhiro Higuchi, but the Adelaide boss was in no mood to speculate after his side reclaimed second spot on the table thanks to a Pablo Sanchez brace. CLICK HERE FOR MATCH PICS “I am a professional and if I don’t see a contract, for me it means nothing,” he said. “I am happy here. I am a man who likes to start and finish a project and I am not a man who will leave the team in the middle of the season. I know the media puts rumours (out there), but I need to accept (that). “The people who know me, the people in the club, the players are the most important. I want to be here and I want to work hard. I want to do what I am doing.” When pushed on the rumour, Gombau repeated: “If you don’t have something in paper, for me, it’s nothing. “For me important is what I am doing, I am happy here. I have this opportunity. “Of course I won’t stay in Australia my whole life, I am Spanish and I will leave, but not in the middle of the season.” Gombau agreed that his side didn’t have it all its own way in the first half against the Mariners, but once they went ahead, the game was effectively over. “The game was very equal until we scored. We had two chances, but they also had opportunities. After we scored two goals it’s another game, because we tried to keep possession of the ball and tried to win the game. “We are so happy, it’s not easy to win away but we did that in the three games we’ve played away this year.” He said he was also looking forward to the highly anticipated match against third placed side Melbourne Victory next weekend. “It’s a very important game, we play away, we’re close on the table and there’s a historic rivalry between Adelaide and Melbourne Victory and we’ll go and try to get the win. “This will be our challenge. In terms of points, it’s not important because there’s still a lot of games in front (of us). “I enjoy winning and tomorrow start to prepare the game away against the Victory and I think we can do a good job there. “
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Archie: I want to play a few more years

Mon, 24/11/2014 - 02:15
The 36-year-old Victory foundation member inked a one-year deal with the club in May, downgrading his contract from Australian marquee status. There had been some speculation Thompson may call it quits prior to penning the contract earlier this year and with Besart Berisha’s impending arrival. But Thompson has played all seven of Victory’s A-League matches this season, scoring three times, and is optimistic about his future. “No way, I’m loving it,” Thompson told FourFourTwo when asked about retirement. “Everyone talks about ‘you should be retiring’, but I don’t want to be pushed, I want to do it myself. “I don’t want to go out too early. I feel like I can play still a couple of good years and at a good level. “I want to end my career at Melbourne Victory. If I can keep performing and showing my worth (then I’ll stay). I want to stay as long as possible.” Thompson has started six of Victory’s seven A-League matches this term, substituted off on three occasions, but said his body was feeling good. “I’m feeling really good, I’m still competing well and running rings around 18-year-olds at training,” Thompson laughed. “I obviously want to play as much football as I can this year. I’ve come to the twilight of my career, so I just want to be out on the pitch. “There’s so much quality and depth in the squad, in the past I’ve been straight into the starting line-up, but this year it’s harder and tougher with my body, my age and the players we’ve got. “But I’m upbeat with how I’m performing. My body is holding up great. I can’t ask much more from a 36-year-old body which has been through the grinder.” Thompson, who is the A-League’s all-time leading scorer, said he was particularly enjoying his football with the end in sight. The 54-time Socceroo said being on a one-year contract was an incentive to perform in order to win a new deal, as well as his hunger to win more silverware before he hangs up the boots. Victory hasn’t won any major trophies since 2009. “I think you enjoy it more when you’re coming towards the end,” Thompson said. “You take it for granted a bit until you realize it is coming towards the end. I want to enjoy it and play in a successful team, which I think we’ve got.”
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Mulvey leaves Roar post

Mon, 24/11/2014 - 01:21
The club released a statement on Sunday confirming the news after reports of Mulvey's axing.  "Head coach Mike Mulvey met with Brisbane Roar FC management today.  As a result, he will step down from the head coach's position," Roar chief executive Simon Dobson said.  "Brisbane Roar FC thanks Mike Mulvey for his contribution to the success of the club since his appointment as interim coach in December 2012 and as Brisbane Roar head coach in February 2013." Local media reports have claimed Dutchman Frans Thijssen - whose previous managerial positions include roles at Vitesse, Malmo, Fortuna Sittard and several stints in the Middle East - will replace Mulvey, although the club are yet to comment on who will take over on an interim basis.  Mulvey succeeded Rado Vidosic in December 2012, guiding the then-faltering champions into a finals berth, before orchestrating Roar's third title-winning campaign in four seasons last term.  The loss of star striker Besart Berisha and Australia international Ivan Franjic has been keenly felt in a start to a 2014-15 campaign that has produced just one win to date. Roar lost 1-0 away to Melbourne Victory on Friday. 
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