Five things we learned from A-League round 25

Melbourne Victory are second on the A-League ladder, but they looked like also-rans against Wellington Phoenix. It was a performance that shocked the club's brains trust.


Andreew Hoole (left), Kevin Muscat (centre) and Jamie Maclaren (right) Source: Getty Images

1. That was as insipid as it gets from Melbourne Victory

What an awful performance against Wellington Phoenix from a team that fancy themselves as potential champions.
It was as good a team as Victory can field, but there was no apparent desire, no purpose . . . No nothing, really.
Wellington were up 2-0 by midway through the first half and cruised home to win 3-0 on the road - and the margin could've easily been bigger.
Victory coach Kevin Muscat made no excuses, using terms such as "nowhere near good enough", "reality check", "comprehensively beaten" and "second best" to describe the display.
It was the third loss in four games from Victory. The last two rounds are critical for them. If the players think they can turn a tap on in the finals and their best form will automatically flow out, they are in for a huge shock. They have to be in that sort of form going in.

2. There is not one good reason why Sydney FC won't win the championship

That's not to say it can't happen, but it shouldn't.
Despite the fact it has been clear for a while now that the Sky Blues would enter the finals in first place, they haven't suffered a letdown.
While half of the teams in the top six - Melbourne Victory, Melbourne City and Perth Glory - are having serious issues with their form, the Sky Blues just keep winning.
Sydney overran City in the second half to win 3-0. They've got plenty of goal-scorers, a great defence and they finish games off strongly. They look irresistible.

3. The second half between Brisbane Roar and Central Coast Mariners was crazy good

How was that for brilliant entertainment? No goals in the first half and then it just lights up with six in the second, including a hat-trick in eight minutes by Brisbane striker Jamie Maclaren.
Central Coast actually scored first, but they were soon put in their place by the home side in a 45 minutes that was mostly made up of end-to-end attacking.
There was no shortage of poor defending, but still some great finishing in Roar's 5-1 win - and there could've easily been three or four more goals in the second half, including one or two to the Mariners.
Maclaren has scored 10 goals in his last seven games to draw level with Melbourne Victory's Besart Berisha in the race for the Golden Boot as the competition's leading goal-scorer. They have 18 apiece.

4. The mind games have started

Brisbane coach John Aloisi was asked to compare runaway leaders and Premier's Plate winners Sydney FC to the Ange Postecoglou-coached Roar side that won two championships.

He replied: "Sydney FC still need to win the grand final. It isn't easy, don't worry about that, because there are going to be teams going to the finals believing they can win it.
"Sydney FC haven't won anything yet. They won the minor premiership and 'Arnie' (coach Graham Arnold) did that with the Mariners and then they didn't get to the grand final one season, so Sydney FC haven't won anything major.
"In Australia it's the grand final that's the major prize. They're a good side, don't get me wrong, they're a brilliant side, but it's a one-off game the grand final."

5. Andrew Hoole's final days at Newcastle Jets could get messy

Off-contract Hoole, who is seeking an opportunity to play in Europe, was berated by Newcastle assistant coach Clayton Zane on the sideline after reacting badly to being replaced midway through the second half of the 3-0 loss to Western Sydney Wanderers.
Afterwards, Jets head coach Mark Jones made it clear he wasn't happy with Hoole either and when asked if the incident could impact on team selections for the final two rounds he replied "perhaps".
Hoole would be hoping to use his performances in the last few rounds as a shop window for European clubs. Sitting on the bench, or, worse still, not even being in the match-day squad obviously wouldn't help his chances.

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4 min read
Published 3 April 2017 at 9:37am
By Greg Prichard