Five things we learned from A-League Round 3

Managerial mishaps, dropped points and derby drama headlined round three of A-League action this past weekend as the 2017-18 season continued its unpredictable start.

A-League

Paul Okon (L), Ronald Vargas (C) and Hayden Foxe (R) Source: Getty Images, AAP

Mr. Foxe isn’t fantastic

If Western Sydney Wanderers CEO John Tsatsimas was considering Hayden Foxe for the head coaching vacancy, surely this past weekend’s derby changed his mind.

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While managers throughout world football adopt either a proactive or reactive style of coaching, Foxe followed neither as Sydney FC clawed their way back from 2-0 down to preserve their unbeaten start to the season with a 2-2 draw at Allianz Stadium.

With the Wanderers leading 2-1 at half-time and Mark Bridge looking about as useful as a screen door on a submarine, introducing Jacob Melling just past the restart would have allowed Foxe time to convert to a four-man midfield and combat the numbers Graham Arnold’s men were flooding forward in search of an equaliser.

Instead, Foxe neglected to make any changes until the 85th minute – bringing Brendon Santalab on for Oriol Riera, and Melling on for the in-form Kearyn Baccus with two minutes left to play. Go figure.

Speaking after the game, Foxe said: “we're building a foundation and getting stronger every day and every week.”

But after backing up an opening round win with two draws, the most recent being a near-certain three points dropped against your cross-town rivals, it’s beginning to look like the opposite.



Jets crash as Aloisi sacking looms

"The win means nothing really. We'd have given it away really for no injury to Ronny."

Those were Ernie Merrick's words after the Newcastle Jets lost star marquee Ronald Vargas to a horrific ankle injury after colliding with Matt McKay early in the second half.

The Venezuelan is currently in hospital with what has since been reported as a broken leg and dislocated ankle. And while the club are yet to confirm the extent of the injury, the bittersweet 2-1 victory over Brisbane has pumped the brakes on the Jets' best start to an A-League season since 2007.

As for the Roar, the unforgiving nature of managerial football could be about to hit John Aloisi square in the face after his side failed to register a result at home for the second week running.

In what was his 100th A-League match as a head coach, Aloisi was unable to prevent another Brisbane defeat, the club’s third straight to start the season.

The latest loss leaves Roar bottom of the league and Aloisi’s future in doubt. Think it’s too early? Just ask Frank De Boer, the former Crystal Palace manager who was sacked at the beginning of the season after the Eagles failed to register a point (or a goal) in their first four Premier League fixtures.

Brisbane’s board won’t entertain such mediocrity much longer, especially when a squad containing so much experience fails to find the end product in front of goal.

Should the Roar lose yet again away to Wellington next week, his time at the helm could be up.



Ode to Okon

Dear Paul Okon, your insistence on having the back four play a high line will continue to cost you. Sincerely, everyone.

After a bright start to the match saw Central Coast take an early lead, the Perth Glory rallied back to claim all three points with a 2-1 win in front of over 12,000 fans at nib Stadium.

The Glory reverted to tactics evident across every local under-12s football team, with angled long balls over the top to Diego Castro, Adam Taggart and Andy Keogh proving the recipe for success in a come-from-behind performance.

While Kenny Lowe’s men struggled to get a grip on the game, they soon took advantage of a Mariners backline, featuring Josh Rose, Alan Baro, Antony Golec and Storm Roux, playing far too high up the pitch.

It wasn’t the first time the Mariners had been exposed. Newcastle found similar joy in their resounding Round 1 win, as did Western Sydney in last weekend’s 2-2 draw.

In truth, Okon’s side don’t deserve to sit second-last on the ladder, but should he refuse to have his defence sit deeper when without possession, the Mariners may stay there.



Do City deserve to be top of the league?

Before their narrow 1-0 win over the Wellington Phoenix, it had been six years since City last followed victory in a derby with another three points.

Warren Joyce now has the cashed-up club top of the league outright with three wins from as many games, becoming just the seventh team to do so in A-League history.

But while five of those previous six teams have made the grand final by the end of the season, is it fair to back City to the big dance just yet?

The Citizens are yet to play a match outside Melbourne and appear vulnerable in transition, as Melbourne Victory proved last weekend and Phoenix this time out.

Nevertheless, with on-loan Scottish international Ross McCormack now off the mark, and Joyce rewarding game time to those deserving of such, perhaps this new-look City side’s best is still yet to come.



A-League’s newest comeback kings

For the third week in a row, Adelaide United refused to stay down against A-League opposition.

Head coach Marco Kurz has instilled a never-say-die attitude that has seen the Reds overcome deficits against Wellington, Brisbane and Melbourne Victory respectively.

While the 2-2 draw against Kevin Muscat’s men may seem like three points that got away in the end, United’s ability to consistently conjure up a response and push teams the full 90 minutes may prove valuable as the season progresses.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the VAR, after the additional referee failed to officiate two standout flashpoints of physicality orchestrated by both Rhys Williams and Besart Berisha.

With league leaders Melbourne City set to face the Reds next weekend, let’s hope this mute stance on illegal matters does not repeat itself.


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6 min read
Published 23 October 2017 at 11:51am
By Jonathan Bernard