Five things we learned from A-League Round 8

In-game biffs, spits and spats headlined this past weekend’s A-League action as a heated round of football came to a controversial close.


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This league doesn’t need players like you

Despite goals from David Carney, Adrian Mierzejewski and Sebastian Ryall, Sydney FC’s 3-1 win over Brisbane will only be remembered for one disgusting and classless act midway through the second half.

Following a brief scuffle and exchange of words between Matt Simon and Avraam Papadopoulos, the latter inexcusably spat at Simon, prompting the forward to grab the defender’s jersey and contact his face in retaliation.

With the VAR’s affirmation, referee Alex King sent both players off and the Sky Blues held on to return to the top of the league, extending their unbeaten home record to 20 matches in the process.

The Roar’s Papadopoulos earned the ire of the nation following the incident; the ultimate display of disrespect and stupidity that has no place in this sport, this league or this country.

Indeed, while Matt Simon has long been Graham Arnold’s serial pest and thorn in every defender’s side, this abhorrent gesture should never have happened.

Despite Brisbane’s efforts to have the 32-year-old issue a statement expressing his regret on the matter, it seems a probable six-week (or more) suspension will leave John Aloisi’s injury-hit defence needing further reinforcement.

The City Football Group’s patience is wearing thin

Manchester City’s football administrator Brian Marwood was in Melbourne this past weekend, part of City Football Group’s initiative to maintain frequent contact between their invested clubs.

While his visit reportedly swung more so toward Tim Cahill’s unknown future at the club, Melbourne City’s 3-1 loss to Perth certainly left a disappointing impression.

Though the VAR’s controversial decision to send Osama Malik off after a challenge on Jacob Italiano swung the game in the Glory’s favour, it wasn’t the result itself that Marwood should scrutinise.

All City-owned clubs (Manchester, Melbourne, New York, Yokohama, Atletico Torque and Girona) are required to play the same style of football in a bid to further strengthen the connection and potential progression players may benefit from in the future.

Despite Ross McCormack’s quality free-kick, it seems Melbourne City lack fluidity, pace and variance in the final third when the Scotsman – who is still without a goal from open play – is leading the line.

Though still injured, Bruno Fornaroli’s presence, akin to that of Sergio Aguero in Manchester or David Villa in New York, is sure to provide City Football Group a better indication of where their Australian experiment is headed, because at the moment, it isn’t looking good.

The biff is back

“From where I was the referee was pretty quick to pull his card out so whatever he was seeing he was sure of.”

Melbourne Victory coach Kevin Muscat was disappointed with his side’s performance after their “self-inflicted” ill discipline ruined their bright start against the Newcastle Jets on Thursday night.

Arguably the match of the round, the Jets clawed their way back from 1-0 down to finish 4-1 winners after key performances from Dimitri Petratos and Andrew Nabbout.

Mark Milligan was integral to the Victory’s demise, earning himself a straight red card midway through the first half after inexplicably headbutting and grabbing the throat of former teammate Daniel Georgievski.

The dismissal came at a rather strange time when the referee had booked Georgievski for the initial challenge on the Socceroos midfielder, and was yet another example of untoward aggression creeping back into the game.

Milligan’s one-match suspension comes as the 32-year-old’s latest ploy following numerous offences, most notably against the Western Sydney Wanderers earlier this month.

Soon people will stop watching

“Final scoreline, the VAR with three, but Adelaide United crucially scored two and Western Sydney didn’t trouble the scoreline at all.”

Simon Hill’s final remarks at the end of Sunday night’s game said it all. Again.

It’s a shame we keep talking about it, but unfortunately it’s the only thing people will ever remember – despite Ryan Kitto’s double handing the Wanderers their first loss of the season.

How much longer will the VAR associate themselves with inconsistency? How much longer will an incorrectly reviewed decision – take Baba Diawara’s interference in Adelaide’s opener for example – follow the referee’s poor take?

Even top European leagues such as the Serie A and Bundesliga have displayed an over reliant approach with the technology in recent weeks.

With crowd numbers and ratings riding a slow and painful decline, it’s only a matter of time until the VAR’s variable interpretations turn fans away for good.

Nothing lasts forever

Central Coast’s 4-1 thrashing of the Wellington Phoenix on Saturday marked the club’s biggest win of the season and since Paul Okon took over as coach.

Goals to Daniel De Silva, Andrew Hoole and Trent Buhagiar completed what was the Mariners’ second victory of the season, leaving the Phoenix rooted to the bottom of the league in the process. 

Darije Kalezic’s men continue to be the cause of their downfall, having conceded more goals (17) than anyone else despite playing one game less.

While Gui Finkler in particular left home fans infuriated with yet another lacklustre performance, Paul Okon found no fault with his players who seem to have finally come to grips with the former Socceroo’s envisioned style and system.

“We have enough ability in our squad to compete home or away and we want to have our say in this competition,” Okon said after the game.

With the Mariners up to fifth through eight rounds, perhaps the club’s three-year stint away from finals football has finally reached its end.

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5 min read
Published 27 November 2017 at 10:58am
By Jonathan Bernard