Five things we learned from A-League Round 9

Are John van't Schip and John Aloisi auditioning to be the A-League's equivalent of the Premier League's bitter rivalry between Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho? They've got some catching up to do, but have made a decent start.

Van't Schip Aloisi

Melbourne City coach John Van't Schip, left, his fired a few shots at his Brisbane Roar counterpart Source: Getty Images

1. Grudges make the football world go around

Well, they help, along with the great players, great goals and great games. Particularly when it's a genuine grudge, as is the case between rival coaches John van't Schip (Melbourne City) and John Aloisi (Brisbane Roar).

It is clear they're not making it up just to try to get an edge and that it's personal.

Van't Schip, at his media conference ahead of City's game against Roar, declared Aloisi guilty of "whingeing like a baby" with his comments about City's physical approach to games.

Teams generally reflect the personalities of their coaches and with van't Schip and Aloisi on edge the City-Roar clash, which finished 1-1, was a fiery one with plenty of controversy.

The smiles through gritted teeth when van't Schip and Aloisi shook hands without stopping after fulltime... Priceless.   

2. The "Slippery Fish" is back - and so is Bernie Ibini

Adelaide United's Henrique lived up to his nickname against Wellington Phoenix. The defence couldn't get a grip on him as he piloted his team's return to the winning list with two cracking goals from outside the box.

Henrique missed four games through injury before returning off the bench in round eight and then starting against Phoenix. His first goal was a left-foot pile-driver off a very short run-up and his second a wicked curler with his right foot.

Ibini had only briefly appeared in one FFA Cup game this season and off the bench in round seven of the A-League before coming off the bench again for Sydney FC against Newcastle Jets.

Sporting a blond-tipped mohawk, he was like a lion let out of the cage as he sought to make his minutes count. He beat three defenders in a tight by-line run and after his first shot was blocked by Jets goalkeeper Jack Duncan he put the rebound away for the clinching goal in a 2-0 win.

3. It's not working for Gui Finkler and Kosta Barbarouses at Wellington

That is not to say it won't work, but it isn't where the Phoenix would have liked it to be by this stage of the season.

The question is: who, or what, is to blame for that?

Finkler and Barbarouses have to take some responsibility. They're on big money and are expected to make a difference. But a lot of it has got to do with some of their teammates not being on the same wavelength as them.

When they were playing at Melbourne Victory, Finkler and Barbarouses were used to the team being in a groove. Wellington are yet to find their groove this season.

4. Newcastle Jets are sadly lacking a go-to man

There is no-one in the team screaming "give me the ball and I'll take charge".

Injuries are hurting them - in particular the absence of Andrew Nabbout, who has really grabbed the opportunity to become a starter this season after having previously been a fringe player at Melbourne Victory.

But even with everyone fit there is still major ingredient lacking - someone to really run the show.

5. "Popa" promised a big win was coming and he was right

We'll have to see if Western Sydney Wanderers can keep it up, but a 4-1 victory over Central Coast Mariners is encouraging.

Coach Tony Popovic said it was only a matter of time before his team converted their chances and recorded a big win and after a frustrating six-game run of five draws and a loss they finally racked one up.

Brendon Santalab got back among the goals after missing a sitter the previous week. He loves this time of year, "Santa".

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4 min read
Published 5 December 2016 at 9:12am
By Greg Prichard