The False 9: Round 27 - Pressure on Van't Schip to avoid horror exit

No coach would be under more pressure at the start of the A-League finals series than Melbourne City's John van't Schip. If City are eliminated by Perth Glory at AAMI Park on Sunday, then surely the Dutchman would be at risk of losing his job.

Van't Schip

Source: Getty Images

After 25 rounds, City had made it to the top of the A-League table for the first time this season. Then it all went pear-shaped, with losses away to Perth Glory (3-2) and Adelaide United at home (2-0) condemning them to fourth.

Van't Schip's men were ultimately fortunate that Perth came undone on the road against Sydney FC in the final game of the regular season, otherwise they would have been travelling across the continent for an away game against Glory, instead of playing them at home.

City have a strong playing roster and a lot of money has been spent on preparation. The club's owners, City Football Group, would no doubt already be concerned about the opportunity lost to win the Premiers' Plate and begin the finals series in prime position.

If it were to all end horribly with a third straight loss, then they would presumably be asking the hard questions of everyone involved, starting with the coach.

Shockin' me right out of my brain

Perth had everything to play for against Sydney - a home game in the first week of the finals, as opposed to further travel for the most far-flung team in the competition - but they blew it.

The unavailability of Diego Castro and Chris Harold obviously didn't help, but losing 4-0 was still a lame performance under the circumstances from a team that had previously been on fire during the second-half of the season.

It must have seemed like a horror movie to Perth coach Kenny Lowe as he watched from the sideline. No doubt the words sung by the late, great Skyhooks front-man, Graeme "Shirley" Strachan, would hit home - if Kenny was a fan of the mighty Hooks, that is.

"It's bound to get you in, get you under your skin, hit you right on the chin, oh yeah."

Screen gems

False 9 would like to exclusively reveal plans for a football movie, with the working title "Comeback".

It's about an A-League goalkeeper, who wins a grand final with his team only to be discarded to the bench when a much higher-paid signing arrives the next season, before our hero makes a stunning return to the side on the eve of the finals and dazzles with his shot-stopping form.

(Well, I'd like to reveal plans if I actually knew of such plans, but there's no harm in making a suggestion).

Starring Ryan Gosling as Lawrence Thomas.



He said it

Joel Griffiths, the former A-League championship, Johnny Warren Medal and Golden Boot winner with Newcastle Jets, doing some straight shooting in his column in The Newcastle Herald.

"There are too many coaches that sound like politicians explaining the budget surplus to justify their decisions," Griffiths wrote.

"You constantly hear them refer to the quality of their squad compared to others, they moan about budgets and concessions other coaches are afforded.

"No more of the excuses, it doesn’t wash. They knew what they were getting into before they took the role.

"Even someone like 'Arnie' (Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold) is a master at deflection. If his team suffers a heavy loss, he will shift the spotlight on to another topic –  the schedule, a refereeing decision, injuries, travel ... whatever. 

"I’d rather a coach be real. That is why I really admire Perth Glory boss Kenny Lowe. He says it as it is. He doesn’t deflect or use excuses. If they play poorly he says so. He doesn’t bang on about formations and intricacies that are often a diversion from the fact his team stunk."

Tweet, tweet #1

Outside of Eugene Galekovic, Melbourne Victory's Lawrence Thomas is the most-loved goalkeeper in South Australia after stopping everything Brisbane Roar threw at him, and in the process ensuring the Premiers' Plate went to Adelaide United.

Tweet, tweet #2

Last week, Besart Berisha copped a forearm to the head from Ben Sigmund. This week, Sigmund copped an elbow to the head from Brendon Santalab. The Wellington Phoenix defender remained in the thick of it right until the end of his career.

Tweet, tweet #3

ADP trading on his achievements at Sydney FC to flog beer. Ok, he was a world superstar before that.

.@delpieroale presents: 5 ways to distract your boss and #ChampionTheMatch. #UCL RMAWOB — Heineken (@Heineken) April 11, 2016

Man of the hour (and a half)

Brendon Santalab has scored four goals in two games since being restored to the starting side by Western Sydney Wanderers coach Tony Popovic.

His double in the 2-0 win over Phoenix, which clinched second place and the first week of the finals off for his team, came after a similar contribution in the 4-1 win over Central Coast Mariners.

Santalab had previously been dubbed a "super-sub" because he had scored so many crucial goals off the bench this season, but like every other player he would prefer to start and he must feel like he's going to score every time he gets anything remotely resembling a chance at the moment. 

Can't wait for . . .

The finals series to start with a rematch of the last-round clash between Brisbane Roar and Melbourne Victory on Friday night.

Brisbane couldn't get the job done in Melbourne, where they drew 0-0 with Victory and ended up finishing third on the table, when a win would have seen them finish on top and have this weekend off, but now they are at home at least.

If they fail to win at Suncorp Stadium it would be an awful finish to a season in which they led at the end of 10 of the 27 rounds - the same number as second-placed Western Sydney Wanderers, who have the weekend off.

Roar should advance to week two, but if Victory can get in front on the road, it would put a lot of heat on the home side and make for fascinating viewing as Kevin Muscat's men try to hang on while Brisbane try to bash down the door.

Or Roar could dominate from the start and win 3-0. We'll see what happens.

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6 min read
Published 12 April 2016 at 5:30pm
By Greg Prichard