Brisbane humiliated in historic loss, Victory end 2023 on a high, Talay’s masterclass
The weekend got off to an incredible start with City’s drubbing of Brisbane, then we saw plenty more goals and a couple of red cards. Let’s get into it.
Here are your A-League Round 10 talking points.
City equal record win as Roar humiliated
I wrote last week that despite the departure of Ross Aloisi to Shanghai Port, the wheels aren’t necessarily going to fall off the Brisbane Roar wagon. Well, that prediction didn’t get off to the best start as interim manager Luciano Trani suffered a horrible 8-1 defeat in his first game at the helm.
Credit to Melbourne City, you can only play who’s in front of you and it still takes quality to notch up eight goals in a professional match. Congratulations to Jamie Maclaren on another hat-trick, as whispers of a move to Japan start to get a little louder.
Post-game, Jay O’Shea called it “probably the worst performance we’ve had since I’ve been at the club”, and it’s difficult to refute that statement. Roar were shambolic in defence, allowing the likes of Tolgay Arslan oodles of room to slice them open time after time. Going into the sheds 3-0 down is tough, but to concede a further five goals in the second half is embarrassing.
Brisbane had been the surprise packet early in the season, playing an attractive style of football and climbing the ladder under Aloisi. Now, new manager Ben Cahn’s got a big job on his hands to keep the side focused after losing their manager so suddenly, while they are in the midst of a three-game losing streak.
There’s going to be very little investment in the playing squad, so Trani will have to work with the cattle he’s got and try to develop some of the more raw young players in that side.
Victory end mixed 2023 on a high
After a 2-0 win in the Original Rivalry, Melbourne Victory finished the calendar year behind only Wellington – and only due to a quirk in the A-League rules. Tony Popovic has really turned the ship around this season, after a disastrous 2022-23 campaign in which only Macarthur finished below the Vuck.
Deservedly rewarded for his tremendous goal-scoring form, Victory will be bereft of Bruno Fornaroli, who is off to Qatar for the Asian Cup. It will be a challenge to replace Fornaroli’s offensive output, but Popovic has assembled a front line that still boasts plenty of firepower, including Daniel Arzani, Nishan Velupillay and Zinedine Machach.
The Frenchman, along with Wanderers midfielder Jorrit Hendrix and City dynamo Arslan, has been among the best of the latest import class with his destructive runs, technical quality and goal involvements – three goals and three assists in 10 games is an impressive return. With a name like that, as well his on-field showings, he’s becoming a cult favourite at AAMI Park.
More than 15,000 filtered through the turnstiles on Saturday and there were great scenes recently at the Melbourne Derby. Victory are a proud club and last season would’ve hurt a lot, but the good vibes are certainly back now as Popovic looks to add more silverware to the trophy cabinet.
Talay gets the better of Italiano and former club
Ufuk Talay’s first game in charge of the Sky Blues was pretty impressive, a resounding win away at Coopers Stadium. But on Saturday the former midfielder got his tactics absolutely spot on, suffocating Wellington’s build-up play with a pressing masterclass. Former captain Alex Wilkinson mentioned on the broadcast that Talay has got the squad as fit as they’ve ever been and it showed at Allianz Stadium.
It wasn’t all roses for Sydney as they struggled to capitalise on the pressure in the first half. When Kosta Barbarouses equalised with 10 minutes to go it looked like the three points could elude them until a mistake from Alex Paulsen allowed Sydney to hit the lead again, before Fabio Gomes sealed the three points.
The rest of the league now have the blueprint for stifling the Nix’s passing game, so it’ll be interesting to see what adjustments Italiano is able to make mid-season. Although, just because other teams have the blueprint doesn’t mean they can actually execute the press to the extent Talay’s side did.
-What a hit this was by Jake Hollman.
-Things are not working out for Marco Tilio in Scotland, with rumours around that he’ll be loaned out by Celtic. Could a homecoming be on the cards?
-Eight losses in 10 games for Western United. It seems John Aloisi is safe but that is an awful run of form. Their season isn’t yet gone because of how tight the middle of the league is, but it’ll be difficult to make the finals from here.
-Not quite A-League, but just a quick shoutout to the Matildas and every supporter who got to a stadium, live site or pub during the Women’s World Cup. It was a special month to be an Australian football fan.
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