Wanderers humiliated, dark times on the terraces, is premiership now two-horse race?


Trouble on our terraces overshadowed another action-packed weekend that featured a very one-sided Sydney Derby, the top two sides pulling away from the pack and more trouble for Adelaide and Melbourne Victory.

Here are your A-League talking points.

Lack of discipline costs Wanderers dearly in Derby demolition

If it was not certain before, listening to Wanderers captain Marcelo in the post-mortem on Saturday night it was clear just how important the hulking Brazilian centre-half is to Marko Rudan’s side. No player better embodies the club’s new identity under Rudan than the captain who made it clear the 4-1 Sydney Derby drubbing at the hands of Sydney FC was unacceptable.

Continuing a quirky trend, it was the visiting Sky Blues who made an incredibly bright start at CommBank Stadium, up 2-0 within minutes thanks to Fabio Gomes and Rhyan Grant, who wore the armband on the night. When Robert Mak put his side three to the good after another Wanderers error it was game over just minutes into the second half.

The showing from Western Sydney has to be in the Grand Final of their worst Derby performances, perhaps only beaten out by the 5-0 humbling at Accor Stadium back in 2017. In a similar vein to his captain Rudan was extremely disappointed – and somewhat reserved – in his post-match press conference. Without directly throwing any players under the bus he made repeated references to the intangibles you can’t coach, and he had a good point.

Professional players should be up for every game but if you can’t get pumped while lacing up the boots before a game like this, I don’t know what to say.

(Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Active support at risk of extinction as dark days return

As a former member of The Cove, active support in the A-League is something close to my heart. It’s a point of difference between our great game and the other football codes and when done right, provides tremendous atmosphere both in the ground and on television in a safe and collaborative environment.

I know not everyone reading this will agree with the sentiment, but I believe active support is critical to the league’s long-term health. That’s why this weekend’s scenes were even more disheartening – a competition on life support doesn’t need any more reasons for fans to forgo attending matches when there are already plenty of those.

Details are still coming to light on what occurred outside the RBB on Saturday evening but I can’t say it looks good for the police. I still don’t understand why the police presence at A-League games needs to be so formidable. The authorities have a job to do, and I respect that, but I’ve always thought the balance between order and provocation needs to be tweaked.

More disturbing videos surfaced on X on Sunday afternoon – this time from Queensland – showing some very heavy-handed officers ostensibly baiting a couple of young fans out for a day with their mates who couldn’t have been older than 16 or 17.

Is premiership race already down to two teams?

The league’s two most consistent sides this season have been Central Coast and Wellington, and with the exception of Macarthur, everyone below the top two keeps losing games. With less than a third of the season remaining, the Nix, with their eight-point gap over third, are almost guaranteed a top-two finish, giving them direct passage to the final four.

Josh Nisbet made amends for his awful miss last week, notching the only goal of the F3 Derby at McDonald Jones Stadium to allow his side to keep pace with Wellington. I was surprised to hear that strike was the diminutive midfielder’s first goal of the season, but Nisbet does so much for that team. Perhaps not the brightest talent in Australian football, the 24-year-old is nevertheless enjoying a fantastic campaign and could be on the move at season’s end.

Giancarlo Italiano’s side heaped more misery on the wayward Adelaide, a result that could well end the Reds’ finals hopes. Ben Old is having quite the season himself, netting a brace on Sunday to help sink Adelaide as the Nix keep rolling on towards what their long-suffering fans hope is a first-ever trophy for the dusty old cabinet.

Quick hits

-Melbourne Victory are officially in a tailspin after their third loss in five matches, downed 3-2 by Brisbane Roar at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Tony Popovic has got a job on his hands to turn things around as the pointy end of the campaign nears.

-It’s a good thing Western United’s travelling circus is almost at an end because it’s truly miserable watching games from oval grounds attended by a smattering of supporters.

-Congratulations to the Matildas, who will take their place in an intriguing pool of teams at the Paris Olympics later this year. After their impressive run to the World Cup semi-finals before being ousted by the might of England, who will not feature in the French capital, could a gold medal be on the horizon for Tony Gustavsson’s side?

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