Entries Tagged 'Melbourne Victory' ↓
September 3rd, 2009 — A League, Melbourne Victory, Newcastle Jets
Pedestrian. Lethargic. Boring.
A shade over 15,000 came out to watch 90 minutes of the dullest football I’ve ever seen at the Dome. It all went wrong about three minutes in when Billy Celeski went down and stayed down. No Celeski. No Hernandez. The only bright spark for me was Matthew Kemp, who was in fine form after a couple weeks away. And Archie’s goal was nice.
But beyond that, this was a night to forget about.
August 16th, 2009 — A League, Brisbane Roar, Melbourne Victory
One point from two home games is hardly something to be pleased about, but last night’s comeback draw felt like a win. The revamped back line was quite atrocious at times in the first half, but tightened up considerably in the second period. Not coincidentally, Melbourne showed a lot more class going forward after the break. Kudos to Merrick for bringing on Celeski and Fabiano within ten minutes of half time — he took the necessary risk and it paid off.
In case you missed the game, catch the video highlights on YouTube.
Blog reader Kevin wrote to me this afternoon with a few interesting points:
- I don’t think that Brebner has it in him anymore. He was too defensive and Victory only really got going when he was replaced with Celeski.
- I hate to say this but Archie either needs time on the bench or play him down the wings. Every time he got the ball he either played with it too long or too short. He didn’t know what to do with it. There was that point in the game where he could have scored with no defenders around him but instead of shooting he dribbled it, which allowed defenders to descend on him. The only time that he looked dangerous was when he was playing on the right wing and causing headaches deep in the opposition defence. When he attacked the goal directly he bumbled it every time, he almost cost Melbourne the game.
- And the last thing to comment on as a devoted Victory fan is the numbers of people to the first 2 games of the season. Very disappointing. It still shows how much more work the A League need to do to get the message out there as long as AFL are going to pull fans away during their season. I even spoke to some football people on the morning of the day and ask them if they were going to the game that night. Their response was “what game?” Still, 5 years ago if I had said that we would get 19,000 people to a football game in Melbourne during the AFL season everyone would have laughed at me.
I would add to Kevin’s message a few observations of my own:
- Kemp in centre of defence. It was a tale of two halves for Kempy. He made a few critical mistakes in the first half, while in the second he made some very important — and brave — tackles. As I said to my mate Dave, he was definitely channeling a bit of Old Kev in that second half, what with the agro attitude and firm tackles.
- Celeski. Rumour has it Billy’s been injured, hence the bench time this season. But, along with Carlos Hernández, I thought he was the key factor in bringing Melbourne back from a two-goal deficit. If he’s fit enough, we need him on there for a full 90 minutes.
- Surah Sukha. In his thirteen minutes off the bench, he didn’t set a foot wrong. Very solid on the ball. I think we’ll see plenty more of him this season.
What did you think of last night’s draw? Who impressed? Who sucked?
March 2nd, 2009 — A League, Adelaide United, Melbourne Victory
On Saturday night, in front of a packed house of over 53,000 at the Dome formerly known as Telstra, the Melbourne Victory became the first club in A-League history to win the Grand Final twice and to win all three trophies in a single season (Pre-Season Cup, Premiers and Grand Final Champions).
It was far from pretty. A red card for Adelaide United’s Cristiano in the 10th minute drew my cheers – until I got home and saw how bad a decision that was. Matthew Breeze, in one foul swoop, not only gave Adelaide cause to blame their loss on a refereeing failure, but also robbed Victory fans of the satisfaction of having won fair and square. Granted, I’m not sure the scoreline would have been much different if Adelaide had had 11 men all night; but that’s mere conjecture.
Adelaide started strongly, but the red card saw them retreat into their own half. The rest of the second half played out like this: Melbourne gets the ball, attacks, fumbles it/is intercepted, Adelaide boots the ball up the field, straight back to a Melbourne player. To their credit, Adelaide sowed up the holes that gaped so profoundly against Melbourne two weeks ago; Jonas Salley played a critical role in marking Carlos Hernández, who was rarely allowed room to move more than a few steps.
Adelaide came out attacking in the second half. And they would have had a goal if it hadn’t been for a brilliant save by Michael Theoklitos. Minutes later, a freshly substituted Evan Berger backheeled the ball to Tom Pondeljak, who unleashed a brilliant strike from outside the penalty area, catching Eugene Galekovic off-guard and bringing the crowd to life.
At this point, with Melbourne a goal up and Adelaide a man down, it looked like an impossible task for the visitors. But a few minutes later, Melbourne with a free kick, a cafuffle broke out in the penalty area. Players shoved each other, and Eugene Galekovic ran all the way to the half way line to give Carlos Hernández a shove. Surely a red card offence. But no. Breeze gives a red to Danny Allsopp. From the replay I’ve seen, this appears to have been in another poor decision. All in all, Breeze gave two red cards that probably shouldn’t have been given, and failed to give the one that should have been (for Galekovic). Not a great night for Australia’s alleged number 1 referee…
With Melbourne reduced to 10 men, Adelaide were given a fresh breath of hope. But the side that hadn’t scored against Melbourne in their previous three games was again unable to do so. In front of 53,273 , Matthew Breeze blew the full time whistle, announcing the new A-League Champions: Melbourne Victory.
February 27th, 2009 — A League, Adelaide United, Melbourne Victory
Call me crazy, but I think the only thing that could undo the Melbourne Victory tomorrow night is complacency.
Melbourne faltered at times during season 4 of the A-League – especially against teams propping up the ladder. For the latter half of the season, this became the pattern: solid wins against top of the table sides, disappointing losses against struggling sides.
Other factors may have played a part, but I think part of the reason why Melbourne lost the ‘easy’ games and won the ‘hard’ ones comes down to complacency.
All year, Melbourne has had the edge over Adelaide United. But Adelaide has always been considered a tough opponent, a side to be wary of. After the demolition two weeks ago, you’d be forgiven for thinking of Adelaide as an easy beat.
But underdogs can spring big surprises. Confidence won’t hurt Melbourne tomorrow night, but it cannot afford to be complacent.
I didn’t get a chance to watch the Adelaide vs Queensland game last week, but from what I’ve heard it was a stubbornly defensive Adelaide United that managed to bury the Roar. The reintroduction of Jonas Salley to the side seems to have had the desired effect, shoring up the midfield. But will it be enough?
Once again, Ernie Merrick has a full squad to pick from. The Victory have had two weeks to rest and prepare. They’re fit. They’re ready. And as long as they don’t grow complacent, I believe they’re going to be lifting the trophy tomorrow night.
February 23rd, 2009 — A League, Adelaide United, Melbourne Victory, Queensland Roar
Adelaide put some demons to rest on Saturday night as it beat Queensland Roar 1-0. Disappointing for Queensland fans, and a surprising finish for many who wrote off Adelaide after the hiding in Melbourne and Aurelio Vidmar’s rant. Adelaide now get a chance for redemption.
I thought I’d take the occasion to compile a bunch of interesting/meaningless statistics.
- Only one team has ever reached the Grand Final after finishing outside the top 2. That was Central Coast Mariners in season one of the A-League.
- No team finishing outside the top 2 has ever won the Grand Final.
- Adelaide United has qualified for the Asian Champions League three times in four years.
- Two out of three times, the team with the home ground advantage in the Grand Final has won. The one time this wasn’t the case was last year, when the Mariners “hosted” Newcastle in Sydney.
- No team has ever won the Pre-season Cup, topped the ladder and won the Grand Final in the same season.
- Melbourne Victory is the only team to ever win the Pre-season Cup and then top the ladder.
- Only one current Melbourne Victory player has scored in a Grand Final (Archie Thompson x 5)
- Only one current Adelaide United player has scored in a Grand Final (Kristian Sarkies x 1, when he played for Melbourne against Adelaide)
- Since the start of season 4, Adelaide and Melbourne have played each other 5 times. The score is 11-2 in Melbourne’s favour.
- Of the eight goals ever scored in a Grand Final, Melbourne scored six. Archie Thompson scored five.
February 16th, 2009 — A League, Adelaide United, Melbourne Victory
Another embarrassing thrashing of Adelaide United in a finals series, another coach’s outburst. No evil forces conspiring, just the city of Adelaide, a “piss-ant” according to Aurelio Vidmar.
After Vidmar’s hissy-fit, it’s hard to see how Adelaide are going to regroup for their semi-final against the Queensland Roar, who put the Central Coast Mariners away 4-1 on aggregate.
But, to think back to Saturday night. The biggest question mark before the game was what part Carlos Hernández would play. I’d anticipated a second-half appearance from the Costa Rican, but Ernie Merrick had different plans. Within ten minutes it paid dividends, Hernández threading a ball through to Archie Thompson to set up the first goal. Fifteen minutes later, Carlos got his own chance and fired it into the roof of the Adelaide goal. 2-0, 30 minutes gone, game over.
Hernández then set up two more, first for Danny Allsopp, then for Tom Pondeljak in the second half (what a fine volley from Tommy P that was). After years of being compared to his predecessor, Fred, Hernández pulled off a display on Saturday night that was on par with Fred’s Grand Final performance. Ernie Merrick, Gary Cole, et al.: Please do everything within your power to retain Carlos.
This was no one-man show, of course. Archie, Allsopp and Pondeljak all had great games going forward, while Roddy Vargas in his new hair-cut kept the backline solid. Kevin Muscat has given two outstanding performances in the finals this year. Michael Theoklitos had little to do for most of the 90 minutes but pulled off two phenomenal saves to keep a clean sheet.
In case you missed the game, or to relive the glory, you can watch it on YouTube here.
February 13th, 2009 — A League, Adelaide United, Melbourne Victory
Are you looking for the preview of the A-League Grand Final, to be played between the Melbourne Victory and Adelaide United on February 28, 2009?
If statistics are anything to go by, things aren’t looking good for Adelaide United. They haven’t beaten Melbourne since the Pre-Season Cup. Melbourne has won all of its last 6 games at home. And Adelaide has a 2 goal deficit to make up for; meaning, in short, that it must score at least three times at the Telstra Dome to book a home Grand Final.
Stranger things have happened. Tom Pondeljak this week talked about the Mariners’ come-back last year against the Newcastle Jets, who had won the first game 2-0. Tommy P and the rest of the Mariners dug in and pulled off a 3-0 win to book themselves a spot in the Grand Final (not a home Grand Final of course, because the FFA determined that neither Gosford nor Newcastle were worthy of hosting such an auspicious occasion).
But the Mariners pulled off that feat at home. Adelaide need to do it in front of forty thousand expectant Victory fans.
For Merrick, the task is simple. Keep doing what we’re doing. Take the game to Adelaide. If we produce the kind of football we produced last week, we’ll be right.
Carlos Hernández played for the Costa Rican national team yesterday and is expected to arrive back in Melbourne sometime today. If I were Merrick, I’d keep him on the bench. Wait till Adelaide start getting desperate and committing more men forward, then bring Carlos on to kill them off. That’s how it plays out in my head in any case.
Meanwhile, the Mariners are in the same predicament as Adelaide (though Adelaide gets a second chance if they stuff up). Queensland need only to hold the Central Coast at bay and protect their 2-0 lead, and they’ll have themselves a semifinal berth against the loser of Melbourne vs Adelaide.
February 9th, 2009 — A League, Adelaide United, Melbourne Victory
First of all, I hope that you and your friends and family have all remained safe this weekend. My deepest sympathies go out to anyone who has lost a loved one in the bush fires. It didn’t feel quite right to start this blog post without pausing to acknowledge what’s currently happening in our fine state. May God be with all those men and women fighting fires.
Melbourne all but booked its second home Grand Final with a 2-0 win over Adelaide United on Saturday night. After Queensland pulled off a similar upset the night before, beating the Mariners 2-0 in Gosford, this coming weekend’s round is simply a matter of Melbourne and Queensland holding off what will undoubtedly be the desperate efforts of their respective opponents.
Melbourne came out with the right attitude, attacking vivaciously and getting a deserved opener after 13 minutes. The goal, from the boot of Carlos Hernández, was an indication of the kind of form Melbourne was in. For one, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen Carlos run that fast; and 9 times out of 10, shots like that are fired well over the bar. Not this time. This was Melbourne’s night.
I was surprised to see Aurelio Vidmar wait so long before bringing on Cristiano. Certainly, to start with Paul Agostino, a striker who hasn’t scored in his last seven appearances, was a brave/odd/foolish move – and it didn’t pay off. From what I’ve seen of Adelaide this year, they look far more dangerous with Cristiano on – if only because the Brazilian is such a superb cheater and able to conjure penalties like an evil David Copperfield.
Both keepers had excellent games. Galekovic may have been beaten twice, but he pulled off one of the most impressive saves I’ve seen all year, stopping a sure-fire goal from Hernández with a lunge and one-handed save. Theo also made an important save in the first half, blocking a sneaky shot from Kristian Sarkies with his legs.
I was supremely impressed with Melbourne’s performance. We defended well, attacked even better, and looked far more dangerous than Adelaide. Carlos Hernández, Danny Allsopp, Sebastian Ryall, Rodrigo Vargas, Archie Thompson – all had excellent games, while there were very few weak links among the rest of the eleven.
YouTube videos don’t appear to be working on MVFC Blog at the moment, so for your viewing pleasure I will direct you here.
February 7th, 2009 — A League, Adelaide United, Melbourne Victory
Are you looking for the preview of the A-League Grand Final, to be played between the Melbourne Victory and Adelaide United on February 28, 2009?
And so it begins. The Queensland Roar got the ball rolling last night with an all-important 2-0 away-from-home win against the Central Coast Mariners (report). Attention now turns to tonight’s affair in Adelaide.
Melbourne have had the edge over Adelaide all year, with three wins from three. That may, as Kevin Muscat suggests, give us a mental edge as we go into the finals. Certainly, Adelaide have to get the monkey off their back. Memories of the 2006 finals series will undoubtedly add to their psychological disadvantage.
Two years ago, when Adelaide hosted Melbourne in the semi-finals, Merrick opted for a defensive approach and got a 0-0 draw. There’s some sense in that, of course, but I think, given our dominance over Adelaide this year, we need to go for the win. We’ve beaten them every time and there’s nothing to suggest we can’t do it again.
Melbourne have a full squad to pick from, with Evan Berger expected to be the only change to the squad that faced Wellington two weeks ago. Adelaide will miss Robert Cornthwaite but took advantage of the short-term injury replacement rule to bring in Rostyn Griffiths, a 20-year old midfielder who just signed a one-year deal with Blackburn.
My tip: Melbourne to grab a 1-0 lead, then park in defence.
January 23rd, 2009 — A League, Central Coast Mariners, Melbourne Victory
Round 20 and 21 have been a little like a penalty shoot-out. Melbourne lines up; shoots; scores. Adelaide’s turn; they shoot; score. Now back to Melbourne.
It’s far from a perfect analogy, but I think it may help those disgruntled by the fact that the final round of the A-League is staggered – rather than having all the games played at once.
Personally, I don’t think we’re at a disadvantage because we play first. Let’s imagine we beat the Phoenix. Will the Mariners, who are then guaranteed passage into the finals, rest some players and play a soft game against Adelaide? I don’t think so. Lawrie McKinna’s side hasn’t had the greatest form of late and will be keen to improve that before the finals start. Regardless of tonight’s result, they will want to give a solid performance on Sunday night. Let’s not forget that there’s a chance Adelaide and Central Coast will play each other in the finals, so it’s hardly a good idea to set a standard of losing against them right before the finals.
All of which is to say, Melbourne needs to focus on tonight – nothing else. Archie reckons it’s the biggest game of the year (and he’s right), but it’s the biggest game ever for the Wellington Phoenix. Of course they’re going to come out firing. And with a guy like Shane Smeltz at their disposal, there’s plenty for the Victory to be worried about.
But our recent form at home has been exceptional. Archie and Danny Allsopp are combining well, while Ernie Merrick’s strategy of using either Ney Fabiano or Carlos Hernández has paid dividends. They’ve both been excellent and deserve a starting spot, but you have to hand it to Merrick: playing one of them off the bench works wonders.
My tips for the weekend:
- Melbourne Victory to shatter the Phoenix‘ dreams into a million pieces.
- Queensland Roar to struggle against the Perth Glory and come away with a draw.
- Sydney to end their season with a win against the fame-to-shame Newcastle Jets.
- Central Coast to pick up all three points against Adelaide United.