Why Don’t We Rate Perth?

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Do we finally have to admit that Perth Glory are a good side? It seems an odd question to ask of the team leading the league by 4 points at the mid-point of the season, but if you put any faith in betting markets, ‘the people’ still don’t think they are real contenders!

It is easy to understand why people don’t want to accept Perth as a serious contender. Whilst they may have been a powerhouse club in the NSL, the A-League hasn’t been kind to them. They are the only foundation club without a significant trophy that is still playing. They have only made the Finals 3 times in the 9 year A-League history and have only finished above 5th once*

Heading into this season you could easily be forgiven for writing them off.  They had splashed cash to bring in successful players from other clubs. They had handed a former Assistant Manager the reins and hoped for the best. They had filled out the squad with journeyman A-League players. You know, the standard Perth Glory drill that sees them finish just outside the top 6 most years.

But just to show how close failure and success really are, they got one simple element right for this season and it has changed everything. They got their imports right. To call Nebojša Marinković a journeyman would be an understatement. But his role in Perth’s rise this season has been fundamental. Much the same could be said about Irish striker Andy Keogh who finally filled the goal scoring void that the Glory had hoped to get from Shane Smeltz.

But really, it is more than that. Kenny Lowe seems to be the first manager that has been able to convince the one group of people that have had the hardest trouble believing in the Glory – the Perth players themselves.

Being far removed from media speculation on the other side of the country, has helped the club in some ways, as they have been given more time to try and develop players with less scrutiny on poor performances (though they have rarely had a coach capable of doing so), but it has also hurt them in that many experienced professionals on good money have taken the opportunity to have a bit of a holiday.

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After a strong opening in the first two rounds, things looked to be going as expected when Adelaide United comfortably took care of Perth at Coopers Stadium and the honeymoon period of the new season appeared to be over. Luckily for the Glory, their next two games were against a couple of awful sides in Newcastle and Central Coast. The old Perth may have grabbed a draw or two here, but this side didn’t have their belief shaken by the loss to Adelaide and came out of that with 2 wins having them on 12 points after 5 rounds.

A good start, no doubt, but the knockers were out in force. “They’ve only played one decent team, and they lost!” is what they I said. The Wanderers had started really poorly but we all thought it was just a matter of time before they turned it around, and if that was going to happen, it would likely be against Perth. But their Round 6 match came and went, and Perth had another win while the Wanderers had another loss. So of course this meant that the Wanderers were in dire straits and obviously Perth still hadn’t played anyone of consequence.

Next up was a rematch of round one against Wellington, which the Glory again won and nobody could understand why Perth had such a soft draw to start the season**, especially since they were playing the free falling Brisbane Roar the following week – a game which saw them get their first draw of the season.

But Round 9 was the one that would see them face a real test of their credentials. The undefeated (at the time) Sydney FC – in Sydney. So of course when yet another win was added to the tally for Perth, it didn’t help their cause, it only made people begin to (rightly in hindsight) question Sydney’s credentials.

A few more easy games against the lower teams (Jets, Mariners and City) saw 2 wins and a draw, and the Perth lead at the top of the table extended even further. The real test was about to come though. The title favourites Melbourne Victory were due for their first meeting the Permiership leaders in Round 13. This was the match that all the doubters were waiting for to put Perth back in their place.

Only it didn’t happen. The Glory were glorious in their victory over the Victory. But is this enough to convince people they are a genuine title contender? Of course they played on Monday night against another title contender in Adelaide United, and lost to them again. Does this mean that they are not a great side, or just that United seem to have the wood on them this year (given that they also won the FFA Cup Final against them)? No. Their only 3 losses this season – in all competitions – have come against one side, and that tells me that it is just a matchup issue. One that has plenty of time to be worked out.

Look, I am not here to declare that Perth are certainties for the Grand Final. This middle section of the season has them up against Sydney, Victory and Adelaide in the first three games after the Asian Cup break, and that may ultimately decide where they finish. But you don’t get this far into a season with the number of wins that Perth have, without having a quality football team. Can they go all the way? Only time will tell, but they need to start being put in the conversation.

*That one time – when they finished 3rd – saw them make the grand final and be robbed by a Besart Berisha dive that fooled the referees. The league has had shit referees since day dot.

**In reality they had already played the top two sides from last year, but they were both playing terribly, so it didn’t seem like a tough draw.

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Mr Referee or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Accept The Result

So, I got along to the pub on Saturday to watch the Dragons v Warriors match. A hardly convincing opener against the Tigers but with the amount of points we managed to pile on in the first round, there was cause for cautious optimism compared to how we fared last year.

It was a bit of a see-saw in the first half and as the match progressed I began to notice that, there was a guy sat on a nearby couch who had something to complain about in the way the match was being officiated on virtually every set of six: Warriors allegedly throwing forward passes, Warriors players being inside the 10, Warriors hands on the ball in the tackle, Dragons play-the-ball being slowed down. And every observation this guy made was coupled with an epithet directed towards Jared Maxwell. And we’re not talking simple remarks  like “You’ve got to be kidding ref!” that we’re all guilty of yelling at the screen when we think our team’s copped a bad call, but remarks like “F*ck off, Maxwell!”; “Bullsh*t, Maxwell! You f*ckin’ cheat!”; “You stupid Sh*re prick, Maxwell!” (how did he even know Jared Maxwell was from the Sh*re?). Based on the way the guy was carrying on, you’d almost think Maxwell had channeled Steve Randell and molested the guy’s children or something!

I know certain NRL referees have copped some serious stick over the years (I have to admit I always had it in for Steve Clark), but Jared Maxwell just struck me as a pretty neither-here-nor-there referee in the NRL.

A few days later, still puzzled and confused at this guy’s vendetta towards Jared Maxwell, I decided it was worth looking at results of matches where Jared Maxwell has officiated the Dragons:

·         Jared Maxwell has officiated 27 matches involving the Dragons since he became an NRL referee in 2006 until the present 2014

·         The Dragons have won 16 of those matches and lost 11, giving them a win-loss percentage of 59.26%.

·         In the same 2006-2014 period, the Dragons overall record as been 110 wins, 1 draw and 95 losses, giving them a win-loss percentage of 53.64%.

·         What can we extrapolate from all this? The Dragons are statistically more likely to win a match when Jared Maxwell officiates them than when he’s not!

I wonder what old mate down at the pub might have to say in relation to that? Numbers don’t lie.

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That is an email I got recently from my buddy Richard.

It’s an odd story, but aside from the Maxwell specifics, I bet it reminds you of someone you know, if not yourself.

It used to be me.

For a large portion of my life, most of the sporting teams I supported were fairly ordinary. For my teams to win, we needed almost everything to go our way, including the referee’s decisions. So I would scrutinise every call that went against us, make hypotheticals for what would have happened if those decisions hadn’t gone against us and rationalise why we had lost and why we would have won if the referees hadn’t been so blind. I hated all sports officials.

By the time I was 12 I knew the names of most of the referees in the (now) NRL. By 15 I would look at the team line ups in the Big League as much to see who was playing as to see who would be refereeing the game. At one point I was worried that if Souths got Bill Harrigan one more time I may have lost my right to go to matches anymore*

It transferred to other sports too. The names Mark Shield and Matthew Breeze still fire me up after a few beers from all of their arrogant incompetence in the A-League. Joey Crawford is widely accepted as possibly the most error prone official that the NBA has ever had, and I hate to see him refereeing a match. The referral system in cricket has shown just how much is missed by the umpires on the ground. The list really is endless. (But for the purposes of this discussion, I’m just going to focus on the NRL.)

Then one day – completely out of the blue – I had the sudden realization that it didn’t matter. The referee wasn’t biased, he was just awful. They all are.

The seemingly obvious theory is – The problem with being a sports fan is that a lot of the time all you want to see is when your team is slighted by the referee, but never when your team gets an advantage from the referee – Your passion for your team makes you blind to it. It is similar to the way a gambler remembers how much they have won in a particular night, but never how much they have spent to get there.

The best way to test this theory? What was the last time that you watched a game where your team wasn’t playing and thought the referee was biased against one of the teams, rather than all the bad calls evening out over the course of the match? And the time before that? And before that? If you are being honest and you can actually remember three occasions, I’m (a) impressed and (b) certain you have gone back at least three seasons. So really/statistically, what are the chances that your team is robbed by these clowns every week?

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Towards the end of the match between the Tigers and South Sydney the other week my Dad called me to complain about the referee’s bad calls – A missed knock on that the Video Referee didn’t overrule that would have stopped a Wests try. Bunnies players having the ball raked out and the referee calling it a knock on, at least one of which led to a try. A dodgy knock on call against Reynolds that denied the Rabbitohs a try. Not sending a Tigers player off for deliberately and openly attempting to knee a Souths player in the head while tackling him.**

The list was endless. I have no doubt that every point he made was valid. But I’m also certain that he didn’t see or didn’t want to see the poor calls that went against the Tigers. The refereeing was terrible, but that wasn’t his complaint. His complaint was that the refereeing was against Souths. In all honesty, I thought the Tigers did benefit from the refereeing a little more than Souths did, but the point is that the Bunnies weren’t good enough to win the match, regardless. They were awful. One of their worst performances in the last 2 years. They didn’t deserve to win. If South Sydney had performed better they would have won in spite of the refereeing.

In my referee hating days, I used to wonder why the coach didn’t come out and complain about the blatant refereeing errors that I had seen, and I now realise that the reason is because all it does is give the players an excuse for losing. The aim is to be good enough that the refereeing decisions aren’t enough to stop you from taking the match.

Now, this does not excuse the outrageously poor standard of refereeing that is in the NRL currently. Between two referees on the field, two touch judges and a video referee with adequate technology to review decisions, they get at least one decision blatantly wrong in every match. EVERY MATCH! Sometimes I wonder if I even know the rules any more while I am watching these games. Then I realise that is a very real possibility. The fault for that lies directly at the feet of the NRL themselves.

For some reason, every off season the NRL seems to find the need to change at least 5 or 6 rules for the next season. Some of them are big rule changes, some of them are small. But in a game where there are already an inordinate amount of rules to officiate on, changing them every single off season gives the poor referees*** no hope! Last year there were 8 major rule changes in the off season and I have no idea how many minor ones. If the NRL wants to arrest the continuing slide of refereeing standards, they need to put a moratorium on rule changes for at least a year. Unless there is a dangerous issue in the game, there should be no rule reviews at the end of this season and at the most they should only happen every 2 years.

To make matters worse, most of the rule changes that are brought in each year are a reaction to the tactics employed by teams the season before. The people that instigate these changes? The NRL coaches. Instead of having to out think the opposing coach, they can now go into the offseason with a plan to change the rules to stifle the ladder leaders. Then the changes that are made create new tactics that in turn generate more rule changes. I guarantee that if the rules were reviewed and changed only every 3 or 4 seasons we would see coaches find tactical ways to counter act their opposition’s strengths, and half of the rule changes that are made would be unnecessary. For the sake of both the fans and the officials, we need to stop with the changes.

But I digress.

Since having my epiphany about the referees I have found watching sport immensely more enjoyable. Mostly because half of the teams I support are still pretty awful, and taking the referee out of the equation makes it so much easier for me to accept a loss. Most of the time, my team simply didn’t deserve to win. I am able to analyse the team’s performance in a much clearer way. I can see the weaknesses in game plans and players^ and can accurately assess if the team is improving week to week.

I implore everyone else to try and do the same when watching your teams this year. When you lose, look at what the team could have done better, not what could have gone right for them. Stop complaining about the referees. They are terrible, but they are not against you. After all, when was the last time you felt like you had an intelligent conversation with someone about sport where they tried to convince you a referee was against them?

 

 

 

 

 

*Something that eventually happened to a friend of mine

** With all the furore over head contact I’m amazed that this one has gotten almost no attention. Noel Kelly would have been proud and that guy got sent off twice in one game!

***My 21 year old self is rolling in his grave at me using that term

^Possibly South Sydney’s greatest weakness right now is having 3 Burgess brothers as walk up starters in the team, and nobody is willing to admit it, but that is a point for another time.

Bet of the Week Round 20

I finally had a big win!

It only took all season, but I had a $21.50 win last week by backing Sydney to beat Perth, and it has put the kitty at a much more respectable negative $9.89!

This week’s match of the week sees Perth host the Western Sydney Wanderers.

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Perth have been on a horror run and there are few things more humiliating in the A League right now than losing to Sydney FC. They have a full week to recover from their travels of the last few weeks and get to play at home again which should make them a little fresher heading into this match. The Glory lost to the Wanderers in Parramatta not too long ago to help the Wanderers out of a bit of a slump, but Perth away from home are a different proposition from when they play at NIB stadium. Away from home they consistently lose, but in the West, they are one of the competitions best at getting a draw. A scary proposition for travelling teams, I know. The Glory haven’t lost at home since round 7. Something to consider.

The Wanderers have only played 2 games since their last encounter with Perth due to their Round 19 game with the Victory being moved. I previously mentioned that Western Sydney’s win over the Glory in Round 16 helped them out of a slump. But that isn’t entirely true. Since that game they’ve had 2 draws, and overall since Christmas the only team other than Perth that they have beaten is lowly Sydney FC. In spite of all this, and due to the fact that the A-League is in a state of awfulness this season, they remain in a Champions League spot and are more than likely the 2nd best team in the league.*

So with all that information, and having a look at the odds, I am going to put $10 on a draw between these two (at $3.35)

A win here would see me in the positive for the first time this season!

Gamble Responsibly!

 

 

 

*By the way, ever since I wrote that article about there being only 3 good teams, Adelaide have emerged as not just the 4th best team in the league, but possibly the 2nd or 3rd best if they can keep this up.

Bet of the Week Round 19

A late Wanderers goal ruined my first “Bet of the Week” but managed to JUST keep the premiership title fight alive.

It leaves the kitty at a paltry negative $31.39

So I move on to this week’s clash of the titans…

 

Sydney FC v Perth Glory

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Ok so I lied. It’s not really a clash of the titans, more a race for 7th spot.

First up is Sydney. What a week it has been for the Sky Blues. From another dismal home performance that was punctuated by the largest protest that The Cove has ever partaken in – calling for the head of the Coach, CEO and Chariman all at once – followed by a walkout due to apparent club instructions to eject peaceful alleged protesters. None of it was pretty, but the real question is was it effective? In terms of media traction it appears as though it was very effective, with multiple articles being written each day in both the mainstream media as well as the football media and ‘blogosphere’* much to the chagrin of Melbourne Victory supporters who have been protesting all year without getting anywhere. Additionally it has given Cove leaders an audience with the club to discuss the issues. Seems like the protest did its job to me.

On the field, only time will tell if Frank is a good enough man manager (as is claimed) to use this to fire up his team, or if it will even have any effect – positive or negative – on the players. It appears almost certain that Nick Carle and Matt Thompson will miss this weekend’s clash as the disciplinary action Farina attempted to take has been stopped by the PFA**. This means that Sydney will head into the match with a very inexperienced midfield, who could be given the chance to make up for their first half last week, where they were hooked at the interval. But this is Sydney, so who knows what will happen. I personally expect to see either a marked improvement from the players or a complete and utter failure which would expedite the removal of the head coach. The performance may end up being a reflection of the players feelings towards the boss. If they really want him to stay, they can step up and try to save him. If they don’t want him to stay…

As for Perth, they have had a rough week of their own. They had to travel to Albury to take on Melbourne Heart on Sunday in 40 degree heat. To do this, they had to take a 5 hour flight from Perth to Melbourne, a 4 hour bus trip to Albury, run around for an hour and a half in blistering hot weather, take a 4 hour bus ride back to Melbourne (with obligatory McDonalds stop), followed by a 4 hour flight to Perth. Then less than a week later they have to take a 5 hour flight to Sydney to play this Saturday. I’m no expert on the human body, but something tells me that Perth might have a bit of trouble getting up for this one. They have struggled of late as it is and Sydney are the type of team that only play well if they get their tails up early. This situation that the Glory are in physically could be the stimulus for Sydney to score an early goal and get on top and produce the marked improvement that I mentioned earlier.

This coupled with the fact that a win for Sydney would see at least a little bit of pressure relieved from Farina and delay the inevitable end of his tenure in charge at Sydney, means that I will be putting my $10 on Sydney to win (at $2.15)***

 Gamble Responsibly

 

 

 

*What a fantastically shit word that is.

**And make no mistake, the PFA stopped it, not the club.

***How Sydney are the favourites here baffles me. Spider has to be rigging this. Expect a shocker from Vedran on the weekend.

What’s wrong with the A-League?‏

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As you probably didn’t even notice, there were no A-League tips last week.

There are several reasons for this, but ultimately, the biggest one is that I’m not enjoying doing it in the current format any more.

So going forward, there will be a single $10 Bet Of The Week that I will be doing and hopefully I can begin enjoying this again.

I can usually find at least one game a week that I’m looking forward to!

But we’ll get to that at the end here.

The real issue that needs to be addressed is why is the A-League so dull that I’m not enjoying it this year?

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As someone that has followed the league very closely since its inception, I am finding this season to be one of the least interesting on record, and there are several smaller factors that are causing this. The minor ones in descending order…

1.       The marquee signings of last season are all a year older and a year less effective – though still occasionally show flashes of brilliance – and the excitement of seeing these guys in the league has worn off after repeat viewings.

2.       In a 10 team league, match ups get repeated. A lot. This isn’t unique to this season, but last year the addition of Western Sydney spiced things up a bit. This year the trip to Parramatta has lost a bit of its ‘new toy’ sheen

3.       I can’t deny that the poor form of my Sydney FC has obviously had an impact on my enjoyment, but it really is only a minor factor – we have been terrible for years after all…

4.       Most teams don’t seem to have any consistency of game plan from week to week. It seems like a great “good luck lads” before each match and hope for the best. It feels like park football.

Which brings me to the biggest reason that the A-League has been so dull this season.

*drumroll*

Almost every single team sucks.

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We are two thirds of the way through the season, and at a point where you can make an accurate judgement on the teams this season.

There is one good team, one pretty good team, one not bad team, and 7 varying degrees of bad teams.

Just to confirm what you should already know, Brisbane is the good team, Western Sydney is the pretty good team and Central Coast is the not bad team*.

Everyone else is rubbish.

Don’t believe me?

Tell me who is the 4th best team in the league? I’m not sure any teams own fans would be confidently claiming that spot.

Victory probably had the best claim to it until 3 weeks ago when they suffered successive 5-0 losses to fellow terrible teams Wellington and Sydney. Rubbish team.

Who else is in contention?

Sydney? They had the aforementioned 5-0 drubbing of their arch rivals, but followed it up by losing to a 10 man, bottom of the table Melbourne Heart side. Not to mention the 1 draw and 4 losses that preceded those two matches. Rubbish team.

Perth have won 5 games from 17**and have been just as uninspiring under their new coach as they were their old. Rubbish.

Adelaide have improved in the second half of the season and have a couple of big scalps, but still struggle against their fellow strugglers. Rubbish with potential.

Wellington are probably the form team of the competition with only 1 loss in their last 7 matches, but that doesn’t mean you can just discount the 10 matches they went without a win to start the season. They could easily turn back to that and in spite of their form are still only 3 from the bottom. Rubbish.

Newcastle have been rubbish from day one and haven’t looked impressive in the few games that they have managed to sneak a win. Rubbish.

Heart haven’t lost in three weeks and that is considered a major achievement for them. Rubbish.

There is no question 70% of the teams in the league are awful – even by the leagues often low standards. You could easily talk me into a top 3 for this season rather than the current top 6, just to put everyone out of their misery.

The only question here is why? Why are these teams so terrible?

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The answer in all cases has to do with the coaching.

4 of the 7 teams have changed their manager since the start of the season.

1 team is openly in a rebuilding phase under a manager that came in during the offseason – and learning a new way of playing does take time. The other 2 teams have tried to go forwards by going backwards and hired a coach that was considered past it when sacked from his previous A League job and done nothing to show any evidence of improvement since then. Neither of those coaches is considered a great tactician and they rely on the old fashioned “hard work” and “get stuck in” to get results. As we’ve seen, that can work in fits and starts, but when the luck runs out, so do the wins.

I’ve said before that in a salary capped league, the most important appointment is the Manager. Why is this so hard for a football club board to see?

The teams that have changed coaches since the start of this season have had varying reasons for doing so – not all of which were their own doing – but it’s the manner of choosing their replacements that concerns the most.

Perth, Newcastle, Mariners and both of the Melbourne’s ALL went with “the guy who was already here” when looking for a new coach this season. I understand the argument for consistency given a mid-year switch, but every one of them has been given the job for at least the remainder of the season. There are no restrictions on who you appoint as your head coach outside of having the relevant qualifications. No amount of money too big. No restrictions on nationality. No quota’s to fill at all, and yet for the most important job at the club, all 5 of them went with the guy who was already on the payroll.

In playing terms it is the equivalent of signing your star youth league player as your marquee. It makes no sense to just go with the nearest guy when the options are so large.

As Adelaide’s ambitious appointment of Josep Gombau has shown, there are plenty of managers out there that are looking for an opportunity to coach a first team at this level – and teams need to realise that they aren’t all Australian.

It was the popular opinion in the media over the last couple of years that to be successful in the A-League, you needed to have an Australian coach. This was entirely down to 2 successful Australian managers in Ange Postecoglu and Graham Arnold as well as Tony Popvic’s run last season. The narrative was also skewed by conveniently counting foreign managers who had been here a long time as “Aussies” as if they were famous New Zealand entertainers***

The truth is that the Premiers Plate has gone to 4 Australians and 4 Foreigners and the Championship has been split 4 and 4 as well.

Gombau has shown with the performance of his Australian recruits that the old line of needing an Australian to know the “local market” is another media driven agenda^

The truth is that the nationality of a candidate shouldn’t come into consideration for an A-League job. It needs to be based purely on their abilities and qualifications. 

But enough of that tangent. The point is that there are only two ways to improve a football club. One is money and the other is management. No club – not even Melbourne Heart/City – will be able to spend enough money to make an impact in a salary capped league like this without also investing in quality management. The sooner the powers that be realise this the better For the sake of each club as well as the health of the entire league.

 

Moving on to my bet of the week!

My bets from two weeks ago went fairly well in all where I won a total of $13.46 leaving my ledger at the start of this week at -$21.39 as we start the new format.

I can’t resist the marquee match up of the top 2 teams in the league this week. Western Sydney host Brisbane and even this far out from the finals, it could be considered a title decider. A win for the Wanderers would see them only 4 points off the top spot and will have them regain the psychological edge that they lost after being soundly beaten at Suncorp earlier this season. If the Roar are to get up they will give themselves a 10 point gap on their biggest contenders and the title race is over.

The Wanderers have struggled with only 1 win in their last 4 matches and have had trouble in their marquee matches this year with only 2 wins from their 5 matches against the other teams in the top 4 while Brisbane have won 4 of their 5 equivalent matches. Just to put the nail in the coffin of this year’s already dull Premiership, I’m putting my $10 on the Roar to win (at $2.75)

Gamble Responsibly

 

 

 

*Given they have just lost even more players and the replacements are fairly unknown in terms of A League quality, they may not even deserve this faint praise

**As have Wellington, Newcastle and Adelaide

***Let’s face it, it’s only a matter of time before Lorde is ‘one of us’

^A cynic would say that the media drives this to keep their old pals in positions of power to help them get inside information for their stories. But I’m not a Cynic.

On Coaching In The A-League

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“So are Sydney going to sack their coach, yet again?”

It’s a sentence that I repeatedly heard earlier this season after people were calling for Frank Farina’s head through a string of losses and disappointing play.* It came from people attempting to mock me and my fellow Sydney fans for the so called instability at the management level of the club.

The problem here is twofold. Firstly, sticking with a coach purely because you’ve sacked too many coaches in the past is lunacy. If the coach is not the right man for the job, keeping him only breeds mediocrity at best and abject failure at worst. Secondly, I’m not so sure that this reputation for sacking coaches at Sydney is all that warranted – particularly given the recent spate of sackings in the A-League. Regardless, the perception is there that if you take the Sydney job, you’re only keeping the seat warm for the next guy and that is damaging in attempting to attract top quality coaches to the club.

It all started after Sydney won the inaugural toilet seat and didn’t renew Pierre Littbarski’s contract. Littbarski met all targets required of him – Qualify for World Club Championship, win the A-League, you know, just some simple, unambitious performance metrics. Due to his success, he asked for a raise. The Sydney FC board wanted to give him a pay cut. Thus began the reputation of the Sydney Coaching Merry Go Round.** But there have been a lot of sackings across the board since this league began. So I want to compare some of the records of the other teams that have been here since the beginning

The first thing I want to note here is that Littbarski wasn’t actually sacked, but given the insulting nature of the offer (given his performance), I’m going to count it as a sacking when I lay this all out. The second thing is that as a ground rule, I’m not going to count a “caretaker” coach as a manager unless they go on to be given the top job on a permanent basis. It’s a ridiculously unfair way to twist statistics to your favour if you are trying to talk up the high coaching turnover rate. Lastly, just because someone has been the manager at a club before, doesn’t mean that they only get counted once. As long as someone else coached in between the 2 stints, that is a managerial change…

Sydney FC

I’ll start with the boys in blue since they are the reason this topic has come up and what I will be comparing everyone else to. Sydney have had a total of 7 head coaches over these 8 and a half seasons and even including Littbarski as a “sacking” they have only sacked 4 managers and the last of them was in January 2009. 5 years ago. On average they sack a coach once every 2.125 seasons. Not a picture of coaching stability, but not outrageous given most coaches contracts these days are only done 2 or 3 years at a time anyway.

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Newcastle Jets

Having just sacked Van Egmond as their 2 time manager the Jets have just made their 6th managerial appointment. Only one less than Sydney.*** 4 of those managers have been sacked, the same number as Sydney, with the most recent just this week. They also average a sacking every 2.125 seasons. Given the low pressure that come along with the Newcastle job, for them to sack the same number of managers as Sydney indicates that the board there have even less patience.

Perth Glory

Perth have had 5 full time coaches so far (with 2 interim managers) and I’m not including Kenny Lowe, who should get the top job, or whoever his predecessor may be but Perth need to be making their 6th managerial appointment at some point soon. They have sacked all 5 of their managers since the A-League began^ putting them at a sacking every 1.7 seasons – the highest sack rate in the league – and their most recent sacking was just a few weeks ago when they let go of Alistair Edwards. So as they look to appoint their next manager they would hope that nobody notices their 100% sacking history.

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Brisbane Roar

The current league leaders have had 5 coaches since their inception sacking three of them for a sack rate of 2.833. Their most recent sacking was in December 2012, just over a year ago. From the outside looking in, they look to have made the right move in each sacking and in all but one case, made the decision in a timely manner to stop things festering and dragging the club down. But the fact remains they have only sacked one fewer coach than Sydney in the same amount of time. Interestingly, 2 of the 3 coaches that the Roar have sacked are both currently employed by Sydney FC…

Adelaide United

The Reds have had 5 head coaches, but their time under Valkanis did start to push the boundaries of what could be considered an “interim” coach given he was in charge for 10 games which is over a third of a season in this league. They have sacked 3 of their coaches and it was almost 4 but Kosmina saved them the embarrassment of having to sack him a second time after he left because of the way he was being treated by the club. If I was trying to skew the figures in my arguments favour, I would claim this under the Littbarski rule, but I don’t need to do that. 3 sackings is still only one less than Sydney for a sack rate of 2.833 with their last sacking being 2 years and one month ago.

Melbourne Victory

Melbourne are another to have had 5 full time managers in their 8.5 seasons and have sacked 3 so the same statistics as above. Interestingly, however, their FIRST sacking didn’t come until March 2011, meaning that they have sacked 3 coaches in the last 3 years. Again, not a picture of stability of late but have somehow avoided a reputation.

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Central Coast Mariners

The one team that has been in the league since its inception that has never sacked one of their three managers. They have had relative success over their years meaning that the issue has never really had to be addressed. They are clearly an outlier in this league and more power to them.

So the sum of all this tells me that the Sydney coaching position is no more unstable than any other in the league. Perth have fired more managers and the Jets have fired as many as Sydney. Every foundation team bar the Mariners has fired at least one head coach, and many of them more than one, since Sydney last fired theirs and any coach would be mad to turn down the opportunity at Moore Park, given the resources at their command.

Of course these figures change if the axe falls on Farina in the next few weeks and I’m sure the same hack writers will pull out the same old clichés to stick up for their mates if it does. Just remember that the facts don’t really support them, and it’s a poor reason to keep a manager anyway.

 

ROUND 16 PICKS

The above article sees the tips relegated to a footnote for the picks this week. I went out on a limb last week and picked the Heart, which came off, but it was my only correct tip for the week meaning I start this week at -$24.85

$2 on Brisbane to beat Wellington (at $1.48)

$2 on a draw between Adelaide and Heart (at $3.65)

$2 on Newcastle to beat Central Coast (at $4.50)

$2 on a draw between Victory and Sydney (at $3.80)

$2 on Wanderers to beat Glory (at $1.60)

Gamble Responsibly

 

 

 

*Interestingly, I haven’t heard it at all during the recent string of losses and disappointing play. I don’t know if that is due to the fact that Farina is now, only a few months later, actually one of the longest tenured coaches in the league, or they don’t feel the need to mock Sydney fans because it may actually be the right decision.

**It also began a string of poor decisions that are still going today.

***Granted, Van Egmond was on his second go, but still.

^Obviously I’m not counting before the A-League, I’m trying to compare Apples with Apples

A League Picks – Round 15

A good week last week as 3 of my 5 bets came in, winning me a whopping $12.90!

I start the ledger this week at -$17.30

Glory v Roar

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The Roar are away from home so we can expect them to turn on the style again over in Perth*. The Glory were made to look good by an increasingly abysmal Heart side last week, so the only consideration here is the chance of an upset that could throw the Roar’s side into a tailspin. I just don’t see it. $2 on the Roar to win (at $1.90)

Heart v Jets

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So the thing is, at some point in the rest of their existence, the Melbourne Heart Football Club is going to win a match. And each week that goes by that they remain in this mire of mediocrity and failure, the higher the betting odds should get for them to win. But my cursory knowledge of the law of averages also tells me that as each week goes by, they are one week closer to getting that win. So the best way to cash in on this is to start picking Melbourne to win each week, but make sure you don’t start too early. I mean if I put a dollar on them every week and they don’t win for another 10 weeks, then I’m not going to come out on top. Their opponent week to week is irrelevant until they win, and the Jets are generally pretty irrelevant so this is clearly the week to start. So with that solid logic behind me, I’m putting a dollar on the Heart to win (at $2.45)**

Phoenix v Victory

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The master and apprentice thing has been overdone between Ernie Merrick and the human hand grenade Kevin Muscat, and I’d be more than happy to oblige if Merrick weren’t such an easy master to overtake. The point is moot. Muscat appears to be an almost decent football manager. Merrick appears to be a P.E. teacher masquerading as a football manager. Wellington look to have levelled out after their recent resurgence and Melbourne should be riding a high after their big midweek win over the Wanderers. However the tired legs and the jetlag from a trip across the Tasman makes me see this one ending all square. $2 on the draw (at $3.35)

Sydney v Mariners

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By the same token as “Heart have to win at some point” my gut is telling me that the Mariners’ good fortunes have to run out at some point too. They are nowhere near good enough to have lost only 3 games from 14 this season. In spite of an improved (but still not great) performance against Western Sydney last week, a loss at home to the Mariners*** on Saturday would mean that Sydney’s only win in the last 7 weeks had come against the hapless Heart. This would surely have to mean that the pressure on Farina would intensify to levels almost matching the early season speculation of his impending dismissal. So obviously this will be the week that Sydney jag a win and the Frank Defenders get to have their gloat in the sun. $3 on Sydney to win (at $2.40)

Adelaide v Wanderers

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I’m not quite sure what to make of either of these teams at the moment. Have Adelaide finally learn to play Gomball? Are they just on a roll? Is this their big push for finals football? And what about the Wanderers? Has their boring style been found out? Is the rotation policy really the reason they’ve been in and out of form? Has the bubble burst? Either way, neither of these sides resembles who they were even 3 weeks ago let alone last season, or either of the times they’ve met this season. So I’m going to have to put my final $2 on over 2.5 goals to be scored (at $1.92)

That leaves the ledger at -$27.30

Gamble Responsibly

 

 

*Brisbane have gained 18 of their 30 points away from home this season. The three teams in equal 5th have 19 points from ALL of their games.

**I may have found my first flaw in this plan. Heart are somehow favourites for this match…

***Who have struggled at Allianz of late, having not won there in over 2 years.