The Best and Worst of Wanderers vs Brisbane Roar (Rd 9)

A-League Round 9 vs Brisbane Roar – 02/12/2017 ANZ Stadium
0-2 Loss

The struggle is real. When I set out to write these articles every week there was a feeling of optimism for the season and it was going to be a fun way to look back at every game. But the past month has had dire result after dire result. I will do my best to not sound like a broken record. Determination will have me see this to the end.

Hit the share buttons as we take a look back at Gombau’s first home game at the ever pumping and electric atmosphere that only Stadium Australia can provide.

Best – Baccus is Back Alright (So is Aspro)
When I got the SMS for the team lineup, the first thing I noticed was Aspro getting the nod over an expected Hamill to replace Captain Cornthwaite alongside Mr Underpants Thwaite. I immediately thought “Gombau wants a ball playing CB to implement his style.”
Was also good to see Baccus return to the starting XI in place of Melling from last week. Apparently it was his 50th A-League game, so congrats to him. He offers more than Melling as a deep lying ball player.
But questions raised with the defensive subs named. Doesn’t leave much room for error or tactical adjustments if a couple injuries happen…

Best – Home Again
After 6 or so weeks, we finally get a home game. The excitement is real. Finally live football. The precinct is pumping, droves and droves of people are entering the car parks and as I walk through it I notice entire levels are empty. This isn’t good…

Worst – Mother Nature Hates Wanderers
What’s that? Severe thunderstorm warnings from the Bureau of Meteorology? Heavy rainfall and high winds? It wouldn’t be a Wanderers home game without apocalyptic weather now would it. It poured and the wind game a couple hours before kick off and the warnings remained. Perfect timing for those preparing their families for the game to go “you know what, this isn’t worth it to risk driving the family in these conditions and watch this team.”
I don’t blame them. Thankfully the rain was only light the entire time and ANZ is so massive everyone was under cover.

Best – More Comfortable With Style
It was noticeable in the early stages of the game that the team is understanding their roles much better now. It was interesting to see Baccus drop between the 2 centrebacks to become an option for Vedran and to start each attack. Last week it was Roly but Baccus is probably a better option here. It pushes Roly forward. We can play out from the back much more comfortable now. Its getting past our defensive mids is where the problem is now.

Worst – Injury Ward Full
Maybe we should have played at Spotless after all. Something was going on with this pitch or our prep for this game. Riera supposedly goes off with a hamstring niggle early in the match. Sotirio slips and hurts his hamstring or ankle or both. Two substitutions forced by injury before the 35th minute. This is never a good thing. It also meant that Clisby came onto the park which I’ve called a liability all season.

There is something going on with Riera too. He walked off “injured”, went down the tunnel and apparently was seen in the stands in a suit afterwards, instead of remaining on the bench or getting treatment. Gombau dodged the questions in the post match press conference. Personally I hope there aren’t issues between them. Riera is the striker we’ve been looking for for years and he started like a house on fire. But ever since Gombau has come in…is there bad blood and history there? Riera is on a 2 year deal. If he leaves early, there is definitely fire where there is smoke.

UPDATED (4/12/2017): Having now actually watched the footage, I don’t think there is anything sinister going on here. Riera clearly stops a few times and stretches before motioning to the bench. There is footage of him in the stands sitting next to Lustica, pointing to his left leg and pointing out on the field. Its pretty clear they are discussing what he did and where/when. Take it as a legit injury for now.

Worst – Llorente Better as Left Back
I know some people have been calling for Llorente to possible be pushed forward and Clisby to come in as LB. Well it happened in this game and I have to say, I hope we never see it again. Not only is Clisby a liability in defence…just watch his positioning for Franjic’s goal. He was in the centre of the box and left Franjic completely open…then both he AND Llorente stood off Franjic to allow him to pick his spot and score after being on for 40 seconds. Pathetic all round.

But my main issue with Llorente being further up the park is that he loses the ability to make those unchecked overlapping runs he loves doing. By playing as the left winger, the opposing right fullback will mark him every time. Overlapping runs gone. Threat gone. Whereas as a leftback, he sneaks past the opposing fullback and is open every single time. He was ineffective as a left winger and I hope we never see it again.

Worst – Missing Herd & Cejudo Not a Middle Man
I have to say. We miss Chris Herd in the middle. The opening rounds we had a solid midfield of Herd & Baccus supporting Bonevacia ahead of them. Ever since Herd concussed himself and became a father, we’ve chopped and changed the midfield, Gombau was inverted the triangle and we look lost. We need to revert to the original trio and inversion. We need Herd in the middle being the steel, giving the ball to Baccus who can utilise the wings or Roly in front of him. We looked so much more fluid and comfortable. Thankfully Herd was seen at training this week so I hope he gets back into the lineup for the derby next week.

And speaking of midfield. Please put Cejudo back onto the wing where he belongs. The guy has played on the wing his entire career. Those calling for him to play in the centre should now realise that is not his natural position and he wasted. I don’t know what Gombau is trying to achieve but with Herd back, Sotirio possibly injured for next week, maybe the change will be forced. Cejudo in front of Llorente and Riera in the middle saw a few goals. We’ve lost that in recent weeks.

Worst – 2 Chances = 2 Goals…for Brisbane
Brisbane had 2 shots on target. They scored 2 goals. WSW had 3 shots on target (apparently) and scored no goals. I remember 2 Cejudo weak attempts going straight to the goalkeeper. Its the story of the season and recent seasons. Teams have a chance, they score. We have a tonne (well…we used to) and we can’t put them away.
Minutes before Riera went off “injured” he had a glorious free header that he would normally bury. Instead he hit it wide and that was it. Brisbane pounced on a mistake and scored before half time, then Franjic scores another wonder goal against us after we cheaply give the ball away.

Beyond frustrating. We are back to passing sideways and backwards trying to probe. We are back to being slow in transition and teams are setting up defensively to halt us when we have the ball. Gombau has a lot of work to do.

Worst – VAR Missing
Can FFA and the entire VAR process make up their minds? One week it comes into play for every single decision. This week it was completely absent.
Santalab had a strong claim for a penalty when he was held back blatantly but the ref waved it on and was VAR even used? Last week penalties were given for less, so where is the consistency?
Jumpei gets his ankle almost broken from a lunging studs up challenge and the ref waves play on. Jumpei is down for minutes and nothing is done. One of the Brisbane players runs into Thwaite, goes down and the ref stops play immediately. What is going on here? No yellow for Jumpei’s assailant and we were all worried Thwaite was going to be sent.
The inconsistency is ridiculous.

Best – FFA Dictatorship Out
With the Lowy Jr’s voting proposal failing to get consensus, football in Australia is at a crossroads. FIFA is having a meeting on the 4th December and they’ll decide what to do with the FFA and the governance of the game in the country. A vast majority of football fans want change and want the dictatorship of the Lowy’s gone from the game. Lowy had the audacity to blame this congress issue on taking up so much of their time that it has halted expansion. What a joke. The FFA is reactive and has always been. There is no ambition, no foresight and complete apathy towards the A-League. The RBB made their opinion heard. Time for football people to come into power that actually care about the growth of the game, despite what Lowy Jr claims.

Best – Give Youth a Chance
You may not know it, but the WSW Youth beat SFC 3-1 on Friday night. Majok had a hand in goals again, Scott scored again. These guys are pushing to be included in the senior team. Both may be forced inclusions if Riera and Sotirio are out next week. They need to keep pushing hard for selection and their chance will come. We need some youthful exuberance because right now, everyone seems flat.

Worst – 8,200? More like 5,000
This is a problem across the entire A-League, not just WSW. All games this weekend are looking to have an average of 8,000 in attendance. So much for “the game is in the best state it has ever been” as our illustrious leader pointed out late Thursday afternoon. Something is broken. Interest in the A-League is at an all time low. People are bored. People don’t care when games are on, if they even know. The league needs a shakeup.
We all were having bets what the crowd would be. I said around 5,800. We all laughed when over 8,000 was shown on the screen. Maybe there were that many there. I applaud everyone that showed up to that dire performance.

UPDATE (4/12/2017): Apparently WSW got the highest attendance of the round with just over 8,200. Weather aside, worrying signs for the entire league.

Best/Worst – Sydney Derby Next Week
Big game, big occasion. Everyone should be coming to this game. Form out the window. Cliche here and there.
But the carefactor for the teams and league is at an all time low. Crowd will be lucky to break 30,000 at this rate. It doesn’t seem that long ago that we played in the derby, yet it seems a lifetime ago we were 2-0 up.
Sydney plays boring football but win. We play boring football but lose. We don’t create chances or we don’t take them. Sydney takes their chances.

We gonna get destroyed. I’m fully expecting it. Luckily we wear red and black. Like Deadpool, its so we can hide the blood wounds. We are already 14 points behind them and we are down to 8th. This season is almost finished already and we are only a 3rd of the way through. Its going to take a miracle for the team to step up. This is football though. Anything can happen.

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