The Best and Worst of Wanderers vs Melbourne City (Rd 13)

A-League Round 13 vs Melbourne City – 01/01/2018 ANZ Stadium
2-1 Win

Happy New Year everyone and welcome to this week’s edition of the Best and Worst series. The traditional New Year’s Day match where Western Sydney Wanderers host Melbourne City. Both teams not having the greatest results coming into the match.

Hit the share buttons, check out the other Best and Worsts and opinions from my ATB colleagues here.

Best – Strongest Possible Lineup
Walking to the game and recording beforehand for this week’s episode I was of the opinion that this was the strongest possible lineup at Gombau’s disposal. There definitely was an air of intent leading into this match after the past 10 days of soul searching within the team and lines being drawn from the coaching staff and the fans. All the words leading into the match focused on “heart” and “desire” which is what the team has been accused of lacking for the past month or so. Every single player that was interviewed pre and post game uttered those words and it seemed they finally believed in them. It was good to see Chris Herd make the bench and he got plenty of minutes in the 2nd half so I wouldn’t be surprised to see more of him in the coming weeks. He adds that steel in the anchor position which I think we’ve been lacking the last month or so. He has signed for 2 years and I would be disappointed if he left in January.

Worst – Ball Watching
Melbourne City’s first goal came from a cross on their right hand side that went past the entire back 4. That is inexcusable. On first witnessing the goal I laid some blame on Llorente for being so narrow and allowing the overlap, but upon watching the replay, he was covering Kamau who he should be since Kamau plays on the wing. He was forced to go out wide to cover the ball holder so I can’t blame him too much. But the cross happened and skipped past both centrebacks with Vedran diving to get a hand to it. Whether he got a touch or not is irrelevant because it wasn’t enough. If the goalkeeper commits to something like that, he has to make it count. McCormack ghosted past Risdon and had a simple tap in. What is frustrating is that Risdon was marking McCormak and turns his head to ensure he is still next to him. But he then starts ball watching and allowed the striker to get away from him. By the time he realised the cross had gone past everyone else and he had to do something about the ball, it was too late.
Annoyingly I said to those around me about 30 seconds before this happened “Watch City get one chance and score.” I should keep my mouth shut sometimes.

Best – Positive Reaction
The next thing I said was “now let’s see how the team responds.” We were arguably playing the better football and controlling the match more so conceding like that can easily make the players drop their heads. Thankfully they didn’t and they bought into the whole “heart and desire” thing. Two goals in 60 seconds sealed the deal. Desperate defending and playing a City team that many times lacked a game plan going forward helped to win all 3 points.
It was the kind of reaction we all wanted to see. Even Cornthwaite post match said that in the past after conceding a goal like that their heads would drop and they would concede another one and another one. Let’s hope the team can build on this gritty win for the rest of the season.

Best – Riera Back To Scoring
After fielding rumours of a spat between Riera and Gombau, walking off injured a month ago and having cameo appearances the last couple of weeks, Riera finally gets a start again. And it paid off. His goal was reminiscent of Juric, getting the ball in the box with his back to goal, making space, turning and scoring. It’s what we’ve needed since Tomi left for Europe. It shows that Riera isn’t just a header of the ball, he does have skills with his feet too. It was quite obvious in his celebration that relief set in. The longer a striker doesn’t score, the more pressure is placed upon him.
The 2nd goal was thanks to him also. He drew upwards of 5 defenders and after his initial attempt to pass the ball through them failed, the lucky bounce allowed him to find an unmarked Bridge with the outside of his boot, who scored.

Riera received the man of the match and it wasn’t just for his hand in both goals. He would drop deep to receive the ball, lay it off to a midfielder then make a run into the box. He worked hard off the ball and was always an option when the midfield got a bit congested. I hope the rumours of discontent between him and Gombau are laid to rest. It was all a conspiracy in my opinion and I would like to see him remain for the rest of his 2 year contract, or beyond. He has more to offer this team and once the service is consistent, he’ll bag a bunch of goals.

Best – Vedran Earns Us 2 Points
Scoring goals to win games is one thing. Stopping the opposition is just as important. I think many fans had that sinking feeling when the penalty was given along the lines of “here we go again.” But Vedran stepped up and saved McCormick’s effort to deny him another goal from the spot. From there I think everyone in the stadium felt that possibly we could actually win this match. The icing on the cake was Vedran’s save from the last kick of the game. It is pretty much all he had to do all game (other than cutting out the cross that led to the first goal) and it can be easily argued that Vedran saved us 2 points.

Worst – Injury Ward
Is the strength and conditioning coaches? Is it the different training routines under a new coach? Is it the surface at ANZ stadium? Something is wrong when you’re getting soft tissue injuries within the opening 15 minutes of matches. It happened a few weeks ago against Brisbane and again this weekend against City. Losing Cejudo to a calf injury could be costly in the next few weeks as the games stack up. We are lacking in wingers as it is and he hasn’t reached the potential we expected of him. Risdon hurt himself by overstretching to stop a ball and apparently tried to play through the pain until he succumbed to it. Hopefully his injury isn’t as bad as Cejudo’s.
Some analysis has to be done to work out why these injuries are happening so often.

Worst – Fitness Still An Issue
You can’t blame Gombau for the players dropping off after 60 minutes. We pointed this out since Round 1. So what were they doing all those pre season matches? It is round 13 and it’s still happening. Something isn’t right here, again. We used to be the one of the fittest teams but its a stark contrast now when like clockwork we slow down and run out of gas from the 60th. All teams have to do is bide their time and then strike in the last 30 minutes. It’s a worrying sign and needs to be rectified.

Worst – FFA Scheduling
Someone explain to me why we were given a Wednesday night game next week and then a Saturday game. The Saturday game vs Wellington is NOT the rescheduled game from the postponed one 6 weeks ago. It was always scheduled for next week. I picked up on this when I looked at the fixtures in this article.
That’s 2 games in 3 days. The 2nd game being away to Wellington. This makes absolutely no sense, especially when later in the season there’s a 2 week gap between matches (vs CCM Sunday 4 Feb, then vs Jets Friday 16 Feb). It appears there’s a couple of split rounds for the ACL teams?

Gombau stated post match that now they must focus on the upcoming games as we have 3 in one week. Squad rotation will be key and with the likes of Baby Baccus, Aspro and Sotiro off the u23s, Cejudo and Risdon injured, Roly suspended next match and a couple players on 4 yellow cards, its going to be tough. I’m expecting to see some of the Youth boys getting some minutes to fill in some gaps.

Best – Mutual Termination
January transfer window is an exciting time for football fans. And despite Gombau constantly saying the last few weeks that he has a full roster, come 2nd January, two players were released by “mutual consent.” Jacob Melling and Jumpei.
Melling spent most of last season injured and featured more in preseason leading up to this season. He probably had his worst game in the FFA Cup semi final loss and should have been sent off. We have plenty of midfielders so keeping him around was pointless.

My feelings on Jumpei have been heard and read since last season. I called him a J2-League squaddie at best before last season kicked off (which he was) and always stated that he was a waste of a Visa spot and the +1 ACL spot. Visa players are supposed to be better than what you can get locally. Jumpei was on decent money and in my opinion, I’d rather a young Aussie winger than a mediocre Visa player. It has been interesting reading the reactions to the news of him being released. It is split 50/50 between “Y U RELEASE 1 OF OUR BEST PLAYERS?!” to “Good riddance.”
I obviously fall in the latter category.
One footed, always ran into cul-de-sacs of opposition players (my wife was complaining about this after the City game), final ball lacking, lazy in getting back, not making the correct runs (if at all) etc.

I’m not sure why people are saying he was quick and we lose something now without his speed. He isn’t quick. Sotirio is much quicker and we have him to run onto balls and stuff up the final pass already.
Look beyond a couple of step overs and a nutmeg here and there people. Jumpei was a waste of a Visa spot and a waste of money. His one good game would be followed by about 8 bad ones. Not “having enough time to settle” or “played out of position” or “we didn’t use his strengths” is laughable.
Thanks for your efforts Jumpei, and now I have to find another player for my ire.

The good thing is, we now have 2 free spots for Gombau and 1 of them is a Visa spot. We’ll probably see a couple more players being released in the coming weeks too. Looking forward to see who Gombau brings in. Let’s hope its not a player from the A-League Player Carousel.

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