The Best and Worst of Wanderers vs Melbourne City (Rd 23)

A-League 2018/19 Round 23 vs Melbourne City 30/03/2019 ANZ Stadium
3-0 Win

Back again for this week’s edition of the Best & Worst series. A couple games left at ANZ on a cold Saturday night and it’s Captain Hamill’s 100th game for the Wanderers.

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Best – The Future Front Line Starting
I’m probably wrong here because I haven’t checked previous lineups, but is this the first time both Duke and Yeboah have started on opposite wings this season? It is a glimpse into the future for next season of the speed and dynamism we can expect next season with these two starting every week. Duke has been a shining light with his attitude and raising the team spirit of the group, and Yeboah has followed suit when he arrived. Next season we have a lot to look forward to with these two leading the line and not being afraid to attack their markers or have a shot.

Best – Elrich Leading the Way
Let’s be honest here. Tarek Elrich was a rock at the back in this game. He was brought in initially as cover, probably for a fullback position, and yet he has had to play nearly every minute of every game across the backline all season. A centre back he is not. And he has been caught out on numerous occasions this season by pacey strikers and wingers.
But this week he was a rock. His positioning was great and he intercepted many a pass or cross by putting his body on the line. With his stamina and speed dropping with age, a move to the centre is probably one way to increase his longevity in the game. He has had many ups and downs this season in this position, but we can’t fault his performance this week.

Best – Riera Double Makes it Double Digits Again
Much maligned (for some reason) striker Oriel Riera scores a double again. His second goal made it 10 goals this season. 10 goals for a supposed waste of money with a very average team around him. He scored 15 odd last season in the A-League alone and in all competitions he is only a handful away from Bridge and Santalab’s club record.

In two seasons.

I was a bit worried when he stepped up to take the penalty but he obviously wanted to break that hoodoo, and against Galekovic no less. His celebration suggested that Eugene had some words prior to the spot kick to put Riera off. Riera slotted it home and his celebration with everyone in the team brought a smile to my face. Calling everyone into the group hug. It really showed a team spirit and no individuals. They were all happy he broke the penalty duck and the relief on his face said it all.

His second goal was a lovely pass from AB10 and Ori showed his class on the ball to guide it past Eugene again. It sealed the points and cemented Riera hitting double digits again in back to back A-league seasons.

Rumours are he is off to Spain after this season, but I still feel he has something to offer this team moving forward. Give him the service, and he will score. Granted, he has been very up and down this season but no one has knocked him off his starting position. He still gives his all all game by being a box to box striker and plays 90 minutes every week. I’m not sure how anyone can call him lazy.

Best – AB10 Cameo
On the flipside, AB10 has been disappointing in the latter half of the season. He was gaining momentum before he got injured and was out for a month, missing a third of the season. Now he is finding it tough to force his way into the Starting XI. But his 15 minutes cameo this week showed again what he is capable of. As soon as he came on he was threading passes through and created more opportunities on goal than we had all half. Even those around him lifted, such as Majok – despite not always being on the same wavelength. He tee’d up Riera for his second and his no look passes were confusing the City defence to no end.

I must admit that I’m still not sure what we should do with AB10. He shows his quality but it hasn’t dominated games – and when it was, he had to be subbed off due to our goalkeeper doing stupid things. AB10 has the quality to dominate this league, but his fitness, and possibly his attitude may be what’s holding him back. Does Babbel give him another chance? This off season is going to be interesting.

Best – Raul Finally
Raul Llorente wasn’t even in the extended squad on Thursday. But because Tass Mourdoukoutas only arrived the day before the game and wasn’t ready to start, Elrich had to shift into the centre and Llorente brought in to play at left back. The past couple of months, Llorente only has been used when absolutely necessary and when Babbel has no other choice.
But this week Llorente showed some of the stuff we saw last season. He was going forward and his interlink play with team mates was working. He even got an assist for Duke.
Not bad for a guy that wasn’t even going to play, then ends up having his best game for us all season. The problem with Raul is that he has been very inconsistent this season.

Best – Proving the “Experts” Wrong
All the “experts” on FoxSports tipped City to win.
Wanderers won 3-0 and City showed nothing. It again points out what Babbel has been saying about the pundits in this country. They call us the worst team in the competition before Round 1. And despite our run of form this past month and a bit, they still think we are going to roll over for the opposition. Babbel is building for next season and we’ve shown enough times that we can compete with everyone on the table, we just failed to manage games or close them out at times. This has improved recently and teams should be wary of taking WSW lightly in the final month of the season.

Worst – Most of the Opposition Isn’t Good
The most frustrating part of this season, is that many of the teams above us just aren’t that good at all. But we’ve gifted so many points to teams that if we didn’t give up 3 points in the dying minutes of a handful of games, or our goalkeeper didn’t get sent off or run to halfway, we’d be nearly 20 points better than we currently are.
Only a couple of games have we completely be dominated, but we’ve had SFC on the ropes, we outplayed Perth a couple of times but don’t have the points to show for it. We struggled against Brisbane for two games and we threw away points to City last time.
Outside of the top 3, the rest of the competition simply isn’t that good. Its been the problem with the A-League for a number of seasons now. A couple teams pull away and the rest linger behind treading water. Let’s hope future developments within the league change this in the near future.

Worst – Late Charge Probably Too Late
Continuing from the above, I feel our late run of form is coming a few games too late. Finals was always a long shot and losing last week to the Nix put a big dent in that. We’ll still put pressure on those above to perform but I think we’ll miss out by a couple of game’s worth of points. The above lost points are going to haunt us.
The positive is, Babbel and the new recruits and fired up and not accepted throwing away the season but want to perform every week and gain as many points as possible before it is over. We are building for next season and the new recruits plus the youth are showing promising signs to be competitive in our new stadium.

See you space cowboy…

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