The Best and Worst of Wanderers vs Melbourne Victory (Rd 25)

A-League Round 25 vs Melbourne Victory 31/03/2018 AAMI Park
1-3 Loss

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Every week I think I’m going to struggle to come up with a list, and every week I exceed my own expectations. Better output than this team most weeks 😉

Best – Bacci Return, No Bridge
The OG Baccus makes his return to not only the matchday squad but to the Starting XI. Gombau seemingly inverted his midfield triangle yet again and we played with 2 defensive midfielders, but OG Baccus was a bit more advanced than Baby Baccus.
It took me 43 minutes to realise that Bridge wasn’t even on the pitch. I noticed it when there was a closeup of Hamill and he had the captain’s armband on. Goes to show that I’m used to seeing Bridge go missing in games and it was just a standard WSW fan experience. Bonevacia was dropped completely.

Worst – Thwaited
Routine yellow card trying to stop a counter attack. Fail to trap a simple backpass and let it go out for a corner. Rugby tackle an opponent in the box and get sent off.
That basically sums up Thwaite’s performance on Saturday. The first yellow should have been avoided because Riera was fouled seconds earlier by Barbarouses but it was waved play on. But once it is given, its given. So why tussle that much with an opponent, despite footage suggesting that Williams may have started the wrestling contest. He was smart enough to let go and let Thwaite be deemed the aggressor. Thwaite gets his first red card ever in his career (apparently) and now leaves us with 1 recognised centreback for our “crucial” match against Brisbane.
Gombau doesn’t like defensive structure anyway, so all good.

Worst – Kosta VAR Stomp
I have no issues with Kosta being sent off for his stomp on Baby Baccus. I don’t think many people will. Not sure why he did it and at that moment when everyone is waiting for Berisha to take his penalty. But the penalty was given around the 45th minute. Couldn’t the VAR look at the footage and then the ref issue the red card at half time? Why did play have to stop for over 5 minutes for such a clear cut decision? I saw a VAR incident on the weekend in Serie A. It was for a suspected handball in the box. Ref signalled the box, ran over to look at the little screen, ran back and waved play on (goalkick). It took as long as it took you to read that sentence. Yet here in Australia it takes 5+ minutes to see one very clear angle of a player stomping on another one and make a decision. THAT is the problem with VAR here in the A-League. The inept referees that are using it.
And during the entire farce, no one knows what is going on. No one in the stadium, no one at home. FIFA need to review this and if they insist on keeping VAR they need to have some template phrases show up on the screens like “reviewing handball” or “reviewing off the ball incident.” Something. NFL gets it right. Ref says what he is reviewing, the footage is shown to everyone and he has a time limit to make a decision. If FIFA want VAR they need to streamline it because right now it looks extremely amateurish.
Despite the FFA and A-League embracing VAR, they’ve all been snubbed at refereeing at the World Cup.

Worst – This Is All Too Familiar
Seems like the story of this season (and last). We dominate large periods of games, don’t take our chances and then concede. Same thing happened yet again here in this match. I don’t recall any real shots on target except scrambles in the box or poor service to Riera, but the intensity was there and we looked a completely different team to last week against Heart. Commentators praised it and it was “100% better” than previous weeks. But who cares? Sport is all about the result. This isn’t some kindergarten where everyone is a winner and gets a gold star (have to win a continental championship for that). You live and you die by the final score. Possession means nothing, shots on goal mean nothing. Clean sheets and goals do. That’s all that matters. At this stage of the competition, “playing well” and with “intent” doesn’t mean shit. That’s fine for the first handful of games in a new season. Not in Round 25.
At the end of the day, we conceded a deflected freekick, a penalty and a wordly that 999 times out of 1000 Deng would have skied into Row Z at Etihad Stadium. They took their chances and we did not.

Best/Worst – Cejudo
This guy. So much promise, yet frustration personified. Finally he scores a brilliant goal. Something we’ve been waiting all season for. But then after that, every other shot he took went straight into the defender that was right in front of him, or went off target. Even Jumpei showed moments of brilliance sometimes. Yeah I went there.
I also noticed that Cejudo was hardly ever on his left wing. He was more central than not and it got a bit crowded sometimes. I’m not doubting the effort he put in this game because he seemed to actually get stuck in and fight for things. But Zlatan is on reportedly $1.5M. Think about that.

Worst – 65 Minute Man Ikonomidis
Not sure why this is seeming to be the case the past couple of weeks. Ikonomidis starts games and is being subbed around the 65th minute mark like clockwork. I don’t really notice him becoming ineffective compared to other members of the team, so I’d like to know why he is always sacrificed. But hey, at least The Jaush gets to replace him…

Worst – Screaming For Santa
It didn’t even occur to me to bring on Santalab late in the game. What for? Riera was starved of service because we have one less midfielder thanks to Thwaite’s sending off and Lustica being sacrificed for Clisby. So does Santa come on for Riera and try to get scraps that weren’t there? Or does Santa come on WITH Riera and we lose a winger or midfielder and there’s even less chance of the ball getting into a dangerous area in our attacking third?
The problem with this team isn’t the fact that Santa is not playing every week. There are more problems to address. I bring up a handful every week and we discuss them every week on the podcast. Those screaming for Santa to start every week or play every week aren’t reading the game and are just calling for nostalgia and their favourite player to feature. Don’t get me wrong, I love Santa as much as the next Wanderers fan. But the team’s problems won’t be fixed if he is on the pitch.

Best/Worst – Seventh Heaven
Two losses in Melbourne in a row mean our next match against Brisbane is do or die. We need to win to make….6th! Hooray. Still bottom half of the table. It just means you play one more week and then lose against one of the Melbourne sides again. Why bother? Half of the A-League fandom is saying finals football is a waste of time (me included this year) and half the WSW fandom is calling for Gombau’s head. Just end the season already. Getting our hopes up in a knockout game is just painful. We haven’t beaten anyone in the top 6 except City once. So what do we expect to do in an elimination match away from home? Do we deserve to even make the semi finals? We came 6 out of 10. We have only won 7 games out of 25. We have -11 goal difference.
Seventh Heaven is where we belong.

Also, it looks like our terrible record in Melbourne against Victory will remain for another season. February 2013 is the last time we beat them away. What a joke.

Worst – Gombau Is The Only Coach Ever To Be Questioned About His Future
Is Gombau the only coach that Foxsports continue to speculate over his future and then directly ask him about it? So then he has to respond with “we are working hard and when I get my own team we’ll see, but if I fail next year…then yes ask the question.”
Have they ever asked Okon in the last 2 years when he won like 5 games if his future was in doubt? Did they ever ask Kenny Lowe similar? What about Aloisi? Oh no, he deserves another season to correct his mistakes. What’s the difference? You can’t say WSW is a “big club” and expect more when Perth Glory was around before the A-League and have longer history. You can’t say that Brisbane doesn’t expect more being 3 times Champions. Every coach should have the same scrutiny, but those that have been below Gombau all season are getting free passes because they use excuses like “lack of resources” or “he needs another season”.
I’m not a Gombau apologist, but the club knew what they were getting when they signed him. So they need to hold up their end of the bargain and let him recruit his team. They let Popa have a few poor seasons and if they want stability they probably should stick to Gombau. If not, get rid of him in 2 weeks and sign someone quickly so they can recruit and we can challenge again next season. We need to be a strong and competitive team by the time we return to Wanderland 2.0 and then we can put this dark period behind us like a bad dream.

See you space cowboy…

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