A-League Round 12 vs Newcastle Jets – 22/12/2017 McDonald Jones Stadium
This week’s edition of the Best and Worst series sees us travelling up to Newcastle again for the second time in two months.
When I decided to write these weekly articles I thought it would be a fun way to look back at every game. I think I picked possibly the worst season to begin this. Alas, we soldier on.
Hit the share buttons and check out all the previous Best and Worsts and other articles by the team.
Best – Unchanged Lineup
This is always a good thing right? A winning lineup remains unchanged going into the next game. Many labelled this game the true test to see if the revival was legit or not.
Risdon was replaced by Hamill due to suspension. Kearyn Baccus missed out entirely, with Lustica taking his place on the bench. Santa gets another start as Riera regains fitness after being injured a couple weeks ago.
Worst – Jets Showing How Its Done
So this is what a cohesive team looks like? Newcastle showed WSW how a team on the same page plays. The dynamic runs of their youthful front line, playing without fear and the senior leadership at the back. Inversely, Wanderers couldn’t string 3 passes together, the team was all over the place and it was more disjointed than our first match under Gombau. I’m really not sure what happened here. Its like it was the first time this team had played together yet it was basically the same lineup as last week’s.
Newcastle Jets have gone through 7 years of hell so I have nothing against them nor their fans, as they’ve stuck by their team through some horrid years of results, ownership problems, threats of losing their team altogether, injuries and everything else under the sun. So fair play to them for their success this season.
Worst – Defending Is Overrated Anyway
Seriously. Who likes to watch defending anyway right? Its boring, it causes 0-0 draws. Heaps of goals are more exciting right?
I, for one, love watching a great defensive display. I enjoy tactical battles too. Probably why I lean towards Serie A over other international leagues. Or maybe its the Italian in me. Nevertheless, watching a team defend as one and holding out the attacking barrage of their opponents is awesome to watch, despite what some media pundits would have you believe.
But this….what was this? Jets carved us up like the cliched hot knife through butter. Whether it was on the WSW defensive right hand side or through the middle, it was just too easy for them. And when they were in or around the box, they were allowed so much time on the ball it was ridiculous. Not one player put pressure on the ball carrier. I’m not sure if its Gombau’s philosophy or teammates are not backing each other up. Some communication is lacking here. I also noticed the fullbacks were getting very narrow at times, standing alongside the centre pair. This just allowed the Jets wingers to get into the box or behind unchecked. It boggles the mind.
It has been happening for the last 4 weeks. We are letting teams dictate play with ease around the box. And they just waltz on through.
This is not the Wanderers of old anymore. This is (ball) Watcherers.
Worst – Return of OG Hamill
I’ve praised Hamill this season in previous Best and Worsts as he has been relatively solid when called upon. But this week? No chance. It was the return of the old Hamill. Lost, out of place, out of position. Not sure if its the Gombau playing style, lack of minutes or just lack of quality. Vedran’s pass straight to Champness was all on Hamill. Vedran lost his shit at Hamill after it happened as he was expecting Hamill to come for that pass. So that’s evidence that Hamill was unfamiliar with what was expected of him this week. He got beaten multiple times and was very narrow allowing the opposition wingers too much room.
Best? – Gombau Making Changes At Half Time
At least even Gombau noticed that Hamill was getting destroyed each and every time and was struggling with his task. Gombau took him off and brought on Lustica, which pushed Baby Baccus to the right back position. Santa also was pulled because he was having a hard time competing with the taller Boogard and Topor-Stanley on the rare times a ball was put into the box for him.
At least Gombau was proactive here and didn’t wait until the 70th minute to make a change. He saw the team was all over the place and thus made changes to counter it. It seemed to work for at least the first 15 minutes or so of the 2nd half but then it all fell apart again.
Worst – Mo’ Press, Mo’ Problems
Sydney FC did it 2 weeks ago and now Newcastle did it again. A high press against a team still learning to properly play out from the back is the best way to force errors from them. Credit to Merrick for identifying this. Central Coast gave us too much time on the ball and allowed us to play our game, hence the result. Jets didn’t let us get out of our half for the majority of the 1st half. The team just simply struggles to cope with a high press from the the opposition. When the team eventually did survive the press, Jets sat back and compact and there was no where to go. Every team will see how Sydney and Newcastle stifled our game plan and will attempt to do the same. So now its up to Gombau to counter this otherwise it’ll be the same result every week.
Best – Travelling Fans
A shout out to all those that travelled to Newcastle and were treated by this performance. Newcastle is a few hours drive, add in Friday and holiday traffic, dedication right there.
Worst – Scheduling Stupidity
Reminder that this game was on 22nd December. Three days before Christmas and on a Friday, which would be the last day of the working year for a vast majority of businesses. Driving up the freeway every Friday is a nightmare at the best of times, add in the holiday season and all of those making the trek should be commended. Those that choose to mock what was the smallest WSW crowd in Newcastle ever should be reminded of this. There is a reason why the away bay was smaller than normal. But let’s not forget…it is still larger than what many other teams have ever brought to Parramatta/SOP.
This is not the first ridiculously scheduled away game for WSW. We’ve had Monday night games in Melbourne, Sunday night in Melbourne, Friday in Newcastle etc. I pointed this out and complained about it when the fixtures were released. I truly believe these dates and times were chosen to limit WSW away fans. If that’s how the FFA want to play, then fine. They’ll see even more falling crowds and people like me will simply refuse to go altogether to any away match. WSW fans have already built a reputation for travelling in good numbers across the country. So why make it so difficult with the scheduling for away fans to attend? I’m not going to take a day off work because there is a match on a Sunday at 7pm in Brisbane or Perth. Its just stupid.
Best – Jets Surrounded By Fans, No Seccos
I noticed after Newcastle scored their 4th goal some fans ended up on the pitch and surround the players as they celebrated. What stuck out for me though was the lack of security grabbing fans and dragging them back over the fence. At least the celebrations were allowed to continue.
From reports I’ve read on Twitter, all the security and cops were probably all around the WSW away bay. Are we still doing this? Reports of threats because WSW fans had their shirts off. Its summer and we’re in Straya mate. People don’t travel 3 hours to get harassed by the fun police and overzealous security on a power trip.
Worst – Accepting Thwaite’s Shirt
I saw the footage and heard the stories. Thwaite threw his shirt into the away bay, and it got tossed back. Good.
We don’t want your shirts, we want effort and desire and passion. The passion that the fans display every week going to the soulless SOP and travelling for hours up the freeway.
The entire team should be glad we aren’t in Italy where the Ultras demand the players take their shirts off because they are not worthy of wearing it.
What I am disappointed about though, is that Thwaite threw the shirt back into the crowd and someone actually kept it the second time. I know the whole “I got a player’s shirt” is exciting. But really? A player that only started with us this season and after THAT performance? I’m sorry, I completely disagree with that attitude. Throwing the shirt back sent a message, keeping it suggests these performances are okay and the players have no accountability.
Interesting – Gombau Post Match
For the first time in a very long time, Gombau didn’t start his post match interviews with “we played good football, I am very satisfied.”
He actually pointed out that the result was unacceptable, we were second to every 50/50 ball and the desire wasn’t there. This is a good sign. This means, he might change how he approaches games. Fans are split on how to deal with the coaching change. Some are happy to write the season off and be patient because, let’s face it, this isn’t Gombau’s team. These players were chosen by Popovic to play a certain style. Many of them are struggling with Gombau’s style and we’ll probably see some movement in January and then a complete sweep in the offseason (again).
Other fans are over it. They pay good money every season for memberships, merchandise and travelling to away games with overpriced tickets. They don’t want a transition season. They want results.
Some are also buying into these media reports of “rifts in the dressing room” and all that nonsense. Let’s be realistic here. The club knew what they were getting with Gombau and accepted it. They aren’t going to sack him this season. What would that achieve? It’ll send us even more backwards as we’ll have to start yet again. At least with Gombau here now, they can build this season and prepare for the future. That’s how the club operates. We should know this. They didn’t sack Popa when there were countless reasons to do so in the past couple of years. They aren’t getting rid of Gombau, despite the agenda in certain sections of the media. The problem isn’t Gombau. The problem is that some of the players he has aren’t capable of executing his plan.
Further proof of the club backing Gombau is the fact that Hayden Foxe has left the club, reportedly walking out after the Newcastle result. We don’t know the full details yet, but whether he was pushed or he just walked out because of differing philosophies, who knows. But the club obviously didn’t stop him and are backing Gombau. We need to take that at face value.
Best – No More Football Until The New Year
This should be a worst. But I think we all need a break from this pain. Everyone now has a break and we’re back at it on New Year’s Day.
Let’s all rejuvenate, eat a tonne of food and vow that the diet starts next year.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone.