The Best and Worst of Wanderers vs Perth Glory (Rd 1)

A-League 2018/19 Round 1 vs Perth Glory 21/10/2018 NIB Stadium
1-1 Draw

After the longest off-season in the world, FINALLY the A-League is back in all its meme glory.

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Best – A-League is BACK!
This is the 2018/19 Round 1 Starting XI of the Wanderers under Markus Babbel. I have to say, it didn’t instill much confidence in me. We just seem to be lacking in the midfield if we are relying on a young Baby Baccus and a Mahazi who hasn’t played football in over a year. It’s worrying.
Elrich slots in for Llorente who was carrying a niggle all week and Tongyik replaces the injured Ziggler. Vedran is back and immediately my confidence in our shot stopper is at a record high this (pre)season.

Worst – Struggling to Cope with Perth’s Press
Perth pressed quite high in the first half and we struggled to deal with it. Thankfully Vedran is comfortable on the ball with his feet and thus can be an option to use to move the ball across the park, but it seemed once we got to our midfield we couldn’t cope with the press and gave up the ball easily. WSW reverted to aimless balls forward hoping the wingers or Riera would latch onto it. More often than not, the passes went nowhere except straight to a Perth player.

Worst – No Midfield, No Party
You lose the midfield, you lose control of the game. And we had no semblance of a midfield in the first half. Mahazi was out of his depth and Baby Baccus needs to learn how to pick a pass. Whenever either of them had the ball, they didn’t have the confidence to do anything positive with it and turned it over time and time again. It goes back to Perth’s press as mentioned above; they were overrun. The team overall struggled to pass themselves out of trouble and we barely had the ball in the first half.
Risdon and Elrich struggled to help to get out of trouble and overall, we couldn’t move the ball properly to AB10 and kept losing the ball in the middle of the park way too easily.

Best – Tongyik Stands Tall
The standout player of the first half especially was Ruon Tongyik whom we haven’t seen much of in preseason but was in the squad out of necessity due to the injured Ziggler. Warren Joyce didn’t use him at all last season but the season before he showed promise as an up and coming young defender. He made some crucial last minute interceptions and putting his body on the line. A few times I thought he was caught out but he made up for it and scrambled to cover. He did himself no harm in claiming one of the centre back positions for the short term at least. A much better option to partner Hamill than Elrich playing out of position.

He did turn over the ball for Perth’s goal, but I feel as if he shouldn’t have been passed the ball to begin with. It was an error from Vedran who as soon as he passed it screamed “man on!” Tongyik didn’t have time to do anything, was immediately under pressure and dispossessed.

Best – 2nd Half Improvement
In a complete reversal of the FFA Cup Semi Final, Babbel’s half time speech had a positive effect this time. Perth’s press was lessened and we enjoyed more of the ball. More time, more completed passes and actual chances at goal. If Perth kept the pressure on as they did in the first half, I couldn’t see any way out of the match. But they let off their pressure and WSW capitalised.
Riera was unlucky not to score from close range after some great build up play. All he had to do was poke it home, instead he went for the rocket into the roof of the net. Was harder to miss than score that. It was begging to be the winning goal.
There were definitely positive signs shown but it needs to start from the first minute, not the 45th, lest we’re always chasing the game and making it hard for ourselves.

Best – Sloppy Roly Scores
Roly had a terrible first half. It was painfully obvious why Babbel publicly stated that he is a sloppy player and loses the ball too easily. He seemed to want to dribble his way through a wall of players instead of releasing the ball but lost it every time. Increasingly frustrating to watch.
But then he latched onto a ball over the top from Elrich and fired it near post, wrong footing Reddy. Him playing on the wing seems to put him in goal scoring positions a lot more than when he was playing in the centre of the park for us last season. He has a rocket of a shot so he’ll score goals for us. Just needs to improve on being a winger first and foremost.

Best – Popa Still Can’t Win Round 1
It was the jinx that hung over us for years. Popovic has never won his opening fixture in the A-League. The only time WSW have won it was last season when he left days before it started and the players banded together to prove a point.
With the squad that Popa assembled at Perth, I felt that he had a good chance of breaking his own curse. But having a number of quality players out injured or unfit, including Castro, Spira, Santalab etc balanced the scales a little.
In the end, Popa failed to win because they took the foot off the gas for the majority of the 2nd half and we took one of the few chances we had to score.

Best – No VAR
Every other game had VAR issues. Thankfully this game didn’t.

Best – More to Come?
Terrible first half. Much improved second half. It showed positive signs of what we could see this season. Give AB10 the ball in a good position (how sexy were his turns leaving his marker for dead?) and he can be dangerous. Sort out our midfield issues and we won’t be over run. I recall Ziggler being listed as a Defensive Midfielder, but not sure when the last time he actually played that position. Is he an option to play in front of Hamill and Tongyik to give us some much needed skill and experience?
Bridge is still injured and he can bring some experience back into the side also.

Kamau lives and needs to start showcasing what potential he showed a couple years ago week, week out. Fitzy likewise.
Let’s not forget the young guns need to come back from the u19 Asian Cup in the coming weeks so we’ll have the likes of Tokich to come into the midfield.

It’s not all doom and gloom, and it’s only Round 1. A good coach can get a bunch of average players to perform as a successful unit. Babbel really has a challenge on his hands.

Next week, the #SydneyDerby……again.

See you space cowboy…

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