The Best and Worst of Wanderers vs Wellington Phoenix (Rd 23)

A-League Round 23 vs Wellington Phoenix 10/03/2018 Spotless Stadium
4-1 Win

Note: This is technically Round 22, played after Round 23…

Note2: I couldn’t make the game live and watched it on replay the next day.

Don’t forget to hit those share buttons, check out all the previous Best and Worst editions and subscribe to the podcast

Worst – Banned For Swearing

I want to get this out of the way first. News broke on Sunday that the RBB capo was escorted by a large number of police for “swearing” or possibly more accurately starting the “Fuck the FFA” chant. The WSW supporter marshal, whose job is to be the mediator between fans and authorities tried to intervene because of the treatment the capo was getting. The capo was given a 12 month stadium ban and the support marshal allegedly the same. This is getting beyond a joke. Are they trying to tell people that there is absolutely NO swearing at BBL, AFL and NRL games? So now swearing at a football match means you get a 12 month stadium ban? It seems that we are at the mercy of the club, the marshals, the stadium security, the police presence AND the FFA. This is why on last week’s episode the team couldn’t answer a question on what can you do to avoid a ban. Who knows?! It depends on who is working that night and what directive they have from their superiors. Football fans are maligned by everyone. We can’t win.

Hence we protest. We silent protest. We walk out. We hold up banners. The FFA pay David Gallop in excess of $1.2M a year and his contract just got extended. Yet the people that are ACTUAL fans of the product are being targeted by the authorities or the FFA themselves. Junior costs are through the roof. Ticket prices are getting more and more expensive. Scheduling has been a shambles this season.

They extend an olive branch of this whole “safe smoke” areas. Its a last ditch effort to try and hold onto what little support there is left. I’m pretty sure this was brought to the FFA years ago and was knocked back. They are now trying to be the good guys. Everywhere else in the world, its the clubs that organise this with their supporters. With the FFA trying to implement it, its just another case of them micromanaging and controlling everything.

Me personally, I’m sick of it. I hate going to games, getting scanned, getting stared at by gestapo acting riot squad and inept security that think we are going to fight our own fans. I hate paying exorbitant ticket prices for away games and finals series. I’ve said it on the pod and I’ll say it again. I’m refusing to go to any finals games this season. Away or at home. All finals ticket prices go straight to the FFA, so boycotting them is the only way it’ll actually hurt their hip pocket. Ratings and attendances are down and it needs to continue for the finals series for them to wake up. They promise things (eg appeals process, tifos) to your face, then make it extremely difficult to actually follow up on or flatly deny your request.

Note that this was all told to FIFA and AFC when they were here, as discussed in our episode a couple of weeks ago. Fans will continue to walk away and/or protest until real change is implemented. We all talk about Wanderland 2.0. But the way things are going, there’ll be no one left to witness its awesomeness.
I’ve heard rumours that the club or FFA may step in for these stadium bans for the capo and marshal. But these things shouldn’t happen in the first place. We are treated like 2nd class citizens in the mainstream and authority’s eyes.

Now that I’ve ranted…time to talk football.

Best/Worst – Riera Out Injured, Santa Starts

A surprise omission is Riera from the starting lineup and not even on the bench. That could mean only one thing: injured. The official WSW social media account confirmed he had a shoulder injury from the Sydney derby (2 games ago) and needed the rest. Does that mean he fought through the pain last week because Santa was injured and omitted entirely? Since we have a week off this weekend, he’ll have plenty of time to recover and get that record WSW keep plugging he is so close to getting.
The good news is that Santa gets a rare start so show his wares against a team he can’t stop scoring against. Roly returns from suspension and Lustica starts ahead of Baby Baccus. Our midfield is still not settled and it seems to be chosen based on suspensions, injury and recent form.

Best – All About The Brend’ns
As I just said, Santalab loves scoring against the Nix. He broke the deadlock after a great over the top ball from Risdon was latched onto by Bridge. I thought Bridge messed it up by slowing down and not shooting but he bided his time and gave Santa a simple tap in, because Nix can’t defend if their life depended on it. All 3 Nix defenders went for Bridge despite them running alongside Santa from halfway. Simple silly errors.
Hamill scored the second goal direct from a corner (!). I was shocked too. Was a great header, making up from his earlier header that went out for a throw in from 4 yards out. Hamill was on a hattrick later on when he was left completely unmarked from another corner and slotted it home from a Bridge flick on header. Poor defending again.

We’ve spoken about Hamill this season. Its arguably his best season with us, apart from his appearances in the 2014 ACL campaign. He has basically had to step up and be a starting XI player every week due to players leaving or injured. He can still be suspect in defence but can be solid at times too. Your centrebacks scoring goals when they go up for set pieces is always a bonus, especially when they aren’t marked properly from the opposition.

Best – Singing = Goals
I watched my recording of this match on Sunday morning. I said to the Wife at half time “now that the RBB are singing, watch us score 3 goals and win 4-1.”
Nostradamus eat your heart out. I should note that I remained offline from the night before and did not know the results at all. There definitely seemed a complete lack of urgency at times in the first half. And then we conceded right after we scored the first goal. I said at half time that in the old days, Popa would tear the players a new one and they would come out firing in the second. I’m not sure what happened this time, but Nix crumbled because in reality they have nothing to play for.
Its easy to say the atmosphere helped the players to surge ahead and win the game comfortably, but I think in reality it is because Nix are rubbish this season.

Worst – “Play For Fun”
Roly last week told us that we’d get 3 points this week against the Nix. Commentary confirmed that Greenacre told the Wellington players to “go out there and have fun.” What rubbish.
This is the problem with no relegation. No where else in the football world does a team sitting dead last keep their coach for this long and then the players are instructed to “enjoy your football.” Darije Kalezić should have been sacked weeks ago, instead he “resigns”. There is nothing at stake for the Nix. They can come last and nothing happens. CCM can come last or 2nd last and nothing happens. These games are almost redundant. If there was the threat of relegation, you might see some urgency from the players, from the coaches, the fans and even the media. The commentary team just accepted that directive from Greenacre without batting an eyelid. It should have been panned. At the moment its all apathy and no one cares. We’re just waiting for the finals to start so we can eventually see 1st vs 2nd again in the Grand Final and make the entire process redundant again.

Worst – This Is Why Santa Doesn’t Start
Look, we all want Santa to play every week but the reality is he isn’t a young player anymore. Being “relegated” to the bench may actually prolong his career. He got a rare start this week, worked his butt off again and pulled up injured after a long sprint (appeared to be a calf injury). Its probably not serious and he’ll be okay in 2 weeks. But this is a main reason why he doesn’t start every week. We saw it last season too. He can’t back up 90 minutes anymore. If we want to see Santa a bit longer, he needs to be preserved and if that means cameo appearances off the bench, then so be it. He is a club legend and will remain huge in our hearts forever.

I did also notice that we play different when Santa is the lone striker. There were a few times when we attacked down the wing, Santa would run all the way to the goal line and the cross would be cut out by the defenders around him. Riera runs towards goal and then slows down, letting the defenders to keep running and lose him so he is free in the box. We also lose that extra man in midfield that Riera provides as he is younger and can run more than Santa can for 90 minutes.
Not a slight on Santa at all. They are merely different players.

Best – Playing Melbournes Next
The next games we have are against the 2 Melbourne teams. They are both ahead of us on the table. This is an opportunity to possibly move up a place or 2 and get into the top 4. It is also an opportunity for us to drop out of the 6. Such is the fickle nature of football. They are really important games and if we can’t match them now, we never will this season and we may as well aim for 7th and not bother with the Finals. Both are away games and will be tough in their own right. We have this weekend off however so that will help with niggling injuries from a few players.

Best – No More Spotless
The best thing to happen this season is that was the last game at Spotless (until next season). Our last 2 games are at ANZ, which is not better, but at least its not Spotless. Both are terrible for football and we’ve all had enough of these venues and our treatment at them. We’ll be there again next season and it is going to feel like the longest season ever as Wanderland 2.0 gets closer to completion.

Leave a Reply