As part of the Game of two Halves column I will answer weekly questions posted on the PTA Facebook site, http://www.facebook.com/PTAFootball.
This week's questions are from Adelusi, Joshua and Christopher. Thanks guys!
Adelusi: Can Manchester United Beat Barcelona in the upcoming European Champions League final?
Manchester United can definitely beat Barcelona in the Champions League final on Saturday the 28th of May at Wembley stadium. Whether they can is another matter. I have included reasons that they can:
REASON 1 - Sir Alex Ferguson, one of the greatest managers of any era. Winning Manchester United's 19th title on the weekend with a game to spare can be topped off by outfoxing Pep Guardiola. The canny Scotsman will definitely have a game plan, A, B, C and D and if needed E.
1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011
1990, 1994, 1996, 1999, 2004
UEFA Champions League
FIFA Club World Cup
UEFA Super Cup
UEFA Cup Winners Cup
FA Charity / Community Shield
1990 (shared), 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2010
REASON 2 - Wayne Rooney, discovering his touch and scoring again. The angry pills see Rooney back to his rampaging best.
REASON 3 - Ryan Giggs, ageless. Pilate's and yoga see the 37 year old as quick and nimble and remarkably more skilled than most of his peers half his age. His pace down the left side and ability to cut inside may open up a sometimes fragile Barcelona defence.
REASON 4 - Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez, the nimble footed Mexican has given United the spark and flair that many believe that Manchester United lost when Ronaldo left their ranks. Flair that may match that of a certain Argentinian maestro on the day.
REASON 5 - Home ground advantage. Wembley, England's spiritual football home. A parochial home crowd will lift United and put pressure on the officialdom throughout the match.
Joshua: Who in the A-League do you think is good enough for European football?
There are many players who have come from European competitions who are having successful careers in the A-League. We now have many players who are leaving the A-league and going the other way, overseas. Whilst there are A-League players who are ready now for Europe, but not all of them are destined for the top tiers. I have chosen a player from each of the A-League teams who I think could make it in Europe's competitions.
Marcus Flores (Adelaide United) He may already be on his way out of the A-League but the skilled Argentinian has blossomed as the key play maker in the United team. Perfectly suited to the Spanish game.
Matthew McKay (Brisbane Roar) Organised, efficient, passing machine. The Brisbane captain would be perfectly suited to the hustle and bustle of the English Championship, if not the Premiership. At the age of 28 he has the experience and poise not to be overwhelmed by the experience.
Mustafa Amini (Central Coast Mariners) Talk about putting pressure on a young man! The 18 year old is the Mariner's youngest ever first team singing. Amini has the touch, poise and energy to make it to the very top. One or two more years in the A-League should help with the progression. Looking forward to the day when he is playing at the top level and I can turn to someone and say, "Remember when he played in the A-League?"
Joel Porter (Gold Coast United) In a team that has lost a lot of talent in the off-season, Joel Porter stand out as the player who could still make the transition to Europe. Age and fitness may be against him but the former Hartlepool forward would still be a valuable asset in Europe's lower leagues.
Alex Terra (Melbourne Heart) Watch the video below for just one reason that the 27 year-old Brazilian could have a great European career. Quick, with an eye for goal, he would terrorise defenses in any competition that he plays in.
Archie Thompson (Melbourne Victory) How the mercurial 33 year old has never made it in Europe is honestly beyond me. The skillful, quick striker has the football nous and trickery to be a great support striker wherever he plays. Although age is now against him he could still play in Europe.
Ben Kennedy (Newcastle Jets) The first keeper in the list, Ben Kennedy is nearing the perfect age (24) for a keeper to venture overseas. Having represented the Qantas young Socceroos has hopefully given him a taste for the top job. The best way to do that is to make your way to Europe.
Tommy Amphlett (Perth Glory) Tommy started in 6 of the 15 games that he played for Glory this season. Another example of how the A-League is further developing the career paths of young players, Amphlett was a standout junior in WA at youth and senior level. Could be the answer to striking problems at Perth and higher levels in Europe.
Dimitri Petratos (Sydney FC) The archetypical modern footballer, fast, skillful and athletic, Petratos will need to replicate the 2010/11 season form that saw him become a regular for Sydney FC. If he does then Europe will most certainly beckon.
Paul Ifill (Wellington Phoenix) The Phoenix have lost the player that would have filled this spot, Marco Rojas, to Melbourne Victory. Paul Ifill is a more than adequate replacement and only other likely candidate in Wellington's aging squad. He has already had a decorated career in Europe's lower leagues and would fit back into these teams in the twilight of his career.
Christopher: Do you think the sudden decrease in "effective" marketing of the A-League from Season 3 onwards was the major factor that led to the A-League's decline?
A-League Season 3 commercial. Where have the gone?
There are a number of factors that have led to what people have considered the A-League's decline. If we consider that crowd numbers and loss of two clubs a decline then it certainly has. But I must stress that I think the quality of play on the field has markedly improved and it is the off-field performances that seem to have declined.
(FTA) Free-to-air coverage is the answer that most pundits offer up as the main reason for the A-League's decreasing crowds. The chances of FTA coverage in terms of live games or even highlights packages are not likely under the current and potential new network agreement with Fox Sports.
Free-to-air advertising on the other hand is definitely where much needed interest and information can be spread by both the A-League and FFA. This is still the forum in where many people will see the game. Social networking is great for those who believe in the product but does not seem to capture the imagination of the casual attendee.
The FFA need to deliver on the marketing 'blitzes' that they promise to deliver season after season. Even a generic advertisement campaign that shows upcoming games graphics in each state would at least let people know when upcoming games are to be played.
Effective advertising needs to not only satisfy the niche' market but reach out to the subconcious of those that the league has yet to capture. So whilst I disagree that it is the only reason that the A-league is in a downward trend it has definitely not helped in the battle to maintain football's position in a very crowded sporting market.
(1) Manchester United Homepage, Managers, Alex Ferguson, 2011. http://www.manutd.com/en/Players-And-Staff/Managers/Alex-Ferguson.aspx