Sunday, March 25, 2012

The good, bad and the downright ugly!

By Paul Frederickson

Is there such a thing is football fatigue? If there is I think I may have it! The emotions of each football season can catch up with the staunchest of football supporters. There is only one way to get over the insidious and debilitating affects of football fatigue, and that is to read, watch and play more football and what better way to start than with this week's good, bad and the downright ugly.


Peter Crouch has played for Portsmouth, Aston Villa, Southampton, Liverpool, Tottenham and now Stoke and once famously said, "Had I not become a footballer, I think I would have been a virgin" but I doubt he would have scored any better goals than he did against Manchester City on the weekend. The beautifully taken goal must be a contender for goal of the season already, outshining a thunderbolt from Yaya Toure from the same game.
Honourable mentions: The Central Coast Mariner's clinched their second Premier's Plate on the final day of the season, Borussia Dortmund put six past FC Koln after trailing one nil.

Liverpool recently won the League Cup and has a chance to win the FA Cup but many people will still consider this season to be another wasted one for the historic Merseyside club. Recent league form points towards many issues within Liverpool. A week after giving up a two goal lead to Queen's Park Rangers Liverpool lost 2-1 at home to another relegation threatened club in Wigan. King Kenny's crown hasn't fallen but it is most definitely askew.
Derby games are always fiercely contested and there is no more fiercely contested match than when the Glasgow teams face each other. The passion on the field and in the terraces can turn nasty at times and this weekend's game saw three red cards issued which somewhat sullied the embattled Rangers 3-2 victory over league leaders Celtic. As an added measure, Celtic's manager Neil Lennon was sent to the stands.

What do you think? What were your weekend's, good, bad and the downright ugly?

Monday, March 19, 2012

MUFC flags part 5

(Note the United shirt and the Ajax flag in this 80's Anderlecht end)
Click on the pic to enlarge.

Then there were two

By Paul Frederickson

With the Perth Glory and Wellington Phoenix losing and the Central Coast Mariners and Brisbane Roar winning on the weekend the race for the Premier's Plate is now down to two contenders, Brisbane and the Central Coast. These two teams have defied the A-League's trend of teams faltering in the season after finding success. Either the Brisbane Roar or Central Coast Mariners will join Melbourne Victory with two Premier's Plates, with Brisbane having the chance to be the first A-League club to win back-to-back premierships.

The A-League salary cap restricts team's ability to buy success and attempts to make the playing field equitable for all clubs in the competition. The concept also restricts team's ability to hold onto all the members of successful teams as other A-League teams attempt to poach players and the player's success also attracts attention of overseas clubs with much more money to spend. This makes the success of the squads mentored by Graham Arnold and Ange Postecoglou even more meritorious.

Now these two clubs will seek to win the 2011/12 Premier's Plate on the very last day of the regular season. The teams will then face each other, as they did in the 2010/11 finals series, for the chance to host this year's Grand Final. With the final round culminating this Sunday here are the permutations for the top two teams;

Central Coast Mariners: Played 26 games, 48 points (+15 GD)
Final game v Wellington Phoenix (A)

The equation for the Central Coast Mariners is simple; a win against the Wellington Phoenix on Sunday and the Premier's Plate will be heading to Gosford. Due to their inferior goal difference compared to Brisbane's, a draw or a loss by the Central Coast will mean that the Premier's Plate will head north to Brisbane can if they beat Gold Coast United later that afternoon. Make no mistake; this will not be an easy task. The Wellington Phoenix are vying with the Perth Glory for the coveted third spot on the ladder and the chance for finals at home. A midweek ACL match, albeit at home, will make the task of winning that much harder.

Brisbane Roar: Played 26 Games, 46 points (+21 GD)
Final game v Gold Coast United (A)

By the time Brisbane Roar start their match against the Gold Coast United on Sunday they will know if they have any chance of capturing back-to-back Premier's Plates. A win by the Central Coast Mariners will render the Brisbane Roar's match as a dead-rubber as Brisbane will not be able to win the Premier's Plate and it would also be extremely unlikely that they can lose second spot on the ladder. If the Central Coast lose or draw their game then the equation for the Brisbane Roar becomes simple, beat the Gold Coast and they capture the Premier's Plate. Like the task facing the Mariner's outfit this will not be an easy task for Brisbane. The Roar face a gruelling trip to Beijing to play their ACL match on Tuesday night before facing a desperate Gold Coast team on Sunday afternoon, a team they have yet to beat at Skilled Park. It is a real shame that both games are not being played at the same time as this would be a thrilling culmination to what has been a magnificent season.

What are your thoughts? Who do you think will win the Premier's Plate?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The good, the bad and the downright ugly

By Paul Frederickson

Football is a game defined by memorable moments, be they brilliant goals, controversial red cards, missed penalties, stunning comebacks and more. It has been quite rightly dubbed the soap opera of the masses, among other metaphors. As many competitions around the world get closer to their conclusions the memorable moments will be heightened.


The very nature of the manufactured equality, by imposing a mandatory salary cap among the teams in the A-League, makes it harder for teams to have multiple years of success in the competition. Players are poached by opposition teams and offered higher amounts from overseas competitions, which restricts the necessary continuity that is highly visible among successful teams around the world. This makes the success over the past two seasons of the Brisbane Roar and the Central Coast Mariners, teams that are now guaranteed to finish the regular season in first and second spot, an even more remarkable story. This Sunday Central Coast, currently with a two point lead, will travel to Wellington where a win will guarantee them the Premier's Plate. A loss or draw will open up the chance for Brisbane Roar to be the first team to win back-to-back Premier's Plates. Brisbane play the Gold Coast United at Skilled Stadium after the Central Coast game in Wellington has concluded and will know their fate, or at least know if they have a chance, at kick-off. The final day of the regular season will be a dramatic affair.

When I get really upset about a football result I find it galling to hear someone say that it 'is just a game'. As former Liverpool manager Bill Shankly once famously said, “Football's not a matter of life and death... it's more important than that”. Sometimes other events put that into clear and sometimes abrupt perspective. Such was the case when Bolton Wanderers midfielder, Fabrice Muamba, suffered a cardiac arrest in the weekend's FA Cup clash against Tottenham Hotspur, which was abandoned after the event. The support around the world for Muamba, who is in critical condition in hospital, has shown that people should always come before the game.

Sacking your manager can provide a short-term bounce for a club where the team is galvanized into a unified force. This often translates into positive results. Unfortunately for Wolverhampton Wanderers their trampoline's mattress must have had a hole in it, as they are now anchored to the bottom of the English Premier League, after a 5-nil thrashing at the hands of title leaders Manchester United. Will Uncle Mick make a surprise return to Molineux and patch up the trampoline's mattress? This happens quite often in Italy!

What do you think? What were your weekend's, good, bad and the downright ugly?

Thursday, March 15, 2012


liverpool u19's-Ajax u19's 0-6 (NextGen series). The final Ajax-Marseille/Inter will take place on March 25th at Leyton Orient's Brisbane Road.
(Pics courtesy of

Monday, March 12, 2012

Then there were four...

By Paul Frederickson

The Premier's Plate was Central Coast Mariner's to lose and with two rounds to go in the regular season and leading by two points, it still is. Now though, there are three other teams with a
mathematical and realistic chance of capturing what many people believe is the A-League's biggest prize. Brisbane Roar, Perth Glory and the Wellington Phoenix are in great positions to put pressure on the team that has led the competition for most of the season. What are the permutations, who plays who and what are the top four team's chances in the final two rounds of the 2011/12 A-League season?

Play: Adelaide United (H), Wellington Phoenix (A)

The Central Coast Mariners have, for a large part of the season, dominated the competition. They have continued last year's strong development to promote youth who are ready to mix it up with players who are vastly more experienced. For example of this progress, look no further than Tom Rogic and the Central Coast Mariner's Championship winning, National Youth League team. They should account for Adelaide at Bluetongue Stadium, have a mid-week ACL game before travelling across the ditch to face the best home team of the competition and fellow contender, Wellington Phoenix. I expect that the travel will take its toll on the Central Coast team and for Wellington to upset them in the final round.

Projected final points tally: 48 Projected ladder position: 1st

Play: Newcastle Jets (A), Gold Coast United (A)

The defending A-League Premiers and Champions have had a roller coaster of a season setting an Australian professional sporting record of 36 games before falling hard, losing an A-League record 5 games in a row. The Brisbane Roar was trailing the Central Coast Mariners by 11 points just over 5 weeks ago and has had the chance to take the lead in their last two games. The Roar play their last two games of the regular season away. They face a vastly improved but still
inconsistent Newcastle Jets at Ausgrid Stadium, a game that I think will be a hard-fought draw. Like the Mariners, the Roar will then play an ACL game but as the away team before facing Gold Coast United in what could be United's last ever A-League game. As desperate as the young Gold Coast team will be I feel that the Roar will have too much class and with too much to play for will gain the vital 3 points.

Projected final points tally: 47 Predicted ladder position: 2nd

Play: Gold Coast United (A), Melbourne Victory (H)

Perth Glory have had one of the better looking squads, on paper, for the past few seasons but after positive starts have flattered to deliver results to their faithful fans. This season after another bright start it looked like being business as usual as Perth faltered in the middle part of the season. Coach Ferguson was reportedly under tremendous pressure to keep his job, but he is more seasoned, tougher, and like his team has a will to win. With Smeltz and Mehmet they have
match-winners and should account for two of the bottom three teams in their run home to the finals. They may come up just short in the race for the Premier's Plate but they will host a home final and be well placed to try and win a maiden A-League title.

Predicted final points tally: 46 Predicted ladder position 3rd.

Play: Melbourne Victory (A), Central Coast Mariners (H)

Not many people would have given the Wellington outfit a chance of a top four spot at the start of the season, and with mounting injuries in the first few weeks of the season the thoughts seemed well founded. This Wellington team developed as the season progressed and added something extra to their already impressive home form, the ability to get results away from home.

With a full squad to choose from, an in-form Ifill and a chance to host a home final the Phoenix will finish the season strongly. They face a hard game away to the disappointing Melbourne
Victory, which I believe they will gain a point before beating this season's potential Premier's the Central Coast Mariners in the final game. This would be a remarkable achievement for the Wellington based team.

Projected final points tally: 44 Predicted ladder position 4th.

This has been a remarkable season for the A-League and I expect that the final two weeks of the season will be no different, we are in for a suspenseful and dramatic finale.

MUFC Caribbean tour

The good, the bad, and the downright ugly!

By Paul Frederickson

America's Major League Soccer kicked off over the weekend, the top of the English Premier League turned red and Messi and Ronaldo continued to break all La Liga records, and that is just the tip of the weekend's footballing iceberg. Now to the weekend's good, the bad and the downright ugly.

Bayern Munich fans expect the best and the past two seasons has seen the Munich giants fall below many people's lofty expectations. The past weekend may have put a smile on even the most jaded fan's face as they put seven goals past a shell-shocked Hoffenheim outfit.
Honorable mentions: Messi's scoring spree, Perth Glory's charge for a top two spot in the A-league, Manchester United's ascension to the top of the EPL.

Harry Redknapp has been exonerated from recent taxation allegations, has been touted as the next manager of the English national squad and has reached great heights with Tottenham in recent years, but has all these pressures taken their toll on the manager in recent weeks? Everton inflicted Tottenham's third EPL loss in a row over the weekend with a 1 nil victory at Goodison Park.
Dishonorable mentions: The reliable Matt Ryan's dropped howler versus Perth Glory, Manchester City's defeat to Swansea.

The MLS kicked off over the weekend and, arguably, the league's two biggest teams started off with losses. The New York Red Bulls lost 2-1 away to a very good Dallas team whilst LA Galaxy were thrashed 3-1 at the Home Depot Stadium by Real Salt Lake. Is it any coincidence that both teams allowed some of their star players, aged over 30, to play in the EPL on loan in the long off-season? It is too early to tell but the next few weeks will be very interesting for the giants of the American game!
Dastardly mentions: Clive Palmer is at it again, flying his 'Freedom of Speech' banners via helicopters over Newcastle's Ausgrid stadium, Melbourne Victory's season of woe continues against Sydney FC.

So what are your thoughts? What were your weekend's good, bad and the downright ugly?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The good, the bad, the downright ugly!

By Paul Frederickson

Three weeks to go in the regular season of the A-League and it is shaping up to be the best finale in the competition's history. Both ends of the top 6 may not be decided until the final game is played on the afternoon of March 25. I hope your team has given you plenty of on-field value this season.


The 2012 version of the AFC Champion's League begins tomorrow night and for the first time Australia has three competitors in the competition. This is a time for A-League fans to unify, forget their rivalry and hope that the A-League contenders do Australian football proud. Adelaide United, Brisbane Roar and the Central Coast Mariners will be competing with the best in Asia, with Brisbane and Central Coast in good shape to do well in the group stages, whilst Adelaide have the chance to resurrect a miserable domestic season.

When you are owned by one of the richest men in the world you are never going to be far from the spotlight. Chelsea, relatively, have struggled in the past two seasons and the one nil loss to West Bromwich Albion was the catalyst for Roman Abramovich to sack the one-time wunderkind, Andre Villas-Boas. Don't feel too bad for the Portuguese manager though, the rest of his contract is set to be paid up in full and he has the talent to take-over another big team in years to come.


The FFA and A-League have been through a tumultuous time in recent weeks and with the Gold Coast United licence being withdrawn it would be hard to believe that there could be a story that could match recent fiasco's. Then a new contender enters the arena with Sydney FC announcing the sacking of their CEO, Dirk Melton, for as yet mentioned unacceptable behaviour. The behaviour has yet to be disclosed other than to be referenced to staff complaints.
Did anyone within the A-League team management structures pass a 'fitness of character' test when they applied for their roles? Maybe the FFA could implement these changes for the 2012/13 season!

What are your thoughts? What were your weekend's good, bad and the downright ugly?

AFC Ajax-Roda JC 4-1. 04-03-2012

South Side Amsterdam