Sunday, November 11, 2007

Too good to not write about

Too good to not write about. I have no plan ok, I'm just typing. I also am having no regard for my reputation as a commentator. Balance and professionalism can go to buggery.

Firstly I somehow decided to not bother with my Roar jersey. I went for style (well, in my own quixotic sense of the word), and wore my black cotton shirt with my Levis, and the marone sweater my Aunty Joyce knitted wrapped around my waist in case the rainy evening turned cold. And I wore my hat - it's old fashioned, like the English fan might have worn thirty or forty years ago. Look it's just the way I felt. On the way to the station I saw a perfect frangipani flower, so (to Jacob's embarrassment no doubt, but he is used to his old man, and has realised that it's better than me being dull) I popped that behind my ear to complete the effect (whatever effect that might be).

Train to Roma Street, complementary bus to the Stadium, buy tickets, wander through gates. Look, it's weird being a Roar fan. It's almost like you can be quite relaxed playing a top-of-the-table team away, but playing a wooden spoon team at home is completely nerve-racking, as they are the ones we can't help losing, so I have been nervous and anxious all week about this game. But we walked through the turnstiles and I felt something. Maybe it was the music that was playing - I don't know - but the atmosphere struck me hard, and I turned to Jacob and said with utter confidence - a confidence I hadn't felt all week - "This feels good; we're going to win."

Look, Frank Farina coached the Socceroos for seven years or something. Ok, he didn't make the grade and we needed a world master to push us the extra mile to make the World Cup Finals. I can deal with that, and Hiddink is right up there in my iconic pantheon. But a notion seemed to foster out there that Farina was second rate, and once upon a time, as a novice fan from the cold, I think I believed that notion. But not now, and frankly not for a while. This man has a real plan, a real strategy. His plan is carefully crafted around his players, most of which he inherited from Miron and some of which he (apparently brilliantly) recruited himself. It didn't come together in a sudden flash. But those who have really followed the Roar have seen the plan all season, sometimes looking effective, sometimes frustratingly looking good but not quite getting there, and have seen for at least the last month that the plan is really quite consistently there.

Frank has stuck with players that have been trashed in the media and the blogosphere - Reinaldo, Marcinho, Lynch. He has bolstered and stuck with a disgustingly strong defense - Moore, Tiatto, Seo, McCloughan, Oggy. And then he brought the young guns on. People criticised him - maybe rightly - for taking his time with this, but he did recruit these boys in the first place, and he built his team before bringing both Kruse and Zullo on simultaneously. The so-called 4-3-3 was in place, though really it's an attacking 4-5-1, because the young wingers run the whole field along the line. Reinaldo, through all the vitriol, is still the central target man. It works everyone. Be afraid you bastards. Frank has engineered a machine that works, and it hasn't peaked yet.

Tonight, like never before, we got to see the machine. Finally we see the Roar controlling the game, controlling the pace - all from the back really; Seo in particular is virtually flawless as a player. Get possession and keep it. Play the game. Pass back, sideways, back again, feel it out, just keep possession. What joy to watch.

Then in attack, when you've called the moment, don't hesitate. Go, go, go. Still keep possession, but with quick touches, back and forth. And when you fuck up, don't flinch but with no hesitation again swamp the opposition before they can get any control of the pace. In the first half tonight I counted five near misses - but not just silly pot-shots, but well constructed attacks that unfortunately didn't come off. Was I getting frustrated and sensing the same old, "Oh God, do we have to endure another dominance but no goals game"? Yep I was. But the quality was for all to see.

The red card, and four yellows? For me watching the game they were not just unlucky or even just incidental. They were a direct result of dominance and pressure which sent Wellington over the edge. How do you stop Seo after all? How do you stop Zullo except by fouling him (two of the yellows)? Wellington lost the plot as a direct observable result of the Roar utterly outplaying them.

And then of course the goals. Reinaldo knockers? Swallow it you punks. And all the goals (including the penalty if you account for the attack that led to it), were perfectly according to plan and formation. Sure you can mark Reinaldo into the ground but when there's two very fast wingers out to the extreme widths who can cross to the center or to the other wing it's not going to help much. Meanwhile you have to deal with Massimo and Matty in the middle who are both so quick they can be anywhere. Suck on it A-League, and swallow every drop. This is a team to be scared of.

That's enough from me. I'm happy ok. This is a very happy puppy talking about the team he is in love with. Second place looks just fine. But if you're a Central Coast fan, or a fan of any other team, be afraid. We're just getting rolling.


Anonymous wes said...

Hamish, good to see Reinaldo score a brace. He has been playing well without scoring but he scored last week I think he has regained his confidence and now the goals are flowing. Hope he loses his scoring touch this weekend!

November 12, 2007 8:13 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi, i recently left queensland to live in japan.

watched last year`s make or break game against sydney at suncorp/lang. you know the one? 1 - 1 and the roar miss the playoffs.

i found that game to be kinda frustrating ... a roar team trying to hit on the fast counter, little buildup, hoofing it upfield by the keeper and oggy ... hoping something good will happen from a long ball to a contested header by reinaldo ...

been following the fox highlights on youtube, and seems like things are coming together for this year`s roar. especially the youngsters, the possession, and the newly found cutting edge in the final third.

just a few questions ... does oggy still hoof it down field? does the GK roll the ball out sometimes now?



November 12, 2007 9:13 am  
Blogger john said...

CCM here we come

November 12, 2007 9:23 am  
Anonymous wayne said...

your machine versus ours lads...bring it on.

November 12, 2007 10:41 am  
Blogger Cecilia said...

Zullo has to learn to release the ball earlier. Sooner or later, one of those fouls will seriously hurt him.

Otherwise, delighted with the result. Kinda... C'MON MELBOURNE!!!!!

November 12, 2007 5:45 pm  
Blogger Hamish said...

Thanks for the comments guys.

Clayton, the long ball to Reinaldo is still a feature of the Roar's game, but certainly not all the time. There is a lot of play from the back and up the sides. From memory Reddy doesn't roll the ball out with his hands much though - he seems to prefer putting the ball down and passing with his feet. Probably keeps the opposition guessing as to whether he'll hoof it to Reinaldo or Zullo or pass it to Moore/Oggy/Seo.

Reminds me of another observation last night though. Cruse had a great game, but there were periods where he was unmarked on the line with oceans of space and Jacob and I were screaming for it to be passed in front of him, and the option was apparently missed. One period toward the end of the first half in particular (the period the Roar played the sloppiest in general actually).

Oggy definitely does a bit of hoofing still too, but importantly it's not the only option. In my opinion the long ball has to be used sometimes, to keep the opposition guessing and forced to cover more field if nothing else. Thinking about it, one of the things that possibly made the Roar's game so attractive was that Wellington were marking the forwards and staying behind the ball so consistently that there was lots of space in the back for the boys in orange to play around.

Wayne and John, oh yeah. 9th December at Suncorp Stadium, Roar vs Mariners. I'm hoping I'm right that the Roar hasn't peaked because that's when I want them to peak! Meanwhile, CCM are my second team this year, so I'm very happy about them beating everyone else. You're based in Gosford for God's sake - love to see you whip the big city's arses.

And after my hubristic outburst last night I am very anxious about the game vs Melbourne Friday night Wes and Cecilia. I do reckon the Roar can do you at home this time, but I'm worried not only about the game but about the words I'll have to chew on if the Roar have another lapse.

Meanwhile, I'm going to be high all week. Better than drugs.

November 12, 2007 7:04 pm  
Blogger The Round Ball Analyst said...

No doubt about it Hamish, it's the frangipani....let us know if it continues to bring success!!

November 12, 2007 9:40 pm  
Blogger Hamish said...

I had thought of that Tony, and I WILL be wearing a frangipani to the game this Friday night. Be afraid...

November 12, 2007 9:44 pm  
Blogger The Round Ball Analyst said...

Be afraid...

Jacob most certainly will be :-)

November 12, 2007 10:10 pm  

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