Friday, January 04, 2008

Roarcentric Preview

Good to be the top of the ladder? Ask Melbourne. They know how good it is. The players, the coach and the fans all have a much deeper experience of the joys of being at the top of the table than their Queensland counterparts. It was about this time of last season when the Roar, who had had a disastrous run, went to Melbourne town without our first goalkeeper and made irony of the Victory. Just as a one-off. Just to prove a point, and to own a crucial feather of pride as the season closed around us for others to continue in finals.

This home game against Melbourne is a set-up. Every reasonable script seems to point to a Victory victory. When Queensland went away to Melbourne last year we had Tando Velaphi filling in for Reddy, he was outstanding in debut, and he was clearly one reason for our success. It's hard not to notice at this point that Velaphi was quite pointedly employed over the Roar's number 2, Griffin McMaster.

It's hard not to be worried. Reddy, with his often boisterous communication with our defensive line, has improved greatly and has been a real component of the Roar's success this year. With Tiatto and Moore out at the same time our defense in particular is depleted. It's hard not to wonder if McMaster is being put on because there are no other options, or even just due to the ongoing politics of snubbing him one more time. With the salary cap there can hardly be much investment in the second goalkeeper. Reddy's instruction for him to "keep it simple" does not inspire confidence. I wouldn't have a clue, but it's hard not to be worried.

Central Coast were knocked from their perch the moment they lost their goalkeeper (for two games).

Melbourne, of course, is on a roll, after doing the job for the Roar last week against the Mariners. Jesus the Roar virtually owe them one for that. We're going to need a post-modern script. The Roar are going to have to go out in front of their loyal fans and beat Melbourne just... just because they do.

Because in the end the game has nothing to do with justice or symmetry or dramatic coherence, despite monumental glaring evidence to the contrary, but is just about which team pulls together the better game and scores one more goal than the other. For this one we require a disciplined non-superstitious, secular naturalism. We will win despite the clear message in the stars that we won't.

To be honest I'm not that worried bout the defense or indeed the outfield. We've been without Moore before. Seo, Oggy and Packer are all quality defenders who've played for the team for a long time. Ben Griffin, who played for the suburban club I played for many decades ago as a junior, has also been convincing when he's had a few chances this season. Three goals so far from McCloughan - nothing wrong with him.

Earlier this season the absence of Tiatto has meant the reinclusion of Massimo, who made such an immediate impact alongside Mackay in particular, that Farina has found a way to include them both. But really the midfield is about as strong as ever, and up front we have the dream machine - Reinaldo in the centre with Zullo and Kruse covering the flanks as wide as hell. If the goalie can't get them balls (as Reddy does too much for the purists), Seo, Matty and Murdocca can.

We just can't let them have shots on goal. It's one question mark I'd be quite happy to just not be answered. On the other hand, like Tando on his debut - and indeed Farina has had a high success rate on high-impact debuts - perhaps McMaster will show us how it's done and be key to a stunning victory. Perhaps in the next two home games he will be so successful and enamour himself so much to the home crowd that Farina and Reddy will be up for some tense moments together in relation to the final games of the season. Who knows, and the drama is in not knowing.

Go the Roar. Go the bloody Roar. Go you brilliant, beautiful, loveable bastards. Show this league that you win just because you're better and therefore you do.


Blogger john said...

Don't worry Hamish. It will be OK. Your Melb biased tipping mates have you spooked. ;)

January 04, 2008 6:32 pm  

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