Saturday, November 05, 2011

"Wouldn't cost that much to buy mate. The A League teams sell players for fuck all." A Tribute to Matty McKay

The above quote is lifted from the Rangers fan forum and is not referring to Matty actually but to Thomas Broich and Mitch Nichols, who they merrily discuss their club's prospects of poaching, given what they see as the bargain purchase of Matty.
The page about Matty, which begins when the first talk of the transfer emerged, goes for 50 pages. The fans appear very pleased indeed with their Australian international signing, a common sentiment being that if he had been from a mediocre European team he would have cost over a million pounds.
Someone even put together a Matty compilation:

The best part is a 'comment' by our own A-League blogger, Pass and Move, who does the Rangers fans an enormous service by giving a fairly detailed and expert view of Matt McKay as a player. I reproduce it here with the permission of Pass and Move, as a tribute to a great player.
Matty was a founding member of Brisbane Roar and really the first player that I really watched evolve. The first time I saw a picture of him I was struck by his mischievous grin which, for me, alongside his dogged work rate, marked him as a winner in waiting.
Thank you Pass and Move for permission to republish this for Football Down Under's audience.
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Posted 09 August 2011 - 02:56 PM
Hey Guys, 
I'm an Aussie, so obviously reasonably well informed about Matt McKay in the A-League and his performance for the Socceroos. Cards on the table, I know next to nothing about the venerable Scottish game, except that I have to go see an Old Firm derby before I depart this Earth, cause they fucking rule. I am a Melbourne fan, not a Brisbane devotee.

First off, he wasn't even in contention for the World Cup squad 'cause for some reason we hired a douche of a coach who decided to play a 4-4-2 against Germany with a right winger and an attacking midfielder up front. Holger Osieck was appointed afterwards, spouted off some drivel about playing players based on performance not league/club, and we all thought he was full of shite. Well he proved us wrong. He took four or five A-League players into the Asian Cup, which we were all apprehensive as f**k about on account of our World Cup beatings. Matty got his chance in the game against Bahrain, last of the group stage, as an injury replacement for our left back. He did okay, defending about as well as he could.

Then came the first knock out game against Iraq. Every pundit, armchair coach and his dog in Australia was waxing lyrical about how it was unfortunate for Matty, that Brett Emerton would be back from suspension, and Matty would have to lose his place. Well Holger said f**k that, stuck Matty in as a left midfielder. He fucking owned. Best Aussie of the night, even counting Harry Kewell who was somehow coaxed back to damn near Leeds form. Three minutes away from penalties, McKay steals the ball from a huffing and puffing Iraqi, lays on a f**king INCH-PERFECT cross from the half-way line, right into Harry's onrushing head, who scores a mammoth goal. He DID NOT play as a winger - he has an engine that'll go all night and into the next morning, but it's less a ferrari and more a volkswagon. More of a tucked in old-style 90's left midfielder, who linked with Harry and Carney (converted wing-back) and sprayed passes all over the park.

Then came the annihilation against Uzbekistan. Again, Aussies old and young were still trembling from our World Cup beatings, every pundit figured Matty's selection against Iraq was a reward, a mere bauble for being a good lad. Again, kept Brett Emerton, who at this stage holds the record for the second highest number of caps for Australia out of the line up. Again played as a tucked-in left midfielder. This worked really well because Holger played two absolute destroyers in the middle, so our left midfielder (McKay) and right midfielder (Holman) tucked in and rampaged with the safety of two-holders behind them. Matty was again the best Aussie of the night, and took three assists to his name. This is a video I watch when I'm depressed:
This is a Zonal Marking article analysing his performace:  We Won 6-0, probably helped by their suicidally high-line and playing their playmaker at center back for some stupid reason.

Then the final against Japan. Finally Aussies are starting to realise Holger isn't a dipshit, and McKay is actually, on current form, our best player. In the third minute, instrumental in a sweeping Arsenal-esque move, gets in on the end, Keeper rooted and BLASTS... his shot over the bar. We lost the game deep into injury time, which is still too painful to think about. But something everyone remembers about the game is this. Australia and Japan had players from the best leagues in the world on the park. Cahill from Everton, Kagawa from Dortmund, Schwarzer from Fulham, Honda from CSKA Moscow, etc etc. Matty McKay was the fittest mother f**ker on the pitch. He would literally NOT STOP running. Like I said he isn't the fastest bloke, but he was running those Jap blokes into the ground. and still laying on quality passes, spraying them diagonally, threading them through the defence, and once again displaying his puzzling inability to finish at point-blank range. What's even stranger is the A-League is one of the shortest leagues on the planet. We have a five month off season for f**k's sake. But Australia has the best sports science in the world, and I would bet money some of the fittest footballers (makes up for a lack of passing ability).

Latest game in the green and gold was the friendly against Germany. I can not emphasise how hungry the Aussies were for some German schnitzel. (4-0 rollicking from the World Cup.) For about 60 minutes, Australia looked like a bunch of amateurs. Gomez finds an absolute pearl. They get lazy and drop off, thinking to run down the clock. Now for that 60 minutes, McKay was again the best player in green and gold in a side including Cahill, Holman, Schwarzer, Neill and Kewell. Then somehow we switch on and stop passing straight to the Germans. McKay again instrumental in passing. Then Carney bombs down from left back, links up with McKay who is literally in the middle of three German blokes, all at least a head taller, and he lays on a first touch back heel flick into the box, Carney sweeps it up and finishes. We won 2-0.

In terms of A-League performances, Matty has always been regarded as a handy player, but only since the new gaffer (Postecouglou; remember his name. After he wins he Asian Champions League, he will conquer Europe) came in has his form stepped up to a new level altogether. you might have heard McKay captained the Brisbane Roar to their first every Premiership and Championship, acting as a lynchpin throughout the entire season. In the Grand Final, Brisbame went down 2-0 in the first period of ET. Undefeated for 29 games, (34/35 all season) about to fall at the last hurdle. He delivers an inspirational speech, Brisbane close the gap with three minutes to go. Brisbane get a corner and equalise with the LAST TOUCH of the game. Matty takes the third penalty and they win the game, withstanding the pressure from 50,000 screaming delirious orange clad fresh-from-horrific-flood-destruction Brisbaners. Now obviously the A-League can't compare with the standard of European football, but he was literally the competition's best performer.

In terms of general play, when Brisbane played a conventional 442, Matt partnered another player on the left side of the middle (LCM). After Brisbane switched to a 4-1-2-3, Matt played as the left of the '2'. In terms of physical stature, he is clearly not the biggest player. But I would put good money on him going to Rangers and being one of if the fittest players (if not the fittest). He has tidy passing range. Words used to describe him have included 'metronomic'. He is not a trequartista, nor a proper defensive midfielder. If I had to compare him to a premiership player, I'd say he's a skint man's version of Tom Huddlestone, who we all know is a hobo's version of Michael Carrick. From what I've gathered, he'd compliment Davis in terms of playing style. The national coach deploys Matty as an important creative hub on the left, linking well with our multitude of left-wingers-cum-left-backs and Harry Kewell, a left sided first choice striker. But it is important to note that Holger plays with two defensive midfielders in the centre. I'm not talking Busquets defensive or Xabi Alonso defensive. Real tough tacklers. Scotland is renowned for physical play, but Matty should deal with that fine. Australia has also garnered a well deserved reputation for physicality. And the Aussies have to do it in 35-40 degree heat. Also once again, he doesn't play as a left winger - has the crossing ability but not the pace. Plus his game is more based around short passing and positional interchange. Yes that sorta sounds like Barca. Well Brisbane consciously set themselves out to play possession based football. Nickname of 'Roarcelona'. dont laugh, Mariners just beat Celtic down under, and the Roar beat the Mariners.

In terms of how he'll adapt to life at Ibrox... absolutely no trouble off the field, family man. He is 28 after all, hardly the age to make sex tapes and such. For the national team, he has a defensive shield of two tough tacklers in front of the defence, so he's more or less free to create. But he is also very much aware of his defensive responsibilities, which was how our first choice left back had such a great Asian Cup campaign, as he was allowed to bomb down the flank when Matty covered. The weather could be an issue - its apparently bloody cold in Scotland. Then again every footballer these days wear skins and thermals. Loyalty wise, well he is 28, so he's got next to no re-sale value, which is part of the reason his moving to Europe was questioned. We all figured at best a big money move to Korea, Japan or even a loan spell in China during our gaping hole of an off-season. And he's been a one club man all his life. He's been at Brisbane since his teen years, and now the captain of his hometown club. It's safe to say he won't be fluttering eyelashes and lifting his skirt/kilt to Celtic.

The thing to love about Matty is this. He's the quintessential underdog. He's been doubted - and been proving those doubters wrong his entire life. No one thought he could make it in the A-league; too small and it was too physical. he responds by becoming captain, talisman and lynchpin of the greatest club side to ever be assembled in Australia. There was little thought he could even make the bench for the national team. He displaced one of our longest-serving, most loyal and most talented servants, in Brett Emerton. No one thought he could make a meaningful contribution on the field for Australia. Five assists in the Asian Cup, one against Japan and another dazzling performance against an admittedly under-par German side, with an assist and he proved 'em all wrong.

If I had to give odds I'd say 1/5 he does to Ibrox and absolutely flops. Can't adapt to the demands, to the weather, to his team mates, to not being captain and centre of attention, to the peculiar Scottish accent etc etc. 2/5 he becomes a handy squad player with odd flashes of brilliance and is quickly forgotten. BUT... 2/5 he goes to Ibrox, proves himself central to Rangers, becomes a leader in the dressing room after winning over players who sneered at this tiny s**t from the Antipodes and gets a hat-trick of assists in the Old Firm derby. Bet on it.
PPS. For the love of god, get a fan campaign started now to prohibit McKay from taking corners and free kicks. Strange for a player whos greatest strenghth is passing ability, he is absolutely useless at dead ball situations. You'd be better off getting a training dummy to take corner kicks. Holger let him take two corners kicks during the Asian cup, horrible shanked both, was promptly yanked off set-piece duty.

PPPS. Use him to defend the posts at corners. He has a handy knack for making goal line clearances, even in open play.

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Good luck at Rangers mate. We'll miss ya. Keep an eye on the boys in orange. And some time down the track... well, we'll have you back any time.

4 Comments:

Blogger Pass and Move said...

If McKay succeeds at Rangers, we might see transfer fees begin to rise.

November 06, 2011 3:33 pm  
Blogger Hamish Alcorn said...

Indeed. I don't want to overstate it, but my intuition is that the A-League is underestimated.

November 06, 2011 6:24 pm  
Blogger Pass and Move said...

I think Paul Ifill put it best - one or two could do well in the Premiership, some could make it in the Championship, a lot would be bench warmers in League Two

November 06, 2011 8:18 pm  
Blogger Hamish Alcorn said...

More or less for my own 'record', after Mackay's first start yesterday, the Rangers fan forum started another thread about him. He assisted their first goal apparently. Think he might be a fan favourite.

It's been enlightening reading the Rangers' fans' banter. They are as rough as guts, as expected, but show a very high degree of comprehension of the game compared to Australian forums. It's merely a first impression, but it's noted.

November 07, 2011 12:18 am  

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