This time of year is often called the “silly season” and it appears in the football world in Australia this is appropriate.
The Christmas period in the English leagues is a time when in all four divisions title aspirations can be re-affirmed or dashed, with four games in quick succession.
In Australia we do not have the volume of games they do in Europe but it too can be a time that could determine the final standings in the league, a very short league season at that.
So why the “silly season” comment? It appears that many fans in Australia simply look at the standing on the league ladder rather than last column of the league table, which shows the points that each team has earned.
With most teams having eight games left in this current season there are 24 points up for grabs. The current league table has bottom placed Adelaide on 21 points and fourth placed Newcastle Jets only 7 points ahead on 28points. Third placed Gold Coast United are but five points ahead of the Jets and can easily be caught with so many points up for grabs.
Yet the fans around Australia appear to be going a little summer crazy. At the Central Coast Mariners fans are emailing the club saying that they will not be renewing their memberships next season. In Perth and Adelaide there are calls to sack the coaches Dave Mitchell and Aurelio Vidmar. Are these reactions not a little premature?
Lawrie McKinna is the most successful coach in A League history after Ernie Merrick and he has delivered finals football every season thus far. The Mariners may be sitting seventh but they are just two points adrift of a finals spot.
Aurelio Vidmar was Coach of the year a year ago and took Adelaide United to the Asian Champions League final, and unfortunately with that comes expectation. Some are saying that he simply ran with Kosmina’s team and reaped the rewards on behalf of his predecessor, time will tell, but his is the most precarious position, but a run of results could change that.
Dave Mitchell at Perth Glory has struggled to get the team to perform to some fans expectations. They saw the new signings and instantly expected results, but despite what some reporters have stated, Mitchell did not have “an open Chequebook” as there is a salary cap in the Hyundai A League and has been from day one! His problem is that he does not have enough players in his squad capable of playing at the same level or close to that of his senior players. The mix is simply not right.
As coach the blame lays ultimately with him, however the salary cap restricts your options drastically, and for the sake of the Fury, the Phoenix and the Glory’s survival the FFA have to look at this issue seriously.
So let’s hope this silliness passes as 2009 comes to a close.
Ricky Herbert at the Wellington Phoenix must be glad he is not in Australia with such high expectations. He is lucky that he has guided New Zealand to their second World Cup appearance as despite sitting second last there appears to be no pressure being put on him in relation to his job.
Then again maybe our friends across the ditch are a little more laid back about life in the Hyundai A league!