Hyundai A-League - 2011/2012 - Season 7

There are no shortcuts to excellence
By Andrew Demack

2011/2012 Hyundai A-League - Round 3
7:30pm, 21 October, 2011
at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

Brisbane Roar FC 1
(Erik Paartalu 13, Besart Berisha 60, Mitch Nichols 78)
Gold Coast United FC 0

(linked from FFA web site)

Brisbane Roar's fans face a very unusual dilemma. As everyone who has been to more than one football game will have observed, fans love to moan.

The Roar fans have nothing to moan about.

It doesn't stop them, of course.

Another observer at this game told me afterwards that near to their seats in The Den, one fan was very vocal about the deficiencies of Murdocca, Paartalu, Broich, et al, as they failed to add more goals to a 3-0 scoreline towards the end of this entertaining Hyundai A-League match.

"Come on, lets get another. We want four. Another one for the fans," he constantly instructed the home team, as though the first three were allocated for the enjoyment of other, un-named parties (Foxsports or the FFA perhaps, or maybe the club's Indonesian owners), and it was only the fourth goal that would truly appease the Den.

You get my point. Winning fans are supposed to be unbearably smug, and losing fans should be the ones moaning. A winning fan who moans? Identity crisis.

Anyway, the game.

What is there to say about the Roar, now on a 31-game unbeaten stretch. Plenty!

Much of the discussion this season has focused on how other teams can match the Roar, get up to the level of pass-and-move football that the champions play.

The evidence so far is that it is easier to talk about from the sidelines (or on the Internets) than it is to do on the pitch.

I was in the fair city of Melbourne last weekend, and had the chance to watch Melbourne Heart vs Perth Glory.

Heart had the reputation of playing attractive but ineffective football last season, and Perth have made a whole lot of interesting signings for this year. So it would be good to run an eye over a couple of the contenders.

But what I saw was largely appalling. The Heart centre backs would pass the ball back and forward to each other a couple of times, and then the long ball would be launched forward to a contest.

Melbourne Heart have a lively looking Brazilian centre forward, name of Maycon. I don't know whether he can play or not, because the whole afternoon he didn't receive a ball to his feet. I know he isn't quite as effective in air as Chris Coyne, but that's all I know.

At the other end, Shane Smeltz treated the long balls punted his way with some disdain (Billy Mehmet can chase them), and waited for some decent service. One cross from Liam Miller, and one errant pass from Matt Thompson. 2-0 to Perth.

So this lengthy digression is to illustrate another point about Brisbane Roar.

The success that Ange Postecoglu is having as a coach is based on building a team with a solid foundation, on team work, fitness, doing the little things right every time.

No short cuts. No quick fix.

Other clubs in the A-league seem to think that they will get to Brisbane's level by a means other than getting the basics right. Perth's short cut is signing Shane Smeltz. Seems to be working OK, that one.

Gold Coast United, under Miron Bleiberg, are always looking for the quick fix. Bring in a Dutchman or a German. That will solve it. That will get us some goals, or bring us some creativity in midfield. Or whatever the problem is.

Bleiberg had a game plan for last night's encounter with Brisbane. Gold Coast were going to pressure the Roar high up the pitch and stop the calm build-up play from Paartalu and Smith.

But the trouble with the quick fix is it isn't built on a solid basis. Gold Coast's new Dutch striker, Maceo Rigter, is obviously a talented player. Equally obvious, he isn't match fit and he's carrying a few more kilos than would be ideal. As is Joel Porter, his replacement, as is Robson, the Gold Coast's reserve midfielder.

If your game plan is to run Brisbane off their feet, you need to be able to run all night.

Gold Coast put pressure on the Roar, but only wore themselves out. A couple of times in the first half they were unlucky not to get on the scoresheet, but that's football. McAllister beat Theoklitos with a header, but it came back off the post. Traore and Rigters both brought good saves out of Theoklitos from powerful shots.

But still the 1-0 scoreline at half time was a fair indication of the game. Brisbane had scored from the best chance, which was delivered by the most creative player on the pitch, right onto the head of Erik Paartalu. A defensive lapse by the Coast, yes, but also outstanding execution of a very simple free kick, by Broich and Paartalu.

And all that Gold Coast had managed to do was to wear themselves out.

As the second half started, it was clear that the pressure had dropped off. Brisbane were once again free to play their pass-and-move possession game. The introduction of Murdocca and Danning on the hour mark brought an extra liveliness to the Roar attack. It was Murdocca's excellent pass that led to the second goal, but Besart Berisha still had plenty to do. He rounded the keeper and slotted home the decisive goal.

Berisha was impressive all game. He wins the ball back quickly, his first touch is good, and his positioning in the penalty box is excellent. With two goals in his first three games, he looks a very good buy.

This may be a discussion for later in the season, but it has been interesting to observe how global Ange Postecoglu's search for talent is. Where is the best value to be found? Roar have an Albanian striker, a Bahrainian centre back, and a Japanese-Canadian winger (who was playing in Denmark). And one of last year's surprise stand-outs was a Costa Rican.

But the crucial thing about all these players has been their willingness to do things the Postecoglu way. Get fit, work very hard, play simple football. Pass and move. Short passes, triangles. Pass along the ground.

There is nothing about this that is at all revolutionary. In fact, it's what every junior team coach is trying to drill into his or her players.

But when the opportunity for short cuts comes along (and it will), the Roar usually refuse to take them. Stick to the plan. Pass and move, triangles, keep possession, stay patient.

The last goal of the game came because of the dominance the Roar had established. The Gold Coast had run themselves into the ground, so when Berisha robbed a Coast defender, nobody else could chase back to get on terms, and Nichols had a clear sight on goal. He smashed it pass Moss from close range.

Brisbane Roar will keep doing the little things well. One aspect of Postecoglu's coaching that is absolutely clear is his demand for constant improvement and high standards.

If other clubs want to match them, well let's hope they started a few months ago with getting the little things right in pre-season training.

2011/2012 Hyundai A-League - Round 3
7:30pm, 21 October, 2011
at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

Brisbane Roar FC 1
(Erik Paartalu 13, Besart Berisha 60, Mitch Nichols 78)
Gold Coast United FC 0

    Crowd: 13,425


    Brisbane Roar FC :
    Player listing:
    Michael THEOKLITOS (gk), Matt SMITH (c) (Mohamed ADNAN +81), Shane STEFANUTTO, Matt JURMAN, Ivan FRANJIC, Erik PAARTALU, Besart BERISHA, HENRIQUE (Kofi DANNING +59), Issey NAKAJIMA-FARRAN (Massimo MURDOCCA +59), Mitch NICHOLS, Thomas BROICH
    Substitutes not used: Matthew ACTON (rgk)

    Coach: Ange Postecoglou

    Yellow Cards: Nil
    Red Cards: Nil

    Gold Coast United FC :
    Player listing:
    Glen MOSS (gk), Josh BRILLANTE, Michael THWAITE (c), Paul BEEKMANS, Dylan MacALLISTER (Joel PORTER +62'), Ben HALLORAN, Adama TRAORE, Maceo RIGHTERS (ROBSON +71), James BROWN, Peter JUNGSCHLAGER, Dylan McGOWAN (Kristian REES +46)
    Substitutes not used: Jerrad TYSON (rgk)

    Coach: Miron Bleiberg

    Yellow Cards: BEEKMANS 17, MacALLISTER 52, TRAORE 75
    Red Cards: Nil

    Referee: Peter Green 7.5/10
    Assistant referees: Dennis Silk, Brad Hobson; 4th official: Alan Milliner

    BOTN Player Points:
    > 3. Besart Berisha (BR)
    2. Thomas Broich (BR)
    1. Ben Halloran (GCU)

    Pitch rating: 9/10

    Game rating: 8/10 (Gold Coast put up a good fight until the last 15 minutes)

    Match Report and ratings: By Andrew Demack

Nil photos

Disclaimer: The content of this report is the responsibility of the writer. Stats are either as recorded by the writer at the game, or as supplied by FFA, or a mixture - no responsibility can be taken for their compete accuracy although we do strive for that. Any photos used here, unless attributed, are as implicitly supplied by FFA and used by assumed permission.

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