Ashwin Singh’s thoughts on Sydney’s first home game of the season.

August 18, 2009

Ash went to the game on Sunday afternoon and had some thoughts:

It’s been beautiful weather in Sydney and the first game of the season could not have been played in better conditions. Unfortunately, I could have been a little better and was a little under the weather. I missed the first 20 minutes of the game as I was travelling back from Opera Bar, shit music but nice views.

I found myself a spot right in the middle of the Cove. It seems like there needed to be a little bit more coordination with the Cove, as the atmosphere was a bit flat at times in the first half. There were some new chants though, and my favourite one is based on the Prodigy ‘Voodoo People’ song, “Magic people, Karol Kisel!.

In terms of the game play, Adelaide had some chances in the first half although it was pretty even between the teams. Sydney were at times guilty of just pumping the ball long without much thought of playing out of the back. Corica was especially unlucky after showing good composure in the box, he should maybe have gotten a penalty.
The second half saw a much better performance, as Sydney were able to hold on to possession much better, with a bit more patience.

There was a clear plan to use Kofi Danning on the right wing, and isolate him against Jamieson. At times, Kofi had no right to win the ball or beat his player, but I could only count one time where he lost the ball, and he had Adelaide on the back foot each time. He’s an absolute star, and Sydney will be lucky to hold onto him at the end of the season. Jamieson was at times getting frustrated, as shown by his free kick which was blasted into the stands, and a late challenge which resulted in a yellow card.

Fyfe had an unhappy return as well, as his miscontrol of a ball which saw it dribble over the sideline brought chants of ‘Ian Shite Shite Shite’.

The goal was very well taken by Bridge, each time I see the replay it looks better. Striding forward through ‘the corridor’ in AFL speak, he did a subtle outside of the boot flick to Brosque, who knocked a header back into Bridges path. Bridge had enough time to let the ball bounce and settle himself as it moved across the face of goal and just as I had visions of him screwing it up, he coolly finished it with his left foot. Nice goal, and great substitution by Viteslav, who had brought him on about 10 minutes earlier in place of Corica. So 1-0 to Sydney in a pretty hard-working but satisfying win.

Player ratings

Bolton – Did not have that much to do, and was thankful that Shin did not control a through pass well for Adelaide

Keller – Pretty solid game

Colosimo – Bit nervy in the first half, settled down and was important in the win. Good to have him in the side

Kisel – Solid

Byun – Looked very nervous and poor delivery throughout the game. Hopefully he’ll settle down soon

Cole – Looked more solid defensively than in the past, but his crossing let him down in play and from corners and free kicks

McFlynn – Didn’t really notice him, the guy in the Cove with the drum was in front of me the whole time

Corica – Classy touches, unlucky not to win a penalty

KOFI DANNING – Easily MOTM, a threat whenever he got the ball, fast, skilful and good dangerous crosses

Brosque – Looked a bit off the pace at times and wasn’t as involved as he could be

Aloisi – Heaps better than last season, more involved in link-up play, winning free kicks and headers

Bridge – Made an impact once he came on

Gan – Showed some nice touches

Viteslav – Good substitutions. His name makes me think of that song, ‘What is love, baby don’t hurt me’ from that movie ‘Night at the Roxbury’.

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Round 01 – A-League Season 2009/10 – North Queensland Fury v Sydney FC

August 11, 2009

I was nervous.  I’d talked it up for a week, promising my friends that it would be a good game.  Sydney FC.  Robbie Fowler’s debut.  The Fury’s first ever match (that name is so annoying).  It had the right ingredients to be a cracker.  Sydney thrashed the Fury 4-0 in the preseason, but could they get the result when it mattered?

Last season saw us at an all time low.  When we needed to win, we lost.  When the pressure was on, we fell to pieces.  Would Aloisi find form?  Would our defence, the cause of so many problems last year, cope?  Which of our useless goalies would start?

The game began with a flourish.  An early free kick was award to the Fury and Robbie Fowler stepped up to take it.  “What a start this would be,” the commentator said.  My friends, Liverpool fans, all secretly hoped it would fly in.  I was shitting myself, praying that it wouldn’t  The shot stayed low, bent around the wall and looked destined for goal.  But amazingly, Bolton pushed it away, our defence cleared it and we’d survived.  The bad luck that had plagued us last season seemed to have been lifted.

Then something even more miraculous happened.  The clearance found its way to Danning and Sydney were on the counter attack and moving FAST.  Danning lofted a perfectly weighted ball to Aloisi, who found himself in space, practically one on one with the keeper.  He seemed to have messed it up with his first touch, but he struck the ball with his left foot and it rolled past the outstreched arms of the keeper.  Sydney were up 0-1 after 3 minutes.

“YES!!” I shouted as beer rained down in my kitchen and a cup went flying out the window.

Sydney dominated the opening half hour, taking the score to 0-2 in the 28th minute with a screamer from Kofi Danning.  We looked shit hot.

But then, worrying reminders of last year crept into our game.  We lost possession too easily and found ourselves defending a lot.  Just before half time it went to 1-2 after terrible marking and goal keeping allowed Rostyn Griffiths of all people to head it home from a corner.

Shannon Cole gave away a penalty 15 minutes into the second half and Robbie Fowler cooly slotted it, bringing the Fury back to 2-2.  I was not happy.  Last year, we would have lost it from there.

BUT THIS IS A NEW SEASON!  In the 71st minute Brosque won a penalty and Aloisi put it away, equalling his goal scoring tally from last year in just the first round.  The game was tense for the last 15 minutes, reaching a stunning climax going into injury time when…

Fox unforgivably cut the feed and showed a half empty Suncorp Stadium preparing for the Brisbane v Gold Coast game.  They fixed the error, but only in time for the final 5 seconds before the whistle was blown.  Screw you, Foxtel.  Sydney won 2-3 and there was much rejoicing.

Our midfield and defence giving up the ball too easily and failing to defend against set pieces is a worry and we took our foot off the pedal when we were 0-2 up.  But these are problems that can be fixed.  The three points may have been earned the hard way, but it was definitely a hard earned victory for the Sky Blues and an encouraging start to the new season.

COME ON SYDNEY!

Goals


Round 01 – A-League Season 2009/10

August 11, 2009

Melbourne Victory v Central Coast Mariners

The opening match of the season saw the Tards up against the Mariners.  The pundits all tipped Melbourne to win – not a bad call considering just how bad Central Coast have been all year.  But how wrong they were.  After 2 quick goals, Central Coast were 0-2 up just 15 minutes in, a score-line that remained unchanged until the end.

The game itself was forgettable, despite the hilarious result.  Both teams were incredibly average and will need to improve a lot if they want to contend for the championship this year.  Children around Melbourne will be frightened by the news that Kevin Muscat injured his hamstring and will have up to 6 weeks free to walk around local parks with a packet of sweets and a cheeky smile.

Goals

Adelaide United v Perth Glory

A trio of returning Socceroos for Perth was the focus of prematch hype to this game, but all three were, to say the least, pants in their debut.  Jacob Burns gave away what should have been called a penalty in the 1st minute, Chris Coyne DID give away the penalty that led to the only goal and Sterjovski was left isolated not doing much all match.  Adelaide were deserved 1-0 winners thanks to Travis Dodd (I really should put him on my fantasy side) keeping his cool from the penalty spot.

The real talking point to come out of this match, however, was this:

Picture 5

What the HELL is wrong with Robbie Slater?!  Someone teach this numskull how to wear a scarf please.  I know he’s thick, but he can’t even figure out that it’s supposed to go around his neck?!  The guy does my head in.

Goals

Brisbane Roar v Gold Coast United

I have to admit, I was a little far gone when I watched this match.  But, from what I remember, Smeltz’s finish was superb and Culina grabbed one at some point.  Gold Coast looked great, it’s certainly going to be an exciting match when Sydney FC play up in Robina in Round 5.  The match finished 1-3 in favour of the Gold Coast and they definitely look to be the pacesetters this season. Frank Farina said he’d bare his arse if Gold Coast go through the season undefeated – just another reason to hope that doesn’t happen!

Goals

Newcastle United Jets v Wellington Phoenix

A game in which every defender took it upon themselves to not efend.  I thought this would be a snooze fest, but instead it was just a comedy of errors (apologies to Shakespeare for associating him with these awful teams).  These two will battle it out for the spoon.  Newcastle 3-2 Wellington.

Goals


On Becoming a Sydney FC Fan and Watching Games From Abroad

August 10, 2009

I started following the A-League after the 2006 World Cup.

In the euphoria that swept over the nation during the Socceroo’s run to the final 16, Will and I drunkenly talked one night about signing up as members of Sydney FC. “We shouldn’t just revel on the bandwagon,” we so innocently thought. “We should support the local game and get on down to the A-League.”

Being a sucker for live sport, the offer was too tempting for me to refuse. I grew up in Canberra and had previously been a member of both the ACT Brumbies (Rugby Union) and Canberra Raiders (Rugby League). Since I’d moved to Sydney one year earlier, I had been unable to bring myself to support the local AFL or NRL teams because my allegiances already lay elsewhere.

So, on that fateful night, Will and I logged onto the Sydney FC website and signed up as members.

Thus began a love affair that would take us from the tameness of the sidelines in the first season to the depravities and debauchery of the Cove for the next two. We brought our friends along, stood in the sun and rain (mostly rain), traveled from Brisbane to Melbourne and all stops along the way, drunk way too many beers, sung songs, got spat on by Melbourne fans and just generally lived, breathed and consumed everything Sydney FC we could.

Going to the games was less a hobby and more a full blown addiction. Every day we would follow the latest news about the team – who’d been sacked yesterday and who was being brought in today. We would attend every home match, go on road trips to various away games and watch the others at the pubs in the city. We’d mingle with other Sydney fans, go to club functions and just generally obsess about the team.

But then, at the of last season, having finished uni and wanting to postpone doing something serious with my life, I decided to move to Korea to teach English. The first five months of my relocation were easy. I left less than a week after the grand final, so the offseason was only just beginning. I kept up to date with the newspapers, online media and web forums and didn’t feel like I was too far away from the action.

Soon, however, the preseason began. Suddenly there were games going on which I could not possibly watch, even online. I felt a little disconnected. Here was my team, my passion, my one true love, playing games that I couldn’t even see. I was able to get the results and read post match analysis online, but that can’t compare to being at the games.

I was getting more and more excited about the coming season, but also more and more nervous that perhaps the distance between myself would the matches would dampen the passion and enthusiasm I felt for the league. If I couldn’t be there, would I still feel not only the same love for my team, but also the burning hatred for Melbourne, pity of Wellington and general apathy/dislike towards Perth and the other teams in the A-League that nobody really cares about?

Then Thursday night rolled around and the league was back. Not wanting to give up the pub atmosphere, I dragged Ben to Communes in downtown Daegu, asked the barman if we could stream Melbourne v Central Coast on the projector and suddenly it was back. The season had started. And no less than 15 minutes later I was basking in the glory of seeing the tards down 2-0 to the Coast. The passion was still alive!

Thus begun a weekend of A-League action. I started filling my friends in on the league and the teams and talked up the North Queensland Fury v Sydney FC game nonstop. I invited them to my place on Saturday to stream the day’s two matches (NQF v Sydney FC, Brisbane Roar v Gold Coast United). Beer, soju, mates, Sydney FC… A better combination could not be imagined.

Match day came, copious amounts of alcohol were consumed, Sydney got the three points, friends were converted to Sydney FC fans and the whole day was a massive success (minus the whole waking up at 11pm to find my house covered in Pringles thing).

Thanks to the internet, living overseas is no longer an impediment to watching your local team play. Sure nothing could ever match the raw emotion that is experienced on match day inside the SFS, but with a good internet connection, some mates, beer and a lot of enthusiasm, your own living room can become a pretty damn good place to watch the games.

I’m sad that I won’t be able to attend any home games and am incredibly jealous of everyone who can. But at the same time, I’m very happy that despite living over 8000kms away I can still watch my team week in week out.

NQFSydFCnight1


Re: Fourfourtwo – Buckley to Miron: Cut it Out

August 5, 2009

This little gem has appeared on FourFourTwo this morning.

FFA BOSS Ben Buckley has reacted furiously to Gold Coast United coach Miron Bleiberg’s boycott of the pre-match press conference for the first Queensland derby.

Bleiberg was replaced by a life-size cardboard cut-out of himself at the Brisbane press conference after refusing to promote the match against Brisbane Roar any more than he was contractually required.

Roar coach Frank Farina branded it “disgraceful” and said he hoped the FFA would pursue Bleiberg for turning the event into a farce.

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, the walking headline that is Gold Coast United coach, Miron Bleiberg, has done it again.  Bleiberg has his knickers in a twist because in April the FFA decided the venue for the first round clash between Gold Coast United and Brisbane Roar would be Suncorp Stadium rather than Skilled Park as a draft of the fixture list originally showed.  The reason for this was because it was going to be a big money spinner, being the first ever Queensland derby and all, which would help out the cash strapped Roar.

So how does Miron react?  Some might say like a petulant little baby, refusing to open his mouth, except to bite the hand that is flying in like a cute little aeroplane to feed him.  What sort of adult, they would say, carries a grudge for so long and continues to cry about a decision made for the good of the game that gives him his livelihood.  They would think Miron is being a poor role model to all the children who watch the A-League and is sinking its already dismal reputation to Jules Verne-ian depths.

But these people are idiots and morons of the highest order.  Miron is actually a beacon of hope and is setting a perfect example of how to improve football in this country.  We need less real, human beings, and more facsimile cardboard cutouts of them in every facet of the game.

Imagine it, you flick on FoxSports to watch the next big A-League clash and you see 90 minutes of football which contain none of the following:

Impossible?  I think not.  All the FFA has to do is embrace Miron’s new tactic.  Don’t tell him the fans to ignore him, tell everyone to follow his lead and simply replace themselves with cardboard cutouts before every match.  Fans, referees, players, coaches, commentators, EVERYONE should bring a cardboard cut out of themselves, set it up in the appropriate position then wander away and let the action begin!

Think about the merits – the only hysterical blooper that could happen in a game is that everyone falls over when it gets a little windy.  But if everyone brought some bricks with them, then this wouldn’t be a problem anymore either!  The fans could even bring two or three cardboard versions of themselves and the games would be played in front of full houses.  For the majority of teams, the sound of the cardboard fans swaying in the wind would generate a better atmosphere than their human counterparts are currently producing, without having any effect on the average IQ in the stadium.

So, I say to Miron, good show!  Stick to your principles and replace yourself with cardboard for the remainder of the season!  If you can find a piece big enough, maybe even make a cutout of Clive Palmer too.  The game will only be better off for it.


A-League Season 2009/2010 Preview!

August 4, 2009

One hundred and fifty eight days have passed since Melbourne Victory were torturously crowned A-League champions for the second time and season 5 (or is it Version 5.0?) of the A-League is nearly upon us!

Last season’s A-League had become somewhat stale, even for the most die hard fan.  There’s only so many times you can play dross teams like Wellington and Perth (and get spanked by them at home 😦 ) before things start getting a little repetitive.

This season, however, things are looking up.  Two new teams, new strips, big name signings across the league, billionaire owners taking part in pissing contests… A ball hasn’t even been kicked in Season 5, but things are already brighter!

As kick off approaches (Melbourne Victory v Central Coast Mariners, Thursday, 6 August, 2009, 8:00pm @ Telstra Dome Etihad Stadium) big questions are being asked.  “Will Gold Coast United fail spectacularly in their bid to win the championship undefeated?”, “Is Branko Culina going to amount to anything on his second attempt at the reigns of an A-League club?” [This writer says “No”], “Just how long will it be until Robbie Fowler keels over and dies of a heart attack in the Townsville heat?”

The biggest and most important question, however, is about Sydney FC.  Will Sydney actually amount to something this year?!  It has been three years of false dawns for the ‘Manchester United of the A-League’ [thanks for that nickname, Branko you useless, useless twat].  For Sydney FC fans the last three seasons have followed a familiar pattern: New manager, big expectations, early season optimism, midseason mediocrity, late season heartbreak.

As a Sydney fan, it’s been incredibly tough watching my club go through 4 coaches, a bazillion CEOs and chairmen and god only knows how much money spent on terrible, injury prone players.

BUT THIS SEASON IT’S DIFFERENT!  [I am, of course, well aware that I had these feelings at the start of previous seasons, but I swear, seriously, really, it’s different this time]

For starters we have a new coach, Vítězslav Lavička.  Coming from the Czech Republic, this guy has brought a new level of professionalism to the team, which is of course, not difficult when your predecessor thought the appropriate position for a manger was slumped in his chair sipping coffee whilst his team got torn apart.

We’ve got a new owner, David Traktovenko.  This man previously owned Zenit St. Petersburg and brought them to the success they are now enjoying.   Everyone knows having a dodgy Russian owner brings success.

And, finally, we’ve got some promising new players, like Kisel, Keller and Byun, as well as the young guns like Danning, Gan and Grant who already started stepping up at the end of last year.

Things surely can’t go as bad for us as last year, can they?!  CAN THEY?!  I certainly hope not.

So, in anticipation of the new A-League season here is a completely unbiased summary of each team in this wonderful little league of ours and their chances this year.  If you’re not familiar with the A-League at all, then this should bring you up to speed.

Adelaide United

adelaideHome ground: Hindmarsh Stadium
Nickname: The Barrel Boys, The Reds.
Manager: Aurelio Vidmar

Adelaide is one of those teams that always gets far only to meekly drop to their knees like a cheap Thai hooker at the final hurdle.  They of course finished top of the table in Season 1 of the A-League only to lose in the semi finals to Sydney FC, then got torn apart 6-0 by Melbourne Victory in the Season 2 grand final.  They made the Asian Champions League final in 2008 only to lose 5-0 on aggregate to Gamba Osaka, then again lost to Melbourne Victory in the A-League grand final 1-0 in Season 4.

Adelaide sucks.  Really sucks.  Their coach didn’t label the place a ‘pissant town’ for no reason.  This offseason they’ve been taken over by the FFA because nobody wants to be associated with them, they’ve sold their only half decent defender Sasa Ognenovski, and replaced him with the liability that is ex-Sydney FC defender Iain Fyfe and one of their new players, Lloyd Owusu, managed to catch swine flu.

Prediction: They will be completely crap.

Brisbane Roar

roarHome ground: Suncorp Stadium
Nickname:  The Pussycats
Manager: Frank Farina

No, Brisbane isn’t one of the new teams that have been brought in this year.  This is, of course, a rebadged, renamed, Queensland Roar, who still, unfortunately, wear horrible orange and maroon jerseys.  What is there to say about the Roar… they had a hilarious streak of bad home form last year, winning only one game at Suncorp between December 13, 2007 and November 22, 2008.  Then, miraculously, they started playing well and everyone got excited about them.

Not me, though.  I hate this team.  Truly, utterly despise them.  Having been to watch Sydney FC play up there, I can officially say that their support is terrible and that Brisbane is filled with too many bogan, twelve year olds.  Their beer is crap, their fans are wankers and they always seem to beat us when it matters.  But, it won’t happen this season.

Prediction: Charlie Miller will break his hip when he stumbles over his walking frame coming down the tunnel for their first match and they will amount to nothing.

Central Coast Mariners

ccmHome ground: Bluetongue Stadium
Nickname: SeaBogans
Manager: Lawrie McKinna

The Central Coast are a ‘family’ team based in Gosford, a small little town one hour north of Sydney whose local economy relies heavily on fortnightly Centrelink payments being made to its population of inbred, scummy people.  The Central Coast are a team that plays dire football at the best of times, yet still manage to get places in the A-League.  They lost the inaugural A-League grand final to Sydney FC 1-0 and the Season 3 grand final to the Newcastle Jets by the same score line.  Their Asian Champions League campaign in 2009 was absolutely atrocious.  In fact, this team has not won a competitive game since Christmas 2008.

Can I see them going places?  The short answer is ‘no’.  They lost their one half decent player, Mile Jedinak, midway through last season and have never managed to recover.  Their home end is called ‘The Marinators’.  No, they’re not some kind of gladiatorial chefs who are going to beat us to death with delicious food, they’re just 2 blokes who get pissed at the leagues club next door before the games then sit in deathly silence for 90 minutes.  I sincerely hope this club folds before the end of the season so that a team from Canberra gets the go ahead for next year’s planned expansion.

Prediction: Garbage.

Gold Coast United

gold_coast_unitedHome ground:  Skilled Park
Nickname: None, yet their home end are seriously considering calling themselves the White Shoe Brigade (lololol)
Manager: Miron Bleiberg

A new club on the scene who talk a lot of trash, have made big signings and are being tipped by many to win the title.  Led by returning Socceroo Jason Culina and featuring last year’s Golden Boot winner Shane Smeltz, Adam Griffiths and 3 Brazilian no-names [but they’re Brazilian!!], it does all certainly look good on paper.

But other things have looked good on paper, too.  Like the Titanic.  Like the Bay of Pigs.  Like Terminator 4.  But none of those turned out any good, did they?  So what if their owner, a big fat billionaire with a terrible hairstyle from Queensland who has been noted to look suspiciously like Jabba the Hut, thinks they’ll win the league undefeated.  The fact is, they still need to prove themselves before they should be tipped for anything.

Prediction: A few key injuries and things will go horribly pear shaped.

Melbourne Victory

tardsHome ground: Etihad Stadium
Nickname: The Tards
Manager: Ernie Merrick

FUCK THE TARDS.

The league’s most successful team, having won the premiership/championship double in both Season 2 and Season 4 of the A-League, the Melbourne Victory are subhuman filth.  Their supporters are animals and their players are pedophiles.  I sincerely hope every single supporter, player and member of the backroom staff die a slow and painful death.  Preferably something like Ebola.

Prediction: Lose the grand final 5-0 to Sydney FC.

Newcastle Jets

jetsHome ground: EnergyAustralia Stadium
Nickname: The Jest
Manager: Branko Culina (seriously!)

What a ramshackles of a club.  They managed to win the A-League championship in Season 3, only to taste the delicious, piney flavour of the wooden spoon the very next season.  In the offseason they somehow managed to make it to the last 16 of the Asian Champions League, only to be completely and utterly touched up by Pohang Steelers 6-0.  That was the only game I managed to catch and it was embarrassing as an Australian to be even slightly associated with that club.

They are based in an absolute dump of a ghost town.  Have you ever been to Newcastle after dark?  I have.  And it was not fun.  The highlight was getting the hell out of there and jumping on the F3 back to civilization.  Newcastle is owned by a Mr Con Constantine, who last year threatened to throw one of their supporters who criticized the club off a balcony .  With ex-Sydney FC coach Branko Culina now at the helm, plus the league’s most crazy player, Ljubo ‘I like to go to gay night clubs and watch porn’ Milicevic, I can just see things getting more and more whacky.

Prediction: Hilarity both on and off the pitch.  Dire dire stuff.

North Queensland Fury

north_queensland_furyHome ground: Dairy Farmers Stadium
Nickname: I think Fury is pretty hilarious enough
Manager: Ian Ferguson

The second new team in the A-League, their recruitment policy seemed to be this: find as many rubbish and/or ex-Sydney FC players as possible (namely Jacob Timpano, Ufuk Talay, Brendan Santalab, Beau Busch, Robbie Middleby, Jeremy Brockie, Justin Pasfield), combine them with a flabby ex-English Premier League legend Robbie Fowler and hope for the best!

Unfortunately for the Fury, however, things don’t look they will go for the best.  Even before a ball was kicked, players were quickly realizing that this team was going to be absolute mince and were lining up to get out of there as soon as humanly possible.  Jade North shot off to Turkey, Felipe disappeared to the Middle East, heck, Santalab even decided to head to China!  They’ve managed dick all in the preseason and will be the whipping boys all year.

Prediction: Last.

Perth Glory

gloryHome ground: Members Equity Stadium
Nickname:  Their supporters call themselves The Shed
Manager:  David Mitchell

The Glory were the only club let into the A-League from the old NSL.  Back in the NSL days they were great but since the inception of the A-League things haven’t been quite so good.  The Glory were the team that everybody could expect to take 3 points off [except, of course, Sydney, but we will conveniently ignore that].  Things were looking bleak for the Glory.

But then, something miraculous happened.  They got a new owner and things started turning around.  In the off-season they’ve unveiled a new logo which harkens back to their NSL days, they’ve signed an impressive squad including three Socceroos, Mile Sterjovski, Chris Coyne and Jacob Burns and will now be wearing a new striped kit.

Could it be the start of a new era for Perth?

Prediction: No.  They’ve got mediocrity in their veins.

Sydney FC.

Sydney_FCHome ground: Sydney Football Stadium
Nickname: Bling FC, The Sky Blues.
Manager: Vítězslav Lavička

Sydney FC is without a doubt the greatest football club to have ever existed in the history of humanity.  Well, not really.  We’re the team everybody loves to hate.  In Season 1 of the A-League Sydney talked the talk and walked the walk, winning the grand final against the Central Coast Mariners 1-0.  Since then, however, things haven’t been quite so grand.  We’re onto our 5th manager (Pierre Littbarski, Terry Butcher, Branko Culina, John Kosmina being the other four).  We only pull crowds when we play well.  Last year was particularly torturous.  After a promising beginning of the year, the wheels literally fell off.  Our marquee player, John Aloisi, was booed for not being able to score in a brothel, our manager reverted to blaming bars of light for our losses and insisted we were playing good football even when we were getting spanked by Perth at home and one of our players was actually beaten up by a fan in the car park after a match.

But hey.  That’s the past.  Things are different now.

Spend a day in the Cove, Sydney’s passionate home end.  Listen to the banter, sing the songs as loudly as you can and rejoice when the beer showers down upon you after a goal.  There’s nothing quite like it.  We’re the team everybody loves to hate and this year, that will be for a reason.  We’re not being talked up like usual, but that can only work in our favour.  Come on you boys in blue!!!

Prediction: CHAMPIONS

Wellington Phoenix

nuxHome ground: Westpac Stadium
Nickname: The Nux
Manager: Ricki Herbert

Wellington are an interesting team.  Admitted into the A-League in Season 3 after the capitulation of the New Zealand Knights, they’ve not yet amounted to much, but they’re still somewhat entertaining to watch.  Their fans are loud and proud and their new black and yellow striped strip is damn sexy to say the least.  Last year they finished 6th, yet had the league’s golden boot winner, Shane Smeltz.  Will the loss of Smeltz hurt them?  Undoubtably so.  But still, I just can’t bring myself to despise them as much as they other clubs.  I hope they do well, but when they play against Sydney I hope they are as bad as the New Zealand Knights.  We always seem to lose to these guys, please please please let that change this year.

Prediction: No good, again.

So there you have it  The new season kicks off in less than 48 hours and it promises to be a blinder.

SYDNEY ‘TIL I DIE!

Round 1 fixtures

6 August, 2009 – Melbourne v Central Coast – Etihad Stadium, 8:00pm

7 August, 2009 – Adelaide v Perth, Hindmarsh Stadium, 7:30pm

8 August, 2009 – North Queensland v Sydney, Dairy Farmers Stadium, 5:30pm

8 August, 2009 – Brisbane v Gold Coast – Suncorp Stadium, 7:30pm

9 August 2009 – Newcastle v Wellington – EnergyAustralia Stadium, 3:00pm