A-League Round 2 Highlights: Best bites from Fox Sports’ Shootout program

THERE’S an unusual look to the A-League ladder after two rounds, with Melbourne Victory and Brisbane Roar the two clubs left with zero points.

While it is still the formative days of the 2017-18 season, two of the competition’s most successful clubs have issues of varying degrees to sort out.

For Kevin Muscat, he needs to address questions of predictability in attack, while questions of John Aloisi’s side’s durability are coming to the fore with two performances that faded after the hour mark.

Victory have now been edged by Sydney FC and Melbourne City despite dictating terms for long periods, and pressing for a key breakthrough through their usually swashbuckling attack, with Leroy George an impressive new addition to the attacking mix.

“I wouldn’t say (they need to) change, but tweak things, from an attacking perspective,” Mark Bosnich assessed on Fox Sports’ Shootout program.

“The last two games, they’ve pretty much dominated. The last 30 minutes against Sydney, who looked so solid and stout … pretty similar yesterday with exception of first 10 minutes when City came after them, they pretty much had better of the first-half and the second-half.

“But once again, like last week, it looked like they could’ve attacked all night and were not going to score.

“They need to have a little bit more variation in their attacking play.

“Teams can read them … Warren Joyce, like Graham Arnold had game plans, even though they dominated, it looked like they could’ve gone a long, long time (without scoring).

“In terms of what Kevin Muscat must be thinking, it’s a difficult one; if they dominate like that they’ll win far more than they lose … but just a little tweak (is needed).

Kosta Barbarouses of the Victory looks on
Kosta Barbarouses of the Victory looks onSource: Getty Images

“At home, they’ve got to realise, because of how many good players they have, teams are going to come and set up, and try and defend them on the break.”

Watch the A-League Hour on Monday, 7pm AEDT, Fox Sports 501 HD, for further analysis from Adam Peacock, Mark Bosnich and John Kosmina.

While the attacking breakthroughs need to come, they weren’t helped by the manner of the two goals they copped to their Melbourne rivals.

Ned Zelic added: “He has to find some balance.

“I think Kevin will be quite frustrated by the goal they conceded on the counter attack, giving City that much room.”

As for Brisbane, they’ve now dropped points to City and Adelaide, and at Suncorp on Friday, that lead was 1-0 as late as the 88th minute before Ryan Kitto and Johan Absalonsen struck.

John Kosmina said of Brisbane: “I might sound like a dinosaur but it’s really simple: if you can’t run, you can’t play.

Massimo Maccarone of the Roar reacts
Massimo Maccarone of the Roar reactsSource: AAP

“It’s a physical game … you’ve got to be able to compete for 90 minutes … stay alive in the game and two weeks in a row they’ve hit the 55-60 minute mark and they’ve blown a casket.

“The possession stats for Adelaide in that second-half were astronomical.

“32 entries into the penalty area, as opposed to eight. Nine corners to nil. 69% of the possession was in Brisbane’s half.

“Brisbane could not get back into the game.

“People are talking about Dad’s Army, which might be a bit harsh. John Aloisi has mentioned … the disrupted pre-season but they still should be in better nick than they are … they are flat footed. They’re second to everything.”

He added: “He meant disrupted in terms of … a lot of players are unfit … players who have all carried injuries into the season.”

Eric Bautheac has not yet arrived from France due to visa issues, but Kosmina warned: “If you’re waiting for one player to come and change your whole season, you’ve got problems.”

Bosnich pointed to off-field issues as alarming.

“We are hearing a lot of things going on behind the scenes which are detrimental to the club.

“Bills not being paid, things like this. If this is going on, we need verification, it doesn’t make it impossible for John and Ross but it doesn’t add to the environment of a football club.”

NED v CORNTHWAITE

Western Sydney Wanderers skipper Robbie Cornthwaite said his side “weren’t able to replicate” what they produced against Perth against Central Coast, declaring “the quality wasn’t good enough”.

Part of that included struggling to cope with the Mariners’ impressive ball retention.

Ned Zelic grilled the defender on their approach, particularly when they stood off the Central Coast midfield as they held onto the ball and built attacking raids.

Cornthwaite answered: “The plan was to push on … De Silva and Hoole got themselves into pockets, which is a good thing to do, I think our holding midfielders and guys at the back were getting caught in between.

“We spoke about it half-time, to push midfielders onto their holders, and ball-side centre-half to push onto the No.10.

“They were causing us issues. If we had our time again, we probably would’ve pushed on.”

BUSINESS AS USUAL UNDER FOXE

Cornthwaite added that Hayden Foxe hasn’t changed too much from the approach taken by Tony Popovic since his departure for Turkey.

“The message has been pretty consistent that things haven’t changed. That’s true.

“In terms of changing, tinkering things, has been business as usual.

“Everything was in place at the club in terms of structure, training – everything is very similar.”

TERRIFIC TAGGART, VARGAS EXCEPTIONAL

Zelic was impressed with what he saw from Newcastle despite them not taking all three points against Perth – thanks largely to Adam Taggart showing he is nearing his best again after a couple of injury riddled campaigns.

“Taggart, some of the opportunities he missed last week, this was a great reaction,” Zelic said.

“His movement … mobility and speed off the mark (caused problems).

“I thought the Jets played some really good football, they’re really using situations in the final third to play first time passes. Nabbout’s first time ball to O’Donovan was exceptional.

“Vargas’ work between the lines was exceptional. His work between the lines is beautiful.”

Kosmina added: “Newcastle played some very good football but didn’t make the most of their opportunities. It’s two points that probably got away for Newcastle.”

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