After four losses heading into A-League Round 15, Adelaide United coach Gertjan Verbeek didn’t hold back in venting his frustrations with his charges last week, and it paid dividends with his side’s 1-0 win over Melbourne Victory.
“I’ve protected the team now for seven months,” Verbeek said before the ‘Original Rivalry’ meeting.
“But now [after five] losses in the last six games, it’s also my responsibility.
“You try everything to get a reaction from players, from the team in the results.”
Whatever harsh words were said behind closed doors did the trick, with the Reds bitzing Victory through hard running, breaking quickly and pressing high.
It was a display few clubs could hope to match, with the Reds sprinting to a 1-0 half-time lead thanks to Ben Halloran’s 32nd-minute strike.
Aided by some Victory profligacy in front of goal in the second half, Verbeek’s men held on to record a vital win.
While it didn’t result in a goal, no moment better encapsulates the Reds’ ability to dash than a chance delivered by Riley McGree in the 36th minute.
Seconds after Andrew Nabbout sprayed wide an open look at goal, the Reds worked the ball to McGree on the touchline near the halfway line, with Victory midfielder Migjen Basha at his back.
Turning the Albanian inside out, the 21-year-old then turned on the jets and burst toward the Victory goal – with four teammates galloping up the field with him to stretch the defence and open up space for him to shoot.
Though it ultimately came to nought, the chance demonstrated the capabilities the Reds possess when they run freely and play with confidence.
It was a warning sign to the rest of the league.
Babbel’s time drawing to an end
Speculation over the tenure of Western Sydney Wanderers coach Markus Babbel reached fever pitch before Sunday evening’s fixture with Perth Glory.
And from reports that began to circulate even before the final whistle, it appears the 1-0 defeat will be his final game in charge of the club.
If so, it was ironic that the opposition coach was Tony Popovic – the man whose departure from the Wanderers just a week out from the 2017-18 season arguably sent the cub into a tailspin they have yet to recover from.
Despite being in the west for more than a season, Babbel has yet to instil any sort of consistent game plan or philosophy, seemingly maintaining his tenure through force of personality.
At the time of writing, no official word had been released by the Wanderers over Babbel’s tenure, with the German declaring himself keen to fight on.
Another two Matildas head to England
Just weeks after Sam Kerr made her debut appearance for Chelsea, comes news that she is set to be joined by two of her teammates in England’s top flight.
Just hours before Brisbane Roar’s meeting with Sydney FC on Thursday, it was revealed that Roar’s Haley Raso would not be taking the field due to a move to Everton.
Soon after Sydney FC attacker Caitlin Foord took to social media to announce that she had played her last game for the Sky Blues in the 0-0 draw with Roar.
She is expected to sign with global giants Arsenal, which is coached by Australian Joe Montemurro.
Raso and Foord will become the third and fourth Australian players in the English top-flight, joining Kerr and West Ham’s Jacynta Galabadaarachchi.
The league is also home to Australian coaches Montemurro and Tanya Oxtoby, who is with Bristol City.
Reno Piscopo: Future Socceroo
Olyroos and Socceroos coach Graham Arnold has emphasised that his tenure in charge of Australia’s U23s is about finding future senior internationals and, in Reno Piscopo, he’s found one.
The Wellington Phoenix playmaker has shown an attacking verve and ability to create on another level so far at the AFC U23 Championships, helping to put Australia just a win away from Olympic qualification – thanks to a keen eye for a line-breaking pass and a willingness to take on his man.
“He’s got a great future ahead of him,” Arnold said of Piscopo.
“The good thing about the kid is he’s so level-headed. He knows it comes down to hard work and he’s doing exceptionally well.”
Friday: Adelaide United 1-0 Melbourne Victory
Saturday: Brisbane Roar 1-0 Wellington Phoenix; Melbourne City 2-0 Newcastle Jets
Sunday: Western United 3-0 Central Coast Mariners; Western Sydney Wanderers 0-1 Perth Glory
Thursday: Sydney FC 0-0 Brisbane Roar
Saturday: Melbourne City 2-0 Newcastle Jets; Adelaide United 0-3 Melbourne Victory
Sunday: Western Sydney Wanderers 3-1 Perth Glory