Off the Marquee?


OK, here is a question Melbourne Victory would’ve hoped they wouldn’t be faced with after week 2 – has Harry Kewell been worth it?

OK, here is a question Melbourne Victory would-ve hoped they wouldn-t be faced with after week 2 – has Harry Kewell been worth it?

Whilst there is no doubt Kewell-mania has been manna from heaven for the marketing department of the club (and the A-League in general), there are signs that his presence down at AAMI Park may have caused more problems than it has solved for his own club.

With an embarrassment of attacking riches at their disposal in the form of Kewell, Archie Thompson, Carlos Hernandez, Danny Allsopp, Jean Carlos Solórzano, Marco Rojas, Tommy Pondeljak and Isaka Cernak, they have somehow conspired to lose both their first two matches without scoring a goal.

The logical question, therefore, has to be: “has Harry-s presence actually weakened the team?” Not in terms of ability, which obviously he has in abundance as one of the greatest Australian players of the modern era. Rather, are the younger players in awe of King Harry, long held up and revered as the player that all young Aussies should aspire to?

Alternatively, have the coaches confused themselves and the players by fiddling around with formations and selections to accommodate Harry, at the expense of the well-being of the overall team?

All in all, not the happy camp the Melbourne power-brokers would-ve envisaged a month or so ago.

And let-s not make this all about Melbourne Victory. Further west, Tony Sage must be scratching his head wondering how it is that his marquee man, Mile Sterjovski, was ineffectual last year and invisible so far this season. Two games, six points and zero minutes for Sterjovski must be a bitter-sweet calculation for Sage who must wince every time Sterjovski-s bank account is topped up.

Brett Emerton has played in every position across midfield so far in his two games for Sydney with the same disappointing result. The lack of impact has not been for lack of endeavour or talent on Emerton-s behalf, but the reality is that as with Kewell-s Melbourne Victory, his team remains winless and goal-less.

A common fault that coaches who are either inexperienced or under pressure often make when selecting their team for the weekend is to pick the name on the back of the shirt, rather than judging players on performance. This can lead to coaches trying to fit their ‘best- players into a preferred formation which actually doesn-t suit the players on the field.

The lesson here, if there is one, is that a marquee player does not answer all your problems. The culture of a club and its basic coaching philosophies must underpin everything else.