Harry Kewell and Brett Emerton couldn’t have picked a better time to come back to Australian football.
We-ve got to be happy with the amount of talk about the A-League at the moment – and not just the fans we-ve already got but the people on the street, talking about Harry Kewell and Brett Emerton. These are two major names for our league and it-s come at a perfect time.
First and foremost they-ll be hugely excited to be back home. I know from experience, you love being home, you enjoy the experience and you-ve got a massive spring in your step.
These boys are both excellent professionals who-ll want to come back and do well for themselves, for their team and for their supporters. It-ll certainly put extra bums on seats and give our game that extra bit of exposure.
They-re two very different players who-ll bring different things. Brett is a good honest pro who-ll work hard for the team and get through large amount of work. But we may also get to see Brett Emerton with a spring in his step, ready to really dominate and have a presence in games – although in wider areas, he still has that class where he can make a difference for Sydney.
It-s no secret there-s been general disappointment from everyone involved with Sydney. I imagine Viteslav Lavicka would have expected a lot better that what was achieved last season. He-s a good manager with fantastic experience but the end of the season would have been a blessing for Sydney, just to go away, regroup, and come back to get more sessions into the boys for a new season.
On the other hand, Harry-s a match-winner; he can turn a game on its head. He-s gone to a team known to play free-flowing attacking football and create a lot of chances – although last season they were criticised a little more defensively.
In regards to Harry and his fitness concerns, it-s just unfortunate that when he was younger he didn-t get some of the treatment he needed. But he certainly looks after himself and works extremely hard, so he-ll always put himself in the best position to perform.
It-s a major thing for Harry, being able to stay on top of his body. I experienced this coming back; you don-t have the same stress and strains of high intensity football week in, week out, games coming fast and furious. There-s more of a controlled weekly schedule here; you-re having a nice build-up through the week for Friday and you hit the straps at the weekend.
However, I have to disagree with Harry saying the players will be out to kick him and referees will be against him – I think everybody-s supportive and wants to see him and Emmo do really, really well. They-re going to have support, not people against them.
With so much attention both Harry and Emmo will be under a lot of scrutiny and if they-re not producing the standard people are expecting, there-ll be people looking to have a pop. But these players have got so much experience, this is something they-ve dealt with their whole careers. I-m confident they-ll come back and have huge impacts on not only their teams but the A-League season as a whole.
The Other New Recruits…
Ange Postecoglou is very set in his ways in regards to the style of football he wants to play; he wants a free-flowing style built on close passing, movement and agility, so he-s looking for players that can fulfil those roles. But time will tell. Brisbane had so much success last season; their new guys need to hit the ground running.
There-s a lot of pressure on Brisbane this season – last season everyone was fit, no suspensions, everything was perfect and they had one of those runs but I believe a lot of teams gave them too much respect last season. If you do apply pressure in the right areas you-ll get some joy and if you press Brisbane in their own half you-ll get a lot of opportunities.
Adelaide brought back Jonny McKain and Dario Vidosic; Gold Coast have just gone quietly about their business but they-ve got some great young talent coming through – James Brown, Ben Halloran, Chris Harold – they-ve got some really exciting young players. And Dylan Macallister – if you get him fit he-ll call any central defender in this league a lot of problems.
Perth Glory have made some very, very good signings but it-ll be very interesting to see how that all comes together. Perth have been talked up over the last couple of seasons, but trophies aren-t won on paper. Ian Ferguson has a very good squad, if he can keep them all fit and well. It-s going to be very close this year.