A month of the season is now in the books – as we’ve already had our second coaching change with the dismissal of Steve Corica by Sydney FC.
There is plenty to run the rule over, so let’s not delay – here are your A-League Round 4 talking points.
Corica’s time runs out
Yet another manager has been sacked, this time it is the patience of Sydney FC with club legend Steve Corica that finally ran out. Though it seemed like a well overdue decision, it is never nice when someone loses their job, and the optics of Ufuk Talay’s announcement as the new boss – coming just 24 hours later – made the whole saga look a little premeditated.
Talay, the not-so-mobile foundation Sky Blues midfielder, is a safe but smart choice for Sydney. Unambitious as the appointment may be, Talay brings plenty of experience as a head coach and assistant, familiarity with the club, and a predilection for the 4-2-2-2 set-up that brought success under Corica’s tenure. Whether he has the right players for that formation now is debatable, but this is a top-six squad boasting arguably the best winger in the competition.
Despite the poor start, expectations will still be high at Allianz Stadium, and it was a pretty emphatic way for the Talay era to begin, with Sydney crushing Adelaide United 5-1 on the back of Joe Lolley’s best performance in sky blue. The Englishman’s been struggling for form but showed his class with two goals and two assists in a magnificent display.
VAR drama saves Victory’s blushes
The intervention of the VAR after Shaun Evans called a penalty for the visiting Wellington Phoenix early in the second half caused much consternation in the Paramount+ commentary box and across social media. It was the exchange between Robbie Thomson and Andy Harper that I found most interesting: Thomson solely concerned with the accuracy of the decision, while the former striker argued the call did not uphold the spirit of the offside rule.
If a side has to be picked, the play-by-play caller – we want the right decisions, and if a player is offside, they are offside. The trade-off we’re making, of course, means so much of the flow and emotion of the game is being taken out the back and shot.
Despite that call from the video referee, the Nix – whose expected goals did not move from the first whistle to the last – can count themselves pretty lucky to have left Melbourne with a point. Conversely, Tony Popovic’s side created enough chances to win two football matches and the former Socceroo will be wondering how they left two points on the table.
Is Irankunda going too soon?
Earlier this week, Football Twitter was sent abuzz with the news of Nestory Irankunda’s impending move to Bavarian giants Bayern Munich. The 17-year-old phenom is the latest in a string of young Aussies whisked away to big European clubs over the last few years. Congratulations to Irankunda – it’s a special moment in his very young career. My concern is that it may just be coming too soon. The case of Garang Kuol, who recently made the move to newly cashed-up Newcastle United in England, is a pretty close comparable. I would’ve liked to see Kuol get a full season in the starting line-up, and it’s no different with Irankunda.
Whether he will be turning out for Bayern’s reserves or heading on loan somewhere on the continent, it will be exciting to see what comes next for the wildly talented winger. That talent is what may set Irankunda apart from his Australian peers; I’m not sure I’ve seen an Australian player strike the ball as well as he does since Harry Kewell.
-What a finish on Sunday afternoon at AAMI Park. Macarthur looked to have sealed the victory before two very late strikes earned the premiers a share of the spoils. Ulises Davila was brilliant for the Bulls, pulling the strings all afternoon long.
-Still goalless this season, Daniel Arzani looked dangerous at times against Wellington but is lacking that killer instinct currently. Graham Arnold brought up the 24-year-old’s name unprompted during the week, so he’s clearly still highly thought of by the national team boss. Can he fulfill his potential, if he can even stay fit?
-Another slow start from 2021-22 champions Western United, who’ve claimed just three points from four games. Pressure could be mounting on John Aloisi after a miserable loss at home to Newcastle.
-Jets striker Apostolos Stamatelopoulos has four goals in four matches, good enough to be tied for second in the Golden Boot race with Oskar Zawada. Both trail Bruno Fornaroli on six goals.
-Congratulations to the A-League players selected for the Socceroos’ upcoming fixtures: Jamie Maclaren, Brandon Borrello, Joe Gauci, and Aziz Behich.