Learned: Merrick’s Jets have serious firepower
In a scintillating display against their most bitter rivals Newcastle sent a message to the rest of the competition that they could be a force to be reckoned with in 2017/18. It wouldn’t have come as a surprise to Spyro Lambas, Football Correspondent to The Pinch Hitters with Boz and Pav, who predicted the Jets would make the Top 6 this year. On the back of a breathtaking hat-trick from former Mariner Roy O’Donovan, the Jets put 5 goals past Central Coast to run away with the clubs biggest ever away win.
O’Donovan’s performance drew great praise from the commentators including Mark Bosnich who was quite effusive in his praise. “He looked like a Rolls Royce. He was going on runs and when the camera went to him he wasn’t even breathing,” Bosnich enthused on Fox Sports.
The Fox Sports Commentary team didn’t reserve their praise for O’Donovan alone, with the style of play the Jets produced drawing kudos for manager Ernie Merrick too. “It’s fast, flowing football, testament to their manager — they’ve got the ball out wide, played to their strength, looked dangerous,” Bosnich expressed to his follow commentators. A man who knows Merrick’s teachings well, Archie Thompson, was also excited, “I just love the three up front — they just stretch them — I love strikers getting in behind,” the former Victory number 10 enthused. “It’s (typical Ernie Merrick) — it was pretty much copied off Wenger. Get the ball as quick as you can forward. It’s worked today.”
Honourable Mention: Musky and Arnie have a complicated relationship
It started with a war of words over whether or whether or not the A-League should pause for International fixtures and ended with Muscat seeming to snub Arnold’s attempt to shake his hand post match. The two former Socceroo team mates are said to have been much more cordial in the rooms post match but the frostiness between the coaches of the A-League’s two biggest club’s is sure to provide plenty of entertainment for viewers for some time yet.
Liked: New faces stake their claims
We’ve already touched on Roy O’Donovan’s impressive debut for Newcastle, but there were a number of other players who shone in their first outing in new colours. For the Jets opponents they were able to take solace from their 5-1 defeat in the impressive first showings from Wout Brama and Tom Hiariej who toiled manfully for the Mariners despite the lop sided scoreboard.
Sydney FC extended their winning streak against the Melbourne Victory on Saturday night but both sides would have been happy with the performances of their new men. For the winners, Graham Arnold would have been extremely pleased with Adriam Mierzejewski who looks to have formed a very dangerous partnership already with Bobo and Milos Ninkovic. For Kevin Muscat he described the debut of Dutch youth international Leroy George as “pleasing” and would be hoping to see a similar debut from Argentine signing Matias Sanchez who is expected to be fit for the Melbourne Derby.
In other matches, Wanderers Spanish winger Alvaro Cejudo helped set up team mate Oriol Riera for the opening goal at Spotless Stadium and Johan Absalonsen got on the scoresheet for Adelaide United in their draw with Wellington Phoenix at the Cake Tin.
Honourable Mention: F3 Derby Banter and Crowd
The work Paul Okon has done in recent times to renew confidence amongst the Mariners supporter base was evident in the crowd that flocked to Gosford to watch the F3 Derby against the Jets.
While a glance at the official figure of 12,044 might not immediately impress, it does when you realise that it is the largest home crowd for the Mariners in 593 days and represents a 55% improvement on the clubs average crowds for the past two seasons. While they were not rewarded with the result they desired, lets hope they continue to support the team in such large numbers in weeks to come.
Disliked: Empty AAMI Park on Opening Night
Two Top Four teams up against each other in the opening game of the season would seem to be the perfect formula for a big crowd on Friday night. Yet, based on the empty stands for the Melbourne City and Brisbane Roar game it was not as enticing as it would otherwise seem.
Far be it for The Sportress to question the voracity of the official crowd numbers but the announced figure of 9089 doesn’t quite seem to match up with the pictures telecast. They will be in front of a much bigger crowd against Victory next weekend but lets hope that City fans can come out in bigger numbers in weeks to come.
Week 1 – Results: