Monday, November 28, 2011

Victory v GCU

Following last week's post/rage against Melbourne Victory's performance, it was with slight apprehension I went to yesterday's game against Gold Coast. It was a classic case of hoping for the best but expecting the worst.

To begin with, there was the youth team playing in the curtain raiser before the game. I really wanted to go, to see if the youth team were able to play to any decent standard. My reasoning was they didn't have Thompson to bomb it up to, thus forcing them to play with a bit of patience. However no one else wanted to go so I guess we'll never find out.
You can't see it, but the banner on the far side says "No More Excuses".
The big attraction for yesterday's game was that it was the first of the season at AAMI Park. It is a much better ground than Etihad for experiencing the match as you are so much closer to the action. The only downside is that for members, we are unable to sit on the side so the actual viewing is made a bit more difficult.

In the end, it was a good showing from Victory, a massive improvement from last week. More balls were played to feet and there seemed to be a bit more sense in the ball movement. Harry Kewell definitely helped this. Allsopp may have had his good years, but he is nowhere near Harry in terms of build up play. To date though, Harry's biggest contributions in the game still appears to be his flick ons from goal kicks. I counted five yesterday. It's kind of amazing how he continually wins the headers with such consistency.

It was a big disappointment when Vargas was sent off for a silly tackle. Down to ten men, it was only natural Victory would revert to the norm. But the surprising thing was they didn't. The ball still stayed on the ground for the most part, with the odd long ball at a well timed moment. It was a very encouraging performance from the boys, fingers crossed they can continue on.

Now the match itself. Victory went 2-0 quickly from two spot kicks (how else can we score?), however last week was enough to keep all of us on edge. And true to form, Gold Coast came back to level the scores, both coming after Rodrigo was given his marching orders. Substituions were made and just about everyone on the ground was amazed how Rojas was taken off while Carlos "Can't Run" Hernandez stayed on. He proved us all wrong though, netting the winner after a good break. He should have made it 4-2 in the dying stages but he held the ball when he clearly should have released Thompson.

Has coach Mehmet saved his job? It wasn't an easy match for him. They started off very well, but losing Vargas and then Fabio meant he had a very makeshift defence. Keeping Hernandez on seemed like a ridiculous move, but it paid off in the end. The only concern, and a massive concern it is, is we gave up a 2-0 lead against the bottom ranked side. But how much blame can you put on Mehmet for that?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Every Victory Fan's Current Mindset

I'm the first to admit I don't know a great deal about soccer. I have only been watching it for a couple of years, and only started seriously following the English Premier League this season. Playing it has given my a tiny amount of insight and from what I read on the internet, I feel I know just about enough to properly write of my disappointment and borderline disgust at the current state of Melbourne Victory.

To begin with, Melbourne Victory have the best history in the A-League so far. I don't know the exact numbers but we've won a couple of titles, runners up in another, and some minor premierships. Our supporter base is by far the biggest in Australia, something "Melbourne's sporting capital" is quite proud of. I have been to a number of matches in the past without really watching the team play, because I watched soccer so rarely I didn't really know what to look for.

This year, or more accurately in the past 3 months, I have been watching quite a bit of soccer. If it's not going to Victory games, it's streaming EPL online late at night. It is this which has opened my eyes to the poor quality of play Victory currently employ. It really is pitiful. In the beginning, the A-League was derided for it's apparent lack of quality in comparison to other leagues around the world, which was completely correct and entirely understandable. However this season, the teams seemed to have improved a great deal. There is a passing game developing, teams are holding the ball, and building their play. So far I have watched Sydney, Melbourne Heart, Brisbane Roar (or ROAARRRRCELOOONA!), and now Perth Glory all play decent games. They have structures moving forward, pressure releases and suitable people to build their play around. Melbourne Victory, on the otherhand, have nothing of the sort.

In previous years, Archie Thompson's amazing ability at the business end of the pitch has been our biggest strength. His pace, technique, and general goal scoring-ness is unique in the league. However Victory's biggest weapon is also what is now holding us back from developing. There is no patience when we are on the ball, the only plan is to bomb it long for Thompson to chase and then either for him to score himself (because in his eyes, it goes 1. Score, 2. Dive, 3. Castration, 4. Pass), or to win a set piece. The over dependence on Thompson has resulted in the absence of a real midfield.

Last night, the midfield consisted of Broxham (DM), Pondeljak, Celeski (LM/RM), and Hernandez (AM). As far as midfields go, these guys are pretty crap. Broxham did his best and I thought he played the role of the hard-in defensive midfielder well. However at the same time, he is definitely no ball player. The same applies for Pondeljak and Celeski, their commitment and desire is unquestionable, it is their technique and style which comes under fire. To cap it all off, we have Hernandez, the very definition of a dead-ball specialist. We can no longer keep carrying him in the team. His running, his pace, and most importantly his fitness are nowhere near where they need to be to be playing in a professional league (let alone in the A-League), and it cost us our second goal last night. The first goal was a result of a misdirected pass from our Brazillian left back Fabio, who does well off the ball but is a bit of a liability on it.

The most disappointing thing about last night was even when Perth went down to 10 men, we were still hell bent on bombing the ball up for Thompson. It would be cruel to say the players didn't even try to adapt and play the passing game. However if this wasn't the case, then it suggests the players (or the coach) recognised that they were unable to string passes together and just kept on playing long balls, which is equally sad.

So what can be done? There's no quick fix. It's a deep rooted problem which will take a number of seasons to overcome. In leagues around the world, the first option would be to look externally, bring in players who can do the required job. However with Australia's strict salary capping, the better option would be to take who we have now and drill them hard. I'm absolutely sure they do passing drills in training, but it is now a matter of giving them the confidence and patience to use those drills in a match situation. It goes without saying the passing game is not easy. Technically, it requires first touches and accurate passes. Beyond that though, you also need vision, anticipation, smart runs and buckets of communication.

Can Victory get there? They're professional soccer players, so yes. Until they do though, I will not be renewing my membership.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Self-Esteem

I want to talk about self-esteem. The reason for this is I didn't have a great start to the day today, but then it did get better so I'm not complaining too much. But what happened at the beginning was enough to make me realise some hard truths.

Previously, I had only thought of self-esteem as how confident you are in yourself. Things like how you carry yourself in public, how comfortable you are with yourself and particularly how much you like being you. I generally thought I was ok in terms of this, I didn't have low self-esteem, nor was mine over the top. I was in a good place.

However the events of today made me think of this self-esteem business in a different light. I began thinking about the other "self-"'s, namely self-worth and self-respect. They are all the same thing, however to me they now provide a better picture of what's really happening. Self-worth and self-respect, to me, mean how much you value your own time and efforts. Some people spend all their time doing things for others, while some only ever think about themselves and are surprised to find out the universe is not centred about them. Of course these are the polar extremes. I had genuinely never thought about how important my time is when it comes to other people, I was just a generally easy going person and would "go with the flow".

I keep harping on about today's life changing events without actually saying what happened. In a nutshell, I was supposed to meet some people (demoted from "friends" to "people" for the time being) for lunch in the city, however when I got there, I found out they had left the city to go eat elsewhere. In the interest of full disclosure and presenting both sides of the coin, I had told one party I was going, and a bit later I told the other party I wasn't, which may have confused them; and I rocked up about 20 minutes later than I was meant to. However these problems could have been easily solved with a simple phone call or text message. Anyway, point of the story was I was pissed they had left me, and it turns out another friend, behind. So what I did was have lunch with that other friend and it turned out to be very ok in the end.

So I get home and I begin thinking. They didn't value my company enough to check whether or not I was coming, and as a result I was left standing there not a happy camper. They assumed I wasn't coming (which may have been right or wrong depending on where you stand) and took off. So the question is, do I want to be friends with people who show such little regard for me? Previously I'd brush it off, passing it off as an honest mistake. But now I'm not as forgiving. My time is better spent with people who actually want to be there with me. Frenz4Lyf.

I feel I have to say what happened today is a highly isolated incident and has never happened to me before (actually it has happened to me once before and that was equally soul crushing). My friends are good people. They sometimes to bad things, but I forgive them because our friendship is bigger than whatever dumb thing they (or I) may do, typically without realising it. Perhaps the reason I'm making such a big deal out of today is because I'm looking for a reason to not like these people, as one of them is the girl I liked (told her and more or less got shut down) who is going away forever, and the other is someone I'm kind of forced to be friends with through VSA.

On an unrelated note, I am now twittered up: banhyboy, get onto it.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

YAYSOS!

I am a man of many vices. Online shopping is one of the more expensive ones.

I'm not a big spender by any definition. But in my family, taking into consideration the frugalness of my parents, I'm a shopaholic. The truth lies somewhere in the middle. I buy when I need to, as well as when I don't need to but I do try to keep it to a minimum. I use my indecisiveness as a defense mechanism. If I still can't decide whether I want it or not after a couple of days, chances are I don't want it.

That's not exactly what I wanted to gab about today though. I have been blessed by whoever's in charge in terms of body shape. I'm very much in the "average" section of the population. Around 6 ft. and 80kg-ish. It just about means that whatever I buy, I can get a medium and feel safe (or at least in Australia I can).

This brings me back to online shopping. The biggest hurdle for online shoppers is whether or not it fits (after whether or not it's real). I'm lucky in that more often than not it will fit. The only problem is when it doesn't.

I just received an order from ASOS with a whole bunch of tees and most of them are ok. There's just one shirt which is, how to say it... overly snug. This is the same with a CK tee I bought a while back. Both said medium, both were very small mediums. But rather than going through the trouble of returning it and getting a size up, which is also super demoralising, I instead make a pledge to fit the shirt by the end of the summer! It's not like I can't get into it, it's just when I do it looks like I have a spare type around my waist.

Poorly constructed post, I know. Now to think I have to write my thesis in this sort of mood. Lucky assessor.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Epicly Pt. 2 (alternate ending)

Part 2 of a draft of a post I wrote way back in '08 when I was struggling getting over being given the "let's just be friends" line by Felita. I think it's pretty damn funny reading back on this.

Ok, time for the second installation. We left off at the point where I had just finished cramming as much into a couple of minutes as I could to Jin, and that is where we shall recommence.

I don't remember whether I had finished or not when Anna came over to say hi, because by then the group had seen me talking to Jin. Sam had already sauntered over in his sexy-walk, so I think he would have caught the back-end of the story. Anyway, Anna came and the rest of the group followed. Had to say goodbye to Jin and Victor and then we went to eat! Also, I put my plan into motion, Operation Ignore.

I don't know how much of a plan it was, because it was pretty generic and vague. However I needed some way to handle it. So on the walk to the restaurant, I said hi to everyone, well to Willius at least. I talked and laughed with Anna about goodness knows what. When we were trying to work out our seats at the restaurant, there was a funny little interplay between Sam and me. The table was set up so that it was just this one long thing with people seated opposite each other. As there were 9 people, it was designated that Felita sit at the head of the table. All the girls settled to her right and the boys to her left. However there was a vacant seat directly next to her, Willius was in the vicinity whereas I was way down at the other end of the table. Sam says to me "Banh, that's yours", or something along those lines, while gesturing to that seat. I don't remember whether I just mouthed it or if I actually said it out loud, but I replied one of either "Get f***ed", "Go f*** yourself" or "F*** off". I think I did get my message across to him though, so Willius sat there. I was had Tim on my left, Wilfred opposite me and Anna diagonally to my left.

Dinner was pretty fun. I don't actually like eating in large groups, I'm a shy eater. So I nibbled and spent most of my time talking and stuffs. Luckily Tim ate bucketloads, so he ate my share without realising. It was really good fun just having fun with all these people, however I was starting to come down off the redbull I slammed down before meeting everyone. I was buggered from cricket and it was really starting to show. At one stage, I had zoned out of the conversation and was just focusing on ripping up my napkin. It started off innocently enough, I ripped off the over hanging pieces so that I could have a perfect triangle, but then I just started ripping through the really thick bits to see if I could. Whilst deep in concentration, Felita tried to engage me by mentioning my activities. However I was still in ignoring mode so I just smiled and continued. I think the worst bit was then Judy said something about it and I laughed at that.

We eventually left the restaurant, it was still early so we went in search of something to do. We ended up at Melbourne Central under the clocks again, the group split up momentarily. Some people went to the toilet, some talked to other people. I took the opportunity to reply to a message I received from Jackie. Anna saw me texting and I asked her if she had anything to say to Jackie, she just said hi and I conveyed her message. The group... regrouped and we went to the crepe shop to get some. I took one look and I knew I could afford to skip all those extra calories. Anna and Judy complained of the cold so we waited outside while people bought crepes. I got a reply from Jackie saying she missed Anna, I showed Anna this and got the best "awwwwwww" I've heard in ages. Being the good middle-man, I relayed the message to Jackie. Unfortunately though, Jackie had to go straight home from work so she couldn't swing by.

Eventually we decided to go to King Pin to play pool or something. King Pin was fun. I played a game, massive rust. I struggled hard. The annoying thing was that no one else did, it was just me. So I gave up after that. Time to step up Operation Ignore with phase 2. I had decided long ago that I'd buy a beer, for no other reason than to spite her. However one cannot drink alone because that's sad and desperate. Sam couldn't because he had to drive and no one else really wanted to, so I roped in Anna. It took some convincing, and for some reason Sam wanted her to drink more than she or I did, so much so that he even bought it for her. You hear that, Anthony? He bought her a drink! I expect beatdowns. Anyway, back on topic. Not much happened. I watched some people play Daytona, play pool, play air hockey. Everyone was dying at 10pm, just when I was at my highest. It happened again, just when everyone is about to sleep I'm at my awakest. So people departed, all the Glenny line people were the first to go. So it was Judy, Sam, Anna, Wilfred and me left behind. We all walked Anna to her mum's car because we're so nice, we also missed the train because of it.

Waiting for half an hour for the train late at night is made easier by friends. Train ride was fine. I noticed Sam's eyes were bloodshot as all heck. Judy's were too, but it came in periods of bloodshot and then slightly less bloodshot, before really bloodshot. I think mine would have been too, but I couldn't see. Wilfred's weren't. Freak. Train ride got a little weird after Wilfred got off. I'll just leave it at that.

On the walk home, I replayed the night over in my mind. It was only then did I realise that by ignoring her all night, what a jerk that made me. Luckily for me, she was on MSN that night and things were discussed. Many things were discussed. I think that because of those discussions, I may have gone backwards a bit. I thought I was doing swell, but that night I took a few too many backward steps, yardage I don't think I have regained yet. Eventually my laptop battery was dying so we said our farewells, not knowing when we'd talk next. I tell myself not to care.

Thursday was the quick debriefing I gave to Jackie. I told her about my ignoring and although she agreed it wasn't the nicest thing to do, it certainly does feel good. She said that it gives you the power, and it really did feel like that. I may have been kidding myself but I saw her look over a couple times at me. Looks that further encouraged me to continue with the plan. However the debriefing was over all too soon as she had to go and I was using the home phone because my mobile has no credit left. I still have many more things to talk to her about though. So remind me to do it next time.

And the end was on Friday. While we were warming up for futsal, Jono La asks me how I am. I reply with the customary "I'm fine". But he probes deeper, knowing I'm not. Unfortunately for him, before we start playing futsal is not the time to discuss it so I insist I'm fine. I appreciate the thought though. And that's why we love Jono La. That and the fact he gave me keeping gloves! I'm very bad at accepting presents. Love that Jono La kid.

I apologise for these two essays I have written, for their grammar (or lack thereof) and general rubbishness. I know I have been surprisingly candid, and it will most likely bite me on the ass. Every fibre in my body tells me I shouldn't have said so much. However... If it's not said here, then it'll eat away at me over the next couple of months. This blog is my main method of release. The fact that some of my friends read it (Hi Jono, Nigel, Marcus and possibly Tim) means they know more than I'll ever tell them. I also use that to my advantage, so it balances out.