The new blueprint of the A-League
It’s no secret that football is the world game - although it doesn't always feel like it in Aus.
Wed, 7 Dec, 12:00 AM
It’s no secret that football is the world game. It is also a sport in which many people all over the globe value as highly and as importantly as their religious beliefs. In Australia, we’re latecomers to that party. Many of us haven’t immersed ourselves in the culture that comes with being an absolute die-hard supporter of the beautiful game.
Our comrades representing the Wanderers have shown a glimpse of what its like to go ‘all-in’ when supporting your club. Of course they can be slightly over the top, disrespectful even downright dangerous at times but that’s what passion does to people. Now, we don’t condone the violent acts or the 16 flares a game, which has landed the club in some hot water. We do however, condone the fans turning up for their team in droves, the artistic banners, the unique chants and the fervor and life the supporters bring to games.
The Wanderers have become a blueprint of true unbridled support for one’s football club, a scene unseen in Australia since the inception of our premier competition.
With the overall grandeur of the game continuing as the most well backed sport in the world, The Australian competition, although considered a minnow has steadily been increasing in global popularity. Marquee signings are a critical way to get bums in seats for the Football Federation of Australia (FFA). With a kitty of approximately $1,000,000 to play with to assist in the signing of marquee players, this is a step in the right direction.
For years the A-league has been linked with world renown players and in the early years of the competition the A-league truly struggled to lure many big names. In recent years, awareness of the quality of the Australian competition has increased as well as genuine interest of global talents.
The most recent links being made to potential signing for the A-league is Melbourne Victory’s pursuit of once Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien. Although this signing has likely been scuppered at the 11th hour, it’s consistent linkage of names such as Essien, and in the past Van Persie have shown the A-league to be serious when discussing marquee names to actually mean marquee players.
The reality of the situation is that firstly the A-league doesn’t have the quality of play to warrant consideration in line with many of the major leagues in the world. Quite frankly we don’t even rank in the 2nd or 3rd or maybe even 4th tiers of global leagues. Our league is still in its infancy so this is not an indictment. What it is however is an indication that our quality of play needs to increase to improve every club’s chances of signing marquee players.
The A-league needs to focus on bringing quality management and coaching to clubs. We need to set a good foundation for the clubs to build off. There is a clear correlation between a well-run franchise and on the field success. Adelaide won the A-league last year by playing a distinctly successful brand of football that stemmed from the introduction of their new manager Guillermo Amor. Melbourne City under the ownership of global giant Manchester City have gone from strength to strength and appear to be a force in this year’s competition. This is not to undermine the success of Australian coaches or management, but there is something to be said about having been there and done it before in a larger more competitive league.
2002 world cup winner Roberto Carlos has stated he would be open to coaching in the A-league after a stint with the Delhi Dynamos. Roberto Carlos has had an illustrious career and although he is no longer a player, he has the necessary cache to improve the popularity of the league as well as inject some creativity, dynamism and competitive football into an A-league club.
As Australians we need to continue to back our growing game and focus not on what can help the A-league right now but rather what can help create sustained future success. Truth be told, we’re about a country mile and flight to Europe away from being in contention with many major footballing leagues. We need to focus on the grassroots level and the structures that hold our clubs together. Club management, coaching and development of youth are all factors that need to be improved before we look for quick fixes in signing a big name and having them potentially flop. If more clubs take this approach, they’ll find themselves naturally attracting talent, developing more talent and playing a more expansive, competitive brand of football which in Australia is not as prevalent as we would all want to see.
Written by Nik Hatzi