Sunday, June 21, 2009

An assessment of Carle against Japan

ARGUABLY the most intriguing part of the Socceroos selection last Wednesday was to see how Nick Carle would go with a rare start.

I thought he started pretty well, touching the ball numerous times in the opening 10 minutes. Australia were on top and it was only natural he would find the ball, even if his use of it wasn’t always of the usual crisp standard.

But then Japan started pressing high and we started coughing up the ball and retreating. Japan dominated the rest of the first half and none of our front men touched the ball as the likes of North, Neill, Williams and Stefanutto had to go long given that the short options, Culina and Grella, were given no room.

On the few occasions the two screeners did get it, the pressure was immense, and they couldn’t get it into our front third.

Carle, I thought, struggled to work out his defensive role in the first half. He dropped too deep and allowed Uchida to become the Japanese outlet, and he allowed him to venture forward too much, into our half before pressing him. Some of his tackling was off as a result.

In the second half Carle worked it out, pressuring Uchida higher, getting in his face earlier, which meant the chance of missing tackles was reduced.

The whole team did well in the second period, pressing Japan higher, allowing us to win more of the ball higher and control the second half, and Carle played his part in that good work.

Once we started dominating he started to get on the ball, and his set pieces were at least on par with what we’ve seen throughout this campaign from Wilkshire, Emerton, Culina et al.

His in-swinging corners from the right were arguably the best corners we’ve produced in the campaign.

Carle showed, in the build up to the second goal, how dangerous he can be once he gets his foot on the ball often, and he started to combine nicely with the likes of Cahill and Culina as Australia got on top.

Verbeek seemed happy enough with his job after the game, but there is still the prevailing thought that he is not a wide player, especially against a team like Japan that can hold the ball well and shift it from side to side, as they did in the first period.

For mine, his performance was about average, with hopefully a few more opportunities to come over the next 12 months, particularly through the middle.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

TRBA Roar's On

A BIG thanks to the TRBA regulars who have touched base over the past couple of weeks to enquire about why I haven't been writing about all the big football games and news doing the rounds over the past month and half, where we've been witness to such wonderful things as Barcelona's UCL success, the Socceroos WC qualification and the vibrant launch of our compelling World Cup bid.

Thanks for your ongoing interest and apologies for not making any announcement earlier, but I have been writing, over at The Roar.

My first 10 Roar articles can be found here, so be sure to visit The Roar, and TRBA, from time to time, and stay in touch.