The False Nine Awards – Week 20
It’s Monday morning, which means it’s time once again for the False Nine Awards – where we hand out nine completely made-up awards to wrap up the week that was in the Hyundai A-League. Week 20 saw the Mariners increase their lead in the race for the Premiers plate, the Wanderers edge out the Victory for second spot, and the gap between fourth and fifth widen to eleven points! But for the week 20 edition of the FNA’s, it’s all about spotlights, support, belief and stunners:
1. “The ‘Stealing the spotlight’ award”
Amongst all the hype directed at Melbourne Victory for its rise up the A-League ladder this season, it’s a club from further north that stole the spotlight well and truly this week. Western Sydney, following their hard-fought 2-1 win over Newcastle in Campbelltown, leapfrogged the Victory into the much-vaunted second place on the table. It’s going to be a race to the finish line for the Wanderers, Victory and Adelaide United as to who, along with the Mariners, will earn the week off in the first week of the finals.
2. “The ‘Real deal’ award”
No Tom Rogic? No worries, it seems, for the Central Coast Mariners. While their former star made his much-anticipated debut for Celtic over the weekend, the remaining players put in a stellar performance against a hapless Wellington Phoenix, running out 5-0 winners in what Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert called an ‘embarassing result’ for his club. With the Victory losing to Adelaide, Central Coast’s lead at the top of the A-League table now sits at four points plus goal difference – and with only seven weeks remaining in the regular season, that’s a handy little buffer for the boys from Gosford.
3. “The ‘Full support of the board’ award”
It’s a race to the line as to which A-League manager, Perth’s Ian Ferguson, Brisbane’s Mike Mulvey or Wellington’s Ricki Herbert, will be the first to get the chop. Herbert may be safe for the rest of the season, with his fate hanging on a post-season review, but Mike Mulvey could reportedly be out of a job as early as this week, if his side loses their Asian Champions League qualification match against Buriram United. For what it’s worth, we think Ian Ferguson is the most likely. Perth have now lost 5 matches on the trot, haven’t scored a single goal in their last four outings, and have only earned 1 point from their last 7 matches. Damning statistics in anyone’s book.
4. “The ‘Would you believe it?’ award”
Despite all the doom and gloom, Frank Farina-led Sydney FC are inside the top 6. Yes, you read that correctly – Sydney FC are inside the top 6! Their 2-1 victory over fellow-strugglers Brisbane Roar was anything but a top quality football match, but in the end Sydney made less needless errors and turnovers than Brisbane, and did enough to earn the ‘W’. Sure, they’re going to have to improve markedly if they want to keep their spot or have any influence on the finals, but for Sydney FC fans, it’s welcome news regardless.
5. “The ‘Stepping up to the plate’ award”
A nomination to Western Sydney’s Youssouf Hersi, whose past four matches have netted four goals and seen his side rise to the dizzying heights of second on the A-League table. But it’s Adelaide United who stepped up to the plate this week, as they always seem to do when the chips are down and a rival comes to town. The Reds domianted a usually possession-dominant Melbourne Victory side, nullifying much of Victory’s usual midfield control. In the end, the win for Adelaide could’ve been by a few more, but a win’s a win.
6. “The ‘Stunner of the week’ award”
A bunch of nominations for the ‘Stunner’ this week. Peter Triantis’ low drive into the far corner, Ruben Zadkovich’s similar finish late in the game against the Wanderers, and Nick Kalmar’s superb free kick off the underside of the crossbar against Perth – all were fantastic goals and in any other week they could’ve won this award. However, for the sheer amount of strength and hard work involved in keeping defenders at bay as he ran towards goal, and for the classy finish into the far corner past Mark Birighitti, the ‘Stunner’ this week goes to Mark Bridge. A super goal from a player who is in superb form at the moment.
7. “The ‘Supporter appreciation’ award”
To those fans who have stood up this week to some appalling media coverage around the A-League, we say well done. To those fans who stood up to the so-called ‘fans’ tarnishing the A-League’s image, we say well done. And finally, when Channel Ten reporters turned up to the Victory fans’ pre-match venue looking for dirt and were told in no uncertain terms to ‘go away’, we say well done to those fans as well.
8. “The ‘Lost in translation’ award”
You would think that the week after one of your players is banned for three matches for swearing at an official, that ‘swearing at an official’ would be a no-no for Sydney FC players. Well, apparently not. In the first half of the game against Brisbane, Sydney midfielder Ali Abbas got a little too close to the Fox Sports effects microphone when he yelled towards a linesman, and I quote, “Our ball. Our ball. F**k off”. Under the precedent set with Joel Griffiths, Abbas may find himself in a little hot water this week.
9. “The ‘Howler of the week’ award”
A nomination for the ‘Howler’ this week goes to the Perth defence, who somehow didn’t clear their lines from a set piece, with the Heart able to scramble the ball to Eli Babalj to finish the simplest of chances. Another nomination to Ivan Franjic who, despite the ball being just a metre behind him, somehow failed to take possession, allowing Alessandro Del Piero to nick in and finish smartly underneath Michael Theo to open the scoring for Sydney. But those efforts were usurped by referee Jarred Gillett’s dismissal of Victory full back Adama Traore on Friday night. Replays showed the foul was barely deserving of a yellow card, let alone a straight red, but given that there was the slightest amount of contact to the foot of Jon McKain, Traore’s ban is unlikely to be able to be rescinded under the ‘Obvious Error’ clause. Ah, bureaucracy!
Well, that wraps up week 20 of the “False Nine Awards”. Suggest your own categories and winners in the comments below, or send them to us on Twitter at @ultimatealeague.