Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Normal service resumes for Melbourne in Asia

Lee Keun-ho celebrates Gamba's third goal last night
Another trip to Japan, another thumping! Sadly for Melbourne Victory fans it is becoming an all too familiar tale.

In two previous trips to Japan the Victory have lost 0-2 to Gamba Osaka in 2008, and 0-4 to Kawasaki Frontale last year.

Throw in last night’s disaster and the scorecard makes for horrible reading: P3, W0, D0, L3, GF1, GA11.

Oddly, there was an air of cautious optimism surrounding Melbourne Victory fans in the lead up to last night’s clash. Gamba were yet to start their season and had only played a handful of pre-season games. They weren’t “battle hardened”.

Victory on the other hand were coming off the back of a season, albeit one that never reached any great heights, and were primed for battle.

That optimism lasted all of three minutes, which is how long it took for Gamba to expose Victory’s weakness – defending at set pieces.

An early corner wasn’t cleared and Tukuya Takei, who had space aplenty on the edge of the box, fired home the opener.

A bad start turned into a nightmare just minutes later when Muscat fouled Lee Keun-ho inside the box, gifting Gamba a second courtesy of their new Brazilian signing Adriano.

The nightmare became a full blown disaster on 11 minutes when Victory gifted Endo acres of space, with the crafty playmaker playing a delightful ball in behind that hopelessly exposed Matthew Kemp, allowing Adriano to cross the ball low across the box to find Lee Keun-ho to tap in a third.

In the space of 11 minutes the game was over as a contest, all without Gamba working up a sweat. They could afford to sit back a little more and cruise in third gear for the remainder of the game and that is just what they did.

Sadly it was the tactics of Melbourne Victory that played as big a part as any in their downfall.

Victory have showed a worrying naivety in previous ACL campaigns, refusing to change their normal system of play when faced with a different opponent and different tactics. It had been exposed many times before and the hope, for Victory fans, was that the club had learnt from this and would alter their tactics this time around.

They didn’t.

What we saw was Melbourne line up with a back three, restoring Kevin Muscat to defence and pushing Adrian Leijer into a more defensive midfield role. It was a baffling move and one that showed up Ernie Merrick.

There now have to be serious doubts over his ability to take this side forward. Already it is looking like this could be another failed ACL campaign.

For a club that has aspirations of being the biggest club in Australia and a big player in Asia, that is not even remotely acceptable.


1 comment:

  1. At least they will only have to do it two more times.