Opinion: Maybe ‘Nix kids can win?
Tue, 09 Oct 2012 12:57p.m.
Opinion By Andrew Gourdie
On the opening day of the English Premier League Season in 1995, Alan Hansen famously stated, "you can't win anything with kids". He was talking about Sir Alex Ferguson's decision to field a bunch of no-name rookies like David Beckham, Paul Scholes, and the Neville brothers in Manchester United's defeat to Aston Villa. Those "kids" went on to win the title.
The A-League's refusal to allow an international break during World Cup qualifiers means Ricki Herbert and the Wellington Phoenix are faced with fielding a bunch of kids for this weekend’s trip to Melbourne Heart.
They'll be without Jeremy Brockie, Leo Bertos, Tony Lochhead, Ben Sigmund, Mark Paston ... *pauses to take a breath* ... Glen Moss and Solomon Islands striker Benji Totori.
Six of those seven players started the season opener against Sydney FC.
But if Louis Fenton's performance in the season opener is anything to go by, maybe the kids are alright? I think there's a song in that ...
Anyway, the Phoenix starting XI on Sunday could look like this ...
When you look at the team on paper, it's not bad at all.
There are two unfamiliar names on that list: Luke Rowe and Scott Basalaj. Both players are part of the club's newly established "School of Excellence" and have already proved they are ones to watch in the future.
Rowe is a left fullback formerly of Birmingham City and has more recently excelled playing for Team Wellington. A Junior All Whites representative at the 2011 Under 20 World Cup in Colombia, he could well be Tony Lochhead's long-term successor for club and country. He was very unlucky to miss out on a full contract with the club.
Basalaj showed enormous potential in goal for the Junior All Whites at the Under 17 World Cup in Mexico. He impressed during a trial with Scottish giants Rangers and was on track to earn a contract before the club was placed in administration, and plummeted to the Scottish third division. Rangers' loss is the Phoenix's gain, and Basalaj will get an opportunity to shine against Heart.
All of this proves the value of the club's new "School of Excellence". In previous seasons, the Phoenix have been hamstrung by their inability to field a team in the National Youth League. That situation hasn't changed, but an established academy is absolutely vital to the future of the club - especially in a competition with a salary cap.
Sunday will provide a test for the kids. They might not win, but like Robbie and Kylie said ...
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13/10/2012 2:30:58 a.m.
A couple of minutes research would tell you that Basalaj has been sick and isn't starting. Being a goal keeper that means it's highly unlikely he will play...
9/10/2012 11:31:15 p.m.
T K wrote:
I read somewhere that Ricki was looking at a the 4-2-3-1 as the away formation for this year. Technically even with this formation Smith and Muscat are still in the middle of the park - however after last weekend its debatable which one of those two is better value moving forward. I think the answer to that is Muscat is just too valuable as a holding midfielder. I wonder why he doesnt get called up more to play for the Maltese national team?
9/10/2012 2:53:51 p.m.
Agree with the line up, but I wouldn't separate the partnership of Smith and Muscat in the middle of the park. Play Clarke in the hole behind Stein to utilise his pace and keep Lia, who missed a lot of pre-season with a knee knack, on the bench
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