I’m back after a week’s absence, and seemingly so are the Wellington Phoenix.
Apologies for missing the game against the Melbourne Victory, but I’ve been sick for a while, hopefully I’m on the mend now and will be able to continue this column weekly. (Doesn’t seem like I missed much though, if you have any thoughts on that particular game I’m all ears in the comments section).
Anyway, I got back to the regular routine of watching the Phoenix’s game last night, so I thought I’d push Monday’s column forward with my always-scattered thoughts on the encounter, and some of the other aspects surrounding the squad (cough: the media).
Two players really stood out defensively last night. First of all, it was a huge performance from Ben Sigmund, who won 62.5% of his duels, compared to 14.3% for his centre-back counterpart Andrew Durante, while also nabbing eight interceptions and winning 100% of his aerial duels.
Helping him out right in front of him was the ever consistent Albert Riera, who won 66.7% of his duels while making seven interceptions. His passing completion percentage of 88.6% also led the squad.
The duo made plenty of key interceptions as they heavily controlled the middle of the park.
The Usage Of Roly Bonevacia
I remember warning Roly Bonevacia that his self-proclaimed adaptability would cause him some teething pains, but never did I expect him to be deployed for a large period of time as the most central attacking weapon on the Nix. A true box-to-box player, playing the superb Dutchman out on the right to begin with seemed a little strange, but he moved around plenty to make his mark – check out how much ground he covered with his passing map.
Kenny Cunningham – Wasting An Import Slot?
Cunningham wasn’t even named in the matchday squad for yesterday’s game, and with the Costa Rican instead lulling around in the Nix Reserves in the ASB Premiership, it seems a huge waste of what could be a valuable import slot.
Poor Cunningham has found himself shunted well down the depth chart with the addition of Nathan Burns and the willingness to play Michael McGlinchey in a wider role, and one wonders if it might be more prudent to try and add some depth to the central striker position. Of course, all will depend on the salary cap implications of moving on from Cunningham, and how it is done, but that is a story for another day.
Fred De Jong’s Commentary
Fred De Jong was an excellent player and servant of New Zealand football for well over a decade, playing at an impressive level for nearly his whole career. As such, I’m sure he learnt a massive amount during his playing career, and therefore has plenty of stories to tell and experience to hand down to the average punter watching the Nix on the telly.
Additionally, De Jong seems like he’s switched on, managing to move up the chains in the corporate world, which despite the scepticism some hold towards New Zealand Football, is a worthy accomplishment and signifies a lot of knoweldge.
So why then is it that we are treated to a bunch of cliches and droning repetition from De Jong when he sits in the commentary booth? Instead of providing any ancedotal insight on gameflow, or even providing some analysis on playing without a true centre forward, as the Phoenix did yesterday, De Jong prefers to point out something everyone can see on their TV, or simply repeat what Andrew Dewhurst has just said.
Maybe I’m overestimating De Jong’s potential contribtuions to a commentary booth, but he is severly underselling his knowledge with his commentary peformances.
NZ Football Media
Heh, this is going to be quite ironic after what’s come before, but now it is time to defend New Zealand’s football media! There’s a small contigent of Nix supporters who just love to have a good complaint, whether it be about a car driving erraticly (Take a photo and put it on Twitter!), some minor issue with a company which they could sort out internally (or complain about it on Twitter!), but most of all – the New Zealand media!
If the Phoenix for whatever shocking reason (Perhaps the fact they play all their matches at times which are terrible for the TV news) slide under the radar, you’re bound to hear about it. But if there is excellent coverage, lo and behold, nobody notices. Here is Stuff’s Sport homepage from last night.
Not bad huh? But of course, that went unnoticed, with having a go at the TV sports news being the way to go again last night.
Anyway, that’s a bit of lighthearted rant (I love your complaint-first nature deep down, small portion of the Fever), and I appreciate the support this column has got. But remember – consistency is always valued when outsiders judge the validity your claims. I’m not saying the New Zealand football media in this country is fantastic, and that’s part of the reason why I write this column. But credit is due when they pull out the stops, and last night was a terrific night of coverage from Stuff.
Until next week!
Hamilton raised, Niall Anderson now halves his time between university studies in Auckland and catching up on all things Waikato football in the Tron. Having covered Waikato FC and WaiBOP United in the ASB Premiership, Niall is also the lead writer at nzhoops.co.nz. Find him on Twitter @NiallGunner.