A-League: Reasons for roundballers to love Branko
Things are happening on Newcastle that shouldn’t be. The Jets, last year’s wooden-spooners who finished with an eye-watering 18 points, are burning a trail through the top end of the league.
The Jets are one of the most limited teams in the competition when it comes to resources. The club is stretched to its limit financially, and they have consistently failed to keep hold of their best players.
In the first twelve rounds of the season, they won just three games. Their team was made up of A-League stalwarts, untested youngsters and in charge was Branko Culina, the man who rubs more people the wrong way than one of things your mum has to get rid of fluff on clothes.
And now… And now! The Jets have won six of their last nine games, rising to fourth on the ladder, all but cementing their spot in the finals. What a turnaround, and its one that Culina can take full credit for – as seen it that incredible 3-2 win over champions Melbourne Victory.
Loads of people don’t like Culina because he’s a bit of a loudmouth. They didn’t get it when, as coach of Sydney FC, he said the Sky Blues were the Manchester United of the A-League. They don’t like it when he says things like, “We’re only a finals team because all the teams around us are pretty shit as well.”
Or because he says things like, “I don’t care what their coach says and the fact that he’s on $500,000 and I’m on 50 bucks or whatever it is, but if that’s what the foreigners are going to bring to this game, let’s have more local coached.”
But that why we should take him into our hearts. No one says anything in Australian football because they’re wary of Supernanny FFA sending them to the naughty corner with no dinner.
But Culina has inspired his team. He’s brought in quality players and turned the ones he was lumped with into a genuine force. He’s given the game some headlines. He’s stood up for local talent. He’s galvanised the football-loving region of Newcastle and shot them back up the ladder like a window cleaner with a jet pack.
You might not like him – but you can’t deny he’s a good coach. And wouldn’t it be a great thing for Australian football if he really could take Newcastle all the way?
Goal of the week: He couldn’t get a game in Perth but Eugene Dadi did the business for Wellington on debut, including this overhead cracker.
Talking point of the week: Dadi again. Given Perth’s precarious finals hope, has coach Dave Mitchell made a big cock-up dumping the big Ivorian?
What to say to sound like you know something about the A-League: “Boring, boring Sydney. Attackers win games, but defences win titles.”
Game to watch this week: Sydney v Gold Coast. Big mouth Miron against tactical technician Lavicka.
And the EPL in a sentence: Man Utd were lucky to draw with Birmingham, Arsenal were lucky to draw with Everton. It’s on for young and old in the EPL.
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
Of all the stupid stories I've written, and there have been plenty, this is definitely in the top 10 http://t.co/otUKnjq2C3
NSW Nationals and independent Tony Windsor among many saddened by the passing of former state MP Gerry Peacocke. A great character.
Column: Ford was hurt by a high dollar, costly labour, and making things nobody wanted to buy http://t.co/duaZQ0CHQY
The latest and greatest
Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…
I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…
In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…