How Sydney fans turned the heroic Aloisi into a villain
For many Australians, John Aloisi will always be fondly remembered for scoring the penalty that put Australia in the 2006 World Cup, a goal voted one of the nation’s greatest sporting moments.
But any visitor to a Sydney FC game would think he was somehow responsible for the Haiti earthquake, the global financial crisis and Barack Obama’s failure to meet expectations on raising the level of public healthcare in the US.
I went to the Sydney-Gold Coast game Sunday afternoon, and was bemused by the scorn poured on Aloisi by his own supporters. Even forgetting the hardcore in the Cove, there were at least three loud voices in the crowd who took every opportunity to abuse the striker and point out the glaring discrepancy in his wages-to-goals ratio.
Aloisi has not been a success at Sydney – but anyone who expected a Torres-like torrent was always going to be disappointed. Look up “journeyman” in the dictionary, and someone’s just crossed it out and scribbled “John Aloisi” instead.
Yep, he’s played in the biggest leagues in Europe – but he played for eight clubs over 15 years, none of which could be considered “big” teams. Nor was he ever a prolific marksmen, only scoring 104 goals in that time. (And that’s straight from Wikipedia, so it must be true.)
That penalty against Uruguay marked the highpoint of Aloisi’s career in the public consciousness and propelled him to a level of a celebrity he probably wouldn’t have achieved otherwise.
When he returned to Australia in the autumn of his playing career, his reputation was, conversely, bigger than ever. And we all know how hard it is to meet public expectations.
His time at Sydney has been blighted by injury. He moved to the club and was offered marquee status and a wage he probably didn’t expect to get at this stage of the game. Who’s going to turn that down? He works hard for Sydney FC, he’s scored a couple of goals here and there – and Sydney fans deride him for it.
In reality, Aloisi is the scapegoat for a club that was mismanaged for so long, for a clueless board who were swayed by his name, and for a team that has continually failed to reach its potential. Is that worth the scorn and abuse of 10,000 Sydneysiders (on a good day) every week?
Goal of the week: Melbourne’s third against Perth. The first-time cross-field pass from Ward, Archie deft first touch, Pondeljak’s running and Robbie Kruse topping of a fine performance with a hat-trick.
Talking point of the week: Gold Coast are on to, Melbourne look likely to snatch second if they win their game in hand. It’s so tight, a 1-0 loss has Sydney dropping from 1st to 3rd.
What to say to sound like you know something about the A-League: “This weekend showed the generally awful standard of defending in the A-League.”
Game to watch this week: Newcastle Jets v Sydney FC. Can Branko Culina put a bigger dent in Sydney’s season?
And the EPL in a sentence: I’m a Liverpool supporter, hanging on by the skin of my teeth. What’s happened? Why… How… sniff… blub…
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