John Aloisi on his knees

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Can it get any worse for Australian-football icon, John Aloisi?  Since joining Sydney FC from Central Coast Mariners as the Club’s marquee player, his form has been nothing short of desperate.  The monkey is well and truly on his back digging its nails in as the week’s go by.  As the A-League’s highest paid player, enjoying a $1.4m salary and a 2-year contract, Aloisi has been put on a pedestal and expected to produce from the get-go.  For a number of reasons, this has failed to happen.

If you were in the crowd last Sunday afternoon, you would’ve either felt mightily frustrated or disgusted, or perhaps both.  A resurgent Perth Glory made Sydney FC look rather ordinary and all the one-eyed debate in the world won’t change the 4-1 deficit.

In 940 minutes of football, Aloisi has scored just two goals, one of which was a retaken penalty, the other a deflected shot which just crossed the goal line – hardly an impressive return for a million dollar striker.  Aloisi’s profile is impressive but his reputation is in jeopardy if things don’t improve soon.  People are starting to think his talent is somewhat of a myth.  This is not true.

Aloisi has returned from a solid career in Europe where he made a living from scoring goals.  He’s played for Royal Antwerp in Belgium, Cremonese in Italy, Portsmouth and Coventry City in England, before his most memorable stint at Spanish side, Osasuna.  Between 2001 and 2005, Aloisi scored 29 goals in 116 appearances before joining Deportivo Alavés for his last overseas contract.  But for all his success playing in Europe, his transition into the A-League has been far from easy.

Everyone will remember where they were when Aloisi scored the penalty which put Australia into the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, our first since 1974.  It is one of Australia’s greatest sporting moments and put football on the map, giving rise to the sleeping giant and consequently, the media’s anti-football mafia.  His status with the Socceroos is legendary, he is one of only four players to ever score for the green and gold in a World Cup – a late strike against Japan completing a 3-1 fight back.

Perhaps, the burden of all his acclaim rests too firmly on his shoulders.  There is no disputing his football talent or his proven track record of goal scoring, so it must be mental – a rut even.  He has dug himself a hole and no matter how hard he’s tried to get himself out, the light seems to be further and further away.  The Sydney market is a tough one, high expectations, a fickle fan base and an over-populated sporting spectrum.  Is this Aloisi’s fault?  No.  Is it the fans fault?  No.  It’s got to be someone’s fault, right?  Let’s blame the Coach.

In the 14 games Aloisi has played this season, he has started 10, all as a target striker and by that I mean the furthest forward.  Often, he has been isolated, marked by two centre-backs and with his back to goal.  This is not how he is used to playing, this is not his best position nor is it logical for him to be facing Clint Bolton most of the game.

Aloisi should have a strike partner and be the deeper of the two.  He’s not a Mark Viduka or a Josh Kennedy, nor is he a 6-yard box predator.  I’m not looking for excuses but a target striker needs to be tall and aerially brilliant, especially in the A-League where the stoppers are 6-foot whatever and then some.  Kosmina needs to take some responsibility for his tactical shortcomings.

I’ve watched over 400 live NSL matches, during the so-called “bad old days” of soccer violence and ethnic rivalries but I’ve never experienced booing the likes of what Aloisi copped on Sunday.  As if the guy wasn’t feeling rotten enough, he gets subbed to a serving.  I expected better from The Cove especially, as much as I can understand their anger at the team’s form and the Club’s indifference to their needs, that’s no way to behave.

The buzz post-game is that Sydney FC has unofficially approached Aloisi to see whether he wants out of his contract, he’s apparently committed to seeing it through and good on him.  He’s a fighter!  A bit of Balboa wouldn’t go astray at the Sydney Football Stadium.

The A-League is tighter than ever with only 9-points separating top and bottom as it stands.  Aloisi still has time to prove his naysayers wrong and find the form he so anxiously craves.  A post-Christmas clash with Melbourne Victory is the perfect platform for Aloisi to lead a march into the Finals, let’s hope Kosmina starts him.  Kossie’s post-match comments suggest he may not.  But, remember the old cliché: form is temporary, class is permanent.  Just you wait and see!


Add Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: