A-League review: Samuel Silvera and Denis Genreau making the most of their chances
It's Monday, so here's the good, bad and ugly from Round 4 in the A-League.
Genreau moves his way into starting frame
Sunday's 3-2 win over Wellington Phoenix was Denis Genreau's second start for Melbourne City in over two years. It was a selection of necessity for Erick Mombaerts given Jamie Maclaren's hamstring issues, but to see him grow in confidence and have an impact on the match as it progressed made for a welcome sight.
Genreau was prominent in all of the team's best attacking moments and, in some instances, the 20-year-old even had an impact on Melbourne City's phases of play without touching the ball.
A minor detail, but take Scott Galloway's 34th minute screamer for example. To the untrained eye, it appears there is no pressure on the ball due some lax defence from the Nix as Galloway dribbles into centre of the pitch. However, a movement from Genreau between Matti Steinmann and Walter Scott catches Steinmann in two minds. Steinmann initially attempts to cover Genreau before recognising the threat of the shot, providing just enough space and time for Galloway to pull the trigger from distance.
The smallest of details make the difference in football, and Genreau's instinctiveness is one Melbourne City desperately need in possession.
City are already top of the ladder, but regular starting minutes for Genreau will improve both him and the collective.
Samuel Silvera, woof
Speaking of details and welcome sights, we have a goal of the season contender. A simply brilliant solo goal from Central Coast's Samuel Silvera, where the finish was simply the cherry on top. What came before it wasn't a mazy solo dribble, but a hat tip to those who grew up with football on the street.
Even in preseason matches, Jacob Tratt's technical capacity appeared an exploitable link as part of a three-man defence for Perth Glory. Primarily, Silvera quickly pounces on Tratt's heavy touch. Instead of a larger turning circle to shield the ball, though, the 19-year-old drags the ball into the centre of the pitch with his sole, while using Tratt's body weight to turn and eliminate him from play. It both shortens Silvera's path to goal and allows less time for the rest of the Glory defence to recover. Most coaches in Australia grimace when a player uses the sole of their foot, but in that instance it was absolutely the right play to make.
And then came the realisation. Wow. The Mariners did a great deal of defending in the second half, but their fans have reason to be buoyant after a deserved 2-1 win in Perth and a positive start to the season.
Merrick makes a meal of 300th
"We're going to go for it," Ernie Merrick told the pre-match panel on Fox Sports, before Newcastle's 4-1 demolition at the hands of Sydney FC.
If there was a game to define Merrick's coaching, it was this, his 300th game in the A-League. It was everything one should really expect from a coach with a 38 percent win record since returning in 2013.
It was a complete disaster tactically, but the Jets were still inexplicably in the game at half-time. At least in terms of the score-line.
Friday might have been a different game had Jason Hoffman not been so profligate in front of goal at 2-1, but with the Jets defending seven vs. eight at times against the best team in the competition, they were eventually going to concede more.
How Matthew Ridenton and Steven Ugarkovic were continually stretched from one side to the other in midfield -- while Hoffman and Dimi Petratos were relieved of any defensive responsibility alongside Abdiel Arroyo -- was like sticking a middle finger up to logic. Defending and attacking as a collective was a concept seemingly lost.
Aimless Wanderers and timid Roar
The Wanderers were top of the A-League coming into Saturday's match at home to Brisbane. Last week's derby win over Sydney FC was widely interpreted as a smash and grab, but it was largely in contrast to the three points claimed away to Melbourne Victory the weekend prior, despite the similar manner.
The one match Western Sydney were the active team in possession, the season opener against Central Coast, a VAR-assisted penalty bailed them out. Lateral possession is a rule of thumb in the A-League, and with two teams seemingly only effective in the transitional phase, Saturday's 0-0 draw was almost a free hit. It was a match devoid of improvisation, bravery and -- worse, still -- energy in possession. Pirmin Schweigler's early injury doesn't really change that fact for the Wanderers.
Meanwhile, the only positive for Brisbane so far this season is they longer play the matador defence in transition. Compared to last season, where Matt McKay and Thomas Kristensen seemingly rolled out the red carpet for the opposition, Brisbane are much harder to play through on the counter-attack.
Western United are #good, everyone
As much as the Wanderers' ladder position flattered their play at this early stage of the season, the more discerning could argue Western United were a better team than their haul of points heading into Round 4.
On a purely tactical basis, a win against local rivals -- wait, can we even say that, yet? -- Melbourne Victory was a likely scenario. The manner in which Western United turned the result around reflected, in primary terms, they are a competent passing team. Their turnovers leading to first half goals against Melbourne City and Melbourne Victory have been a matter of unnecessary risk.
But under Mark Rudan, United embrace positional risk to begin with. It's only a month in, but that's more than what can be said for the majority of teams in the history of the A-League.
When the game settles and when tempo and energy levels drop, class is in session. Players theoretically impact how a team can play -- and the act of sprinting is an issue for a number of Western United players -- but more of this, please.