The stadium issue in Sydney

Back in December 2014, I wrote an article on The Roar about the stadium issue in Sydney, and talked about the various options for sports stadia developments in Sydney.

I talked about ANZ Stadium, and the options for redeveloping the Olympic Stadium that has delivered Australia so many wonderful sporting memories. I talked about the options for Western Sydney, for which they have now decided to go with demolishing and building a new stadium on the land of the old Parramatta Stadium, as well as the options for Allianz Stadium, and for Brookvale Oval, a ground clearly in need of rejuvenation!

However, it has only been in recent times that all the stakeholders have moved to decide which stadiums should be redeveloped or built in Sydney.

As I briefly mentioned before, work on building the new Western Sydney Stadium on the site of the old Parramatta Stadium is well and truly underway with the 30,000-seat stadium set for completion in 2019, but news on the futures of ANZ Stadium, also known as Stadium Australia, and Allianz Stadium, also known as the Sydney Football Stadium, have been recently announced.

ANZ Stadium is set to be demolished and rebuilt into a 75,000-seat stadium, and reconfigured into a rectangular field, meaning that only sports played on a rectangular field, like rugby league, rugby union, and football can be played at the stadium. The stadium is set to feature a retractable roof, meaning that matches can be played in perfect conditions all year round. Construction works will begin in late 2019.

This is a slightly different plan from the one I talked about the stadium back in 2014, which planned on catering for all sports, including Australian rules football, and cricket, as well as having the possibility of hosting major athletics championships, such as the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championship, due to the ability of being able to reconfigure the stadium from a rectangle to an oval, and vice-versa!

I would prefer that a redeveloped ANZ Stadium was able to cater for all sports (both rectangular and oval), and even if the cost of redevelopment is slightly more than to demolish and rebuild, would it matter if you had more sports and more teams using the venue on a regular basis?

I am not sure if I agree with the New South Wales (NSW) Government’s decision to demolish and rebuild ANZ Stadium, but I certainly agree that Allianz Stadium needs to be demolished and rebuilt, with construction works for Allianz Stadium beginning at the end of 2018.

The stadium is riddled with so many violations of safety standards, including violations Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) Standards, and is not compliant with the Disability Discrimination Act in terms of offering the amount of seats/spots for people in wheelchairs to watch their favourite sports from a great vantage point.

In addition, I have heard that the standards of media facilities at Allianz Stadium is poor, as referenced by Phil Gould back in September, and with so many issues with the stadium, it is time for Allianz Stadium to be rebuilt!

However, the issue I have about the rebuild of Allianz Stadium is not that it is going to be rebuilt, but the eventual seating capacity of the new stadium is going to be around 45,000, which is roughly the same amount as it is right now, where in logical reality, it should be at least 5,000 to 10,000 more than that!

Overall, I fully agree to Allianz Stadium being demolished and rebuilt, but I think it is a massive call to demolish and rebuild ANZ Stadium, and I still believe that it should be a unique stadium that has the ability to cater for a multitude of sports, in all shapes and sizes, and that this could be down by a major redevelopment of the stadium, rather than a total demolition and rebuild job.

Don’t be surprised, perhaps in the near future, that if Sydney wants to host an IAAF World Championships, a Commonwealth Games, or even an Olympic Games that people will start complaining that Sydney doesn’t have an adequate, as in modern, stadium to host these kind of events, and that a brand-new stadium would have to be built, one that is extremely expensive, to cater for these kind of events, even though those same people complaining supported the decision of the NSW Government back in 2017 to demolish and rebuild ANZ Stadium into a national stadium catering for just rectangular sports!



My thoughts on the Australian Football Team

Before I start, I want to make it clear that the Australian Football Team still has an opportunity to make the 2018 Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup in Russia by firstly winning a two-legged playoff against Syria, the third-placed team from Group A from the third round of qualification in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), and then a two-legged playoff against the fourth-placed team from the fifth round of qualification in the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF), likely to be against either Panama, United States, or Honduras.

However, there are many issues within the Australian Football Team after failing to qualify automatically for the 2018 FIFA World Cup despite defeating Thailand a week ago in Melbourne, and despite losing just one match in the third round of qualification, but with five wins, four draws, and a single loss from the 10 matches they played in the third round of qualification, Australia didn’t quite maximise their opportunities that they had to qualify for Russia 2018, and in a couple of those draws, they were quite lucky not to lose.

So, what are the issues the Australian Football Team need to rectify to give themselves the best chance of qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup?

Well, the playing style of the national team is definitely not an issue! Ange Postecoglou and his team are taking the right approach with their fast-paced possession/passing-based pressing game, but I think he is starting with the wrong formation.

I believe Postecoglou should start with a 4-3-3 formation, at least in the earlier stages of a match, and if his team needs to chase goals, then he can change to a 3-4-2-1 formation, a variation of the 3-4-3 formation, which are both formations that are more offensive-minded in approach, but are both more unstable defensively compared with the more traditional 4-3-3 formation.

However, I believe Postecoglou is missing a trick or two in regards to the selection and starting position or roles of certain players, particular one crucial player, one game-breaker, and no one has picked this up. No one from Fox Sports, no one from Nine’s Wide World Of Sport, no one from SBS The World Game, no one from anywhere and of any supposed expertise has picked this up, and with a 4-3-3 formation, it would be the perfect way to use this potential superstar to his fullest ability.

That player is Tom Rogic!

Rogic, in my opinion, should be used as a false nine, and I have believed this for quite a while!

Rogic is the best player within the Australian Football Team set-up with his feet, and has the speed, trickery, and tactical ability to be playing as a false nine. Rogic is a similar style of player in my opinion to a Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, and must be used in that way.

Rogic must be the focal point of an attacking raid, and must be able to receive the ball early, and with some space to allow him to run at defenders, who are often back-tracking, fearing about what he could do, beat and get past them, and aim to have a shot on goal at the end of the play, or to suck in defenders to give opportunities for his two teammates joining him in the front three, who would all be allowed to float around into different areas on the pitch to create opportunities for each other.

Why both Ange Postecoglou for Australia, and Brendan Rodgers for Celtic F.C. haven’t cottoned on to the idea of using Rogic as a false nine in their teams I have absolutely no idea, given their knowledge and thirst to play and coach possession-based, attacking football, and especially in regards to Rodgers at Celtic F.C. considering that Scottish football has been in the doldrums for a very long time, and something must drastically change within Scottish football if they are ever going to regain any sort of credibility on the world stage again.

Back to the Australian Football Team, and the type of players that could joining Rogic in that front three are the likes of Mathew Leckie, Robbie Kruse, and Tomi Juric just to name a few, the players who have high work-rates, plenty of speed, and have the ability to latch onto passes from either the midfield, or from Rogic to have goal-scoring opportunities of their own, or create opportunities for Rogic to score.

Someone like Tim Cahill would be used off the bench to change the game as an impact player, especially when Postecoglou wants to change his tactics in search of more goals.

When looking at the midfield three, one of the midfielders would be used in a defensive role, while two would be used in a more attacking-minded role. The two midfielders I would use in the more attacking roles would be Aaron Mooy and Massimo Luongo. They would play similar roles to the likes of Xavi and Andrés Iniesta, with Mooy playing more of the Xavi role, who like Mooy, his strongest asset was his passing game, while Luongo would play more of the Iniesta role, who like Luongo, has had the ability to run, pass, and often at the most crucial times, especially in the big matches, score a match-winning goal, or a goal to put his team in-front.

In terms of the defensive midfielder, I have got two schools of thought on this.

The first school of thought would be to use Mile Jedinak as that defensive, holding midfielder, and I believe Jedinak has a similar skill-set to a Yaya Touré, who actually started out as a central defender, before moving forward to a defensive, and then an attacking midfield role. Yaya Touré is versatile in that regard, and like Jedinak, is brilliant at taking set-pieces and penalties.

The second school of thought would be to use Mark Milligan in that role, similar to a Sergio Busquets or Philipp Lahm type of player. The height of Milligan sits in-between the height of Busquets and Lahm, and has probably had a similar career progression to a Lahm, starting out as a right back before moving into the middle of the park as a defensive midfielder, but Milligan, like Busquets, spent time early on in his career as a central defender before moving into the midfield.

Milligan has a similar skill-set to Busquets and Lahm, great positional sense, defensive ability, tactical sense and verstality, and has a wonderful ability to read the game so well.

I have no outright preference for who gets the role, although when you break it down, Milligan is probably better on the ball that Jedinak, and Jedinak probably has the skills and the height that would fit more typically into a centre-back role, but Milligan has had more experience in a central defensive role, and despite his short height, would have a greater understanding on what it takes to play in the position.

However, whoever misses out on the defensive midfield role I would select as one of the centre-backs, and beside him I would have someone who has always played in that central defensive role, probably Trent Sainsbury.

As for the right back and left back positions, I want players who are quick, and can assist regularly in attack, as well as be strong in their defensive responsibilities. Milos Degenek appears to be the clear choice at right back, but at left back, there is plenty of competition, but at this stage, I would go with Alex Gersbach as Brad Smith is out of form and not playing regularly for his club, while Gersbach is playing regularly and is in great form.

As for the goalkeeper, I would keep the status quo in Mathew Ryan.

While many of you may not agree with my suggestions, particularly in regards to Tom Rogic, you can definitely see that I have a vision, and a vision that could see Australia qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and possibly do well if they get there!


Before I finish this post, I want to mention that I am looking forward to the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Champions League group stage getting underway tomorrow morning Australian time (Tuesday night European time) with a number of big matches on Matchday One, most notably Barcelona and Juventus tomorrow morning, and Liverpool up against Sevilla on Thursday morning Australian time (Wednesday night European time), which are just a couple of the big matches coming up this week in the best club competition in the world. I cannot wait!