I’ve been incredibly lucky during the coronavirus crisis so far. I have a safe place to live, good people in my life and toilet paper at my disposal. That hasn’t stopped me becoming destructively bored at home while I self-isolate. One positive however is the whole situation has provided the inspiration needed to write an end of season review. I’m positive there are numerous articles to write about the current situation sport has found itself in, the impact on the W-League and abroad, as well as where to from here for our competition. However, I need a laugh, so deep thoughts are on hold for a bit longer.
My only ask is to take this season review with a pinch of salt. It’s a tough time all around. This is only intended to provide a little light hearted relief.
Hope you are all staying home, looking after your mental health and washing your hands.
Melbourne City – Tiktok
The true winner of the Covid-19 pandemic is the absolutely ace content produced on Tiktok and most other social media platforms. Sure it’s rife with some stuff you’d rather not think about, like constantly updating news (at least in the case of Facebook and Twitter), but over all, the videos and creativity oozing it’s way into some of these apps are unrivalled. Much like the quality of Melbourne City.
Some may roll their eyes at how predictable City was this season, similar to the reaction of Tiktok becoming such a phenomenon during this time of self-isolation. But the formula City came up with during the offseason and executed on the pitch round after round worked. When one area was having an off-day, such as players in the middle being out of sorts, another picked up the slack, as the flanks would be absolutely flying. The true strength of City being capable of working their way out of adversity was demonstrated in the Grand Final, where an underwhelming display still handed them the trophy.
All around, undisputed champions, even if you can’t stand it.
Melbourne Victory – The Bread Baker
It takes a bit of time to master how to bake bread. Apparently people are using the time allowed by the current crisis to learn the ancient techniques. With any baking, there’s an element of maths, feel and creativity all together necessary to produce the best dough going that will leave those who are in its presence chirpy. Melbourne Victory’s season can be described through these terms.
The opening matches were underlined with a new squad becoming familiar with one another, the way a new baker learns to understand how the dough is meant to feel. It took a hot moment to figure out the best formation with the players at their disposal. Melbourne Victory inevitably settling on a back three wound up being a masterstroke for the side. Good bread has an element of creativity, while relying on the absolute basics. Club legends mixing in with fresh faces proved a winner, providing a refreshing balance.
It took a bit of time to bake, but once out of the oven, Melbourne Victory were crunchy and delicious to watch.
Sydney FC – Gym Junkie
There’s a level of expectation for anyone committed to the gym. It’s a lived and breathed mentality of fighting through any adversity, while determined to always, always reach a particular goal. Excuses aren’t allowed, even when there is widespread gym closures. Instead home regimes are implemented, with the changes merrily a new challenge to overcome. The expectation of a top four finish for Sydney FC is akin to many gym junkies currently setting up their circuit regimes at home to continue shredding.
The going was good at the start, the return of Sydney FC mainstays, along with a couple strong reinforcements left them on the endorphin high of a good workout. Slowly things turned with players leaving overseas. A breathless final few rounds, that dashed hopes in the way the closure of gyms killed many a buzz. However, like every determined fitness guru, the club has the expectation that no hurdle is too big, clinging to a top four position and producing a dogged performance to reach another Grand Final.
The expectation is to never stop shredding, even when doors shut, Sydney once again met theirs by finishing in the top four.
Western Sydney Wanderers – Snack Lover
There’s always those of us with very clear intentions during the dash to the grocery; it’s to go hard in stocking up snack supplies. Chocolates, biscuits and sweets, the stuff to keep you ticking while stuck at home unable to go willie-nillie to the shops whenever your sweet tooth urge hits. It’s a marvellous plan and one that deserves a pat on the back. However, the reality of being unable to ration the snacks out to last the full week hits early in day three. The end result sees pure determination ensure the final piece of chocolate lasts until it’s grocery day again. The Wanderers season took a similar turn this season.
Going hard in the offseason to acquire some fancy treats, the intention was clear. Club records would be broken and silverware was in their sights. Like every good sugar high, the going was very good while it lasted and every player was up for selection. A series of events conspired against them, and like someone nicking that last biscuit, things began to go downhill. The second half of the season saw disappointments reminiscent of accidentally buying sugar free soft drinks. However saving the best to last meant the Wanderers were able to hold their composure to seal a historical top four position.
The sugar low may have knocked the winds out of the Wanderers sails, but the sweet stockpiling was successful… at least in the early days.
Brisbane Roar – Toilet Paper Hoarder
For those who stockpiled toilet paper at the start of the pandemic, it must have felt like a high risk, high reward scenario. Making sure the house is in order with the basic necessity, while neglecting a couple other issues such as the inability to eat toilet paper, coronavirus not being linked with diarrhoea and selfishly leaving none for those who actually needed it. Roar’s game plan of re-acquiring their homegrown midfielders raised similar issues as the toilet paper hoarder.
Creativity in the way toilet paper can also be used as tissue paper, saw Roar utilise one of many defensive midfielders at centre back. Once that issue was sorted, things stabilised. However, a lack of depth saw somewhat constant movement of players on the peripheral of the side. On the park, the style of play was high risk, high reward, playing a high line and utilising pace in the final third. It paid off at times, but it was an inexperienced gamble for the season for a usually composed club.
In the same way those who stockpiled on loo roll are kicking themselves for it, so too are Brisbane for not finding the little extra to reach a finals spot.
Canberra United – The Government
The heat is on the government to get their approach and tactics correct during this time. There’s some notes that can be brought over from responses of other nations. No matter the approach, the current trust in the government continues to suffer from the hangover of other recent catastrophes. While the new impending disaster provides fresh opportunity, it’s a difficult task from all angles, with the spotlight well and truly on. It seems apt Canberra United, the team from the nation’s capital, is comparable to the polies.
Early season form saw Canberra United seemingly respond appropriately to notes from previous seasons. It provided promise the response from a club suffering an unprecedented top four drought could end the unwanted run. With tactics under the microscope, sitting deep to soak up pressure to move into a springing counter won over many critics, until it stopped providing results. One of many clubs struck with injury blows, Canberra left everyone questioning what went wrong to end up so far off the pace in the final rounds.
A change of leadership is imminent, with Heather Garriock leaving the helm, however the question remains if it was the problem at the top or elsewhere.
Perth Glory – The Binge Watcher
To get into the rhythm of the binge watching necessary for self-isolation times it can be a struggle at the start. What to watch, building up a good list of different shows and movies from across genres. Some people may look down on the art of binge watching and possibly consider it wasteful. But we all know, it’s a treat that we will inevitably delve into. Once in the flow and midway through a 10 season thriller, it’s all worth it. Perth Glory was that binge watch of cringe-worthy performances at the start until the perfect show selections started to flow later in the season.
Human nature often leads to an attempt to save the best until last. Much like keeping the best tv show to watch until weeks into self-isolation so as not to waste it too early, Glory kept their best moments until the end. A seemingly burning desire to keep game-changers confined to the substitution appearances in the first half of the season provided no favours. A mid-season change in mentality saw more speed injected into the forward line and a riskier approach to matches. It worked.
It was a slow burn season for Perth Glory, but once the correct genre of play was selected it was dazzling.
Adelaide United – Supermarket Workers
Those working behind the til and stocking our shelves are our very own home-grown heroes, however time and again these heroes have faced unwarranted difficulties. Simply not having the resources at their disposal that consumers demand provides long, hard days for our grocery workers. The admirable effort is acknowledged by everyone, while questions are thrown about logistics and whether the scenario could be made easier for everyone. Adelaide United likewise rely on the home-grown talent, with admirable displays unable to churn out results.
A host of one-nil defeats early in the season makes for a hard slog, like long working days dealing with ungrateful, demanding consumers that are doomsday prepping. The logistics and winning formula just couldn’t be striked. All season long it was a wait for a season defining moment. That happened during a nail biting win against the Wanderers, however it couldn’t last with the match defining decision of playing three centre backs meeting hurdles of injuries and unavailability for later matches.
People love to barrack for an underdog in Adelaide, but the odds were never stacked in their favour, making for a turbulent season.
Newcastle Jets – Uni Students
Most university students have looked to tackle coronavirus, accessorising study areas (possibly with a stand up desk because they are awesome) and smash out some study to stay on top of things. Some might succeed, but many others are discovering distractions are rife and the true struggle of online learning. Without the community and solidarity of knowing the person next to you is struggling with the same unit as you, it’s a hard old slog. Meanwhile, without international signings it was a long hard slog for the Newcastle Jets this season.
Early promise provided hope. There was a clear game plan, similar to a study guide. Sit deep in defence, rely on its experience there and then pounce when the opportunity allowed. Unfortunately the game plan unravelled soon after. One hit after another went their way, with a slow burn of disappointing results accumulating in the final two rounds of utter disappointment. A flogging at home followed by losing the battle to avoid the wooden spoon. The end of season bell couldn’t come soon enough.
The homegrown talent deserves a pass for remaining in touch with the pack, however reinforcements are necessary if the Jets want to do more than skate by.