Player Review – Strikers

Sportal’s Bren O’Brien looks back on the performances of every striker/attacker on Melbourne Victory’s senior list and assesses their efforts in the Championship and Premiership-winning 2008/09 season, including comments from coach Ernie Merrick.

Sportal’s Bren O’Brien looks back on the performances of every striker/attacker on Melbourne Victory’s senior list and assesses their efforts in the Championship and Premiership-winning 2008/09 season, including comments from coach Ernie Merrick.

Archie Thompson: Games: 19, Games Started 18, Goals: 9

Archie Thompson continues to be one of the most dangerous players in the Hyundai A-League. Season 2008/09 wasn’t necessarily Thompson’s most consistent, but he was there when it matters and nine goals is a good return from 19 matches. Injury and his involvement at the Olympics cost him early in the season, but he showed his class with an excellent performance in his comeback match against Newcastle.

He scored crucial goals on several occasions during the season, including early in the famous Sydney FC match where Melbourne trailed 2-0 and ended up winning 3-2. Perhaps his most significant goal was in the final match of the season against Wellington. He netted in the 90th minute to give Melbourne a 2-0 win and when Adelaide could not match that scoreline against Central Coast, it meant Melbourne had claimed the Premiers Plate.

He played important roles in both semi-final wins, scoring the first goal in the second leg and while he was unable to recreate his heroics of two seasons ago in the final, was a major contributor as Melbourne won the Championship.

Ernie Merrick’s comments:
Arguably the most exciting striker in the league. He’s got everything. He scores goals, he makes goals, he demonstrates creative technical ability and flair that’s at the optimum. He’s just a great player to have in our team and a great personality.

Danny Allsopp: Games: 24, Games Started 24, Goals:13

Allsopp continues to impress in the best way a striker can, by scoring goals. Another 13 in season four to take his total to 35 goals in his four seasons with the club. Allsopp’s strength and athletic ability make him a nightmare for most defences and as he grows older he continues to improve his tactical and technical ability.

Thompson and Allsopp are the most prolific strike pair in the league for a reason. They are a perfect foil for each other and this season, it was Allsopp who reaped the rewards.

He scored plenty of important goals during the season, but the second goal in the first leg of the semi-final was particularly crucial. Melbourne had a 1-0 lead and Allsopp pounced on a long goal kick, wrong-footed Sasa Ognenovski and finished superbly to give Melbourne one foot in the Grand Final. Scored again in the second leg, and while he was sent off in the Grand Final, the card was later rescinded, preserving his record of never getting a red card in his time at Victory.

Ernie Merrick’s comments:
Ever reliable goalscorer, who has top scored for the last three seasons during the league phase. The record speaks for itself. Reliable, disciplined, a great team player and a great personality.

Ney Fabiano Games: 16, Games Started 9, Goals: 5
The Brazilian arrived at the club with a big reputation from Thai side Chonburi but with also a big task ahead of him, getting a spot among the Victory strike force. So compelling was his pre-season form, he started in the first four games of the season. The match against Adelaide was to prove a significant turning point as he was sent off for allegedly spitting, a charge the club still denies, and given a six-week suspension.

As a measure for the regard he was held in, he came straight back into the starting line-up for his comeback match. His form tapered off a little and he dropped back to the bench just before Christmas, and didn’t regain his starting spot. Did score his fifth goal for the season in the 3-2 loss to Perth, the Victory’s final defeat for the year. With Allsopp, Thompson and Hernandez in such good form, he played just 12 minutes in the final series, but earned plenty of respect from the players and coaching staff for his terrific attitude during this time.

Ernie Merrick’s comments:
One of the most likable people you could ever meet. Always happy at training, everybody’s best friend. Truly enjoys everything about the sport, from hardest training, to being on the pitch, scoring a goal or whatever. Good, solid, striker who would probably be a regular in any other team. But wants to stay at Melbourne Victory because he enjoys the club, the players and the town.

Nathan Elasi Games: 0, Games Started 0, Goals: 0
Elasi spent much of the first half of the season on international duty with the Under 20s and that probably affected his chances of playing Hyundai A-League this year, particularly during the middle part of the year when the other strikers went through a period of injuries and suspensions.

There is no doubt he is a fantastic talent, and he showed that in the National Youth League, where he scored a remarkable 10 goals from 11 games played. He is desperate to get his chance, and could be a very handy attacking option for Melbourne in the future.

Ernie Merrick’s comments:
Up and coming young gun who has so much potential. He is right on track