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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 7 May 2016
SPORT 26 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 7 MAY 2016 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM Why Ange believes Chinese Super League is yet to reach A-League standard The mega-rich, cashed-up Chinese Super League is still not quite up to the standard of the A-League, according to Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou. That's the view he formed after a recent reconnaissance mission in China, during which he kept a close eye on current Socceroos playing for Chinese Super League clubs, as AAP reports. He wanted to gauge for himself the standard of the games and competition in which they play, and he did so by attending four matches. “I saw (Apostolos) Giannou, Timmy (Cahill), Spira (Matthew Spiranovic), (Trent) Sainsbury, (uncapped defender Aleksander) Jovanovic and (Michael) Thwaite - I saw about half a dozen boys,” Postecoglou said. “It was a good experience, at least I know now the context of the football they're playing. The good thing is all the players - apart from James Troisi, who's picked up an injury - are starting and playing virtually 90 minutes. We've obviously got the friendlies A-LEAGUE GRAND FINAL SUN 1 MAY WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS FC 3-1 ADELAIDE UNITED # TEAM 1 ADELAIDE UNITED P W D L F A +/- PTS 27 14 7 6 45 28 17 49 2 WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS FC 27 14 6 7 44 33 11 48 3 BRISBANE ROAR FC 4 MELBOURNE CITY FC 5 PERTH GLORY 6 MELBOURNE VICTORY 7 SYDNEY FC 8 NEWCASTLE JETS 9 WELLINGTON PHOENIX PS4 NPL VICTORIA ROUND 10 FRI 29 APR FRI 29 APR SAT 30 APR SAT 30 APR SAT 30 APR MON 2 MAY MON 2 MAY ROUND 11 FRI 6 MAY FRI 6 MAY FRI 6 MAY SAT 7 MAY SAT 7 MAY SUN 8 MAY MON 9 MAY # TEAM 1 SOUTH MELBOURNE FC 2 BENTLEIGH GREENS SC 3 HEIDELBERG UNITED FC 4 GREEN GULLY SC 5 HUME CITY FC 6 OAKLEIGH CANNONS FC 27 14 6 7 49 40 09 48 27 13 5 9 63 44 19 44 27 13 4 10 49 42 07 43 27 11 8 8 40 33 07 41 27 8 10 9 36 36 00 34 27 8 6 13 28 41 -13 30 27 7 4 16 34 54 -20 25 10 CENTRAL COAST MARINERS 27 3 4 20 33 70 -37 13 AVONDALE FC 0-2 SOUTH MELBOURNE FC RICHMOND SC 2-3 NORTHCOTE CITY FC MELBOURNE VICTORY FC 1-2 MELBOURNE KNIGHTS FC GREEN GULLY SC 1-2 BENTLEIGH GREENS SC HUME CITY FC 3-2 HEIDELBERG UNITED FC OAKLEIGH CANNONS FC 1-1 PASCOE VALE FC FC BULLEEN LIONS 1-1 PORT MELB SHARKS SC PASCOE VALE FC V MELBOURNE VICTORY FC PORT MELB SHARKS SC V RICHMOND SC MELBOURNE KNIGHTS FC V SOUTH MELBOURNE FC GREEN GULLY SC V OAKLEIGH CANNONS FC NORTHCOTE CITY FC V HUME CITY FC HEIDELBERG UNITED FC V BENTLEIGH GREENS SC FC BULLEEN LIONS V AVONDALE FC MP W D L F A D P 10 8 1 1 28 11 17 25 10 7 1 2 25 10 15 22 10 7 1 2 30 15 15 19 10 5 2 3 16 8 8 17 10 5 1 4 14 9 5 16 10 4 4 2 14 13 1 16 7 PORT MELBOURNE SHARKS SC 10 4 3 3 12 11 1 15 8 MELBOURNE KNIGHTS FC 10 4 3 3 12 17 -5 15 9 FC BULLEEN LIONS 10 AVONDALE FC 11 PASCOE VALE FC 10 2 4 4 9 13 -4 10 10 3 1 6 8 18 -10 10 10 2 3 5 9 13 -4 9 12 MELBOURNE VICTORY FC 10 2 1 7 10 17 -7 7 13 RICHMOND SC 14 NORTHCOTE CITY FC 10 1 3 6 19 32 -13 6 10 1 2 7 6 25 -19 5 Foxes run off with first-ever EPL title Coach Ranieri wins first major European title The Foxes have, in the end, outrun the chasing hounds of the EPL's aristocracy to escape with the prized catch of an EPL title. Leicester City made world headlines this week when it defied pre-season odds of 5000-1 to land the EPL title after its remaining rival Tottenham Hotspur surrendered a 2-nil lead to reigning title holder Chelsea in a spiteful London derby draw at Stamford Bridge. That result gave Leicester City a historical first-ever championship win in the top tier of English football, and its coach Claudio Ranieri his first-ever major European title after several runners-up over a long coaching career. What made the achievement even more remarkable was that it was Ranieri's first season as coach of the club and it was just the club's second term back in the EPL after promotion from the Championship. It survived the drop last season with a late season fightback under then coach Nigel Pearson, who was released in July 2015 after falling out with the club's Thai owners. Many people who greeted Ranieri's appointment with scepticism are now eating humble pie. In the process, he's discarded his reputation as an affable tinkerman, and managed to get the best out of a team which has earned just as much admiration for its indomitable team spirit as the skill and ability of individuals like Jamie Vardie and Riyad Mahrez, as well as midfield dynamo M'Golo Kante, all of whom have developed into internationals during this remarkable season. With only three other EPL clubs having a lower wages bill this season, Ranieri's team has taken on all comers with a traditional 4-4-2 system and a fairly simple but highly efficient style. It has continued to defy the odds as it evolved from a free-scoring attacking outfit early in the season to a style based on strong defence and withering pace on a counter-attack, which enabled it to win tight games in which its opponents dominated possession, to keep driving forward in the title race when others faltered. Its supporters' hopes evolved as the team progressed, beginning with hopes of survival, to hopes of a top half of the table finish, to Euro Championship qualification, to the impossible dream; at the start of the season, an EPL title. Early on in the campaign, when Leicester was an unlikely leader in December, coming up against Greece and because the A-League boys are finished now, it's important we've got some players who are playing deep into May." Although he recognises the impressive individual talent from Europe and South America that the wealthy Chinese clubs have been able to attract, he has concluded that overall, the A-League is ahead in terms of the overall competition standard. And he believes that the large sums of money splashed out to buy overseas talent could be one of the main reasons, because it's helped create a divide between the mega-rich clubs that can afford that talent, and those that can't. It leads to the latter adopting a more defensive style of play in a bid for survival. He believes this is significantly different to the more pro-active approach of A-League clubs. "China has still got a way to go in terms of its development," Postecoglou said. "The beauty of it for our players is that individually they're matching up with some very good players. The foreigners there from all over the globe are absolute- ly top quality, so our guys are getting tested individually, which is great. But in the overall intensity and tempo I'll be honest, I think the ALeague is probably a little bit ahead of it at the moment, just in terms of the general level of the game." PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES. Ranieri humorously deflected the disbelief of most people that his team could go all the way, by declaring that Leicester was the Forrest Gump of the EPL. "Why can't we continue to run, run, run? We are like Forrest Gump." And Leicester continued to run, through the challenges and the pressure, all the way to an EPL title. Ranieri praised his players, saying they fully deserved the title. "I'm so proud. I'm happy for my players, for the chairman, for the staff at Leicester City, all our fans and the Leicester community. It's an amazing feeling and I'm so happy for everyone. I never expected this when I arrived. I'm a pragmatic man, I just wanted to win match after match and help my players to improve week after week. Never did I think too much about where it would take us. The players have been fantastic. Their focus, their determination, their spirit has made this possible. Every game they fight for each other and I love to see this in my players. They deserve to be champions." Leicester City joins an elite group of just five clubs who have won the past 23 EPL titles, all of which, with the notable exception of Blackburn Rovers, have gone to Manchester's two powerhouse clubs, United and City, and London's Chelsea and Arsenal. In doing so, they have broken into the closed shop of the EPL's rich and powerful, and many hope it will inspire other clubs to follow. One thing's for sure, and that is next season the Foxes will continue to be the hunted given their newly-won status as title-holders.
30 April 2016
14 May 2016