Controversy can’t take the shine off John Aloisi’s first win in three years

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It’s been a while in between drinks for Western United’s new head coach John Aloisi.

After leaving Brisbane Roar in December 2018, it had been two years and 11 months since he last sat in the dugout. In terms of his last win as a manager in the A-League Men, that extends to over three years.

In a pre-season that has featured three matches – all against Melbourne City – Saturday’s game against Newcastle Jets provided a welcome reminder that there are other teams in the league. Maybe it was the stale notes of pre-season that contributed to the mistakes that both sides made, as errors took over the game.

It’s also little wonder why Aloisi was so pumped after the win. United were missing key players Rene Khrin and Sebastian Pasquali, while nursing Aleksandar Prijovic through less than 30 minutes of action.

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In what is a stark contrast to his days at Melbourne Heart, Western United have supported Aloisi with a raft of high-quality international signings mixed in amongst up-and-coming local talent.

This depth has many fans excited that this could finally be the year that the Green and Black make it through to an A-League Men’s grand final.

It’s important to get that taste of winning again, you could see it was the first game, sometime the boys were a bit anxious. When you’ve been so long without a competitive game, you just want to play,” Aloisi said.

Western United fans will hope for much of the same in the upcoming A-League Men season. Tonight’s attendance would have been considerably less than 1000 people, but for a team that is still building up a fanbase, the FFA Cup is an opportunity that must be taken advantage of.

Perhaps that can be said to have attributed to the strong line-up that Aloisi fielded.

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An FFA Cup round of 32 tie against the Wellington Phoenix awaits in December.

There is now more reason than ever to take the cup competition seriously, as the winner is set to receive a place in the Asian Champions League qualifying rounds.

Alessandro Diamanti played all but three minutes, whilst Josh Risdon, Neil Kilkenny and Leo Lacroix also all got an important 90 minutes under their belts. It leaves the star players primed to make an impact ahead of the ‘battle of the bridge’ next Saturday.

Also on their side were the football gods, a theme Aloisi was quick to draw upon in his post-match press conference. In what was the major controversy of the game, Angus Thurgate’s 31st minute strike was mishandled by Jamie Young, as the ball seemingly trickled over the line.

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Referee Jonathan Barreiro waved play-on, to the relief of Aloisi.

“They tell me it did cross the line, I didn’t see it. If there was VAR it would obviously end up being a goal. These things will go for us and go against us,” he said.

“Tonight, maybe they felt the football gods needed to be on my side. It’s been three years since I’ve coached an official game, so it’s good to get a bit of luck.”

Arthur Papas wasn’t as happy with the decision.

“Obviously we saw it and its clearly gone over the line,” Papas said.

“There’s not really much to say about it, it’s clearly gone over the line. We can sit and talk about it all day, but at the end of the day we didn’t get our goal.”

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Why VAR hasn’t been implemented in the FFA Cup but is used in the A-League Men continues to be a talking point for all involved. Whilst Papas was coy on the goal, there can be no ignoring that the rightful decision would have changed the complexion of the game.

Australian football needs consistency. Differentiating the use of technology used in the domestic competition and cup competition is one way to ensure consistency isn’t reached.

Aloisi rightfully described the game as free flowing, [whilst] both teams had a lot of opportunities.” This should have been the major talking point.

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The talking point shouldn’t have been the use of referee-assisted technology, but yet again we find ourselves in a position where it has dominated the headlines.

It has distracted from a strong opening game for Western United under new coach Aloisi.

It remains to be seen whether any VAR-related FFA Cup reforms will be made, but in the meantime, Western United look set for a big game with Melbourne Victory next week.

Aloisi has made the perfect start and will look to carry on the momentum ahead of a big season.

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Dillon Izon
Marketing graduate at Monash University. Sports addicted, fan of Manchester United and Melbourne City. My gran “knows” Gareth Bale.

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