The Big Five Answers | Round 20

The Mariners proved once again that they are the ultimate professionals, while Sydney said to hell with suspensions, we want to play finals football.

Central Coast Mariners v Wellington Phoenix: Are the Mariners slipping? Are the Mariners slipping? We must have been out of our minds. Draws are still a result and the Mariners have been getting those every week.

Against the Phoenix they were fluid, fast and to be honest brilliant, flexing their collective muscles in a 5-0 thumping which was also a pure team performance. Every player contributed; well except for Mat Ryan, but only because he had nothing to do.

How Mark Paston would love that to be the case. It seems most weeks he keeps the Nix from having their pants pulled down in public, and despite a number of saves not even he could spare their blushes in what was a huge mismatch.

Wellington's defence was reeling and torn to shreds. While it was thought the Nix had hit rock bottom a few weeks ago against the Sky Blues, this performance was every bit as bad as that one. Ricki Herbert has a huge problem on his hands.

Adelaide United v Melbourne Victory: How badly will Adelaide get belted?

In the words of rugby league commentator Phillip Ronald Gould “no,no,no,no,no!” Our faces are a very bright shade of red on this one. We got it all wrong, and like the Victory were not prepared for what Adelaide had to offer.

Physical and aggressive they took it to Melbourne and tested them out in a way they haven-t been used to at all recently, bossing them around the park in a game where Dario Vidosic was influential and Jeronimo Neumann scored a rare header to give them the the all-important three points.

Of course it wasn-t really Melbourne-s night. From the moment Archie Thompson limped from the field of play they were in trouble and the bizarre decision to give Adama Traore a red card late in the game never helped their chances.

But credit where it is due. The Reds have had plenty of drama to deal with of late both on and off the field and this win was a statement. A statement that said ‘write us off at your peril.”

Melbourne Heart v Perth Glory: Is Fergie done and dusted? He might just be. After the loss to the Heart and a performance that was summed up by Ryo Nagai fluffing a shot on goal after beating about four would-be defenders; an error that ultimately sums up Perth-s season, Ferguson later admitted he might be facing the sack.

Yet again Perth, who have so often been in games this season couldn-t find the net, dropping their fifth straight game and it was a game of what if-s. What if Nagai didn-t fluff the shot? What if Liam Miller didn-t take the ball away from an open Travis Dodd? What if Nagai-s late strike wasn-t blocked by a teammate?

If Ferguson does get the sack he can probably angrily and in vitriolic fashion blame his players. The game-plan is there, it works. His guys just can-t execute it effectively.

As for Shane Smeltz, well it-s been a tough year, one filled with injury and if ever you could tell the usually raptor-like predator was out of form it came early when he snuffed out a pass went one-on-one with Andrew Redmayne and hit the shot straight at him. Batman he was not, hell, he wasn-t even Bruce Wayne, unless you count the crippled version who had his back broken by Bane.

Perth, from the Penthouse to the Doghouse. Tony Sage once told me he would “back his side to win a one off game against anyone in Asia”, I wonder if he would say that now?

As for the Heart they were very good. The occasional midfield lapses occurred but John Aloisi might just have his side peaking at the right time of the season.

Wanderers FC v Newcastle Jets: Are the Jets ready to go Supersonic? They tried, my god did they try! They even had almost half the possession but again things just broke down in the final third as they desperately went looking for Emile Heskey.

It wasn-t the Englishman-s fault, because to be honest the delivery was lacking yet again. And to be blunt he really needs a partner up front; which means van Egmond has to take the shackles off either Ryan Griffiths or Adam Taggart, because the set-up isn-t as effective as it should be

So while they didn-t go Supersonic or manage to save the day in true ‘Maverick- style they may have learned a valuable lesson, which is they need more than a one-man strike force.

As for the Wanderers they just keep on rolling on, destroying opponents week by week. They have grabbed 15 points from their last five matches, but I ask you this. Why when Shinji Ono-s manager is in town and the match is tight do you pull your star? Especially when contract negotiations are ongoing and somewhat up in the air.

Sydney FC v Brisbane Roar: Have the MRP hit Sydney for six?

You just can-t hit a team for six when the best player to ever play in the league is in the mood that Alessandro Del Piero was on this day.

The Italian pulled the strings at Sydney FC with the greatest aplomb throughout the match and had Ivan Franjic running in circles, especially when he scored his goal.

The crowd at Allianz Stadium seemed to sense they were going to witness something special as well, because they were united and boisterous in their support of Sydney FC, almost Wanderers-like in their support of their team.

As usual the match had its share of controversy when Roar new boy Stefan Nijland appeared to dive into the outstretched leg of Sydney FC defender Fabio to win a penalty for the Roar, which Besart Berisha duly converted before giving his best to ‘The Cove- continuing to make him public enemy No1.

And while the Sky Blues leapt into the six and appear to be improving on a weekly basis they do need to improve further if they are to start matching it with the big boys of the league.