Kewell returns to hurt hometown

Harry Kewell’s visit to his hometown should ensure Allianz Stadium has a bumper crowd when Sydney FC host Melbourne Victory this weekend.

Harry Kewell-s visit to his hometown should ensure Allianz Stadium has a bumper crowd when Sydney FC host Melbourne Victory this weekend.

But, despite the immediate effect, it-s arguable that no one is completely satisfied with the Qantas Socceroo-s return to the Harbour City.

In an ideal Sky Blue world, Kewell would probably be lining up for the home team; in a Victory fan-s dreams, he would be leading the Big Vs to yet another Hyundai A-League finals series. Football has always been the dreamer-s game.

In fact, both Kewell-s and Brett Emerton-s return to domestic Australian football has hardly gone to plan. Neither have quite hit the heights many hoped at the start of the season.

The dual announcements that brought two of the biggest names in the game into the A-League last year seemed to suggest this season would again see Victory and Sydney go head-to-head for the headlines and the silverware.

There-s no doubt both Kewell and Emerton created plenty of media interest at the beginning of the season, but all that positivity has been lost in a mire of high expectations, mediocre performances and off-field drama.

The somewhat fanciful thought that two Socceroos could have an immediate impact had to be revised when fans and pundits realised the problems that had to be dealt with at both of the competition-s two biggest clubs.

Kewell seemed tailor-made for Melbourne Victory; the biggest name for the most successful club, a creative force to slot in behind Mehmet Durakovic-s enviable attacking stocks. But the club-s decision to promote from within proved a mistake, and the squad that had once dominated the league suddenly seemed in need of serious rebuilding work.

Meanwhile, Sydney FC were rejoicing at their own coup, bringing Emerton straight from the English Premier League to drive their own revitalisation. But again, the squad that surrounded the marquee man left a lot to be desired and coach Viteslav Lavicka-s once-successful tactics were left looking one-dimensional in the face of Brisbane Roar and Central Coast-s resurgence.

So while there-s no doubt Kewell-s return to Sydney will boost the Sky Blues crowd, with officials hoping for 20,000-plus, no one-s going to the game expecting to be wowed. Rather, it is a resumption of the Big Blue rivalry with the chance to see a couple of Socceroos in action.

So close to the end of the season, the fixture looms as both sides last and only chance to scrape into the finals, with both still relying on other results. A win for either means the faint hope of finals football stays alive, with the added bonus to kill off the dreams of their biggest rival.

Whatever the result, Harry Kewell's return to Sydney isn't quite the season-defining fixture many hoped it would be.