We quiz former Sydney FC and Adelaide United coach John Kosmina about the influence star playmakers Shinji Ono and Michael McGlinchey will have in the grand final.
We quiz former Sydney FC and Adelaide United coach John Kosmina about the influence star playmakers Shinji Ono and Michael McGlinchey will have on Sunday's Hyundai A-League grand-final at Allianz Stadium.
How important do you think both players are to their respective sides' chances on Sunday?
Kosmina: Both of them are important to their teams in different ways and for me they're completely different types of players. I would describe Ono as a transition player. When you win the ball back he gets into really good areas where he can find a bit of space - especially on that right-hand side he just drifts just outside of the midfield and puts defenders in two minds and makes the full-back think 'do I go in and take him or do I worry about the guy getting over the top?'.
And the way the Wanderers have been playing they've had Youssouf Hersi making angled runs on the inside to take the full-back and Jerome Polenz or probably this week, Tarek Elrich, getting over the top so that causes problems for your opponents there. But the Mariners playing with two holding midfielders will probably limit the amount of space that Ono can find.
McGlinchey on the other hand, he works both aspects of transition. If you lose the ball he'll get back behind ... and he gives width and can also come up and take a bit of a hole like a second number 10 ... so they're different types of players. And I can see why Graham Arnold rates Michael McGlinchey so highly because his work rate is phenomenal. Talking to Arnie last night, he (McGlinchey) has improved, the international exposure he's had and I think he's a much better player now than when he came into the league three or four years ago. Both can be effective for their teams but in different ways.
Do you think they are two players who could potentially be the difference or define the contest on Sunday?
Kosmina: Taking nothing away from McGlinchey but Ono's got that little bit more subtle class about him and last week's goal epitomised that. Michael McGlinchey doesn't score goals like Ono did last week or the two goals he scored against Melbourne Victory at Parramatta Stadium. McGlinchey will get on the end of things in the box, he'll make that extra man and fill in from behind and pick up crumbs, but he's not a scorer of those classical touch type goals. Both can be effective based on what their strengths are.
What would you do as an opposition coach to shut Ono down?
Kosmina: You've just got to limit space for Ono and make sure that he doesn't get a comfortable first touch, and if he does it's away from your goal. You have to keep him facing back towards his own defence or keep him forced towards the touchline. Make him play backwards. Once you let him turn and face you he can hurt you, and once you let him play that ball forward he can hurt you.
Would you focus much energy on shutting down McGlinchey if you were Tony Popovic?
Kosmina: Popo plays his system. Probably last week when Elrich came on he was a bit more conservative and tended to sit in a bit more and I think you may find that even this week. McGlinchey, often he'll support the attack because he's done so much work defensively and he is in a position where the ball is won back by your back-four and he'll get forward quickly, and he chooses the right options as well. He'll either give you width when you need it to spread the opposition defence or he'll make a skinnier type of run forward and make it difficult and get in between the line, so to speak, and make the defenders make a decision about whether to go with him or worry about the guy coming over the top.
Who's your tip to win the game?
Kosmina: The Mariners. Taking nothing away from what Western Sydney have achieved this year but I think the Mariners are a much better all-round football team. They're fantastic when they lose possession - they're disciplined and get behind the ball, like the Wanderers do. But in transition the Mariners are fantastic, the way they move the ball around, they can beat that first or second opponent and get through the lines and they play themselves into good positions. But then having said that they'll knock the one over the top when it's on. And I think there grand-final experience will also help a little bit as well.