Yorke dismissed, Wellington flex top-four credentials, red cards aplenty

A-League, featured, football

It’s been another exciting week in this chaotic league. We saw Wellington Phoenix continue their impressive run, four red cards, our first coaching departure, and the two biggest sides in the land inexplicably both lost again.

So, let’s get into it – here are your A-League Round 13 talking points.

Who had Dwight Yorke as the first manager to go?

Following Macarthur’s 1-0 loss to Adelaide United in the City of Churches on Friday evening, ex-Manchester United striker Dwight Yorke became the first casualty among the coaching fraternity in 2022-23, with Mile Sterjovski lined up to replace him.

In terms of the ‘first manager fired’ market going into this round, the podium would’ve surely consisted of Steve Corica, Tony Popovic and John Aloisi. Those three, at least according to expectations, are overseeing much more disastrous seasons from their respective sides and have used up a lot of credit they may have had in the bank.

True, the Bulls have been far from consistent in the opening half of the season, but hovering around the bottom end of the top six is about where they should be, on paper. If the finals started today, Macarthur would sneak in with a sixth-placed finish.

Lachlan Rose of Macarthur FC is hugged by Daniel Arzani

(Photo by Jenny Evans/Getty Images)

KeepUp reported that Bulls management took exception to comments from Yorke stating the side resembled a “pub team”, as well as criticism about the club as a whole. So, what to believe? Was it about some comments he probably regrets? Was it about on-field results?

Regardless of the explanation for Yorke’s departure, the rumour mill immediately kicked into gear on Saturday evening. According to some this was all premeditated, with Sydney keen to replace the 2006 Grand Final-winning goal-scorer with the man who laid on the assist. Whether or not the former Sydney FC striker returns to Allianz Stadium remains to be seen, but it should be an interesting week or two ahead.

Phoenix deservedly rise into top four

With two consecutive and important wins on the road under their belt, Ufuk Talay’s side returned home to Sky Stadium for a big test against second-placed Central Coast Mariners. It’s one thing to take care of average sides – could Phoenix do it against a genuine contender?

Goals from Alex Rufer and Oskar Zawada led the Nix to a 2-1 triumph this afternoon, Wellington passing the test with flying colours and now sitting pretty inside the top four. Thirteen rounds in, we’re past the point where the table plays tricks. This is a good side that Talay is leading.

A top-class keeper between the sticks and decent squad depth certainly help, but as has been said 1 million times, the hardest thing to get right in this league is properly utilising your visa spots – and Talay has struck gold here. They’ve got five solid contributors, with Zawada chipping in goals at key times and Bozhidar Kraev in the conversation for best players around the competition.

Why are we seeing so many red cards?

I’m not quite sure what it is about this A-League season, but the send-offs just keep coming. Can it be put down to lack of discipline, poor decision-making, or perhaps the officiating? It’s probably not the best thing for the optics of the league, but it is certainly entertaining – from the incidents themselves to the resulting increase in available space on the park.

Two games in Round 13 produced two red cards each, for a total of four across the six matches. Unfortunately, there were a few hiccups on the way, with Ben Halloran almost being set for an early shower before Kurt Ams realised the winger hadn’t already been booked, and Stephen Lucas needing VAR intervention to show Chris Ikonomidis the red card, despite having a perfect view of the incident.

Where to now for Victory and Sky Blues?

Popovic and Corica are running out of time to save their respective side’s season, and perhaps even their job.

It’s pretty hard to believe the league’s two biggest sides, with all their advantages – on-field and otherwise – are sitting 10th and 12th on the A-League ladder.

With fan discontent palpable, it’s hard to see the status quo being kept at Moore Park. A lot of Sky Blues supporters probably woke up this morning expecting to see a press release relieving Corica of his services – and truthfully, it could’ve happened earlier in the season.

Popovic will most likely see out this season, but Victory aren’t really known for their patience when it comes to coaches.

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