The Four-naroli show, Irankunda can’t hide emotions as Reds slip again, Western in crisis

Plenty happening, as always, across another great weekend of football action. Here are your A-League Round 7 talking points.

Clinical Roar condemn Reds to back-to-back defeats

Ross Aloisi’s plucky, young and bloody exciting Brisbane Roar side are up to second on the A-League ladder. When the older Aloisi brother took on the role he promised to return Roar to the pointy end of the table, but few expected him to do it this soon. Despite the Reds’ first-half dominance, Jez Lofthouse opened the scoring with a deflected effort before Jay O’Shea’s composed spot-kick sealed the three points.

With Sunday afternoon’s victory over Adelaide at Coopers Stadium, Brisbane are already at 57 per cent of their total wins in 2022-23 – in nineteen fewer matches. Plenty of coaches can talk the talk, but Aloisi is more than backing it up with a tremendous start to the campaign. The Aloisi Derby beckons next week and it’ll be a different challenge going in as favourites – can they keep the winning streak going against a desperate Western United team?

Adelaide’s inability to capitalise left Carl Veart very displeased with his side, and it was all too much for Bundesliga-bound Nestory Irankunda who left the field in tears as he was yanked before the hour mark. There’s absolutely no doubting Irankunda’s talent but especially on a day when he’s drawing a blank, as are his teammates, the defensive side of his game will be scrutinised and it was not up to scratch.

(Photo by Graham Denholm/Getty Images)

It will be another learning moment for the 17-year-old, who also let his emotions get the better of him in the Original Rivarly a few weeks ago – earning a red card in the process.

I’ve always found the dynamic between Irankunda and Veart interesting – but who really knows what it’s like behind closed doors? I wonder if Veart went with the hairdryer treatment, or putting an arm around the kid on Sunday?

Victory pass WSW test – just

Melbourne Victory’s visit to CommBank Stadium shaped as a classic and, despite sweltering conditions in Parramatta the two sides put on a very entertaining game. In the end Tony Popovic got the best of his old mate Marko Rudan thanks to Bruno Fornaroli’s brilliant four-goal haul. Valentino Yuel’s notched a goal and assist for Marcus Antonsson in a fruitful cameo but it wasn’t enough for Wanderers.

Fornaroli is showing incredible form, perhaps enough to earn himself a seat on the plane to Qatar for Australia’s Asian Cup campaign. He’s feeding on the service provided by the likes of Jake Brimmer, Daniel Arzani and Zinedine Machach as that Victory frontline hums along. Popovic’s side are one of only two teams – along with Macarthur – still undefeated seven rounds into the season.

Western collapse as pressure builds on Aloisi

Already in a tough spot to start the season, things have gone from bad to worse for Western United and manager John Aloisi. After missing the top six in 2022-23, United were due for a bounce-back campaign but it has all gone horribly wrong, with the latest defeat a 4-0 capitulation at the hands of Central Coast, which the coach described as “the worst performance since I’ve been at the club.”

I can’t argue with that statement, considering the absolutely embarrassing defending on show in Gosford on Friday evening. Tom Heward-Belle was hung out to dry and didn’t deserve to cop four goals, keeping the scoreline down with some quality saves.

Aloisi’s persistence with the old-school 4-4-2 formation doesn’t seem to suit many of his charges, and especially not Daniel Penha, who is looking like a shell of his former self. Penha, a natural attacking midfielder in the mould of Macarthur’s Ulises Davila, has instead been deployed out wide and is struggling to make an impact on his side’s fortunes from the wing.

We’ve seen other managers dismissed for similar results in recent times, so the question becomes, can Aloisi survive?

Jets take flight as Nix suffer first defeat

Leading the league after an undefeated start, few would’ve predicted anything but a Wellington Phoenix victory over the struggling Newcastle Jets. However, from the early stages the Nix didn’t look up to it, conceding twice in the first half and then immediately after the restart in a shock 3-0 loss.

That’s not to take away from Newcastle’s excellent pressure and clinical finishing – they deserved the three points on the back of excellent showings from Clayton Taylor and Apostolos Stamatelopoulos.

(Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

It’s been a difficult start to life in the Hunter for new Jets boss Rob Stanton, with just one win in their first six fixtures prior to this round. Ownership issues continue to plague the club, and obviously nothing will be sorted in that area until the new year, but hopefully sooner rather than later.

Stanton does have some promising young talent at his disposal, including the mercurial Archie Goodwin, who managed some minutes off the pine on Saturday evening. But challenging for a finals place will be a grind for the former Sydney FC assistant, as the squad is in the bottom three in the A-League on paper.

For Wellington, the trend of dropping points to sides in the bottom half of the table continues. It’s something that affected the side under Ufuk Talay, and whether it’s an issue between the ears or otherwise, they will need to learn to put away the weaker sides in the competition – especially on their home patch – if they’ve got top-four ambitions in 2023-24.

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Quick hits

-Perth Glory seem to have regressed from last season, currently sporting a 1-1-5 record. There’s still time for Alen Stajcic to turn it around, but to keep touch with the finals places Perth will need to start getting some wins on the board soon.

-Promising defender Kealey Adamson this week joined Macarthur. The 20-year-old, who impressed in the Sky Blues’ Australia Cup-winning campaign, is another talented youngster let go by Sydney FC, following the likes of Calem Nieuwenhof and Marco Tilio.

-Mathew Leckie’s great form may actually come to hurt Melbourne City, with the winger surely set to be selected for the Asian Cup.

-It was a family affair at Allianz Stadium, Jake Hollman getting the better of his brother Corey with the opening goal in a man-of-the-match showing. Sydney fought hard but couldn’t overcome the loss of Andrew Redmayne, who was sent for an early shower when Matthew Millar’s strike hit his arm outside the penalty area.

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