Murdocca backs Roar return
Once a Roar recruit: Massimo Murdocca (right) challenges Central Coast's John Hutchinson. Photo: Getty Images
AS THE only remaining member of the original Brisbane (then Queensland) Roar squad from the first A-League season in 2005-06, Massimo Murdocca has seen plenty of downs, as well as ups, on the club's long journey to success.
Battling through the poor times and climbing its way up the ladder was difficult enough but, as many other sportsmen have said before, staying on top is harder than getting there, Murdocca says.
He cites the example of the once-dominant Melbourne Victory.
As Brisbane was mounting its charge towards its first championship in 2010-11, Murdocca said before a match against Victory that season that, despite Victory's mid-table status, Ernie Merrick's side was still the benchmark.
On Thursday he laughed that teams now viewed the Roar in the same way.
''Back then everyone used to raise their game when they took on Victory, as they used them as a guide to where they were,'' he said.
''They knew they were getting it right if they could beat them. They were the team that everyone hated and wanted to beat and it made it hard for them. Now I think we are pretty much in the same boat.
''People do seem to raise their game against us. It was evident when we were on that long unbeaten run and I suppose it's what you expect when you have won two championships and played as well as we have.
''Look at West Sydney - they beat us, won their first game and took confidence and then went on to win the next match as well.''
The titles, however, are in the past and while much has stayed the same at the Roar, much has changed. Coach Ange Postecoglou and football manager Paul Trimboli are now at Victory while Rado Vidosic has been given the top job at Roar.
Inevitably, there have been teething troubles but few would have suggested that after five games Roar would be at the bottom of the table, alongside Friday night's opponent Melbourne Heart, both having only won one game. Murdocca says Roar is in a false position and the team's capabilities should be judged more on its 5-0 destruction of Melbourne Victory than the home losses to Western Sydney Wanderers and Adelaide United.
''The draw wasn't that kind for us,'' he said. ''We had to travel to Perth in round one and lost to a very late goal there and we then had to go to Wellington in round three.
''They are both long trips and took a lot out of us. But it is true that it's not been the best start for us and we would have wanted more points. We are coming to Melbourne believing that this is a game where we can get all three points.
''It's funny how things work out - we thought the Victory game would have been a really tough one for us but we won easily and struggled in other games to get a result.
''We dominated against Adelaide, conceded that early goal and just couldn't score.
''We are creating chances but we just can't put the ball in the net. Once we get that sorted out we will start getting the results.''
Despite winning the championship, Roar did not beat Heart in three encounters last season. ''They were certainly the one team we really had a problem with and it did surprise me when they didn't go further in the finals,'' Murdocca said.
WEEK 6 (All times AEDST)
Heart v Roar
AAMI Park, Friday, 7.30pm
Heart has a terrific recent record against Roar, having won in Brisbane last season and drawn on the other two occasions these sides met. Both have got off to a poor start and are at the foot of the table so there is plenty at stake in this battle. Heart is still missing key players and has now lost three on the spin, while Roar is coming off two home defeats. Another draw could be on the cards.
Western Sydney v Jets
Parramatta Stadium, Saturday, 5.30pm
The Wanderers are on a roll having won their last two, away to Brisbane and at home to Melbourne Heart, so confidence is high and Tony Popovic's team will be optimistic it can make it three in a row. But the Jets have looked impressive this season as well, and Emile Heskey has got off to a strong start. But they are backing up on a relatively quick turnround after playing in Perth last weekend. Wanderers, narrowly.
Sydney FC v Victory
Allianz Stadium, Saturday, 7.45pm
Massive game for Sydney after its horror show in Gosford when Ian Crook's side shipped a shameful seven goals against Central Coast in the heaviest defeat in the club's history (7-2) , rivalled only by the 0-5 loss to tonight's opponent Melbourne Victory in the A-League's inaugural season. Alessandro Del Piero missed the match last week but got plenty of publicity as he appeared at the Melbourne Cup carnival. Victory put in its best performance of the season on Cup eve when it beat Wellington 3-2 at Etihad Stadium. Victory is getting into the groove and can put more pressure on the Sky Blues.
Phoenix v Mariners
Westpac Stadium, Sunday, 2.30pm
Phoenix has a fantastic home record, but if one club can be given a real shot of beating it in Wellington it is the Mariners. Graham Arnold's team has played the Phoenix nine times at Westpac Stadium and only lost twice. In fact the Mariners have had the wood on the Kiwis for more than two years, winning the last five clashes, home or away, between the two clubs. Hard to see Central Coast getting beaten here.
Adelaide United v Glory
Hindmarsh Stadium, Sunday, 5pm
Two of the league's early pace-setters meet in a match that could tell us plenty about their title potential. The Reds have been in terrific nick, with four wins out of five while Perth could conceivably be better placed, believing it could have picked up something from its away games against Central Coast and Sydney FC. Adelaide just has the edge in this fixture with a 10-8 record, with three matches drawn. Adelaide could go on with it in front of their own fans.