By VINCE RUGARI
New deal a boon for football
Such is Australian football's lot, La Regista was waiting for the catch of the FFA's new $160 million television broadcast deal.
Excuse the inherent negativity, but for years it has felt like every good thing that has happened in the sport was just a smokescreen so that the real, ugly truth could be hidden from public view for as long as possible.
No positive news came without an asterisk. Think the introduction of Clive Palmer's billions, the year-long Harry Kewell soap opera, the World Cup bid, the simmering owner/FFA war.
Well, we do not have to anymore. It is what it is and for once we can start taking these kind of things on face value.
There is no longer the need to take everything in football with a pinch of salt and a healthy dose of skepticism. At least not to the same degree. The game, by and large, is in tremendous shape.
Crowds and ratings are up, the quality has never been better. Young players are coming through. Marquees are tying it all together.
And this new money, spread over four years, should solve all the financial problems of the clubs and open up new investment and opportunities.
Football has renewed its vow of marriage with Fox Sports but also brought an old free-to-air flame, SBS, back into the picture. Everyone is a winner.
And in four years time, if the upward trend continues, we can do it all over again.
Now if we can just get rid of those white garden chairs and start using real dugouts, we might be onto something.
Panties in a knot over Beckham
Now despite all that above, if there is one area where things are not always as they seem - it is the transfer market. That has always been the case and always will.
Which is why this potential David Beckham 'saga' looks like so much fun. On Friday it was Fox Sports and The Australian who went hard with it, and new FFA chief executive officer David Gallop even started spruiking the possibility on live television not long after it broke.
Beckham and his people came out with a firm denial thereafter, but - given he is in the middle of LA Galaxy's MLS campaign - what else could he say?
For a few short moments, his rejection of a move to the A-League looked like a major embarrassment for Gallop, who will quickly learn - if he has not already - that signing players and dealing with agents in football makes the rugby league meat market look like a game of paper, scissors, rock.
But did not the exact thing happen with Alessandro Del Piero? The unnervingly open details of negotiation, the supposed 'early crow', the to-ing, the fro-ing, the denials, the rumours?
It all seems so fresh again. The fact that newspapers and clubs are still pushing this story - three days after Golden Balls was supposed to have hosed it all down - means there must be something in it.
Quote of the week
- Dom Rinaldo
It may have been an accident, but Fox Sports commentator Dom Rinaldo said what a lot of A-League fans were thinking at the start of Saturday's game between Adelaide United and Melbourne Heart. #BLAHBLAH was placeholder text on the autocue for the real hashtag for the match, #REDSvMH, and Rinaldo accidentally went to air with it - although it spoke to the confusion of many a Twitter punter when it comes to this particular department. REDS? Why not AU? MH? Why not Heart? Like a team coached by Ian Ferguson, there is just not enough consistency. In the end, sometimes it feels like #BLAHBLAH just makes a whole lot more sense.
Player of the Week
Nikolai Topor-Stanley, take a bow for your epic involvement in the most epic defensive performance of Western Sydney Wanderers' short history.
With Youssouf Hersi taking an early shower after lashing out at Perth's Scott Jamieson, the A-League's newest club had no choice but to dig in and defend their slender 1-0 lead. nib Stadium in the searing WA heat is probably the last place you would wish to do that, but Tony Popovic's men got the job done.
The 'Hyphen' - against his former side - was a huge part of that. His timing is excellent too, with the Socceroos likely to send a domestic-heavy squad to December's East Asian Championships qualifying tournament.
Young Player of the Week
Ben Halloran's shift up the M1 after Gold Coast United's collapse has not quite been the roaring success we might have hoped. But his classy goal for Brisbane against Sydney on Friday night could well be a touchstone moment for him.
He admitted to feeling his own internal pressure to break his duck for the reigning A-League champions and the hope is that now he has, Halloran will kick on with it. Playing on the right for the Roar has seen the young pace merchant simply running parallel with the sideline and with little lateral movement.
No surprise, then, that his goal was taken from the other side of the pitch, allowing him to approach from an angle that makes him a far more dangerous player than just a guy who darts and crosses.
ALESSANDRO DEL PIERO MOMENT OF THE WEEK
Take your pick. Was it the left-foot tracer bullet from outside the box, or was it the one-two with Yairo Yau and the fakeout move that knocked over Brisbane gloveman Michael Theo?
Silly question, actually. It was the latter. Clearly. Any player can strike it lucky with a long-distance shot, especially when given that much time and space. But only an ice-cold guy like Del Piero can enter a one-on-one situation with a clear head, mess with one of the league's best goalkeepers and then find a way to walk the ball into the back of the net.
That is class you cannot buy, or learn. If only there were 11 of him.