Vince Rugari wonders if the cream is beginning to rise to the top in the A-League, while he also questions if the Besart Berisha drama series is becoming somewhat tired...
By VINCE RUGARI
Separating the wheat from the chaff
It has taken two long, hard, confusing months, but La Regista can sense that order is beginning to restore itself in the realm of the A-League.
Sure, a whole lot can change in a short amount of time in this gloriously enigmatic competition - the top three, however, appears set.
Adelaide is the bolter and sits deservedly in top spot. John Kosmina's appointment to the top job after Rini Coolen initially saw Reds fans facepalming en masse, but it now appears a masterstroke.
Kossie began his badges, got up to speed and rolled out an organised, professional, motivated United side that should be backing itself in against every side, including Central Coast, who will challenge for top spot this weekend.
It will be the meeting of the A-League's two best defensive sides on Saturday at the Bluetongue and, while the Mariners have always held firm at the back, who would have thought we would be saying this about an Adelaide side featuring Iain Fyfe and Nigel Boogaard, eh?
Graham Arnold's men have made the necessary adjustments to stay gritty and tough for the third-consecutive season. Tom Rogic is starting to look comfortable with the playmaker's crown atop his head and Daniel McBreen should soon expect an Oscar nomination for his brilliant performance as Matt Simon at the point of attack.
And then, sitting at number three with a bullet, is Melbourne Victory. After weeks of grappling with life under Ange Postecoglou, it is starting to come together, with the glue being the same sort of win anywhere, anytime mentality that seems to have vanished in Brisbane.
The real test will be what happens when the 2013 East Asian Cup qualifiers tear key players away from all three of these clubs. And it certainly will not surprise if all three run into form troubles because of it. But when that sense of squad stability returns, it will be these three rising to the top.
Berisha drama getting grating
Brisbane Roar's Albanian sharpshooter, Besart Berisha, is nothing if not passionate. But there is a line where his heart-on-sleeve schtick becomes a drawback rather than a wildcard, and he crosses it too often.
On Sunday, late in the first half of the 2-1 loss to Central Coast - the Roar's first ever in Gosford - Berisha barrelled over Trent Sainsbury with a bone-headed tackle from behind.
It was not malicious, but it was an open invitation for Sainsbury's Mariners team-mates to come in and defend him against one of the A-League's most combustible characters.
What happened next was entertaining for armchair punters but all too predictable for a Brisbane side that should have been concentrating on getting its own house in order before storming around like a bully.
Berisha went on to headbutt Mariners captain John Hutchinson and was later accused of stamping on English veteran Nick Montgomery. Had either incident been properly caught by the referees at hand, last season's golden boot would have been forced on a mandatory holiday.
Those minutes of madness threw Brisbane off their game - not that they were convincingly on it in the first place. And if the two-time champions are any chance of climbing up out of the abyss and into a position where they could actually challenge for a third, it cannot happen anymore.
Quote of the week
"I can't go out there. They have all got instructions about what they need to do and if I tell you to mark him that's all that you need to do. You stay with him, you follow him. If he goes to toilet you go with him to the toilet. It's simple as that."
- Brisbane Roar coach Rado Vidosic
Was this the weekend that officially marked the completion of Brisbane Roar's transformation from pace-setters into bed-wetters? Quite possibly. New coach Rado Vidosic has overseen the rot but will not listen to any chat from Team Ange telling him it is his fault - the blame is squarely on the shoulders of the players, who have copped more post-match hairdryers from Rado in the past two months than they ever did from Postecoglou.
Player of the Week
Dario Vidosic will head to Sydney for this week's Socceroos camp in arguably the form of his A-League life.
Having netted the match winner against Sydney FC on Friday, the fringe international has emphatically stamped his claims for another crack at green and gold this season.
He is creative, clinical and - best of all - consistent. Adelaide have an absolute gem on their books.
Young Player of the Week
Not a whole lot is going right for the Sky Blues at the minute, but the form of 23-year-old Panamanian import Yairo Yau is certainly encouraging.
When Alessandro Del Piero popped his beautiful face up out of nowhere, Ian Crook had already signed Kruno Lovrek for the No.10 role, which meant no clear, bonafide striker for either of them to produce for.
Yau has stepped up with three goals from four games to become not just the only real option up front, but a pretty bloody good one too.
ALESSANDRO DEL PIERO MOMENT OF THE WEEK
Another shocking Sydney FC loss, another heartbreaking look of frustration and resignation sprawled across the money-making mug of Il Pinturicchio.
His dream of one last title before hanging up the boots is slipping away - unless the club can find the right next gaffer and give him permission to tip the place upside down for next season.
Hint: This plan should not involve Avram Grant in any way, shape or form.