Soccer

McDonald: Winter season the way to go

FORMER Socceroos striker Scott McDonald has embraced the A-League’s winter foray but says it would be wrong to expect every team to suddenly up their tempo just because the conditions are cooler.

The 2019-20 A-League season has been forced into a July-August finish after the competition was suspended for almost four months due to COVID-19.

Brisbane Roar marksman McDonald, who returned to Australia last year after almost two decades in the UK, is relishing is return to winter football.

The A-League would be thrust in to direct competition with the AFL and NRL with a season shift, but McDonald said a move would be best.

“Without question I think football was meant to be played in the winter,” the in-form 36-year-old attacker said ahead of the Roar’s battle with Wellington at McDonald Jones Stadium on Wednesday night.

“It does allow for a high tempo game and a much more transitional game rather than teams playing side to side, being in low blocks very hard to break down, waiting to win possession back to then use that high intensity running for when you have the ball instead of without it.”

Scott McDonald scores in the Roar’s 2-1 win over Melbourne Victory. Picture: Matt King/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

But while some A-League matches have entertained in terms of a higher tempo and being open affairs since the competitions resumption, others have still resembled games that were played during hotter summer months in terms of their slowness and caution,

And that hasn’t surprised McDonald.

“We have to remember as well for these people who want to go on about games not having changed much right now … we’ve only had three weeks to prepare for this season to continue it,” the former Celtic and Middlesbrough marksman said.

“Everyone wanting these massive differences straight away in terms of the tempo of the game, I think we’ve seen it in some of the games so far, some of the games we haven’t. That’s because tactically teams play a certain way because they’ve had to play that way in conditions they’ve been playing before now.

“For teams to change their whole philosophy and ideology this late on in a season, it’s stupidity.”

McDonald said with time, all teams would adapt to season calendar changes.

The 2020-21 A-League season will run from December to July next year, while it’s expected the following season will be entirely played in the 2022 calendar year.

“People have to be realistic, so you have to give it time and let managers and coaches build their squads and build their teams according to the conditions they play in and how they want to play,” McDonald said.

“Some teams will still want to play in a low block, that’s fine but it will also allow players and teams to play at a higher tempo, get in teams’ faces, and you’re hoping that’s going to make for a more transitional game and more entries into opposition’s boxes, which makes it far more exciting.”

The fourth-placed Roar will leapfrog the Phoenix with a win on Wednesday night.

“We’re in a good place right now,” said McDonald, who added new Roar coach Warren Moon was stamping “his identity” on the team following the departure of Robbie Fowler.

“We’ve got a fantastic spirit, a fantastic group … we enjoy each other’s company. That’s something very rare in football I find.”

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