PLAY IT SHORT (A-LEAGUE): Antonis to Real Madrid, McKay burning Rangers bridges, Victory back four not up to it

IT'S THE BACK FOUR - NOT KEWELL
Forget all the bluster about Melbourne Victory's stars not gelling, the team's problems have nothing to do with Kewell, Hernandez and Thompson playing together, but an unsettled back four. First-choice, Adrian Leijer is their most experienced, with neither Foschini nor Franjic even regulars last season and then you have Fabio ... it's baffling that two of Australia's greatest ever defenders could base their first ever A-League campaign on such a dodgy back four.


WHO WAS BEHIND MADASCHI AND FABIO RULINGS AT VICTORY?
One thing from the debate around Kewell, Hernandez and Thompson - and whether you can fit them all in (of course you can!) - is that the decisions over Fabio and Adrian Madaschi have been papered over. Madaschi was training with Victory before being offered terms by Melbourne Heart - and the boy hasn't looked back. A centre-half pairing of Leijer and Madaschi would be among the best in the League. Then we have Fabio, who was chosen ahead of the former Chelsea and Fulham left-back Jon Harley. Harley, shorn of a full preseason, is doing so well at Rotherham United that his loan from Notts County has already been extended twice and the Millers want to keep him on again.


McKAY IN FANTASY LAND
Matt McKay and his advisers have to be kidding themselves if they honestly believe he was going to be a regular at Rangers this season. There's no way the A-League can prepare a player physically for what is required in the SPL - let alone the mental pressure that comes with playing for a club the size of Rangers. If he's going to jack it in after three months, McKay even may burn the prospect of any future A-League player getting a chance at Ibrox. Okay, I can understand at 29 years of age he should be playing, but tough it out. Show some stomach for the fight and prove McCoist was right in taking you on.


ANTONIS GOING TO REAL MADRID, NO REALLY!
Terry Antonis is going to Real Madrid. No, really. Or is it Barcelona? Manchester United? That's what the local media would have us believe. I don't see it. The boy has been hyped up to ridiculous levels after being part of a team that lost 4-0 to Melbourne Heart. Incredible. Did the Heart's goals - and how they were scored - actually happen?!! Everton saw enough in the boy to offer him a long-term deal as a 14 year-old, only for the FFA (ridiculous!) to block the move. But what are we seeing here? The next big thing, or the same press the soccer clique handed to Kofi Danning, Kaz Patafta, etc., etc?


FFA CAN HELP MARINERS BY GIVING THEM MORE OF THEIR OWN CASH
Great to see Central Coast Mariners draw almost 15,000 for their New Year's Eve game - and also finding a buyer for Matt Simon. It's canny work by Peter Turnbull to sell Simon now to Chunnam Dragons rather than lose him for nothing in June. Player sales is most likely the Mariners' best way forward - unless the FFA can be persuaded to give their Asian Champions League clubs a greater slice of the money generated qualifying for the comp. Y'know, rewarding those who actually shelled out to make their team a success. Who would've thought of that?!!


HOLMAN TO GLADBACH
One of the first Aussies on the move should be Brett Holman. Just keep an eye out, as we're hearing he'll leave AZ Alkmaar for Borussia Monchengladbach this month. AZ have already told him he can leave - along with teammate Simon Poulsen.

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