Socceroo’s tactic from Postecoglou playbook unleashes ‘absolute engine’: Dub Zone Talking Points

FULL EPISODE: Watch Episode 2 of Dub Zone here.

These are the key talking points from the second episode of Dub Zone as Round 2 of the 2023-24 Liberty A-League season brought plenty of action. 

Another Liberty A-League attendance record was broken as Matildas Women’s World Cup hero Tameka Yallop was welcomed back to Brisbane Roar in front of a standalone club record crowd of 3,679 fans at Ballymore Stadium. 

Melbourne City maintained an unbeaten start to the season with Rhianna Pollicina, Julia Grosso and Holly McNamara among the standouts. 

Perth Glory also made it two wins from two with forward Susan Phonsongkham making a case for why she’s one to keep an eye on this season. 

Meanwhile, a 14-year-old Western Sydney Wanderers youngster broke a record set by Sam Kerr, becoming the A-Leagues youngest ever player. 

Here are the major talking points from this season’s second episode of Dub Zone!


Grosso shines as Vidosic takes tactic out of the Ange Postecoglou playbook

Melbourne City sealed a 2-1 win over Canberra United to continue their seamless start to the new campaign and defender Julia Grosso made her mark in a tactical masterstroke from coach Dario Vidosic. 

The American was named City’s 2022-23 Player of the Year having made an immediate impact in her first season at the club, featuring in every single match and her versatility has been on show in the opening rounds of the new campaign.   

Grosso was deployed as an inverted full-back against Canberra and her surging runs in midfield played a crucial role for City in possession. 

Speaking on Dub Zone, Sydney FC legend Teresa Polias praised Grosso’s ability to dictate play in more advanced positions. 

“She’s doing everything, she’s an absolute engine,” said Polias. 

“She gets up and back, she saves her team on occasion after occasion and then after the game she doesn’t look tired, it’s quite incredible. I don’t think she gets the credit she deserves.”

During the Paramount+/10Play live match coverage, Liberty A-League commentator Taryn Heddo drew comparisons with Grosso’s positioning and the way Tottenham boss Ange Postecoglou has been known to use his full-backs.

“A lot has been made of Ange Postecoglou recently and how his side’s play with full-backs that tuck in,” Heddo said. 

“It’s really interesting to see Julia Grosso playing centrally. Maybe (it’s) a new trend for Australian coaches?”

Polias on co-commentary added: “Maybe Dario Vidosic has taken inspiration from Postecoglou.”  

The tactical shift proved successful for City as they dominated proceedings, completing 90 more passes than Canberra in the final third, which could see Grosso continue to play further forward.

Breakout star leading Perth Glory’s early season success

Perth Glory midfielder Susan Phonsongkham is enjoying an electric start to this Liberty A-League campaign, scoring in each of her opening two matches of the season. 

The 22-year-old received plaudits from Perth’s head coach Alex Epakis who puts Phonsongkham’s red-hot form down to her work on the training pitch during the off season.  

“That’s not by accident,” Epakis said.  

“She’s completely focused on her job and being the best footballer she can and we as a team are reaping those rewards, but I’m very pleased for her.”

Polias admitted she isn’t surprised by Phonsongkham’s output this early in the season given her goal exploits in NPLW NSW with Bankstown City, but cited injuries as the main stumbling block stopping her from finding consistency.

“It’s literally been just a case of niggling injuries throughout her career and I played an NPL season with Sydney Olympic where she won everything,” Polias said.  

“She played every single game, she was the leading goalscorer, she was phenomenal. And then unfortunately the following season, (she) had another injury set-back.”

A-Leagues commentator Teo Pellizzeri added: “On that question of consistency though, she announced herself to the old W-League as a 15-year-old scoring for Western Sydney Wanderers. 

“We’re talking back in 2017 or 2018 so she’s a name we’ve known for a long time. You can’t lose sight of the fact that this is still a young player, it was just someone who was introduced to us very early.”

Phonsongkham has already demonstrated her technical ability, capable of scoring stunners on either foot but the question now is whether she’ll remain fit to help power Perth towards a top six finish. 

Yallop ‘invaluable’ to Brisbane Roar

There was plenty of excitement surrounding Brisbane Roar’s clash with Sydney FC as Tameka Yallop made her first A-Leagues appearance since April 2021 after spending time abroad. 

The Matildas hero was named in Garrath McPherson’s starting XI and helped guide her side to an upset 1-0 win over the Liberty A-League champions, which also marked the first time the Roar have won their opening two games since 2015-16. 

Polias was impressed by Yallop’s performance and sees her providing an instant lift to this Brisbane side. 

“As the season goes on and Yallop gets more minutes and gets to know her team, she’ll be so invaluable to the squad.”

Pellizzeri added: “(She’s) particularly (important in) linking midfield to attack.”

“This was the second lowest expected goals to win a game since the start of last year and that belongs to Brisbane as well, so Garrath McPherson knows how to shut the gate at one end and that’s a brilliant way to start the season, but Yallop is going to be integral to them scoring a lot more goals.”

‘Important’ caveat as 14-year-old breaks Sam Kerr’s record

Matildas superstar Sam Kerr held the record for the youngest player in A-Leagues history since her debut for Perth Glory at 15 years and 45 days back in 2008, but over the weekend her record was finally broken.

Western Sydney Wanderers’ Talia Younis, aged 14 years, 11 months, snapped the 15-year record when she was subbed on for an injured Mel Caceres in the second-half against Wellington Phoenix. 

Incredibly, Younis is the first player born after the inception of the Liberty-League in 2008 to take to the field in the competition. 

“We knew it might have been coming at some point later this season. It’s amazing to think that someone who turns 15 this week has now broken that record,” Pellizzeri said. 

Polias added: “If you’re good enough, you’re old enough and from what I saw Talia Younis held her absolutely own there. She seemed mentally and physically ready. What a story.”

While it’s refreshing to see youngsters be given an opportunity, Pellizzeri explained why other players shouldn’t feel pressured to debut at such an early age. 

“It is important as the league gets younger though to alleviate the pressure on young aspiring players that you don’t have to make your A-League debut at this age,” he said. 

“Successful players debut at 18, 19, 20 (years old), we’ve had late developers come in at their late 20s playing in the NPL.

“So it is important to ease the exceptions and say it’s an amazing achievement, but also there is an element of making sure it’s the right personality and the right player to debut at such a young age.”

‘Almost unmarkable’: The most watchable player in the Liberty A-League?

Crucial to City’s early season success has been Holly McNamara who’s been on fire since returning from an ACL injury sustained during the year. 

The 20-year-old forward was causing havoc on the left wing against Canberra United having won the penalty for Rhianna Pollicina’s second goal which ended up deciding the match. 

“She’s just brilliant, almost unmarkable in a way when she gets going, she’s very hard to tackle,” Polias said. 

“She won a penalty for that reason, she set up a few clear cut chances, particularly for Hannah Wilkinson – great to see her in excellent form.”

When asked which Liberty A-League player she’d watch week in, week out, Polias said: “There’s a few on my list, but in terms of form right now (McNamara) is on the top of that for sure.”

McNamara wasn’t named in the most recent Matildas squad for Olympic qualifiers in Perth this week, but if she continues to be a standout in a star-studded City squad, she’ll be hard to ignore when it comes to national team selection.