Western United Champions League A-League Men’s Perfect End

Western United’s 2-0 win over Melbourne City in Saturday night’s A-League Men’s Grand Final was not only the ideal ending to a difficult season, it also set the following season right.

Less than three days after Tony Popovich was named A-League Men’s Coach of the Year at the Dolan Warren Awards, John Aloisie became the champion at AAMI Park.

And the release of Aloisy as the coaching cast-off, who saw the Australian game end, is undoubtedly the story of the season.

Popovich may have done wonders in the semifinals by pulling Vijay off the table, but winning the Aloisy title in his first season at Western United is a big achievement.

The former Sakura’s fame was so unexpected that virtually no one talked about him for the finals.

Not for the first time, the performance for the best performances at the league’s best-supported clubs was clearly rewarded, with Popovich and Melbourne’s winning midfielder Jack Brimer receiving the A-League men’s coach and best player of the season awards respectively at the awards ceremony last Thursday. Night

But Vijay is not the new champion of A-League. Based on what we saw on Saturday night, they are not even the third-best team in Melbourne.

Because it was obviously a club in the western suburbs of Melbourne – and no single reference to Western United seems complete without mentioning their non-existent stadium – who staged a classic smash-and-grab raid against defending champions Melbourne City on Saturday night.

Dylan Wengel-Halls of Western United celebrates the win with teammates.

Dylan Wengel-Halls of Western United celebrates the win with teammates. (Photo by Robert Sianflon / Getty Images)

They were somewhat lucky with their opener, when the great Alexander Prizovic put enough pressure on City defender Nuno Reis to literally put the ball into his own net in less than two minutes.

It was the fastest opening goal in the history of the A-League Men’s Grand Final and the green-blacks followed it up with a more convincing half-hour mark from the former Serbian international.

Connect Payne’s rebound at the end of Melbourne City’s penalty box stopped everyone except Prizovic, quietly breaking Western United’s second goal in a volley.

The lineman immediately flagged offside but after a quick VAR review, referee Chris Beth ruled that Prizovic was on the side when the rebound flew.

Wait a minute. VAR? Chris Beth? A quick decision? It doesn’t sound like the A-League we’ve all been watching for years.

But Beth had a great game with the flute and the Australian Professional League deserves some credit for using VAR the way it was supposed to in the end. While it was the most important stage, the APL got everything right.

And they were rewarded with a respectable crowd of 22,495 who turned out for the decision.

It may be the smallest A-League Main Grand Final crowd in history, but guess what? It doesn’t matter.

Far from being negative, the presence of so many fans in both the green-black of Western United and the sky blue of Melbourne City gives the APL a real platform for next season.

The grand finale would have been sold out if the Melbourne victory had involved. Instead, their huge fan-base could stew all off-season only the third-best team in town.

In the meantime, the perfect mix of much-needed gravitas and light entertainment has been broadcast from Channel Ten and Paramount +.

I watched the Grand Final at Paramount + last week because of COVID prevented me from joining the game, and I thought the coverage of the pre- and post-game was just right.

It was a tough first season under Paramount, we can be sure, but the whole campaign ended at a real height.

More importantly, it ended with the start of the next season’s storylines already writing their own.

Western United are the new A-League main champions. And it will absolutely make fans of Melbourne City, Melbourne Victory, Sydney FC, Adelaide United and every other club absolutely wild.

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