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Burning Down the House

Messrs. Hill and Slater were not slow to bestow all manner of praise on Nathan Burns for his “assist hat-trick” last night, which included a spectacular darting run to the by-line followed by a crisp cut-back for Travis Dodd. Not the first time that we’ve seen such a move from Burns, in fact.

Burns’ brilliant ten-minute burst helped to disguise the fact that, for most of the game, Adelaide were very ordinary indeed. Aurelio Vidmar’s inexplicable deployment of Travis Dodd as a central striker, when he is so obviously more effective on the wing, didn’t help; but there were several other sub-par performances in the first half, notably from Jonas Salley and a palpably rusty Kristian Sarkies.

Had Truong Giang Tran’s fierce shot early in the second half actually found the back of the net rather than the inside of the post, it might have been a very different story.

Aurelio Vidmar claims to be fairly sanguine about losing Burns to Europe, but the spark he provides for Adelaide in games like last night’s will be very sorely missed. But it is time for Burns to try his hand overseas, in my view, partly to get away from a manager who seems determined to misuse him.

Once again, Burns found himself on the left wing against Binh Duong, and once again, as has happened every single time he’s been stuck out there, his effectiveness was greatly diminished. He belongs in the centre, as Ross Aloisi correctly pointed out after the game.

It might be argued that last night’s scintillating run to set up Travis Dodd, as well as that classy assist for Richie Alagich in the clip linked above, originated from a position on the left. But it was an inside-left position, and in each case Burns was well within the area when the layoff occurred.

It looked likely to be a frustrating night for Burns in the first half. He found himself with his back to goal too often, and he failed to form a particularly good link-up with the overlapping Cassio. In truth, when things are running against him he has a tendency to try too hard, and this was often the case last night.

After his superb cameo, he became a little over-confident, and tried a few tricks when simple passes would have been more effective. The whole game provided an interesting illustration of both his weaknesses and his very considerable strengths.

Pace Messrs. Kruse, Zullo, Holland and the rest, Nathan Burns is the most exciting talent to have emerged since the A-League’s inception. But he would, I feel, benefit from a move to Europe, where his deficiencies will not be quite as easily glossed over…or drowned in a torrent of adulation, as they were last night.

Written by Mike Salter

Read more of his thoughts at The Football Tragic

Written by
Real Football

Published on April 28, 2008

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