A new dawn vital for Suns

August 09, 2017

News soccer reporter Adem Barolli has gone through National Premier League’s Victoria club Goulburn Valley Suns. Barolli believes the Suns have to aim high and that means making big changes during the off-season to coaching staff and players.

Suns midfielder Matthew Lelliott has made a habit of collecting yellow cards this season.

It’s time for Goulburn Valley Suns coach Nick Kalafatis to hand over the reins as head mentor at the club.

Old ways will not open new doors and there is a saying that I often think about:

‘‘If you want to have more, you have to become more. For things to change, you have to change. For things to get better, you have to get better. For things to improve, you have to improve. If you grow, everything grows for you.’’

Jim Rohn, an American entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker, embodied this when referencing the importance of change and decision making, something that should resonate with the Goulburn Valley Suns.

The Suns, the region’s National Premier League representative, were a shambles during their inaugural season in NPL with three head coaches having come and gone before the Suns had even turned one.

However, at the beginning of the second season, playing-coach Nick Kalafatis took the reins and has since done an exceptional job during the past three years, with the likes of David Davkovski, Fred Zito and Nick Corbo, helping build this club, essentially from ground up.

They have built the club as much as possible, but now it is time for a new voice and direction.

Throughout the past three years, the experienced campaigner has brought a consistent trend of results, commitment and loyalty, but change is again needed at the Suns before things become stale.

In order for the club to move forward and take the next step in its development it needs a new leader, and that needs to come from the outside.

By all means Kalafatis can continue to play, become an assistant or do whatever he likes, but this club and its players need a little reality check.

In its short history the club has already outsourced its head coaching role, at the incorrect time, to the likes of Melvyn Wilkes and Peter Zois.

However, with a strong squad, a solid foundation to work with and an abundance of talented players someone like Andrew Math (former Melbourne Knights coach) with an experienced background needs to and will take this club to the next level.

Someone of that ilk will rectify the disciplinary record, the shambolic defensive record and build the club not just from the ground up, but also from the top down.

1. Discipline.

In the NPL alone the Suns have accumulated six red cards from 24 matches, that is one every four games — the worst record in the competition.

Not only that, the Suns also have three players inside the top eight for yellow cards received this season.

Matthew Lelliott, a serial offender, has a league high 10 yellow cards, Rob Hughes is next best on nine, while club captain Jamie England has found the ire of the match official six times.

It may be the way Kalafatis instructs the Suns to play, but amazingly 15 players have been given yellow cards this season, while as a collective they have amassed 50 yellow cards, an average of just more than two a game.

In addition, I have not touched on that disastrous FFA Cup night where Kalafatis, former import Liam Baxter and Monty Al-Gazaly were all given straight reds.

2. Results

I may be harsh, but football is a results driven business and in the past three seasons the Suns have been on the decline.

In Kalafatis’ first year in charge his side finished fifth, with 15 wins, two draws and 11 losses, amassing a club-high 47 points.

Last year the Suns lost more games than they won, finishing the campaign on 37 points with a record of 11 wins, four draws and 13 losses.

This season, with just three rounds to go, Kalafatis would need to win at least two games to not have his worst season to date as manager.

After 25 rounds the Suns sit on 32 points in fifth position, having won eight games, drawn eight and lost nine, while their goal difference currently sits at minus one.

Of course injuries, suspension and the like are to blame for this, however, the Suns’ consistency has been a major issue this season, with the best run of games coming from rounds two to six where they were undefeated in five, winning two of them.

Kalafatis is currently running with a win record of 21.08 per cent, and if the club wants fans, members and supporters to start attending and utilising the soon-to-be brand new facilities at McEwen Reserve, the club simply needs more wins than losses.

Or, if they are happy with how everything is going then so be it, the club can remain in the chasing pack and never really amount to anything great.

But then again, what is the point of existing if you are not aiming to be great?

3. Squad

There is enough talented players in this squad to challenge, and Kalafatis agrees, as he has told me more than enough times, but finding the consistency in them is the biggest problem.

The Suns have matched it with the best of sides this season, however, they have not done it for long enough.

More often than not there is a defensive lapse, a stupid red card or lack of communication that lets the region’s premier club down.

Hughes is brilliant player — a game changer, England is class, Al-Gazaly is safe in goals, the Lelliott brothers are very handy, but I feel they lack two or three very good players who can take them to the next level, the level they should be aiming for.

In conclusion:

This summer I believe will ultimately make or break the GV Suns.

It will be a crucial period when they have to decide where they want to belong in this competition.

They can continue to fight and scrap in the lower leagues, or take the jump and invest in a coach who can do that for them.

A coach who will demand respect, rather than, from the outside, look like one of the ‘‘boys’’ — the coach needs to be a coach and not a playing-coach.

But then again, this comes back to the board.

Where do they want to take this club, do they want to become a powerhouse or continue to run a club with 50-odd spectators turning up week in and week out?

I know which direction I would be striving for and you don’t need to throw money around to achieve it — look at Leicester.

Anything is possible if you believe, and once you do, you are half way there.

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