VAN NISTELROOY BACKS BOLT
IN terms of finishing, praise doesn’t come from many higher sources than Ruud van Nistelrooy.
The Dutch great, one of the most ruthless strikers of his generation and the reason Usain Bolt started supporting Manchester United, liked what he saw of the Jamaican track legend’s maiden Mariners goal.
“Great movement and finish!” van Nistelrooy tweeted.
Others abroad took notice too, and former Aston Villa midfielder Ian Taylor was surprised the through ball for Bolt’s big moment had come from Villa loanee Ross McCormack.
“Never thought I’d see Ross McCormack providing an assist for Usain Bolt,” Taylor wrote.
Despite his overall unremarkable performance, Bolt’s brace in Friday night’s 4-0 win over a Macarthur South West United side quickly went viral.
By yesterday afternoon, the Mariners’ video of the first goal had garnered 4.8 millions views and 21,000 Twitter likes.
Bolt’s own post of the strong run and neat finish amassed 25,000 retweets and 93,000 likes. Others on social media quipped the world’s fastest man now has more goals this season than struggling United star Alexis Sanchez.
Yet for all the high-profile praise, the only man whose opinion really matters was not getting carried away by the ALeague hopeful’s starting debut.
Mariners coach Mike Mulvey did take his hat off to the 32-year-old, who “to his great credit has learnt and improved”.
But he offered no indication Bolt’s name would be on the sheet for the season-opener away to Brisbane next Sunday.
Nor, indeed, was he willing to bring forward the January timeframe he’d set to assess his famous trialist’s progress.
“No, I think we’re all in agreement we’ll look about January,” Mulvey said. “You can’t just react to something that’s just happened right in front of us. If this had been last night it would have been a different story.”
The night prior, a starkly different Central Coast line-up lost 2-0 to Sydney FC in a behind-closed-doors friendly.
The key difference was that, unlike Bolt’s hit-out against some promising NPL players, the Sky Blues are A-League opposition and another significant step up for a footballer of Bolt’s inexpertise.
“You don’t get caught in the headlights, he’s another player,” Mulvey said. “He is a sup- erstar, I understand that, and it’s no disrespect whatsoever.
“He’s a beautiful human being, a humble guy, and he’s really mixed in with everybody fantastically well. And he scored a couple of goals. He’s still got a long way to go.”
That was the general consensus and former Socceroos goalkeeper Mark Bosnich described Bolt’s first touch as poor and noted “a slight improvement but not very much”.
Bolt is hoping he’ll soon get more clarity on his prospects at the club but felt he needs more match experience.
“If I get to play with them more I’ll understand the game, the pace of the game, I’ll know what I need to do to get better,” he said. “You can train all you want, but if you don’t get playing time … if you train, yes, but when you’re on the field it’s totally different.”
The question now is: How he can best obtain it?
Mulvey might have considered playing him in the National Youth League, which kicks off in another month, however Football Federation Australia rules stipulate over-age players are only eligible if they have an A-League contract.
“My main mission is Brisbane next week,” Mulvey said.
“That’s always been the aim, get the pre-season done properly, make sure we’re fit, strong and ready to go, and have competition for places.”