Prior to kick-off of the 2014-15 Hyundai A-League season, most ardent Phoenix fans would have reckoned on their Central Coast recruit Mike McGlinchey as being the main man the team needed for being able to split an opposition's defence open with an intricate through pass or to be a constant threat from attacking set-pieces.
Indeed, Ernie Merrick chased his man with a fervour akin to Tommy Lee-Jones tracking down Harrison Ford in 'The Fugitive'.
What has transpired however, is that whilst McGlinchey has certainly earned a pass mark with his early goalscoring streak, subsequent creativity and a willingness to frequently run himself to almost a standstill, it is another midfielder whose star has shone just that little brighter for the yellow and blacks.
Find a strong Nix performance from this season and the silky-skilled Dutchman Roly Bonevacia was no doubt the fulcrum of it.
It will of course be no surprise to any soccer follower that a player hailing the the Netherlands can pass a ball so well; the greater surprise is that the Bonevacias of the football world can knock the ball around with better control and accuracy even when they are as young as eight years-of-age than most competitve adults from other nations.
During a three-month stay in that country while visiting my mother's side of the family more than twenty years ago, I witnessed first-hand the precision passing and clever running off the ball of the young kids during a primary schools tournament in The Hague (Den Haag). My second cousin Henkie, then ten years old, was a member of the side who eventually came runners-up.
It was a real eye-opener to see how even the not-so-athletic looking types could be a big influence on a match just by knowing where to move and where or who to feed the ball to. The point being they didn't need to be a will-o-the-wisp to be good, what was of greater value was enough skill and nous to time a killer pass to the faster goalscorers in front of them.
Undoubtedly such habits have been the outcome of Rinus Michels' 'Total Football' style of play and in Bonevacia the Phoenix have found the perfect foil for a powerful and direct free-runner like Nathan Burns.
Really, to be anywhere within cooee of the Grand Final in a few weeks, if Roly B can't re-kindle some of that rich form of the not so distant past then the Nix's chances of making it to the big dance in May are next to nil.
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