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Wednesday, 8 October 2014
A-League 2014-15 Season Preview
season marks the very proud 10th anniversary of the Hyundai A-League. The
unprecedented growth of soccer/football in this country is mirrored by record
crowd participation which is helping 'the world game' become a very popular
fixture on the Australian sporting landscape.
take a brief look at each club and their key signings, and play a sporting
version of Nostradamus by attempting to predict where each club will finish at
the end of Round 27.
big news to grace the league is the addition of David Villa to the newly
City franchise for the
opening 10 weeks of competition. The news follows on from the exit of immensely
popular imports ADP, Shinji Ono and Emile Heskey. Villa is very much at the
peak of his game and his enormous pulling power will ensure healthy crowds
gather to watch the former Spain,
and Atletico Madrid
star in the flesh.
coach Josep Gombau’s second year at the helm will hopefully see the fruits of
his labour in converting the club to a possession/tiki-taka branded philosophy.
Losing star striker and crowd favourite Jeronimo Neumann to the Newcastle Jets
will put the focus squarely on the shoulders of new recruit Pablo Sanchez
Alberto and club stalwart Bruce Djite to help deliver a positive goal
differential and a top four birth or better. I’m looking for big things from
the Reds this season.
season’s Premiers and Champions are never short on confidence and self-belief,
and is the reason they are the most successful club in the A-League. The loss
of enigmatic Albanian striker Besart Berisha to the Victory has plenty of fans
wondering if incoming Macedonian import Mensur Kurtisi can help fill the net
with some of the 13 goals from 20 games Berisha delivered last season. The loss
of Ivan Franjic to Torpedo Moscow is immense, but the experience of Smith,
Mackay, and Henrique, paired with the best import player this country has seen
in Thomas Broich, ensures the Roar will again be the benchmark of the
Central Coast Mariners
their impressive on field successes over the past four seasons, the Mariners
are always underrated in terms of predicting where they will finish each
season. A strong club with a wonderful culture, the off-field financial
murmurings often dominate the headlines. The dressing room and its management
have always driven the club, and this year will be no different. In nine
seasons, the club has only missed finals football twice, and has played in four
Grand Finals, tasting victory in 2012/13.
off-season has seen a new owner, new name, new jersey and one of the biggest names in
world football agreeing to terms for a 10 weeks stint. Melbourne City are
hoping David Villa fills stadiums across the country, but more importantly
delivers a winning culture to a club in desperate need of success. The problem
isn’t in how the new City
story begins, but how it ends in season 10. That ultimately pleases the growing
fans base and their wealthy owners.
Muscat took over from Socceroos boss Ange Postecoglou and one could probably
consider him unlucky of not going further last season. Signing Besart Berisha
is a huge plus, but the combination (Muscat
and Bersiha) could be more potent than nitro & glycerine. If the mix works
on the pitch, Muscat
can deliver the proud club its third Champions and Premiers title. Muscat has brought in
giant French defender Matthieu Delpierre to strengthen the back four, but his
height could also add some tall timber to the all-important set pieces.
Jets have a new look aircraft configuration and pilot to fly them this season,
with a squad virtually unrecognisable compared with seasons past. Their Golden
Boot winning striker Adam Taggart has shifted to English Championship side
Fulham, plus they've lost defenders Connor Chapman and Josh Mitchell. However,
the key signings of Marcos Flores, Jeronimo Neumann and Edson Montano will fill
the void. The big question mark facing new manager Phil Stubbins is how long
will it take for his new band of merry men to sing from the same song sheet? I
hope they prove my prediction wrong, as this fertile footballing nursery needs
the Jets winning.
say you need to reach rock bottom before you start your march back to the top,
and last year certainly proved a difficult one for the fans, players and
coaching staff alike. Some great acquisitions in Youssef Hersi, Mitch Nichols
and Republic of Ireland International striker Andrew
Keogh could be just what the doctor ordered for a team that haemorrhaged badly
last season with their fair share of on and off-field dramas. A poor away
record always weighs this club down as they load up on frequent-flyer miles,
but their distance away from the Eastern seaboard often helps them operate in
their own protected bubble.
far the club under the most pressure and expectation by fans and their own
board is Sydney FC. With the departure of ADP and the constantly under siege
former manager Frank Farina, the Sky Blues are now looking to the expertise of
experienced man manager Graham Arnold to guide the club to their second
Championship/Premiership double since the success of the 2009-10 season. Shane
Smeltz, Marc Janko, Bernie Ibini and Alex Brosque will all add starch to the
forward line, but will it be mid-field defensive fragilities of the past that
again haunts goalkeeper Vedran Janjetovic at the back. I’m guessing with Arnie
in charge they will improve on last season’s overachieving fifth spot.
would love to see Wellington Phoenix play finals football this season, but a
disastrous away record coupled with a home ground that visiting teams enjoy
rather than fear, I’m at pains to predict them not holding the wooden spoon
this season! But with a strong manager in Ernie Merrick, and the experience of
Nathan Burns up front, they can often be a thorn in the side of teams needing
points to qualify for finals football.
Wanderers are the envy of many clubs with wonderful fan support and an
impressive Asian Champions League Final berth in only their second season. Tony
Popovic has overseen a change in personnel that sees a great balance between
youth and experience. The addition of talented Brazilian midfielder Vitor Saba
may add more spice to an attack that has lost the likes of Youssef Hersi,
Shinji Ono and the defensive experience of Michael Beauchamp. Write the
Wanderers off at your own peril, as it will still take a quality side to take
three points off them each week, especially in front of their passionate home