Red & Black Football

A-League season preview

As the pre season begins to draw to a close the question begins to linger on like the sweat left on club socks after an early season pre friendly for a Sunday league side, will this be the year the A league is reignited and rises from the ashes like a Phoenix (no pun intended)? With the talk of a second division, further expansion and potential promotion/ relegation, the talk around the A league has been the most positive it’s been in years, yet will the steamroller effect continue on or will the momentum burn out over the course of the season as it usually tends to do.

Many questions remain before the season begins, will the Wanderers return to dominance in their spiritual home of Parramatta? How will Western United fair in their first season? How will Victory deal with life after Muscat? Will the Mariners finally lift themselves off the foot of the ladder?

So many questions yet to be answered, but let’s try and predict one of the biggest seasons coming in recent memory for the A league.

11th– Wellington Phoenix Unfortunately for Wellington it seems like it’s all to do and the expectation for them this year is low, lower than normal anyway. Mark Rudan came through like a train in Wellington and transformed them immensely within a season. However, losing him and host of their stars from last season; Krishna, Singh and Williams just to name a few, it makes the already hard task even harder for Ufuk Talay and unfortunately it all seems too much for the Nix.

10th– CCM Now it may seem stock standard to place the Mariners at the base of the ladder however it’s hard not to when history tell us what it does. Despite placing them in 10th i do believe that Alan Stajic is an excellent coach and will improve that squad immensely, however, similarly to the Nix, the odds are stacked against them and barring a miracle they shouldn’t finish higher than 9th. When Matt Simon is your main man upfront you shouldn’t be expecting too much.

9th– Adelaide United Last seasons FFA cup champions and nearly GF surprise packet will undoubtedly experience a drop off this season. They’ve lost their charismatic leader in Marko Kurz and also leading man Graig Goodwin, which will be difficult to replace both of them within the dressing room and on the pitch. With a cut to finding don’t expect any last minute big marquees in SA. Unfortunately, Adelaide will be the biggest affected by the arrival of Western United, with their increased budget allowing them more freedom to sign who they need.

8th-Melbourne City The disapointers will continue to disappoint, what a surprise! City will see a drop off because of the lack of continuity in the side, along with increased competition in the market, with Western United coming in their territory but also Wanderers, Roar and Jets resurfacing as big names in the league. City will, unfortunately, fall behind this year and will begin to question their investment in the league and as an entity as a whole.

7th- Western United In terms of first seasons can go, western United should be fine to nearly get into the 6. They have enough firepower in Kone, Diamanti and McDonald to score the goals, and with Rudan at the helm they’ll be defensively sound week in week out. But with a lack of a defined home ground and being the new boys on the block, they’ll just miss out on finals football in there first year.

6th- Brisbane Roar The Fowler revolution should bear fruit for one of the most successful and seasoned A-League clubs in its short history. His recruiting has been excellent, picking up Aussies which have experience overseas and a host of foreigners from England which all have a common connection. They’ve looked good so far in pre-season, beating Sydney FC away from home in the FFA cup and should be a good shout to finish in the 6.

5th– Melbourne Victory Is it a drop off for Victory if they finish 5th? Yes, but we’ve got to put things into perspective, they’ve got Kevin Muscat, there main man since there existence in the A league and with that they’ve also lost quality players like Honda, Barbarouses and Terry Antonis. But with Marko Kurz at the helm a finals finish should be a guarantee for the Victory.

4th- Newcastle Jets Ernie Merrick tends to do this in a 2-year cycle, 1 year of success and another of downturn. So after last years narrow miss of a 6th place finish you’d expect them to kick on and smash there way into 4th place. They’ve recruited well upfront with Fitzgerald and Hoolahan looking good in pre-season but the core remains relatively the same from the side which made the grand final just 2 years ago. Expect the Jets to be the dark horse of the competition this year.

3rd- WSW The perfect storm looks to be brewing for the Wanderers with there spiritual home being marked with confidence in Markus Babbel to stay at the helm despite a poor first season in charge. He’s been given complete control of the squad and transfers and it looks to be showing with solid signings like Mcgowen, Schweg and Mawjeski, not to mention the most recent Meier from Germany. The jury is still out of the move with many doubting his ability because of his age but only time will tell. Having options upfront is also a bonus for the red and black with Duke and Yeboah being effective at the back end of last season, they’ll look to kick on this year. A champions league place looks likely for the Wanderers.

2nd- Sydney FC Sydney has seemingly done it all in the offseason recruitment, luring 2 of their biggest rivals stars to the sky blue for 19/20. In Barbourouses and Baumhojahn they’ve found 2 creative and clinical attackers to add to their already stacked frontline. And as usual when they looked like they’ve lost someone key in their side (Brilliante) they’ve managed to pick up a like for like replacement in a brattan. With most of the Championship winning side still in tack you’d expect Sydney to go on and continue to succeed in the upcoming season.

1st- Perth Glory What can you say except that they’ll want revenge. They were by the far the best of the league last season. Beating practically everyone in a near perfect campaign where their stars shone, Castro, Ikonomidis and Keogh. But they’ve undoubtedly strengthened for the upcoming season with stalwart Keogh being replaced by the prickly pear himself and Davidson being replaced by a South Korean international. With Poppa at the helm considering his record in the A league expect the same quality and measured success in the West.

Written by:

Andrew James Ellison

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