A-League Season Nine
It’s finally here!!!! Ermagerd, the A-League has the longest off season – a miserable 172 days – and tomorrow, the wait is finally over. The 2013/14 season will kick off with Newcastle Jets travelling to Sydney FC in an early preview of who will finish in the middle of the table.
After a shitty 2011/12 season which saw teams disbanded and club owners threatening to pull financial support, there was a marked turnaround in the 2012/13 season and now optimism in Australia for the domestic competition is at an all-time high. A hugely successful season saw the debutant Western Sydney Wanderers have a fairytale run where they won the league and made the Grand Final. The big three marquee players – Del Piero, Ono and Heskey – were all huge hits at their clubs and are back for another season. Attendance and TV viewership went up 18%.
So what to expect for this season?
For the first time, the league is going to have live matches on free-to-air television which should continue to increase the league’s exposure. Arguably the talent is about the same as last season. As mentioned, there haven’t really been any new major marquee signings and although some high profile A-League players have returned (Matt McKay, Matt Simon), there has also been the departure of some of last year’s best players including Tommy Rogic, Matt Ryan and Marcos Rojas.
Who will rise to the occasion this season is anyone’s guess and that’s part of the fun with the A-League. In Round One, every fan should feel optimistic about their team’s chances of making the finals. Well, unless you support Melbourne Heart.
Brisbane Roar Season Predictions
Matt McKay (from Changchun Yatai)
Liam Miller (from Perth Glory)
Diogo Ferreira (from Melbourne Victory)
Dimitri Petratos (from Kelantan, Malaysia)
Corey Brown (elevated from youth side)
George Lambadardis (elevated from youth side)
Massimo Murdocca (to Melbourne Heart)
Matt Jurman (to Sydney FC)
Mitch Nichols (to Melbourne Victory)
Ben Halloran (to Fortuna Dusselldorf, Germany)
Stefan Nijland (to PEC, Zwolle, Netherlands)
Steven Lustica (to Hadjuk Split, Croatia – loan expired)
James Meyer (released)
Last year the club got off to a spectacularly awful start in their defence of a back-to-back premiereship. The club struggled under new coach Rado Vidosic and despite a welcome 5-0 thrashing of Melbourne Victory in Round Two who were coached by former Roar manager Ange Postecoglou, the team struggled to find goals and were at the bottom of the table in December. Rado Vidosic was unceremoniously dumped into a ‘technical director’ role and former Gold Coast United manager Mike Mulvey was brought in. Despite a frosty reception, Mulvey gradually won over fans and righted the course for Brisbane as they ended up scraping into fifth spot thanks to a win over Sydney FC in the final round. They were eventually knocked out in the semi finals against Western Sydney Wanderers who beat them four times out of four in the season.
The off-season has seen the release of seven players, none of whom are critical to the success of the team. Mostly, I was sad to see foundation player Massimo Murdocca go. I was thrilled with the release of Matt Jurman, our notoriously awful central defender who seemed to gift the opposition at least one goal per game. Given our fragile attack, I’m mystified at the decision to release James Meyer. He seemed pretty handy for about 5-6 goals per season coming off the bench.
Of the new signings, the most exciting would have to be the return of former captain and Socceroo defender Matt McKay. His link up in midfield with Thomas Broich and Liam Miller (formerly of Manchester United and Celtic FC) is an enticing prospect.
We have a reasonable looking squad on paper with a much improved defensive line up but the inability to sign a new striker in the off season means we are hugely reliant on Besart Berisha to deliver the goods. He scored a record 22 goals in his first season and has been in good nick during pre-season but a downturn in form or a single injury would cruelly expose the lack of depth in the squad.
Whatever happens, I’ll be there to see every minute. After letting my season membership lapse last year, I’m back on board again this year with Jen and two other mates.
Prediction: 3rd, regular season. Overall semi final finish.
Last year, my predictions were hilariously bad. Here’s what I tipped with the worst predictions in bold:
- Shane Smeltz (Perth Glory) will be the league’s top scorer
- Melbourne Victory will finish in the top six and qualify for finals football
- West Sydney will be absolute rubbish in their first season
- Melbourne Heart will struggle this season and end up wooden spooners
- Wellington Phoenix will continue to perform well under the radar
- ADP will score six goals
- Emile Heskey will outscore Del Piero
- Brisbane Roar won’t make the Grand Final
Undaunted, I have a fresh set of predictions for 2013/14:
- Western Sydney Wanderers will win the regular season
- Melbourne Victory will win the Grand Final
- Mark Bridge will be the league’s top scorer
- The teams that will qualify for the finals: Central Coast Mariners, Western Sydney Wanderers, Melbourne Victory, Brisbane Roar, Perth Glory and Sydney FC
- Melbourne Heart will finish with the wooden spoon
Season Nine is finally here. Let’s do this!