With the A-League season kicking off over the weekend, I’m going to preview each team for the 2016/2017 season.
Adelaide took on the Newcastle Jets Sunday Twilight at Hunter Stadium, the current A-League champs will want to continue their momentum heading into the new season after being A-League champions last season.
Mark Ochieng and Ben Warland have signed on to continue playing for the Reds in the current season under coach Guillermo Amor, Spanish Striker Sergi Guardiola brings a welcome relief down forward for the Reds this season.
Adelaide have brought in depth through their best 11, and will be hard to stop and will definitely be headlining Finals yet again for the South Australians, I believe they’ll finish 2nd.
Brisbane started their continual rise up the table against Melbourne Victory on Friday night to begin the new season with a drew. Under coach John Aloisi, Brisbane are looking ready to Roar for the new season.
Vice-Captain Jade North had a tremendous run of games last season for the Roar, and said in the presser during the week that they are looking to continue their positive run in a Elimination Finals rematch against Melbourne Victory, which they won at the death.
They’ve worked in well bringing in Socceroos midfielder Tommy Oar into the squad after his year stint at Ipswich Town in England. My tip is the Roar will finish just outside the top 5 with a tight battle, they’ll finish 6th.
Central Coast Mariners
It’s been a trying pre-season for the Mariners who finished on the bottom of the ladder, despite bringing in marquee Luis Garcia in the latter part of the season. Sacking coach Tony Walmsley and then sacking Josh Hutchinson who was caretaking, the Mariners look out of sorts.
They’ve brought in former Socceroos defender Paul Okon for the new season, and under his guidance need to bring respectability back to the Mariners who were at one point the powerhouses of the competition.
It’ll be a tough ask for the Mariners this season, expect them to finish 10th.
City have an unbelievable looking squad, and will at times look dangerous with Bruno Fornaroli re-signing with the club for another year, and bringing in Tim Cahill was another big swing forward for Van’t Schipp’s men.
With Thomas Sorenson committing again to the club, and the season he had last year they’ll be a tough unit throughout the park.
City was without Cahill for the first game due to the Socceroos World Cup Qualifier against Saudi Arabia, but this didn’t deter them – clawing to victory over the Wellington Phoenix. They’ll be a loss but with Manny Muscat, Neil Kilkenny and Anthony Caceres looking to be the factors in this side, City should finish 3rd.
From one Melbourne team to another, Victory looked to have bolstered their stocks after departures of Gui Finkler and Kosta Barbarouses to Wellington, Matthieu Delpierre who was a rock in defense announcing his retirement and Danny Vukovic heading to Sydney for family reasons.
Lawrence Thomas who was a third string goalkeeper at Melbourne Victory this time last year, has worked incredibly hard over the course of the year and pre-season to become a first stringer.
Victory have brought in James Troisi and the returning Marcos Rojas to the side for depth through the middle, and captain Carl Valeri is fit and raring to go at another tilt at the championship. Victory to finish 4th. this season, but have a big finals campaign again.
Another team that have had issues and will take time to discover their best form again are the Hunter Valley Newcastle Jets.
From rubble the team finished in 9th, but looked strong early under coach Scott Miller, but like Central Coast need to rebuild the team before they can start knocking on finals door.
Newcastle have the reigning premiers first up and it won’t be easy run for the home side, expect them to finish 9th again this season but continue to get respectability back.
This is Perth’s best chance to win the A-League, they’ve got a dangerous forward third in Irish striker Andy Keogh and Adam Taggart who had a failed stint at Fulham last season, returning to the A-League.
Kenny Lowe re-signed with the club because the board at Glory knew he would be the right man for the job, and I expect them to not only challenge but to win it as well and finish minor premiers.
It’s going to be another one of those tough years ahead for Graham Arnold at Sydney FC, the club missed their first finals in history last season, and the outspoken coach wasn’t pleased with some decisions being made on field.
Sydney bring in experience, which was lacking last season and named a full strength squad heading into the Sydney Derby at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night — convincingly seeing their opposing team Wander home 4 goals-zip.
Sydney though like Brisbane will miss out on Finals unfortunately this season, with the top 5 going to be closer than what it was last season.
Western Sydney Wanderers
Speaking of the rivals, the Wanderers under Tony Popovic came close to being premiers last year, but fell short against Adelaide United in the Grand Final.
They brought in for their Derby match former Melbourne City defender Jack Clisby who wants to make his mark in the red and black this season. Mitch Nichols goes around again for the Wanderers, and expect forward Brendan Santalab to be dangerous as he was the man of the finals last season.
The Wanderers will finish in 5th this year, and just make it through to the Finals.
Ernie Merrick’s team is falling into place quite nicely, with the Phoenix manager bringing in outgoing Victory players Kosta Barbarouses and Gui Finkler who have headed across the Tasman to play for Wellington this season.
This will be the start of something magical for the kiwis, with the new license coming in to keep the Nixs in the A-League for another 10 years. Phoenix will drift between 5th and 8th and will finish either 7th or 8th this year in yet another tight ladder finish. But don’t count them out at all this season.
That is my quick prediction of each 10 teams, let me know your thoughts.