The Uncontentious Guide To The A-League, Kinda
The A-League is back!
Other international leagues are well underway, and it's finally our turn for the wild ride of celebration and disappointment that comes with being a football fan.
Teams have been busy in the offseason, the merry-go-round of players has continued, but there's fresh coaching blood to bring new ideas to the competition.
Here's what you need to know for the upcoming A-League season, beginning October 11.
- Named Tom Aldred as captain despite him never having played a game for them.
- Have had one of the bigger player clear-outs in the comp, with more than a dozen new faces joining the ranks. However, a good pre-season has shown they might just have gelled in time.
- Shooting hopes will lay at the feet of Roy O'Donovan, who has proven his worth previously in the A-League.
- Former Liverpool great Robbie Fowler is at the helm, will be hoping to not join the long line of pundits failing to transition into management.
- Have been a little quieter in the transfer market than other teams, resulting in a distinct lack of depth.
- Injury woes are already mounting in the attacking half of the team, with Kaine Sheppard and new Irish signing Wes Hoolahan both out until next year.
- Could be rescued by the experience of Nigel Boogaard and Nikolai Topor-Stanley holding the backline firm.
Central Coast Mariners
- Well, it can't get much worse for them after the last two seasons.
- But there is hope in the way of former Matildas coach Alen Stajcic, who has made a mark in his first pre-season.
- Bringing in a slew of signings, including Kim Eun-Sun who has plenty of Asian top-flight experience to boss the midfield.
- They'll be looking to Scotsman Ziggy Gordon to shore up a leaky defence (they let in a mere 70 goals last season).
Western Sydney Wanderers
- Also made a few international signings, most notably Alex Meier and Daniel Lopar.
- But so much hope has already been dashed. Marquee striker Radosław Majewski has been ruled out for much of the season with an ACL injury.
- But everything will be alright, because have you heard they have a new stadium?
- Speaking of stadiums, the current holders of the Toilet Seat trophy are still homeless.
- Lost a few stalwarts (including retired Alex Brosque, and Josh Brillante who defected to Melbourne City), leaving Steve Corica the job of rebuilding a side which has come to expect big things.
- Might be living off past glory, as the pre-season has not gone well, with just one win against an A-League side.
- Experienced core of Milos Ninkovic and Brandon O'Neill will be relied on heavily to direct the newbies around.
- Another team with a new manager, Erick Mombaerts. This one intends on bringing an attacking mindset.
- Have poached Josh Brillante from the champs.
- Striker Jamie Maclaren will be shouldering the goal hopes, but he has plenty of A-League experience to deal with that.
- Have left their marquee-signing ways and returned to home talent.
- Socceroos duo Robbie Kruse and Andrew Nabbout are back, and with that comes the expectation they will put on a show worthy of their international call-ups.
Western United FC
- New kids on the block (because Melbourne needed a third team apparently).
- Have pillaged the competition to fill their roster.
- Pre-season hasn't been great, with only one win against an A-League side, but understandable for a brand new team.
- Will just be happy to have fans in the stands.
- Could be a bit dry in the goal-scoring department, especially after last season's top goal scorer Craig Goodwin left. No other player hit double digits.
- But there is hope with Norwegian striker Kristian Opseth, who is 189 centimetres of firepower.
- Al Hassan Toure is a youngster to watch. Promoted from the youth teams, he has been tearing it up in pre-season FFA Cup games.
- Despite being current premiers, there has been a mass exodus.
- It's a Tony Popovic team, so it's all about defence.
- You also can't look past Socceroo Chris Ikonomidis, who will be key on the wings.
- Will be racking up the Frequent Flyer points, and have to balance an AFC Champions League run for the first time as well.
- Have a fear of penalty shootouts.
- Yes, our seventh state neighbours are still in the competition.
- Pre-season hasn't been anything to write home about, especially a shock exit in the Round of 32 in the FFA Cup to an NPL team.
- Have a creative midfield though, particularly in the form of new recruit Ulises Dávila.
- Youth. Everywhere. The average age of this team is just 23. (We feel old.)