2016-17 Season Preview- OppositionPosted: October 3, 2016
Over the past couple of weeks we’ve taken an in depth look at the 2016-17 Brisbane side, covering all of the first team players and the youngsters who are waiting in the wings for an opportunity. Today with the new season kicking off on Friday night we’ll take a look at the nine opposition clubs and who figures to be the teams to beat.
Last Season: 1st
Manager: Guillermo Amor
In: Ryan Kitto, Marc Marino, Ben Garuccio, Jesse Makarounas, Henrique, Nikola Mileusnic, Sergi Guardiola, James Holland.
Out: Eli Babalj, Bruce Kamau, Ruon Tongyik, Craig Goodwin, Pablo Sanchez, Stefan Mauk, Bruce Djite, Mate Dugandzic.
Last seasons’ Champions have undergone an off-season makeover with five members of their Grand Final side moving on, including last seasons duel top scorers Bruce Djite and Pablo Sanchez.
Hopefully filling that loss of goals will be Sergi Guardiola, who arrives on a season long loan from Granada. Former Brisbane fan favourite Henrique and James Holland add to the sides starting line-up while they’ve also added to their South Australian contingent with Garuccio, Marino and Kitto.
Central Coast Mariners
Last Season: 10th
Manager: Paul Okon
In: Jacques Faty, Mickael Tavares, Ivan Necevski, Connor Pain, Blake Powell, Kwabena Appiah.
Out: Alastair Bray, Mitch Austin, Josh Rose, Anthony Kalik, Francesco Stella, Dan Heffernan, Tomislav Uskok, Luis Garcia.
After a poor season last time around with just the three wins, the Mariners have looked to strengthen the spine of their side adding Sydney trio Ivan Necevski, Jacques Faty and Mickael Tavares to what is a young side. Former Wellington striker Blake Powell will also add to the firepower.
The off-season however has been one of upheaval off the park as well, with Tony Walmsley being sacked following a loss to Green Gully in the FFA Cup Round of 32. In Wamsley’s place is Paul Okon, who gets his chance in the A-League after years in the Young Socceroos coaching set-up. With the bulk of the recruitment done prior to his arrival however he’ll need to make do with what he’s got in the interim.
Last Season: 5th
Manager: John van’t Schip
In: Manny Muscat, Bruce Kamau, Ruon Tongyik, Luke Brattan, Daniel Arzani, Neil Kilkenny, Fernando Brandan, Tim Cahill, Josh Rose, Michael Jakobsen, Nicolas Colazo, Braedyn Crowley.
Out: Alex Wilkinson, Michael Zullo, Aaron Mooy Jack Clisby, Jacob Melling, Harry Novillo), Marc Marino, Ben Garuccio, Patrick Kisnorbo.
City completed the coup of the off-season with the arrival of Tim Cahill as a marquee player, and his partnership with Bruno Fornaroli figures to be one of the storylines of the season. While City look strong in the middle and front thirds if they have a weakness, it’s at the back, particularly in the full-back areas where they are potentially light on.
Across the board however City have one of, if not the best squad in the league and figure to be right in amongst the contenders over the course of the season. Should they fail to meet the expectations, it could be the end for van’t Schip with the City Football Group surely expecting a return for all of their investment.
Last Season: 6th
Manager: Kevin Muscat
In: James Donachie, Mitch Austin, Alan Baro, James Troisi, Marco Rojas, Alastair Bray.
Out: Kosta Barbarouses, Gui Finkler, Mathieu Delpierre, Archie Thompson, Giancarlo Gallifuoco, Dylan Murnane, Jesse Makarounas, Joey Katebian, Connor Pain, Thomas Deng, Danny Vukovic.
Victory will probably start favourites once again this season with Kevin Muscat re-inventing his squad following last seasons disappointing conclusion to the season. Troisi, Baro and Rojas have come in to replace Finkler, Delpierre and Barbarouses respectively, while Austin and Donachie add to the teams impressive depth.
The one question mark is in goals where Lawrence Thomas is yet to fully nail down the position and with limited options behind him they will need to hope he delivers upon his potential. On the whole however Victory possess probably the most complete side in the league this season and should be there when the silverware is handed out.
Last Season: 8th
Manager: Mark Jones
In: Devante Clut, Wayne Brown, Daniel Alessi, Andrew Hoole, Jack Duncan, Ivan Vujica, Andrew Nabbout, Alesandr Kokko.
Out: Cameron Watson, Enver Alivodic, Leonardo, Brandon Lundy, Ryan Kitto, Mark Birighitti.
Newcastle will be hoping that the return of Jones to the club can return the Newcastle spirit to the Jets because on paper at least it appears they have a squad that can push for the finals.
The squad has a group of talented youngsters who broke through at other A-League clubs but failed to be regulars and are looking for regular playing time, with the likes of Clut, Alessi, and Hoole all falling into that category. Jones however will be dealing with the same situation as Okon with limited spots open to him to bring players in to the squad.
Last Season: 5th
Manager: Kenny Lowe
In: Rhys Williams, Joseph Mills, Nick Feely, Liam Reddy, Brandon Wilson, Rostyn Griffiths, Milan Smiljanic, Joel Chianese.
Out: Gyorgy Sandor, Ruben Zadkovich, Diogo Ferreira, Hagi Gligor, Krisztian Vadocz, Jerrad Tyson, Ante Covic.
A theme of Perth’s recruitment has been to acquire Western Australian with 14 currently on the books including the return of Rhys and Rostyn Williams. The U-turn of Chris Herd is a loss but with Smiljanic coming in as a replacement Perth will see them lose nothing, and while the losses of Zadkovich, Sandor Vadocz and Covic will hurt they’ve replaced them well.
Should all of Perth’s recruits gel the Glory could be set for a return to the top of the table, a place they made their own for the majority of the 2014-15 season before salary cap breaches saw them removed from the finals picture.
Last Season: 7th
Manager: Graham Arnold
In: Alex Wilkinson, Michael Zullo, Josh Brillante, Danny Vukovic, Bernie Ibini, Bobo, George Timotheou, Charles Lokolingoy, Bai Antoniou.
Out: Jacques Faty, Michael Tavares, Ivan Necevski, Ali Abbas, Zac Anderson, Robert Stambolziev, Christopher Naumoff, Jacob Tratt, Riley Woodcock, Alex Mullen, Anthony Bouzanis, Andrew Hoole, Shane Smeltz.
Last Season: 9th
Manager: Ernie Merrick
In: Kosta Barbarouses, Gui Finkler, Marco Rossi, Adam Parkhouse, Jacob Tratt, Ryan Lowry.
Out: Ben Sigmund, Manny Muscat, Justin Gulley, James McGarry, Oliver Sail, Albert Riera, Troy Danaskos, Kwabena Appiah, Blake Powell.
Wellington have recruited strongly this season with Victory duo Barbarouses and Finkler bolstering the Nix attack and Italian defender Marco Rossi coming in to replace the retiring Ben Sigmund in defence. Aside from Sigmund, Wellington have retained most of their important players with just Riera, Muscat and last seasons revelation Blake Powell moving on.
The big problem for the Wellington is they start the year without their All Whites players due to the international break, something which will impact the start to their season and test their already somewhat thin depth. If the Phoenix can keep their best team on the park this season finals should be on the radar.
Western Sydney Wanderers
Last Season: Second
Manager: Tony Popovic
In: Jerrad Tyson, Steven Lustica, Bruno Pinatares, Artiz Borda, Jumpei Kusukami, Robert Cornthwaite, Jack Clisby, Jacob Melling, Kerem Bulut, Nicolas Martinez, Emilio Martinez.
Out: Alberto Aguilar, Andreu Mayoral, Romeo Castelen, Golgol Mebrahtu, Federico Piovoccari, Matt Sim, Liam Reddy, Josh Macdonald, Mark Bridge, Shayne D’Cunha, Alusine Fofanah, Daniel Alessi, Dario Vidosic, Jacob Pepper, Scott Jamieson.
Last seasons beaten Grand Finalists have undergone a major overhaul once again going into this season with Alberto, Andreu, Castelen, Bridge, Vidosic and Jamieson, all of whom played a big part in the team last time around all moving on. In their place are a bunch are imports Pinatares, Borda and Martinez who should look to solidify the spine of Tony Popovic’s side.
The big question mark on the Wanderers is the potential lack of firepower with the lack of a big name striker upfront to put the ball in the net, although the return of fan favourite Bulut could help. Left back, where Jack Clisby is the likely starter is also a potential problem area. A finals appearance could be on the cards for the Wanderers, although they are likely to be an outsider for honours this season.