Off-Season Transfer Recap

With the A-League now entering the pre-season it seems like a good time to recap the changes across the competition since Adelaide won their first Championship back in early May. It’s still too early to make any predictions for the upcoming season, and almost all sides still have some big recruitment decisions to make or announce but plenty has happened in the last six weeks or so.

Adelaide United
In: Ryan Kitto (Newcastle Jets), Marc Marino, Ben Garuccio (Melbourne City), Jesse Makarounas (Melbourne Victory).

Out: Craig Goodwin (Sparta Rotterdam), Eli Babalj (AZ Alkmaar- Loan Return), Pablo Sanchez (Released), Bruce Kamau, Ruon Tongyik (Melbourne City) Ben Warland, Mark Ochieng, John Solari, Dylan Smith (All released).

Current best available XI: Galekovic, Marrone, McGowan, La Rocca, Isaias, Mauk, Carrusca, Dugandzic, Cirio, Djite.
Reserves: Hall, Elsey, Garuccio, Mells, Makarounas, Kitto, Marino.

Starting with the defending Champions and Adelaide have managed to keep a large portion of their Championship winning roster in tact with just Craig Goodwin, Bruce Kamau and Pablo Sanchez moving on from the Grand Final winning side. In their stead are a few South Australians playing elsewhere in the league with Ben Garuccio, Marc Marino, Jesse Makarounas and Ryan Kitto adding extra depth.

The one position still to be filled by the Reds is the right wing role where Bruce Kamau established himself last season. They do however have a visa spot to play with so they could yet bring in a quality replacement. All up though things are looking relatively smooth for the defending champs.

Brisbane Roar
In: Kye Rowles (Palm Beach), Connor O’Toole (Adelaide United Youth), Jacob Pepper (Western Sydney).

Out: Devante Clut (Newcastle), Jean Carlos Solórzano (Rochedale Rovers), Shane Stefanutto (Retired), Javier Hervas (Zeljeznicar), Steven Lustica (Western Sydney), James Donachie (Melbourne Victory), Henrique Silva (Negeri Sembilan), Miguel Corona (Almeria).


Current best available XI:
  Young, Hingert, North, Bowles, Brown, Pepper, Petratos, McKay, Oar, Broich, Maclaren.

Reserves: Theo, Polenz, DeVere, Rowles, O’Toole, Caletti, Borrello, Brady.

It’s been another off-season of discontent in the river city with the clubs financial and ownership dramas once again in the foreground. There has also been a fair drain of talent off the roster leaving John Aloisi’ side looking rather thin at this stage.

The likes of Stefanutto, Corona, Henrique and Donachie have all moved on or retired, with just youngsters Rowles and O’Toole, plus ex Wanderer Jacob Pepper as additions. The focus for John Aloisi will likely be in the middle and front third where departures have left his options limited.

Central Coast Mariners
In: Ivan Necevski (Sydney FC), Jacques Faty (Sydney FC), Mickael Tavares (Sydney FC), Connor Pain (Melbourne Victory), Blake Powell, Kwabena Appiah (Wellington Phoenix), Jake Adelson, Adam Berry (Youth promotions).

Out: Luis Garcia (Retired), Anthony Kalik (Hajduk Split), Mitch Austin (Melbourne. Victory), Alistair Bray, Dan Heffernan, Tomislav Uskok, Francesco Stella (All Released).

Current best available XI: Necevski, Roux, Faty, Poscoliero, Neill, Montgomery, Tavares, Ferreira, Powell, Pain, O’Donovan.
Reserves: Izzo, Heward-Belle, Adelson, McGing, Ascroft, J. Rose, Berry, L. Rose, Appiah, McDonald, Bingham,  Buhagiar, Fletcher.

Last season was a  have undergone something of a transformation in terms of their squad with Tony Walmsley adding 8 players to his squad so far. Most of those recruits will add some much needed experience to the spine of the team, however they still do perhaps lack the game breakers to go on and make an impact in the competition.

With 24 players signed it’s likely that this is the squad which the Mariners will enter the new season with, however if there was to be any new additions a creative player to link the midfield to the front third would be a handy addition.

Melbourne City
In: Luke Brattan, Anthony Caceres (Man City- Loan), Bruce Kamau,  Ruon Tongyik  (Adelaide United), Manny Muscat (Wellington Phoenix), Daniel Arzani (FFA Centre of Excellence).

Out: Aaron Mooy (Man City), Harry Novillo (Manisaspor), Alex Wilkinson, Michael Zullo (Sydney FC), Ben Garuccio, Marc Marino (Adelaide), Patrick Kisnorbo (Retired), Aaron Hughes, James Brown, Jason Trifiro, Wade Dekker (All released).

Current best available XI: Sorensen, Franjic, Muscat, Chapman, Clisby, Malik, Brattan, Caceres, Kamau, Fitzgerald, Fornaroli.
Reserves: Bouzanis, Retre, Tongyik, Melling, Arzani, Gameiro, Kuzmanovski.

City have spent up big in the closed season with a number of additions, and the possibility of more to come. A big part of their squad building has been swaps with their big brother in Manchester, with marquee man Aaron Mooy departing for England while Luke Brattan and Anthony Caceres return to the A-League on loan moves.

The real position of need for City appears to be at back where they could do with both a central defender and a left back, however rumours are swirling that they’re about to take advantage of the FFA’s newly introduced third marquee rule and bring Tim Cahill to the A-League.

Melbourne Victory
In: James Donachie (Brisbane), Mitch Austin (Central Coast), Alan Baro (Ponferradina), Lucas Spinella, Stefan Nigro (Victory Youth).

Out: Kosta Barbarouses, Gui Finkler (Wellington Phoenix), Thomas Deng (PSV Eindhoven-loan), Jesse Makarounas (Adelaide), Mathieu Delpierre (Retired), Dylan Murnane, Giancarlo Gallifuoco, Joey Katebian, Archie Thompson (All Released).

Current best available XI: Vukovic, Geria, Donachie, Baro, Galloway, Broxham, Valeri, Bozanic, Austin, Ben Khalfallah, Berisha.
Reserves: Thomas, Nigro, Ansell, Georgievski, Mahazi, Ingham, Howard.

Victory have lost a number of key players in the aftermath of their Champions League exit with Delpierre Finkler, Barbarouses, Deng and long-time fan favourite Archie Thompson all moving on.

Replacements have been slow in arriving so far, but they have upgraded their backline with the addition of ex-Roar defender James Donachie and Spaniard Alan Baro. Creativity in midfield and another wide attack are amongst the likely players the Victory will bring in before the start of the season.

Newcastle Jets
In: Devante Clut (Brisbane), Wayne Brown (SJK Seinäjoki), Daniel Alessi (Western Sydney), Andrew Hoole (Sydney), Jack Duncan (Randers), Ivan Vujica (Dinamo).

Out: Mark Birighitti (Heading to Europe-TBC), Ryan Kitto (Adelaide), Cameron Watson, Enver Alivodic, Leonardo, Josh Barresi, Brendon Lundy (All Released).

Scott Miller has a reasonably well rounded squad entering the pre-season, however the one area that still needs to be addressed is upfront, where Newcastle have a bunch of unknowns outside of Nordstrand and the returning Andrew Hoole. The addition of Devante Clut will also add some much needed goals from midfield.

Of those that have departed the Hunter, the biggest loss would undoubtedly be goalkeeper Mark Birighitti who is trying his luck in Europe, however the addition of former understudy Jack Duncan ensures Newcastle will have solid options to choose from in goal.

Current best available XI: Duncan, Hoffman, Mullen, Boogaard, Vujica, Ugarkovic, Poljak, Clut, Brown, Hoole, Nordstrand .
Reserves: Kennedy, Cowburn, Alessi, Muata-Marlow, Jackson, Kantarovski, Cooper, Brennan, Haliti, Pavicevic.

Perth Glory
In: Rhys Williams (Middlesbrough), Joseph Mills (Oldham), Chris Herd (Chesterfield), Liam Reddy (Western Sydney), Brandon Wilson (Burnley), Nick Feely (Unknown).

Out: Ruben Zadkovich (Retired), Jerrad Tyson (Western Sydney), Gyorgy Sandor, Diogo Ferreira, Hagi Gligor, Krisztian Vadocz, Ante Covic, Jacob Collard (All Released).

Current best available XI: Reddy, Risdon, Djulbic, Lowry, Mills, R. Williams, Herd, Marinkovic, Harold, Castro, Keogh.
Reserves: Feely, Thurtell, A. Williams, Grant, Warren, Wilson, Oxborrow, Petratos, Garcia, Taggart.

Perth have been by far the busiest side this off-season in strengthening their roster ahead of the new season with the emphasis over in the west on bringing home the many talented West Australians playing elsewhere in the league and abroad.

To that end the additions of Williams, Herd and Taggart who is like a new addition despite signing in January make the squad much stronger and cover the losses of Covic, Sandor and Vadocz. A lot will still depend on marquee duo Diego Castro and Andy Keogh however.

Sydney FC
In: Alex Wilkinson, Michael Zullo (Melbourne City), Josh Brillante (Fiorentina).

Out: Jacques Faty, Mickael Tavares, Ivan Necevski (Central Coast), Ali Abbas (Pohang Steelers), Andrew Hoole (Newcastle), Zac Anderson (Emirates Club), Shane Smeltz (Kedah), Chris Naumoff (Retired), Robert Stambolziev, Jacob Tratt, Riley Woodcock, Alex Mullen, Anthony Bouzanis (All Released).

Current best available XI: Janjetovic, Ryall, Wilkinson, Jurman, Zullo, O’Neill, Dimitrijevic, Ninkovic, Holosko, Carney, Blackwood.

Reserves: Grant, Calver, Brillante.

After a disappointing season last time around Graham Arnold has cleaned house with 13 players departing the club, most of which spent large parts of last season out of the side due to form or fitness.

So far replacements are rather thin on the ground with just City duo Alex Wilkinson and Michael Zullo coming in, along with the recently announced Josh Brillante who returns to the A-League after a spell with Fiorentina in Italy’s Serie A. Out of contract duo Alex Brosque and Matt Simon are both expected to re-sign, although neither has done so at this stage.

Wellington Phoenix
In: Kosta Barbarouses, Gui Finkler (Melbourne Victory).

Out: Manny Muscat (Melbourne City), Justin Gulley, James McGarry, Oliver Sail (Wellington United), Kwabena Appiah, Blake Powell (Central Coast Mariners), Ben Sigmund, Albert Riera (Retired), Troy Danaskos (Released).

Current best available XI: Moss, Fenton, Durante, Fox, Doyle, Lia, Bonevacia, Finkler, McGlinchey, Barbarouses, Krishna.
Reserves: Italiano, Ridenton, Rufer, Rodriguez, Watson, Rogerson.

News from across the Tasman has been a bit sparse in recent weeks with just Victory duo Gui Finkler and Kosta Barbarouses as confirmed signings at this stage which suggests that there are signings to come.

The main area which figure to be focused on in terms of recruitment are at the back, where Ben Sigmund’s retirement leaves a hole in the middle of defence and there appears to be a general lack of depth.

Western Sydney Wanderers
In: Jerrad Tyson (Perth), Steven Lustica (Brisbane), Bruno Pinatares (Cerro), Artiz Borda (Alaves), Jumpei Kusukami (Sagan Tosu), Robert Cornthwaite (Selangor).

Out: Mark Bridge (Chiangrai United), Dario Vidosic (Liaoning Whowin), Daniel Alessi (Newcastle), Josh Macdonald (Wollongong Wolves), Albero Aguilar, Andreu Guerao, Romeo Castelen, Golgol Mebrahtu, Federico Piovoccari, Matt Sim, Liam Reddy, Shayne D’Cunha, Alusine Fofanah, Jacob Pepper (All Released).

First XI: Redmayne, Neville, Borda, Topor-Stanley, Jamieson, Pinatares, Delgado, Nichols, Sotirio, Kusukami, Shabow .

Reserves: Tyson, Cole, Cornthwaite, Aspropotamitis, Hamill, Bandiera,  Baccus, Lustica, Scott, Youlley.

It’s been another off-season cull from Tony Popovic with 14 players moving on despite a top two finish and Grand Final berth. Of those who’ve moved on, perhaps the loss most closely felt will be Mark Bridge whose been an integral part of Wanderers since the club formed in 2013.

The squad has been strengthened at the back with Spaniard Artiz Borda and former Socceroo Robert Cornthwaite joining the squad. It’s upfront however where the holes are for the Wanderers with limited options as things stand as evidenced by youngster Mario Shabow being listed in the current best XI. There’s likely to be at least one new striker joining the red and black before October, while Brendan Santalab’s new contract is yet to be officially confirmed.


Here we go again.

Here we go again.

It wouldn’t be the off-season in recent times without some sort of ownership drama surrounding the Roar. For those unaware, here’s a little bit of a breakdown of what’s happened over the last few days.

Last week the FFA were expecting to hear from Brisbane director Demis Djamaoeddin about the owners plans to take the Roar forward last week, but he returned to Jakarta without doing so.

Amongst the reported concerns of the FFA are the lack of replacement for departed CEO David Pourre who left last month, the ongoing re-capitalisation of the Roar and the general direction the club is heading in.

Yesterday, FFA CEO David Gallop issued a 24hr ultimatum, demanding the Bakrie Group to outline their plans to address the current situation or risk being in breach of the club participation agreement.

Today the FFA confirmed that the Indonesian group required an extra week to respond to the FFA’s concerns. A statement issued tonight by the FFA says that they are considering the request.

The statement issued from the governing body bore similarities to the ones which were released last year during the clubs financial crisis, with deadlines set before backpedalling and allowing more time.

Late this evening –Monday-, Brisbane Roar released a statement of their own, outlining that the FFA had reached out to the clubs owner Nirwan Bakrie and Chairman Rahim Soekasah in relation to their ownership of the Roar.

The statement went on to say that the club is continuing to build towards the 2016-17 season and that the current administration and football department staff have no control over the current discussions.

Both statements have been posted at the bottom of this for those who haven’t seen them.

At the fan forum back in September, Head of A-League Damien De Bohun outlined that it was the FFA’s preference for the Roars current ownership group to remain, provided they met certain criteria along the way.

Despite a successful season on the park and the , the events of the last week have at the very least tested the resolve of the FFA on that point of view, and it may yet have tipped them over the edge.

The successful season the Roar experienced on the park had little to do with the clubs ownership, and the credit for what was achieved should be directed to the playing group, the football department and the front office staff here in Brisbane who worked extremely hard in difficult conditions to lay the foundations for what happened on the pitch.

Off-field things had seemed to stabilise with the repayment of debts rumoured to be somewhere around the 4million mark, while the clubs former CEO David Pourre concluded a deal which will see the Roar’s training and administration base to the City of Logan at a purpose built facility.

The departure last month of CEO Pourre, along with other key staff has been a huge loss, with few staff remaining to keep the club running. Off-field the club has been unable to launch memberships for next season to capitalise on the success of last season.

The Roar’s football department have their own concerns, with the Roar currently operating in something of a holding pattern, with Aloisi and Football Operations Manager Craig Moore unable to plan out their recruitment and preparations for next season as they wait for direction from the clubs owners.

While the scars of past FFA ownership remain for many long term Brisbane fans –massive ticket price increases being the most notable- as things stand it may prove to be the best option, at least in the short term.

They are however still the current owners of the Newcastle Jets as they await the reported sale to a Chinese businessman, something which is no doubt playing on the FFA’s mind as they decide what to do with this situation.

In the end however, it’s time for this to be resolved once and for all. If the current owners have a plan to take Brisbane Roar forward and are fully committed to it, they need to outline that plan immediately and begin to implement it.

It remains to be seen if such a plan exists, or if they will be given the time to create and implement it.

FFA Statement on the situation at Brisbane Roar
“Football Federation Australia have released the following statement in regards to Brisbane Roar and the Bakrie Group.

Football Federation Australia (FFA) has today received correspondence from the Bakrie Group in relation to the Brisbane Roar FC, said an FFA spokesperson.

The Bakrie Group has requested an extension of seven days to address matters raised by FFA. FFA is considering the request for an extension.

FFA last week sought information from the Bakrie Group on the management and financial structure of the Brisbane Roar.”

Brisbane Roar Statement on the Ownership Situation
“In response to media speculation regarding the Brisbane Roar Football Club (BRFC), the club can confirm that Football Federation Australia has sent communications to the BRFC owner (Mr. Nirwan Bakrie) and Chairman (Mr. Rahim Soekasah) in relation to the current ownership of BRFC.

BRFC administration and football department staff have no control over these matters.

BRFC continues to build towards the 2016-17 Hyundai A-League season. Our current A-League squad will complete their training on Saturday 4th June, before commencing their annual break.

BRFC NPL and Women’s teams continue to play in their weekly respective competitions.”


Season Preview: Western Sydney Wanderers

Last Season: Premiers. Lost Grand Final to Central Coast Mariners
Last seasons new boys went on a miraculous run of 10 straight wins -14 games unbeaten- to seal the Premiership in their debut season before falling to Central Coast in the grand final. All of that after starting the season goal-less in the opening 3 rounds.

Manager: Tony Popovic
Popovic did a fantastic job in some difficult circumstances and came close to pulling off an unlikely double in his 1st season as a head coach. He’s got extra challenges this year with the Champions League coming up, but the former Crystal Palace assistant is highly rated and has been linked to the Socceroos job post 2014.

Kit:
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Squad:
1) Covic, 2) Cole, 3) D’Apuzzo, 4) Topor-Stanley, 5) Beauchamp, 6) Polenz, 7) Haliti, 8) Poljak, 9) Juric, 10) Mooy, 11) Santalab, 12) Minniecon, 14) Appiah-Kubi, 15) Perkatis, 16) Barresi, 17) Hersi, 18) La Rocca, 19) Bridge, 20) Tyson, 21) Ono, 22) Heffernan, 23) Trifiro, ??) Spiranovic.

Ins:
Tomi Juric (Adelaide United), Brendan Santalab (Chongqing Lifan- China), Dean Heffernan (Perth Glory), Matthew Spiranovic (Al-Arabi- Qatar).

Outs:
Dino Kressinger (Zavrc- Croatia), Tarek Elrich (Adelaide United), Joey Gibbs (Newcastle Jets), Rocky Visconte (Suphanburi- Thailand), Reece Caira (Wellington Phoenix).

Key player: Shinji Ono
The Japanese star was a late add to the Wanderers camp and reportedly got the not ahead of Michael Ballack, and his performances last season were impressive. He chipped in with a very handy 8 goals last year and will need to reproduce that again this year.

Expected starting XI: (4-3-3)
844100_Champions_League_Team

Last Season against Brisbane:
Round 4: Brisbane Roar 0-1 Western Sydney Wanderers
Round 10: Western Sydney Wanderers 1-0Brisbane Roar
Round 17: Brisbane Roar 1-2 Western Sydney Wanderers
Semi Final: Western Sydney Wanderers 2-0 Brisbane Roar

Meetings this season:
November 22nd Brisbane Roar vs. Western Sydney Wanderers
February 7th: Western Sydney Wanderers vs. Brisbane Roar
April 5th: Western Sydney Wanderers vs. Brisbane Roar

Pre-season form:
Macarthur Rams 0-2 Western Sydney Wanderers
Canberra Olympic 1-3 Western Sydney Wanderers
Western Sydney Wanderers 2-1 Wellington Phoenix
Shimizu S-Pulse 2-2 Western Sydney Wanderers
Guangzhou R&F 0-5 Western Sydney Wanderers
Tokyo Verdy 2-1 Western Sydney Wanderers
Melbourne Victory 3-0 Western Sydney Wanderers

Brisbane connections:
Just the one, former Roar flyer Tahj Minniecon is still with the Wanderers despite not seeing a lot of game time last season due to fitness and injury issues.

Prediction:
They’re largely the same as last season, with a strong and settled squad in the ranks. Juric and Santalab should be able to better the meagre goal tally of Kressinger from last term while the defence is now a real strength with 4 quality central defenders to choose from. They road a wave of emotion last year, but with the additional challenge of the Champions League they may struggle to defend their premiers plate. They should still be in the finals however.


Season Preview: Wellington Phoenix

In the lead-up to season 9 of the A-League we’ll be doing an extensive preview of the league club by club- today looking at Wellington Phoenix.

Last Season: 10th.
Last season was a poor one for the Phoenix after 3 years of finals football and saw the end of the Ricky Herbert era at the club. They lost their valuable home field advantage last year winning just 5 times at home so that will be a big area to address as they move forward this year.

Manager: Ernie Merrick
After 2 seasons away from the league Ernie Merrick is back and in charge of the Phoenix after Ricky Herbert was let go in the off-season. The former 2 time premiership and championship winner at Victory has a long way to go to take this side to similar heights.

Kit:
Screenshot_2013-10-3 15.26.30

Squad:
1) Moss, 2) Muscat, 3) Caira, 4) Adams, 5) Boxall, 6) Brindell-South, 7) Bertos, 8) Ifill, 9) Cunningham, 10) Huysegems, 11) Brockie, 12) Boyd, 14) Rufer, 16) Fenton, 17) Lia, 18) Sigmund, 19) Hernandez, 20) Italiano, 22) Durante, 32) Gulley, 35) Watson, 39) Bertsch.

Ins:
Carlos Hernandez (Prayag United- India), Lewis Italiano (Perth Glory), Luke Adams (Derby County- England), Kenny Cunningham (The Strongest-Bolivia), Reece Caira (Western Sydney Wanderers), Alex Rufer (Wairarapa United), Josh Brindell-South (Moreton Bay United).

Outs:
Mark Paston (Retired), Corey Gameiro (Fulham- loan return), Isaka Cernak (Perth Glory), Ian Hogg (Released), Alex Smith (Oakleigh Cannons- VPL), Tony Lochhead (Released), Dani Sanchez (Tuen Mun- Hong Kong), Lucas Pantelis (Retired), Jimmy Downey (Released), Benjamin Totori (Oakleigh Cannons- VPL), Cameron Lindsay (Team Wellington).

Key player: Carlos Hernandez.
After a season away in India, one of the league’s best foreigners is back and is set to be the most important player for the Phoenix. Alongside Paul Ifill and youngster Louis Fenton they could be a formidable attack this year.

Expected starting XI: (4-4-2)
843482_Wellington_Phoenix_FC

Last Season against Brisbane:
Round 3:
Wellington Phoenix 1-1 Brisbane Roar
Round 13: Brisbane Roar 2-1 Wellington Phoenix
Round 23: Brisbane Roar 2-0 Wellington Phoenix

Meetings this season:
October 13th: Wellington Phoenix vs. Brisbane Roar
December 14th: Wellington Phoenix vs. Brisbane Roar
January 24th: Brisbane Roar vs. Wellington Phoenix

Pre-season form:
Wellington Olympic 0-4 Wellington Phoenix
Miramar Rangers 2-5 Wellington Phoenix
Lower Hutt City 3-3 Wellington Phoenix
Petone 1-6 Wellington Phoenix
Western Sydney 2-1 Wellington Phoenix
Newcastle Jets 0-1 Wellington Phoenix
Sydney FC 0-3 Wellington Phoenix
Capital Football XI 1-2 Wellington Phoenix
New Zealand A 1-1 Wellington Phoenix
Auckland City 1-0 Wellington Phoenix

Brisbane connections:
None.

Prediction:
They should be a more competitive side than they were last season and as usual their home form will be vital for a strong campaign. For mine however they’re still lacking something in the middle of midfield and until they get a bit more creativity in there I cant see them making the finals.


Season Preview: Sydney FC

In the lead-up to season 9 of the A-League we’ll be doing an extensive preview of the league club by club- today looking at Sydney FC.

Last Season: 7th.
Sydney started out poorly and after giving up a 2-0 lead against Melbourne in round 6 Ian Crook quit citing health reasons. In his place came Farina who managed to get wins at home but not on the road, with a 2-0 loss away to his former club Brisbane denying them a spot in the finals.

Manager: Frank Farina
Frank came in at a difficult time last season and did a reasonable job, but just couldn’t get them organised enough to make the finals. It’s a big year for Frank, possibly his last chance to become a long term A-League coach.

Kit:
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Squad:
1) Necevski, 2) Ryall, 3) Warren, 4) Bosschaart, 5) Jurman, 6) Petkovic, 7) Emerton, 8) Bojic, 9) Gameiro, 10) Del Piero, 11) Garcia, 12) Powell, 13) Calvano, 14) Mallia, 15) McFlynn, 16) Chianese, 17) Antonis, 18) Triantis, 19) Carle, 20) Janjetovic, 21) Yau, 22), Abbas, 23) Grant, 24) Gligor, 25) Petkovski, 27) Urosevski, 28) Calver.


Ins:

Matthew Jurman (Brisbane Roar), Nick Carle (loan return), Marc Warren (Airdrie United- Scotland), Pedj Bojic (Central Coast Mariners), Corey Gameiro (Fulham- England), Yairo Yau (Sporting San Miguelito- Panama, 1yr loan), Richard Garcia (Melbourne Heart), Nikola Petkovic (Red Star Belgrade- Serbia).

Outs:
Nathan Sherlock (Sydney United- NSWPL), Adam Griffiths (Selangor FA- Malaysia), Paul Reid (Rockdale Coty Suns- NSWPL), Trent McClenahan (Released), Kruno Lovrek (NK Sesvete- Croatia), Fabio Alves (Philadelphia Union- MLS), Joel Griffiths (Qingdao Jonoon- China), Lucas Neill (Omida Ardija- Japan), Jarrod Kyle (Palm Beach Sharks- NPL Queensland).

Key player: Alesandro Del Piero
The Italian had a fantastic first season in the A-League having a massive impact both on and off the pitch despite Sydney’s failure to make the finals. If they’re to make the postseason this year they’ll need their Italian talisman to produce again.

Expected starting XI: (4-3-3)
843465_Sydney_FC

Last Season against Brisbane:
Round 7: Brisbane Roar 4-2 Sydney FC
Round 20: Sydney FC 2-1 Brisbane Roar
Round 27: Brisbane Roar 3-1 Sydney FC

Meetings this season:
October 19th: Brisbane Roar vs. Sydney FC
December 26th: Sydney FC vs. Brisbane Roar
March 14th: Sydney FC vs. Brisbane Roar

Pre-season form:
Belmore United 0-6 Sydney FC
Sydney Uni. 1-7 Sydney FC
Sagan Tosu 2-1 Sydney FC
Macarthur Rams 1-1 Sydney FC
Padova 3-2 Sydney FC
Udinese 3-5 Sydney FC
Vicenza 1-3 Sydney FC
A.S. Cittadella 0-1 Sydney FC
Venezia 1-0 Sydney FC
Reggina 2-2 Sydney FC
Sydney FC 0-3 Wellington Phoenix
St. George 2-1 Sydney FC
Sydney FC 0-1 Newcastle Jets
Brisbane Roar 4-1 Sydney FC
Sydney FC 0-3 Perth Glory

Brisbane connections:
Just the one. Former championship winning defender Matt Jurman has returned to Sydney after a disappointing season last year.

Prediction:
It’ a tough one, because in Del Piero they’ve got the talismanic character capable of leading them deep into the finals, but their pre-season form has been terrible. Some of the defensive performances and errors have been particularly poor from all reports, so on that basis I think they’ll miss the finals for a 2nd straight year.


Season Preview: Perth Glory

In the lead-up to season 9 of the A-League we’ll be doing an extensive preview of the league club by club- today looking at Perth Glory.

Last Season: 6th. Lost Elimination final to Melbourne Victory.
Last season started well with a revenge win over Brisbane, but after just 4 more wins for the season Fergie was sacked and replaced by Alistair Edwards whose youthful approach took them to the finals. Most of their wins last season were at home, so sooner or later they’re going to have find a way around this travel problem they’ve got.

Manager: Alistair Edwards.
The former Australian u/20 boss took the Glory job late in the season when Tony Sage ran out of patience with Ian Ferguson, and proceeded to take them to the finals. He’s overhauled the squad in the off-season making more changes than most brining in a bunch of highly touted youngsters so the expectations will be on results and development.

Squad:
1) Vukovic, 2) Clisby, 3) O’Neill, 4) R. Edwards, 5) Pantelidis, 6) C. Edwards, 7) Burns, 8) Nagai, 9) Smeltz, 10) Maclaren, 11) Zahra, 12) Milicevic, 13) Dodd, 14) McGarry, 15) Cernak, 16) Sidnei, 17) Harold, 18) De Silva, 19) Risdon, 20) Duncan, 21) Jamieson, 22 Makeche, 23 Thwaite, 39) Spence, ??) Evans, ??) Woodcock, ??) Davies.

Kit:
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Ins:
Cameron Edwards (Melbourne Heart), Isaka Cernak (Wellington Phoenix), Jack Duncan (Newcastle Jets), Mathew Davies, Daniel De Silva. Jack Clisby, Riley Woodcock (All Perth Glory NYL), Jamie Mclaren (Blackburn Rovers- England), Ryo Nagai (Cerezo Osaka- Japan, 1yr loan), Sidnei Sciola (Alki Larnaca- Cyprus), Ryan Edwards (Reading- England, 1yr loan), Ljubo Milicevic (Melbourne Knights), Dean Evans (Stirling Knights- 3month injury replacement).

Outs:
Matais Cordoba (Oriente Petrolero- Bolivia), Dean Heffernan (Western Sydney Wanderers), Evan Berger (Marconi Stallions- NSWPL), Nick Ward (Released), Lewis Italiano (Wellington Phoenix), Liam Miller (Brisbane Roar), Storm Roux (Central Coast Mariners), Neil Young (Retired- Now GK coach at Perth).

Key player: Shane Smeltz:
Over the years Smeltz has proven himself to be proven and reliable source of goals and this season he’ll need to take that to another level given the youngsters around him. Keep an eye on u/20 stars Jamie Mclaren, Ryan Edwards and Daniel De Silva as well.

Expected starting XI: (4-4-2)
843456_Perth_Glory

Last Season against Brisbane:
Round 1:
Perth Glory 1-0 Brisbane Roar
Round 12: Brisbane Roar 0-1 Perth Glory
Round 23: Perth Glory 0-1 Brisbane Roar

Meetings this season:
November 30th Brisbane Roar vs. Perth Glory
January 17th: Perth Glory vs. Brisbane Roar
February 28th: Brisbane Roar vs. Perth Glory

Pre-season form:
Kwinana United 0-3 Perth Glory
Gosnells City 1-9 Perth Glory
Mpumalanga Black Aces 1-0 Perth Glory
Uni. Of Pretoria 2-0 Perth Glory
Supersport United 2-0 Perth Glory
Darul Takzim 0-2 Perth Glory
WA State XI 1-3 Perth Glory
Cockburn City 0-7 Perth Glory
Stirling Lions 0-4 Perth Glory
Perth Glory 1-0 Melbourne Heart
Perth Glory 1-1 Melbourne Heart
Northern All-Stars 1-3 Perth Glory
WA State Amateurs 1-2 Perth Glory
Sydney FC 0-3 Perth Glory

Brisbane connections:
Just the one. Former Roar midfielder Isaka Cernak has made the move west after spending last season with Melbourne Victory and latterly Wellington.

Prediction:
They’re a young squad, but they’ve got some tremendous talents as the recent u/20 world cup proved and with a coach like Alistair Edwards whose proficient in maximising the potential of youth they could have a good season. Ultimately though I think the finals will prove a step too far this year.


Season Preview: Newcastle Jets

In the lead-up to season 9 of the A-League we’ll be doing an extensive preview of the league club by club- today looking at Newcastle Jets.

Last Season: 8th
Inconsistent is the best way to describe the form of Newcastle last year, with too many draws and not enough wins ultimately costing them a spot in the finals. Despite that they developed a batch of impressive youngsters who are set to fly this year. The A-League’s youngest squad last year has developed nicely into a batch of u/20 internationals, this year it’s all about results.

Manager: Gary van Egmond
The A-League’s tinker man changed his line-up a lot last season, ultimately to the detriment of his side, but it helped develop some strong depth. This season however he’ll need to pick and stick if they’re going to become contenders.

Kit:
Newcastle’s home kit remains the same, however they have a new away kit that links them more with the history of football in the hunter.
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Squad:
1) Kennedy, 2) Neville, 3) Caravella, 4), Mitchell, 5) Jaliens, 6) Kantarovski, 7) Brown, 8) Zadkovich, 9) Heskey, 10) Burns, 11) Chapman, 12) Brillante, 13) Gallaway, 14) Regan, 15) Goodwin, 17) Gibbs, 17) Virgili, 18) Pepper, 19) Bridges, 20) Birighitti, 21) Hoole, 22) Taggart, 24) Oxborrow, 25) Cooper, 30) Solari.

Ins:
Joey Gibbs (Western Sydney Wanderers), Nathan Burns (Incheon- Korea, 1yr loan), Kew Jaliens (Wisla Krakow, Poland).

Outs:
Marco Jesic (Released), Dominik Ritter (Released), Bernardo Ribeiro (IFK Mariehamn- Finland), Jack Duncan (Perth Glory).

Key player: Michael Bridges.
While marquee man Emile Heskey attracts all the attention, it’s fellow Englishman Bridges who has a massive impact on their game. Reduced to a bit-part role last season, when he was involved he was an influential figure. Keeping him fit for the season will be integral to their chances.

Expected starting XI: (4-3-3)
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Last Season against Brisbane:
Round 5: Brisbane Roar 1-0 Newcastle Jets
Round 13: Newcastle Jets 1-0 Brisbane Roar
Round 23: Newcastle Jets 0- Brisbane Roar

Meetings this season:
November 17th: Newcastle Jets vs. Brisbane Roar
December 20th :Brisbane Roar vs. Newcastle Jets
February 16th Brisbane Roar vs. Newcastle Jets

Pre-season form:
Lake Macquarie Roosters 0-3 Newcastle Jets
Weston Bears 0-3 Newcastle Jets
NBN State League XI 0-3 Newcastle Jets
Mounties Wanderers 2-5 Newcastle Jets
Bonnyrigg White Eagles 2-2 Newcastle Jets
Canberra NPL All-Stars 0-3 Newcastle Jets
Newcastle Jets 0-1 Wellington Phoenix
Sydney Olympic 0-3 Newcastle Jets
Sydney FC 0-1 Newcastle Jets
Melbourne Victory 0-1 Newcastle Jets
Newcastle Jets 2-1 Central Coast Mariners

Brisbane connections:
None.

Prediction:
It’s a big year for the Jets with their youngsters becoming 1st team regulars and their pre-season form is encouraging. Any improvement they have will have to come from within the youngsters that are there while the experience of Heskey and Bridges will be vital. The signing of Burns on a loan could prove to be a very good under the radar signing. A spot in the lower half of the finals is a possibility, but I think they’ll fall just short.