After consultation with The Pinch Hitters with Boz and Pav’s World Football Correspondent Spyro Lambas, here is The Sportress preseason fearless predictions for the upcoming A-League season.
10. Wellington Phoenix
On paper it looks like 2017/18 might be a tough one for fans on the other side of the ditch. There has been much change to the squad that saw the Phoenix finish 7th last season, but on paper there does not seem to much improvement. This combined with new Coach Darije Kalezić’s calls for patience and poor preseason results makes it difficult to predict anything but a lowly finish for Wellington.
9. Central Coast Mariners
With just 14 wins to show from their last 81 games, the Mariners begin the new season from a long way back from most of their opponents. Coach Paul Okon has overseen a complete overhaul of the squad but it is hard to mount a case for the Mariners making a rise up the standings in 2017/18.
8. Perth Glory
How do you make a confident prediction about the Perth Glory? A team with such brilliant attacking weapons in Andy Keogh, Diego Castro and Adam Taggart are always prone to upset more fancied opponents. Unfortunately their defence, the equal worst last season makes it difficult to have too much faith in them. Knowing full well that this could leave egg on our face The Sportress predicts the Glory to slip a few rungs as a few other teams improve around them.
7. Brisbane Roar
The departure lounge from Suncorp Stadium has included a number of high quality players in Thomas Broich, Jamie Maclaren, Brandon Borello and Tommy Oar. The Roar have tried to replace this, most notably with the addition of Massimo Maccarone, it is hard to see the Roar avoiding a slide.
6. Western Sydney Wanderers
How will the Wanderers respond to their disappointing campaign in 2016/17 and the departure of inaugural coach Tony Popovic? It will be interesting to see how this question is answered throughout the season but they have a squad that could cause some serious damage throughout the season.
5. Newcastle Jets
What’s the point of a pre-season prediction piece if you don’t have a bolter in it. In our mind the Newcastle Jets are poised to be just that team. Under the watchful eye of two time champion Coach Ernie Merrick, the Jets have recruited wisely over the off-season and if Venezuelan International Ronald Vargas can show his class they might just give the competition a shake.
4. Melbourne City
With the backing of Manchester City we have been all seen Melbourne City’s ascension to the ranks of serious contender to be just a matter of time. Unfortunately for their fans and new Head Coach Warren Joyce, that time is not yet now. City are deep and solid but perhaps not yet ready to challenge for the ultimate honours just yet, but they aren’t too far away.
3. Adelaide United
Perhaps with memories of their remarkable run to the title two seasons ago, The Sportress predicts that United will again rise to contention this season. With a new coach and new squad the Reds have been sizzling in the pre-season with a march to the FFA Cup semi finals that has included a comprehensive win over Melbourne Victory.
2. Sydney FC
Graham Arnold’s men couldn’t have been more impressive on their way to the Premiership/Championship double last season. They have continued to impress in the preseason too with qualification for the FFA Cup semi final putting them within reach of owning all major trophies in Australian football. Ruthless and efficient they will take a lot of stopping this season.
1. Melbourne Victory
After going agonisingly close to producing the A-League’s biggest grand final boilover last season, the Melbourne Victory have been very active in their attempts to bolster their squad for the new campaign. The return of championship stars Mark Milligan and Kosta Barbarouses gives the squad an addition of class as does the signing of Matias Sanchez. Will this be enough for them to go one step better this year?