Who’d be an A-League coach?
Ange Postecoglou may not have won any matches in Brazil, but he can be proud of the turnaround the Socceroos have made during his nine months in charge. (AAP Image/Julian Smith)
The A-League this season has been memorable for a lot of reasons, not least the revolving door of coaches.
There have been no less than nine coaching changes since the end of season 11-12, not including Popovic at Western Sydney Wanderers.
Ange Postecoglou to Melbourne Victory, John Aloisi to Melbourne Heart, Rado Vidosic and Mike Mulvey at Roar, Ian Crook and Frank Farina at Sydney FC, Michael Valkanis at Adelaide United, Chris Greenacre at Wellington Phoenix, and Alistair Edwards at Glory.
It has been quite a season for coaches.
Who has been a success?
Of the starting coaches, the highly experienced Postecoglou has surprised no one by guiding Victory to third place, with a 48 percent win ratio.
1.8 goals for per match is also a healthy return, but 1.7 goals against, worse than last year, suggests he still has some work to do.
Still, given Victory’s performances of the previous season, it has been a definite improvement for the Melbourne side.
At the other Melbourne club, rookie coach Aloisi has taken Heart in the opposite direction, dropping from sixth to ninth, with a win ratio of only 30 percent.
1.1 and 1.5 goals for and against per game are worrying statistics, but the club seems prepared to stick by him.
The first part of next season could be crucial to his long term career. A string of bad results could see him as the first coach out the door.
Crook and Vidosic seemed out of their depth with win ratios of 33 percent and 27 percent respectively.
Sydney FC gave away an appalling 2.7 games per goal under Crook, and not even one of the greatest players in the world could help hide the teams deficiencies.
Crook was the first to go, and former Roar coach Farina stepped in.
An early burst of results had Sydney headed in the right direction, but with a 7-5-7 record and 29 goals both for and against, the jury is still out on if Farina really is the man for Australia’s most volatile club.
Vidosic should have had the easiest run of the lot.
A two-time champion team, a promotion from within the club, and supporters who already respected him. His only job seemed to be to keep the team motivated, but some tinkering only served to highlight deficiencies that Postecoglou seemed to have overcome through sheer force of will.
A 5-0 win over Victory and 4-2 against Sydney FC accounted for two of his three wins from 11 games.
The other results were deemed not good enough, and he was ‘promoted’ out of the job.
Mike Mulvey was appointed to the Roar job, but unlike most coaches, was quickly under the pump.
There was no ‘new coach bounce’, and the team hit bottom with an appalling display in a mid-week Asian Champions League game.
He had his contract controversially extended at the airport on the way back into Brisbane to the dismay of many Roar fans.
Since then Roar have bounced back to be one of the most consistent teams in the competition.
Seven wins and four draws from 17 matches has Mulvey third on win percentage of the nine coaches, and top on defence, conceding only 0.9 goals per game.
Adelaide had the next appointment with Valkanis taking over after Kosmina controversially walked away from the club.
He has been the worst performed of the nine to date with only two wins from nine games.
At 1.4 goals against, Valkanis actually has the third best defence, but Adelaide have not exactly set the competition alight under his care.
After reaching their first A-League final, Perth were locked in a downward spiral that had their fans up in arms. Enter Edwards.
With four wins from seven starts he has the best win ratio of any of these coaches, though of course the sample size is not really big enough to draw too many conclusions.
Encouragingly though, he has the team playing a brand of entertaining football, and, importantly, scoring goals. Eleven goals from seven games is a good return, and a 3-2 away win over Victory has been the standout performance of his short reign.
Finally Greenacre took over at Phoenix after club management there bizarrely demanded that the team change its style mid season.
With only five games to his credit, Wellington did manage two wins, and the team certainly played with an improved style, but Greenacre has indicated he will not apply for the position full time.
So who is a success and who is not?
While there is still work to be done, unsurprisingly Postecoglou looks like the king of the heap in this year’s coaching merry-go-round.
Mulvey also looks the goods, but he does have a champion team at his disposal and should be doing well. There will be no room for excuses next season.
Farina will have his work cut out in the off season, but so far looks to have changed little in his method.
Roar became competitive in his previous A-League experience, without ever really being able to set the pace in the competition, and this may not be good enough for an ambitious Sydney FC languishing in the shadow of the high flying Wanderers.
Edwards is one to watch in the future. Will the grind of a full season prove too much, or is he truly an up and coming coaching star of the future?
I lean towards the latter.
Aloisi is taking his time to find his feet, but he will be better for this season. Will there be enough improvement next year?
I can’t help but feel Heart desperately need some success soon, and I just can’t see Aloisi giving it to them short term. I hope I’m wrong.
Finally Valkanis. With Adelaide yet to appoint a coach for next year, I’ve seen nothing to suggest he is up for the job.
For the sake of the A-League, I hope they look elsewhere. Undoubtedly the least impressive of this year’s changes.
How many of these will still be holding their jobs this time next season? Who can say?