Most of the A-League squads have been finalised, and with less than a month before the season proper begins, it’s time to rate the chances of the teams and have a look at some of their new recruits.
The first part takes a look at the two new clubs – North Queensland Fury and Gold Coast United – and last season’s biggest rivalry and most successful teams, Melbourne Victory and Adelaide United
North Queensland Fury (10th) (Season Predictions)
The main question about the Fury and its chances for its debut A-League season rests with a rhetorical one: How about that heat? The match commentators of the Fury home games will start talking about how hot it is, why Robbie Fowler isn’t playing, and also tell us not to be too harsh on the new boys as it’s their first season and that running a football club from scratch can be hard.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Fred Aguis (creativity and free kicks), Brendan Santalab (long range shots) and Robbie Fowler (Cause he is God). Ex-Adelaide United players Osama Malik and Jason Spanguolo should also get a mention as ones to watch out for as well.
If Fowler plays it will be great, if he scores even better.
But in the brief history of great Marquee players to have graced the bumpy pitches of the A-League, he fits the over-aged, over-paid and under-performing tag before he has even played a game.
Dead last or sneaking into the finals.
Gks Defenders: Justin Pasfield (GK),Robbie Middleby(SFC), Beau Busch(SFC), John Tambouras,-Scott Wilson(ENG), Paul Kohler ,Jacob Timpano(SYD),Chris Tadrose.
Midfielders: Rostyn Griffiths(ENG) Osama Malik(ADL)Ufuk Talay(JAPAN), Martin Vass, Jason Spagnuolo (ADL), Frederick Agius(SA), Chris Grossman(Bris)
Strikers: Brendan Santalab(Syd), Jeremy Brockie(NZL), James Robinson(Perth), Daniel McBreen (ENG),,Robbie Fowler(Blackburn, England
F-Troop the official active supporters group of NQ Fury FC
Gold Coast United (3rd)
What are the odds on the Gold Coast losing their first game of the season against Brisbane Roar, making the prediction of Professor Palmer and his friends that they will go the whole season undefeated null and void?
The A-League needed a case of Gold Coast Hubris to spice things up. Sydney had lost its Bling. Opposing fans don’t hate you as much when you have already fallen off the perch.
I predict Miron Bleiberg to be sacked after four games because of the poor form shown by the side in only scoring two goals per game not three. I expect to see Professor Palmer in pure Roman Abramovich-style, giving half time speeches while a bemused Paul Okon looks on.
PLAYERS TO WATCH (all of them)
Jason Culina (Gold Coast United).Joel Porter (Gold Coast United),Milson, Shane Smeltz, Tahj Minniecon and youngsters James Brown Andrew Barisić.
PREDICTION: Top six, as high as third.
GKs, Defenders:Jess Vanstrattan (Juventes), Scott Higgins. Steve Pantelidis(MELB), Michael Thwaite(MELB), Daniel Piorkowski (NEW), Bas Van den Brink(Omniworld, NED), Kristian Rees (WELL), Adam Griffiths(NEW), Adama Traore (Youth).
Midfielders: Zenon Caravella(Ominiworld, NED) Jefferson (Atlético Roraima), Jason Culina (PSV Ned), Matthew Osman (C COAST) James Brown (AIS), Richard Greer (Youth), Steve Fitzsimmons (Beenleigh FC, Brisbane).
Strikers: Joel Porter (Hartlepool United), Shane Smeltz (WELL), Milson (Tombense FC, Brazil), Andrew Barisić (Melb Knights) Tahj Minniecon, (BRIS)
Nick named the Gold Coast Chavs by the Fury.
Melbourne Victory (1st)
Leads the League in everything: crowds, facilities, stability, player roster, recruitment. They became the first club to pay a transfer fee for a player, with Carlos Hernandez who is bound for the World Cup in South Africa with Costa Rica, expected to shine again.
NEW PLAYERS TO WATCH
Exciting Thai international Surat Sukha is the first Thai player to join the Hyundai A-League, arriving from Thai club Chonburi FC.
Top two finish, Danny Allsop to score and miss a bundle, they will play Adelaide United five times and beat them in the grand finale with Adelaide getting a player sent off again. Muscat to get away with stray elbows fake whistles and other misdemeanours.
Nick-named the “Tards” by Sydney FC. Have more Union members than the Labour Party. Their fan groups love to strike by being silent, turning their backs, not turning up and not singing. With all this striking action, the team are still the Champions. Imagine if they were the Newcastle Jets: would the fans strike by burning down the stadium?
Adelaide United (2nd)
Aurelio Vidmar was right when he said “with a pissant town, this club will never win anything” when referring to the Reds of Adelaide United because last season they didn’t. They lost the Asian Champions League Final and the Grand Final. Unfinished business is a great motivator and they have managed to keep all their best players. Another tilt at Asian Football after the season is over and Adelaide are good things for this season.
NEW PLAYERS TO WATCH
There are two new international players joining the Reds: former Ghanaian international Striker 32 year old Lloyd Owusu comes to Adelaide from Brighton & Hove Albion. The other is A 20 year old Korean, an attacking midfielder Shin In Sup from Kunkuk University.
Local South Australian products defender Michael Marrone, 17 year old midfielder Joseph Costa and 18 year old striker Francesco Monterosso who was the youth league top scorer with 13 goals from 19 appearances have been added to the club’s senior list.
The Adelaide United youth side were runners up to Sydney FC in the inaugural National Youth League.
A top two finish is not out of the question but nothing will come close to the “pissant town” comment. Expect them to have player sent off in the grand final again.
Known by opposing fans as the “Barrellers”, or the Reds.