A-League: The road to the 2012 final series

Griffo Roar Guru

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    The Wellington Phoenix are calling for more patience in attack. (Image: AFP)

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    With six rounds to go to the 2012 A-League final series, fans of eight clubs are wondering where their team will sit come the final whistle of Round 25.

    Welcome to the relegation battle, Aussie style.

    A-League fans continue to debate the merits of relegation and promotion in Australian professional football. However, as fans look to overseas leagues relegation battles, many are just missing out on a battle occurring right in our own backyard.

    Right now, you couldn’t script a better story than the battle to avoid being “relegated out” of the finals series.

    Of the ten teams, two are near certainties. The Central Coast Mariners are at least three wins away from being Premiers of A-League VII, particularly if second placed Brisbane lose more than two games.

    Conversely, Gold Coast United, unless they turn their results around and win all their remaining games (with some losses to other teams immediately ahead of them), are bound for an ignominious addition of a wooden spoon to their trophy cabinet.

    Of the eight teams remaining, wins to Adelaide (9th), Melbourne Victory (8th) and Sydney (7th) in the past round has compacted the table, putting these teams to within a win and a whisker of the top six. Adelaide, particularly, have everything to play for, being five points outside the top six.

    The three teams at the opposite end of the ‘group of eight’ in the table, Brisbane (2nd), Wellington (3rd) and Perth (4th), have somewhat of a buffer, although Perth would be the most nervous with Newcastle close by in fifth place.

    With Newcastle (28 points) playing Perth (31 points) in Perth this coming round, Newcastle have every incentive to leave behind the teams snapping at their boot laces in Melbourne Heart (6th) and Sydney – who are both on 27 points.

    Relegation has an economic and emotional impact on a club and its fans. This also holds parallels for an A-League fan whose team misses out on a place in the finals.

    Along with not being champions and having the season ended prematurely, the club will miss out on a spot in the Asian Champions League.

    While the final weeks of the A-League may not generate the same excitement as a relegation battle in a European league, the battle can maintain suspense until the final day, and is nevertheless almost unique in world football.

    For an Australian football fan, it is increasingly one that we do not want to miss.

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    The Crowd Says (10)

    • Roar Guru

      February 15th 2012 @ 9:41am
      Fussball ist unser leben said | February 15th 2012 @ 9:41am | ! Report

      Yes, the FFA couldn’t have contrived to script a better finish to Season 7. With so many teams still having to play each other there is ample opportunity for major changes to occur although, as you said, CCM & GCU seem to have a strong grip on No. 1 & No. 10 respectively.

      But, any team that is good enough to win all its remaining matches – even GCU – will have the opportunity to make the play-offs; and teams that falter – even CCM – can end the season disastrously.

    • Roar Guru

      February 15th 2012 @ 4:32pm
      Griffo said | February 15th 2012 @ 4:32pm | ! Report

      There is certainly ample opportunity for either Gold Coast to make a run for the finals series, or the Mariners to stumble and hold on for dear life…exciting stuff.

    • February 15th 2012 @ 5:30pm
      ChrisW said | February 15th 2012 @ 5:30pm | ! Report

      It’ll be great if glory make the top 4 for the club and A-league because we can start gathering momentum again in building our club in the form of gathering more supporters and hopefully crowds that rival the NSL days.

      Ive got my tickets to the Newcastle game and it almost seems like a small final the crowd size will be very interesting lets hope we can entertain.

      Glory are defently playing there best football in years even when we were winning at the start of the season we were still playing poor besides round 1.

      • Roar Guru

        February 15th 2012 @ 10:33pm
        Griffo said | February 15th 2012 @ 10:33pm | ! Report

        Ive got my tickets to the Newcastle game and it almost seems like a small final the crowd size will be very interesting lets hope we can entertain.

        Each game being a final or semi-final from here on in is a good point Chris. Each game could mean the difference between finals or an early off-season. The difference between a home semi-final, or slogging it out away on the long road to the Grand Final.

        Plenty of fan groups feeling the tension over the next six weeks, I think.

    • February 15th 2012 @ 5:49pm
      Bondy said | February 15th 2012 @ 5:49pm | ! Report

      This seasons Premiers must truly cherish being premiers for whoever that may be .Because when it comes to knockout football in the H.A.L. then god only knows what’s going to happen,i’ve just had a look at the ladder and can see a potential Wellington Phoneix vs Perth Glory G..F.

      This year unlike last year where Wellington scrapped into the finals series and were immediately knocked out by Adelaide that was predictable but not this year, and hopefully a few derbies to decide who must be terminated .
      I said on a thread a few weeks back that this is the fairest league of our kind globally, also trying to tip a perfect H.A.L. round this season has been unacheivable for me i generally only get two predictions right .

      Full steam ahead for C.C.M.F.C.

      • Roar Guru

        February 15th 2012 @ 8:27pm
        Griffo said | February 15th 2012 @ 8:27pm | ! Report

        The Mariners certainly have the Premiers plate to lose.

        With Brisbane appearing to hit form again it will be exciting to see if Brisbane can pip them at the last hurdle. Wellington could go either way.

        Not been the season to study the form guide for you poor buggers trying to make a living off of SportsBet. Maybe more success throwing a dart at a wall of A-League club logos.

        Stepping back from following the Jets home to the finals, it’s going to be a rollercoaster ride for the next six weeks for a football fan. 😉

    • February 16th 2012 @ 6:41am
      Midfielder said | February 16th 2012 @ 6:41am | ! Report

      Nice article Griffo…. and one thing about the salary cap is the teams are even…

      • Roar Guru

        February 16th 2012 @ 4:47pm
        Griffo said | February 16th 2012 @ 4:47pm | ! Report

        Thanks Mid.

        Something to be said for an even competition if most teams are in it near seasons end rather than the same one or two…

    • February 16th 2012 @ 10:58am
      Michael said | February 16th 2012 @ 10:58am | ! Report

      Nice article, I like your take on “relegation from the finals”. Except: Entry to the ACL seems to be more of a financial burden than anything else.

      What about teams who don’t make the finals series get green slime dumped on them in front of fans at specially staged home ground appearances? It could be be a TV special run simultaneously on Fox over one hour, one team after the other.

      • Roar Guru

        February 16th 2012 @ 4:45pm
        Griffo said | February 16th 2012 @ 4:45pm | ! Report

        Nice article, I like your take on “relegation from the finals”.

        Thanks Michael. It is a way I think of looking at the here and now in terms of relegation. Also, the longer something is around, the more you get use to it 😉

        Except: Entry to the ACL seems to be more of a financial burden than anything else.

        This is true, to a certain degree. I wonder at what point in an ACL campaign an A-League team would start to break even and make some money. Semi’s? Final? Sorry, don’t know the answer to that one off hand…would be interesting to know.

        What about teams who don’t make the finals series get green slime dumped on them in front of fans…

        I don’t know about slime, but would playing a team from an ASEAN country help extend a season?

        From what I can tell between the lines, Adelaide playing in the AFC Cup would be a loss-making exercise…

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