Neighbour Dave has featured in a few of my columns over the years. He is my sounding board for the daily issues that present themselves in both football and sport in general.
This A-League squad of the season will follow all the system requirements – a maximum of two marquees (although only one was good enough to make it), five foreigners, and three Australian players under 20 years of age.
Goalkeeper: Vedran Janjetovic
While he played every minute of the season, the Wanderers conceded 47 goals and had a goal difference of -9.
Yet, Janjetovic deserves a place in the starting XI, with 109 saves. With John Hall or Nicholas Surman in goal, the Wanderers’ season would have been even worse.
Right fullback: Josh Risdon
Risdon played well enough against Colombia in his first Socceroos start of 2018 to get a call-up here.
He plays well in both defence and offence, had a crossing accuracy of 25 per cent, and a tackling accuracy of 75 per cent. However, he copped ten yellow cards and gave away many fouls.
Right central defender: Nikolai Topor-Stanley
Played another of his many A-League seasons, but this season could be his best. He featured in every minute of the second-placed Jets’ games, made 134 clearances, 43 interceptions and had a tackle success rate of over 70 per cent.
Left central defender: Alex Wilkinson
Wilkinson made 161 clearances, including two off the line against the Melbourne Victory in the last round of the season, and also blocked 23 shots.
Left fullback: Michael Zullo
Assisted nine times (fantastic for a defender) and is joint-second for assists (but played fewer games than the others). Did his defensive duties with 30 interceptions and cleared the ball 44 times.
Central defensive midfielder: Isaias
This underrated player reminds me of Andrea Pirlo at Juventus. He often puts on passes to support the attack and drops deep to help the defence, making 66 interceptions. The latter will be critical for this attacking-minded starting XI.
He is the captain of a youthful Adelaide United and has done extremely well under Marco Kurz.
Right midfielder: Adrian Mierzejewski
Is talked about as being the Johnny Warren Medalist – and why not? He scored 13 goals, assisted nine times, and had over 60 successful dribbles.
Keep the ball away from him, or you’ll pay dearly.
Left midfielder: Leroy George
Had a fantastic debut season for the Victory, with 14 assists, eight goals, 216 crosses (19% accuracy) and created 70 chances.
Central attacking midfielder: Dimitri Petratos.
The perfect No.10 had nine assists, ten goals, 193 crosses (20% accuracy) and created 71 chances.
His 0.75 goals per game is the joint second-highest games-to-goals ratio in the league’s history.
Also broke the ‘most goals scored in a season’ record, previously held by Bruno Fornaroli. Made the most shots on goal, 80, and had six assists.
Striker: Ross McCormack
His 0.824 goals per game tops Bobo as best games-to-goals ration in the league’s history. He scored in any possible fashion – screamers from 30 yards out, free kicks, and with his head.
Unfortunately, he’s still failed to crack the Aston Villa first team.
Sydney FC’s goalkeeper only conceded 22 goals in 27 games, playing every minute of the premiers’ campaign.
A hot prospect, he has 30 more successful dribbles than Mierzejewski. Keep the ball away from him!
Was unfortunate not to make the starting XI, but teammate Petratos, Mierzejewski and George had the edge over him. I’m putting him up the front because he scored ten goals (and assisted seven).
Had a crossing accuracy of 40 per cent and did his defensive duties, with 46 interceptions to his name. Also made the second-most passes in the league, 17 short of teammate Jordy Buijs (who played two more appearances).
Was a significant part of Newcastle’s defence, making 119 clearances, and the Jets lost their game after he suffered a knee injury. Also, despite holding the record for the most red cards (ten), he only had two yellow cards in 21 starts.
Talked about as a future Socceroos goalkeeper, he made saves from penalties and the third-most saves in the competition.
An energetic right back who offers a lot in the attack, and works well with Daniel Arzani.
Made 59 interceptions for Adelaide, whipped in crosses at 30.1% accuracy and created 39 chances, which was the highest for a defender.
Can play multiple defensive and midfield positions, made 27 blocks and had a passing accuracy of 82 per cent.
His hat-trick against Central Coast in his last round confirmed his position as one of the under-20s players. Uses his feet well, with 22 successful dribbles from only seven starts.
Offers a lot in attack and is a menace to full-backs with his pace. Was a Young Footballer of the Year nominee at the end of his first month.
Gave Perth Glory hope of making the finals, was energetic and clinical in front of goal, but was injured mid-season.
Offered a lot more than his captain, Andy Keogh, as he scored nine goals from nine starts at an average of one goal every 103 minutes.