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Is the A-League due for a little luck?

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Expert
10th October, 2018
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1509 Reads

Each and every morning, after we drag ourselves from bed to face another day, there is the potential for life to throw us a diamond or two.

Sadly, it usually feels more like a truckload of rocks being hurled in our direction, yet every now and again fate and chance can combine to put smiles on our faces.

A-League 2017-18 had a little bit of both, with a resurgence in the Hunter, a bold season-long front runner in the form of Sydney FC and a giant killing Melbourne Victory who eventually claimed the title.

Much of that positivity was countered by another season of misery for both the Phoenix and the Mariners, continued concerns over attendances and a VAR grand final disaster that exposed the flaws in the system.

Depending on your vantage point, the season could be looked back upon favourably or as one of stagnation and symbolic failure on the final day.

If any game is due a little luck it is football. The game in Australia has continued to shoot itself in the foot with governance issues over the last 18 months. The promotion and marketing of the new season appears to have missed the mark once again, whilst pitch quality and stadium rebuilds and refurbishments continue to frustrate fans.

There is now some light at the end of the tunnel, with significant change ahead and a little fortune in 2018-19 would be a wonderful kick start to the dawn of a new era.

No doubt, some clubs will improve considerably on recent performances, with Perth and Central Coast looking the most likely at this early stage.

Adelaide, Newcastle and Melbourne City, will be looking to take that extra step and become the hunted, whilst Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory will be hell-bent on defending silverware.

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Nikola Mileusnic for Adelaide United

Adelaide have been in top form. (AAP Image/David Crosling)

General consensus around the apparent depth and quality of the new international signings suggests we have the players to do the job. All that remains is the script writers to do theirs and with a little bit of luck, bring the season alive. Here are a few ideas they might like to run with.

#1 Bolt plays and scores
Apart from silencing the masses, a Usain Bolt goal would send the country into a spin.

With many still skeptical around the sprinters’ ability to improve his control and poise on the ball to the standard required to play professional football, his success would be a ripping headline for the game. Every newspaper in the land’s next edition would feature the great Jamaican.

It is, at this stage, an unlikely scenario yet also one for which the front office of both the Mariners and the A-League will be hoping. It would be a reward for the calculated risk taken by the club and further evidence that you never, ever write off a champion.

Usain Bolt of the Mariners leaves the field following his Central Coast Mariners debut.

Usain Bolt is fit, but is he football fit? (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)

#2 The Phoenix fire
This one feels a little like flogging a dead horse, however, a Phoenix team that sits inside the six for much of the season and consistently draws over 8,000 fans to its matches would start to fulfil its end of the bargain.

With historical highs of 11,000+ regular attendees, the spark is there. Unfortunately, it has been nothing but a steady decline for Wellington since those days with only 6,500 currently dragging themselves through the gates to witness another mediocre performance.

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It will take more than one victory to build something numerically measurable this season but as a fan of all ten teams and with an understanding of the importance of each, it would be great to see Mark Rudan bring the Phoenix alive.

#3 Honda goes nuts
There is no doubt that Keisuke Honda is the marquee man this season. Bolt aside, Honda will be the poster boy for the league. Considering the Victory’s other signings, the attacking midfielder should receive plenty of opportunities on goal.

AAMI Park will be rocking if Honda does start knocking in goals regularly. Around 15 or so should be enough to set the season alight in Melbourne.

Keisuke Honda celebrates after scoring a goal

Keisuke Honda is now a Melbourne Victory player. (Photo by Kaz Photography/Getty Images)

#4 City mount a serious charge
Melbourne City’s undelivered potential and promise is getting a bit old. There has to be a tipping point and if City does start to look like a serious title threat, the energy pumped into the Melbourne derby and the overall championship race would be nothing but positive.

Warren Joyce has made the tough calls and assembled the squad he needs to threaten, its success would be a shot in the arm for the league.

#5 Sydney’s nomadic fans actually turn up
After a disastrous season where Western Sydney Wanderers patronage took a dive to the tune of almost 33 per cent and table topping Sydney FC somehow lost near 1,500 people per home game, there are grave concerns for two clubs without a permanent base.

The Wanderers will work out of Spotless and ANZ Stadiums with Sydney FC traversing the city from Moore Park to Kogarah to Leichhardt. Let’s hope both clubs show excellent form and the venues become homes away from home; with Sydney fans defying their disappointment and reputation, as they flock through the gates in droves.

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#6 Poppa re-energises the west
With former Wanderers manager Tony Popovic in control, a more defensively minded and ruthless Perth Glory seems likely. It would be a valuable asset for the league to have the duel NSL champions at the pointy end of the ladder and threatening for a title.

With Popovic employed to destroy defensive frailties that have plagued Perth for some time, hopes are high and the trip west could become a far more difficult proposition this season.

See, all it takes is a little bit of luck, a few things to go our way and the A-League might have its best season in some time. Get on it script writers and bring on next Friday night.