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The Roar’s A-League team of the season are Johnny Warren Medal contenders

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Expert
6th May, 2019
31

After 27 patient rounds of placing the standout A-League performers into a team of the week each Sunday night, the moment of reckoning has arrived.

Having watched each and every minute of the 135 home and away fixtures, my selections will no doubt reflect the lens through which I viewed the season.

How accurate is that lens? I guess we will know when the Johnny Warren Medal votes are counted and the elite players take their positions on the final leader board.

I am hoping that my 11, based on frequency of selection in The Roar’s A-League team of the week, matches up closely with those official votes.

Here is the final eleven.

Goalkeepers
A total of ten different ‘keepers were voted into the team of the week throughout the season.

Wellington’s Oliver Sail was the biggest surprise, whilst consistent performers, Eugene Galekovic and Jamie Young came close.

However Lawrence Thomas and Andrew Redmanyne both made the team on four separate occasions and splitting the two was tricky.

I gave the nod to Thomas after another stellar season. He was more consistent than Redmayne on a week-to-week basis and whilst the Sydney FC number one had some excellent days, errors in decision making did creep into his game at different moments during the season.

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Lawrence Thomas (AAP Image/SNPA, Ross Setford)

The back four
Filling the defensive positions was often the toughest weekly challenge due to the quiet and effective efficiency of some of the best A-League defenders. 43 men were selected throughout the season with all ten franchises represented.

In the end, there were some unlucky omissions. Matthew Millar had a break out season with the Mariners, Steven Taylor added some much needed experience to the Phoenix back four and Andrew Durante enjoyed a rejuvenation under Mark Rudan.

Perth’s Shane Lowry was also unfortunate to miss out after being selected on five separate occasions during the season.

However, it was to be Bart Schenkeveld as first picked, following seven appearances in the team of the week, with Thomas Deng, Rhyan Grant and Ritchie De Laet alongside him after six appearances each.

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What a wonderful mix of the ruthless and explosive, with De Laet and Grant offering the attacking threats and the other members of the quartet securing the fortress at the back.

The midfield
The selection of midfield players on offer was something of an embarrassment of riches. So much so that neither of Sydney’s ‘bash brothers’ Brandon O’Neill or Josh Brillante managed selection.

Nor did Wellington’s new star Sarpreet Singh, Melbourne Victory’s big improver Terry Antonis or Perth’s Neil Kilkenny.

Even Diego Castro misses out after five appearances throughout the season. With three players level on that number, a tough decision needed to be made and with Castro injured early and often playing from the bench, the other two could not be denied after their consistent and brilliant seasons.

Milos Ninkovic was an obvious first pick after another brilliant season that, admittedly, started a little slowly. Inspirational Adelaide captain Isaias and the Victory’s James Troisi claim the other spots in a trio blessed with the skills to tear any midfield apart.

Milos Ninkovic

Ninkovic’s versatility highlights how Sydney FC’s multi-faceted approach brought them success. (AAP Image/Brendan Esposito)

The front line
If selecting the midfield proved challenging, the elimination of certain men from the front line became a frightfully difficult exercise.

The following have failed to make the cumulative team. Wellington’s Roy Krishna misses out despite another brilliant season, 19 goals and a Golden Boot award.

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As do Kosta Barbarouses, Eric Bautheac and Adam le Fondre, three men who appeared in the team of the week on five occasions.

There was no room for Japanese superstar Keisuke Honda or Perth’s Andy Keogh. It is astonishing to think that those players were surpassed by the deeds of others, but they were.

Adelaide’s Craig Goodwin and Melbourne Victory’s Ola Toivonen made six appearances in the team of the week and deserve their positions. The third member of the attacking trio was a revelation in 2018/19.

Chris Ikonomidis found a new home in the west under Tony Popovic and produced a brilliant and consistent season with The Premier’s Plate winners.

Wow, what a team! For the more visual thinkers, here is the way it shapes up on paper.

1. Lawrence Thomas GK (Melbourne Victory)
2. Ritchie De Laet (Melbourne City)
3. Bart Schenkeveld (Melbourne City)
4. Thomas Deng (Melbourne Victory)
5. Rhyan Grant (Sydney FC)
6. Isaias (Adelaide United)
7. Milos Ninkovic (Sydney FC)
8. James Troisi (Melbourne Victory)
9. Ola Toivonen (Melbourne Victory)
10. Chris Ikonomidis (Perth Glory)
11. Craig Goodwin (Adelaide United)

Perhaps the omissions from the team say all that needs to be said about its quality. What do you think of the team and will the Johnny Warren votes confirm the accuracy of my viewing lens?

I guess we will have to wait until next Monday when the Dolan Warren Awards are held at the Star in Sydney.

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I’m confident this team will stack up pretty well on the night.