2018-19 A-League preview, part 1: A-M
There are still 39 days to go, but here's an early look at the season ahead for the As-Ms of the 2018-19 A-League10 September 2018 | Stuart Thomas
With more than a month remaining until the A-League kicks off at Coopers Stadium on 19 October, the squads are taking shape.
Barring a late move, most clubs will feel they have found those missing pieces of the puzzle that held them back last season. Young players will have used another pre-season to develop further and will demand more minutes from the boss.
But what of the new marquees and imports? YouTube clips can only tell us so much, will they match the hype and adapt briskly to the league?
In this two-part preview, we look at the significant moves and the ramifications for each club, as the countdown to A-League 2018-19 continues.
After last season’s fifth place finish under the firm hand of Marco Kurz, Adelaide look to have added goal scoring class and creativity over the break. The losses of Johan Absalonsen and Daniel Adlung suggested a potential void in creativity in the front third.
Dane Ken Ilso and German Mirko Boland are the men charged with filling that void. Along with a returning Craig Goodwin and the astute signing of Michael Jakobsen from Melbourne City, there is plenty of positivity in the city of churches.
Kurz will look to continue to develop a harder edge to the squad, something that produced a tougher and more resilient Reds team than we have seen for a while. Whilst some may question their defensive capabilities, hence Jakobsen’s signing, it will be up front that George Blackwood, Baba Diawara and the new men will seek to improve the most.
- Paul Izzo, Daniel Margush, Isaac Richards, Ryan Strain, Michael Marrone, Taylor Regan, Jordan Elsey, Michael Jakobsen, Isaias, Lachlan Brook, Kristin Konstandopoulos, Nathan Konstandopoulos, Vince Lia, George Blackwood, Baba Diawara, Nikola Mileusnic, Ryan Kitto, Pacifique Niyongabire, Craig Goodwin, Apostolos Stamatelopoulos, Ken Ilsø, Mirko Boland, Louis D’Arrigo, Scott Galloway, Ben Halloran
After an astonishing run that saw Brisbane somehow scrape into the finals last April, the pressure on John Aloisi will remain. The fans will be hoping for a continuation and his new recruits will be vital in ensuring the late season run wasn’t a mirage.
I was something of a believer in the Roar, as its players slowly returned from injury the improvement in performance was obvious. Aloisi told everyone as much, but few would listen. Tobias Mikkelsen and Stefan Mauk are excellent signings and together with Thomas Kristensen could see Brisbane become far more potent in attack. Throw in the potential A-League recruit of the year in the form of Adam Taggart and Aloisi’s intentions are clear.
The Roar needed something far more dynamic and enthusiastic up front than the aging Massimo Maccarone and with Eric Bautheac and Mikkelsen providing service to Taggart from the flanks, they just might have it.
- Brendan White, Jamie Young, Daniel Bowles, Luke DeVere, Jack Hingert, Dane Ingham, Connor O'Toole, Avraam Papadopoulos, Joe Caletti, Thomas Kristensen, Matt McKay, Jacob Pepper, Brett Holman, Stefan Mauk, Eric Bautheac, Shannon Brady, Henrique, Adam Taggart, Dylan Wenzel-Halls, Nicholas D’Agostino, Tobias Mikkelsen, Stefan Nigro
Central Coast Mariners
Usain Bolt aside, it has been an off-season all about personnel for new manager Mike Mulvey. In a significant shake-up that saw around a dozen players depart, gelling the squad in the early stages of the season will be Mulvey’s biggest challenge.
Jack Clisby, Michael McGlinchey and Jonathan Aspropotamitis are good domestic signings and Aiden O’Neill returns to Australia desperately seeking consistent football after patchy form in England.
The key signing, designed to plug a leaky defence and provide some quality passing outlets through the midfield, is Malian Kalifa Cissé. Whilst Corey Gameiro and Matt Simon will be bit players in attack, the Mariners will be hoping for one of its many NPL recruits to link effectively with Aaron Hoole and Connor Pain in attack.
It will be exciting to see Jordan Murray get his chance at some stage. There were far too many goals against and nowhere near enough scored last season and the Mariners have a huge task before them if they hope to make a serious run at the finals.
- Adam Pearce, Ben Kennedy, Joe Gauci, Antony Golec, Jake McGing, Kye Rowles, Jack Clisby, Jonathan Aspropotamitis, Kalifa Cisse, Adam Berry, Tom Hiariej, Jacob Melling, Michael McGlinchey, Andrew Hoole, Connor Pain, Corey Gameiro, Matt Simon, Mario Shabow, Peter Kekeris, Jordan Murray, Josh Macdonald, Aiden O'Neill, Matt Millar
I have crowed very early on this one I know. City look ready. After a third place finish in 17/18, the club has had just about enough of predictable fadeouts in finals play and Warren Joyce isn’t approaching the challenge to change that perception gently. The manager made some tough calls last season; all seemingly based on what was best for the team in the long run.
With a fit Bruno Fornaroli and the additions of Riley McGree, Anthony Caceres and Rostyn Griffiths, depth will once again be City’s greatest asset. With Scotsman Michael O’Halloran and Frenchman Florin Berenguer also on board, there will be no shortage of talent on the City bench each and every week.
Along with Luke Brattan and young stars Harrison Delbridge and Nathaniel Atkinson, the loss of Daniel Arzani should be covered adequately by potentially the best all-round squad in the A-League.
- Eugene Galekovic, James Delianov, Dylan Pierias, Harrison Delbridge, Iacopo La Rocca, Osama Malik, Scott Jamieson, Bart Schenkeveld, Nathaniel Atkinson, Connor Metcalfe, Ramy Najjarine, Moudi Najjar, Luke Brattan, Bruno Fornaroli, Dario Vidosic, Michael O'Halloran, Riley McGree, Lachlan Wales, Anthony Caceres, Rostyn Griffiths, Florin Berenguer
Of course, the champions will be back. Led by their feisty manager, Victory look a far better team on paper that the one that claimed an unlikely A-League trophy just five months ago.
Whilst Besart Berisha and Leroy George depart, the acquisitions of Keisuke Honda and Ola Toivonen look to make Victory an even more dangerous proposition up front. If the new attacking weapons can gel with Kosta Barbarouses, Kenny Athiu and James Troisi, the potential goal scoring is a frightful proposition for the other nine clubs.
Georg Niedermeier provides the defensive grunt and will be an asset for Thomas Deng who is still learning his craft. With Raul Baena (on loan from Granada) sitting in front of them both, Victory might be tough to score against as well.
Melbourne’s big brother will no doubt challenge for the title again. It is sort of what they do.
- Lawrence Thomas, Matthew Acton, Matthew Sutton, Thomas Deng, Carl Valeri, Terry Antonis, Leigh Broxham, Josh Hope, Birkan Kirdar, James Troisi, Kenny Athiu, Kosta Barbarouses, Jai Ingham, Nicholas Sette, Corey Brown, Storm Roux, Georg Niedermeier, Nick Ansell, Keisuke Honda, Ola Toivonen, Raul Baena
Next week, I will run the rule over the remaining five sides.
a-league, adelaide united, brisbane roar, central coast mariners, melbourne city, melbourne victory