A-League 2018-19: who will make a difference?
Who are the key players for each club that could stand out and make a difference?15 August 2018 | Stuart Thomas
With around sixty days remaining until Round 1, there is still a little wriggle room for A-League clubs looking to acquire a late signing or two. However, those with money to spend and looking to add that last splash of quality to their stocks before the season kicks off on 19 October, had better move briskly.
Since the dramatic Grand Final in Newcastle the A-League has lost considerable quality. Besart Berisha, Bobo, Adrian Mierzejewski, Daniel Adlung, Johan Absalonsen, Wout Brama, Daniel Arzani, Alvaro Cejudo and Chris Ikonomidis, to name just a handful.
At the same time, the clubs have been actively recruiting and an argument could be made that many have already acquired exactly what they were looking for. So who are the key men that the teams have lured into the fold for the upcoming season?
Paul Izzo, Daniel Margush, Isaac Richards; Ryan Strain, Michael Marrone, Taylor Regan, Jordan Elsey, Michael Jakobsen, Scott Galloway; Isaias, Lachlan Brook, Kristin Konstandopoulos, Nathan Konstandopoulos, Vince Lia, Mirko Boland; George Blackwood, Baba Diawara, Ben Halloran, Nikola Mileusnic, Ryan Kitto, Pacifique Niyongabire, Craig Goodwin, Apostolos Stamatelopoulos, Ken Ilso.
Whilst the return of Craig Goodwin and Ben Halloran to the city of churches is a win for the reds, the signature of Michael Jakobsen is potentially its most significant move. The 32-year-old Dane will further strengthen a defence in need of steel and organisation.
Brendan White, Jamie Young; Daniel Bowles, Luke DeVere, Jack Hingert, Dane Ingham, Connor O'Toole, Avraam Papadopoulos, Stefan Nigro; 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.
The Roar have recruited well. Stefan Mauk and Tobias Mikkelsen will add to a team that showed much late season development under John Aloisi. The key move will likely be the signing of Adam Taggart from the Glory. After battling up front with Massimo Maccarone for much of the season, the Roar needed a focal point and Taggart is a rare Australian talent in the final third.
If supplied well by Thomas Kristensen and Eric Bautheac, the Roar may well have added the finishing touch to a team with aspirations of a top two finish.
Central Coast Mariners
Adam Pearce, Ben Kennedy, Joe Gauci; Antony Golec, Jake McGing, Kye Rowles, Jack Clisby, Jonathan Aspropotamitis, Kalifa Cisse; Adam Berry, Tom Hiariej, Jacob Melling, Daniel De Silva, Michael McGlinchey; Andrew Hoole, Connor Pain, Corey Gameiro, Matt Simon, Mario Shabow, Peter Kerkeris, Jordan Murray, Josh Macdonald. Manager: Mike Mulvey
The number of footballers that have left and arrived in Gosford is astonishing. It has been wholesale player changes for the Mariners and hopefully, a change in fortunes as well.
Whilst Jack Clisby and Jonathan Aspropotamitis are good acquisitions from the Wanderers and Mali international Kalifa Cisse looms as a potential x-factor, in reality, manager Mike Mulvey might be the most important signing for Central Coast. The challenge of gelling a new squad will be his first order of business.
Dean Bouzanis, Eugene Galekovic; James Delianov, Dylan Pierias, Harrison Delbridge, Iacopo La Rocca, Osama Malik, Scott Jamieson, Nathaniel Atkinson; Connor Metcalfe, Ramy Najjarine, Moudi Najjar, Luke Brattan, Rostyn Griffiths; Bruno Fornaroli, Dario Vidosic, Michael O'Halloran, Riley McGree, Lachlan Wales, Anthony Caceres
City look like one the definite favourites for A-League glory and are certainly a serious contender. Riley McGree and Lachlan Wales will be interesting to watch as they continue to develop yet the signing of Michael O’Halloran is its big move of the winter.
The 27-year-old Scotsman will play the role of foil and provider to Bruno Fornaroli and if able to strike up an effective combination with the Uruguayan, might be the difference between another year of disappointment for City and an A-League title.
Lawrence Thomas, Matthew Acton, Matthew Sutton, Thomas Deng, Georg Niedermeier, Nick Ansell, Corey Brown, Storm Roux; Carl Valeri, Terry Antonis, Keisuke Honda, Leigh Broxham, Josh Hope, Birkan Kirdar, James Troisi, Kenny Athiu, Kosta Barbarouses, Jai Ingham, Nicholas Sette.
Whilst a little clichéd, this one is easy. Keisuke Honda arrives with much fanfare and the champions will feel a little less anxious as they prepare for life without Besart Berisha.
It is not a like for like swap, with stylistic differences placing them poles apart, yet it will be Honda’s ability to connect and combine with James Troisi that will be a key determiner in Victory’s season.
Glen Moss, Nigel Boogaard, Ivan Vujica, Nick Cowburn, Daniel Georgievski, Johnny Koutroumbis, Lachlan Jackson, Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Matthew Ridenton, Jason Hoffman, Ben Kantarovski, Steven Ugarkovic, Jake Adelson, Angus Thurgate, Ronald Vargas, Dimi Petratos, Roy O'Donovan, Joseph Champness, Kosta Petratos.
After such a wonderful 2017-18 and a squad blessed with youth, speed and aggression, the Jets have only added young Kiwi midfielder Matthew Ridenton to their squad at this stage.
With limited losses from its starting eleven, aside from the suspended Roy O’Donovan, the Jets look to be one of the more settled squads leading into the season. Ridenton looks a developing footballer and could thrive under Ernie Merrick.
Liam Reddy, Tando Velaphi, Dino Djulbic, Alex Grant, Shane Lowry, Scott Neville, Jason Davidson, Jake Brimmer, Jacob Italiano, Neil Kilkenny, Juande, Joel Chianese, Chris Harold, Fabio Ferreira, Andy Keogh, Diego Castro, Ivan Franjic, Tomislav Mrcela, Brendon Santalab, Matthew Spiranovic.
Ivan Franjic is the key buy for a club looking to fix the significant defensive issues that have plagued it in recent seasons.
With a Perth back four looking a little disinterested in 2017-18 and a few midfielders not tracking back in the manner expected, new manager Tony Popovic will make defensive improvement his number one priority in the pre-season. With Franjic on board, he now has the man to model poise and experience to his team of defenders.
Andrew Redmayne, Alex Cisak, Thomas Heward-Belle; Aaron Calver, Rhyan Grant, Ben Warland, Alex Wilkinson, Jop van der Linden, Michael Zullo, Josh Brillante, Alex Brosque, Milos Ninkovic, Brandon O’Neill, Paulo Retre, Daniel De Silva, Chris Zuvela, Charles Lokolingoy, Trent Buhagiar.
The harbour city has lost more talent and class than any other club and replacing it will be a challenge.
At this stage, with more signings rumoured, 21-year-old Daniel De Silva looks likely to impact the squad most significantly. With a new manager in Steve Corica, the style Sydney adopt will be interesting to observe and the role De Silva plays in it vital to their success.
Filip Kurto, Andrew Durante, Steven Taylor, Liberato Cacace, Dylan Fox, Nathan Burns, Michal Kopczyński, Mitch Nichols, Roy Krishna, Oliver Sail, Thomas Doyle, Louis Fenton, Ryan Lowry, Sarpreet Singh, David Williams, Alex Rufer.
It will be a joy to see David Williams back in the A-League and his combination with Roy Krishna and young star Sarpreet Singh will be a measuring stick for the Phoenix.
It has the makings of a potentially potent attacking trio and if Williams can bring his goal-scoring touch from Hungary, the men from across the ditch might make a real statement in the A-League this season.
Western Sydney Wanderers
Vedran Janjetovic, Danijel Nizic, Nicholas Suman; Keanu Baccus, Tarek Elrich, Patrick Ziegler, Brendan Hamill, Josh Risdon, Ruon Tongyik, Tass Mourdoukoutas, Tate Russell; Kearyn Baccus, Roly Bonevacia, Kosta Grozos, Marc Tokich, Jordan O'Doherty, Alex Baumjohann; Mark Bridge, Nick Fitzgerald, Bruce Kamau, Abraham Majok, Oriol Riera, John Roberts, Lachlan Scott, Jaushua Sotirio.
Each season appears as a clean out for the Wanderers and 2018-19 is no different. A host of players have moved on and much quality has arrived. Bruce Kamau, Ruon Tongyik, Tarek Elrich and Jordan O'Doherty add depth, yet Nick Fitzgerald looms as the most valuable signing.
Still only 26, Fitzgerald brings a hard edge to the Wanderers midfield and might be the man that Oriol Riera needs to provide him with more consistent and clear chances on goal.