Sydney FC (4th)
Sydney FC has the best credentialled coach in the A-League in terms of having been a proper coach in a proper league, enjoying success with Slovan Liberec. The squad looks more balanced than the last few seasons, particularly the left side with new left back Byun Sung-Hwan and Koffi Danning expecting to cause havoc.
The defence could be the weakest link, with Tony Popovich and Iain Fyfe departing. The hole has been filled by youth team players Anthony Golec and Mathew Jurman. However, an experienced defender is on the way.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Karol Kisel, the 32 year old Slovakian attacking midfielder from Czech clubs Slovan Liberec and Sparta Prague, can play in the middle on the right and on the left of midfield.
The Korean Byun Sung-Hwan comes to Sydney FC after seven years and 134 appearances in the K-League, most recently with Jeju United. His best position is left back and my spies tell me the 29 year old is not scared to take on players, can cross well and is two footed.
Should make finals, but Bling FC, Drama FC, Discipline FC whatever you want to call them, will make their fans work for it, that’s for sure.
The Cove, in both sight and sound, is something to behold in full flight. A supporters group can be marred by those who want to lead and those who don’t want to follow.
Perth Glory (5th)
The Glory has made some of the best signings so far, ranging from current Socceroos to players from the top leagues of Germany and England.
Coach David Mitchell likes to whinge and moan about long flights and how expensive Perth is to live in, and likes to kick water bottles on the pitch.
However, I believe Perth has made the right choice in keeping Mitchell as he is striving to re-build Perth Glory to something like what they were before in the old NSL.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Socceroos Mile Sterjovski (Derby) and Jacob Burns (FC Unirea Urziceni) are both full of experience at club and international level.
Serbian striker Branko Jelic (Energie Cottbus), at 32 yearS old, is nearing the veteran stage. Performances on the field is what counts and the striker has experience in Asia and Europe.
Ex -Derby defender Andy Todd will add bite to a defence that has needed it. Dutchman and former Ajax man Victor Sikora came late in the season. He will be one to watch as well.
Should make the finals this season after missing out every time since season one. Mile Sterjovski to be quoted numerous times throughout the season that the A-League and Championship are the same level if not better.
During the old NSL, the shed led the way in chanting, singing and fan culture. The A-League has seen the Shed not as animated, as results have been poor. Hopefully this season will see the Shed in full voice again.