2015 was a year of mixed fortunes for teams in the A-League. There were several clubs that played at their expected level, a couple of clubs have suffered from inconsistency in their performances, several teams have overachieved and one or two have underperformed. This has led to an extremely competitive season in which anything can still happen. And with almost half of the regular season gone, only a couple of clubs can definitely say that they don’t have a chance to get into the play-offs.
If there is one club which had an amazing year then it is Melbourne Victory. They ended 2015 with a poor run of results, but everything before that was simply sensational. They had won the Premiers Plate, the FFA Cup and their domestic championship. It must be amazing for fans. In fact, many of them are comparing this year to going to the casino. They say they feel like they are in some of the best UK casinos online, and they get 50 free spins and real money bonuses every match day.
This 2015/16 season the Victory have been a little hit and miss in the league however. If they want to keep their ambitions of winning the treble alive, they first need to get out of the poor run of form they are in (they are 5th with a 6 point deficit behind the league leaders) and start playing with more consistency before the league title gets out of reach.
2015 might have ended poorly for Melbourne Victory, but for their city rivals Melbourne City, it couldn’t have ended better. They now find themselves two positions ahead of their city rivals and are in the running for an automatic semi-final place in the play-offs. However, consistency has been a huge problem for the Manchester City affiliated club, with every impressive performance followed by an equally unimpressive defeat. Their manager John van ‘t Schip will have to find a way to prevent series of games like those at the start of the season, in which they either played well and won or failed to turn up for the game and lost convincingly.
With both Melbourne based clubs having a chance to reach the final of the play-offs, this could be the first time that two cross city rivals confront each other in the final stage of the competition. However, Sydney’s Sydney FC and Western Sydney have the chance to do the same thing.
In Graham Arnold, Sydney FC have a manager who can take them to the final, while at the same time playing some very effective and efficient football. They are extremely difficult to beat and have so far managed to win when they needed to win the most. Many say that this is the trait of champions to be, and that might be the case here, with the club not being the most entertaining side to watch, but grinding out some much needed victories.
On the other hand, Western Sydney have been the success story of the year. They currently sit in 2nd position on same points as the leaders Brisbane Roar, and have started to play the same brand of football which has made them Asian Champions in the past. They are now much more organised and determined, and opponents find it much harder to beat them. With their current displays, Tony Popovic has successfully managed to make fans forget the horrendous 2014/15 A-League campaign.
The revelation of the season however, has been John Aloisi’s Brisbane Roar. Last season they didn’t really turn up to defend their title, but this year it has been a completely different story. They are currently top of the A-League, and with the Aloisi brothers and Australia’s former captain Craig Moore being part of the coaching staff, it seems like the players have that much needed winning mentality instilled in them.
These five clubs seem almost certain to make it into the quarter final stage of the play-offs. The last passenger however, still remains unknown. Wellington manager Ernie Merrick has instructed his players to always go for the win, which makes for an attractive viewing, but has left them open and vulnerable to counter attacks. They could make the play-offs, but they must improve their defensive solidity.
Newcastle are another club with a shot for the 6th position, but even though they started the season in good form, they have now been on a miserable run of both form and results. Coach Scott Miller will have a lot of work to do, if he wants to turn their fortunes around, and not drop even lower in the table. Unfortunately, with Newcastle being rooted to the bottom of the form table, it seems like the most probable scenario at the moment is for them to go even further down.
Perth Glory and Adelaide are two more clubs which could find themselves in the same predicament, if they don’t become more consistent in the second half of the season.
Adelaide United however, have looked like the better side of these four recently, and should they keep this form going they could snatch the last remaining place leading into the play-offs.
The last club competing in the A-League is Central Coast. They are on the foot of the table and are the only club without a chance of reaching the play-offs. But this was expected and this was always going to be a transition season for them, with most of the team being made up of young players. Next season we should see the fruit of this season’s labour.