As is always the case, predicting the outcome of the Hyundai A-League season is akin to knowing what the weather will be like in Melbourne - impossible.
The new season begins this Friday when Melbourne City host Brisbane Roar at AAMI Park in the sporting capital of Australia. All inclement weather aside, the clash will represent the beginning of the 13th A-League season and to make sure your informed on all the moves and news, here is Tribal Football's preview of the 2017/18 season - Part One:
Ins: Marco Kurz - manager (Fortuna Dusseldorf) Paul Izzo (Mariners), George Blackwood (Sydney), Ersan Gülüm (Hebei China Fortune, loan), Johan Absalonsen (SønderjyskE), Vince Lia (Wellington), Karim Matmour (1860 Munich), Daniel Adlung (1860 Munich).
Outs: Dylan McGowan (Pacos Ferreira), George Mells (Released), Sergio Cirio (UD Ibiza), John Hall (Wanderers), Jesse Makarounas (released), Eugene Galekovic (City), Kim Jae-sung (Jaennam Dragons), Marcelo Carrusca (City), Iacopo La Rocca (City), Riley McGree (Club Brugge), Eli Babalj (Mladá Boleslav)
Last season's finish: 9th
Pessimism: The lack of goals. The Reds scored just 25 goals in 27 games last season.
Key Player: Papa Diawara - The Senegalese striker signed for the Reds in February but struggled to acclimatise quickly.
Prediction: 8th - Adelaide went from Premiers in 2016 to second-bottom last season, so how they will go this campaign is hard to predict. However, they have made some shrewd signings, including former Germany U21 international Adlung, who looks like a solid physical presence, and former Denmark international Absalonsen, who was impressive in their pre-season FFA Cup run. New manager Marco Kurz arrives from Germany with a physical mentality. Diawara's goals are imperative - without them Adelaide will flounder.
Outs: Thomas Broich (retired), Brandon Borrello (FC Kaiserslautern), Jamie Maclaren (SV Darmstadt), Manuel Arana (FC Goa), Cameron Crestani (released), Joey Katebian (released), Nathan Konstandopoulos (released), Tommy Oar (APOEL), Kye Rowles (Mariners)
Last season's finish: 3rd
Optimism: Experience. There are plenty of old heads in John Aloisi's squad that have played plenty of first-team football.
Pessimism: Experience. 11 players are over 30 and the lack of legs may cause them problems at the end of games.
Key Player: Massimo Maccarone - The former Middlesbrough cult hero has joined from Serie A club Empoli. Although he is 38, the Italian scored five goals in Italy last season.
Prediction: 6th - It is a year of transition for the Roar. Out goes their young attacking trio of Oar, Maclaren and Borello, who have chosen to pursue careers in Europe and in comes Dad's Army; the Roar now have 11 players over the age of 30. Ben Khalfallah arrives from Melbourne Victory after establishing himself as one of the competition's premier players. Another old Italian has arrived in the A-League, but to be fair to Maccarone, he did play in the Serie A last season and if his legs are still working, he could have an impact in Queensland.
Ins: Tom Hiariej (Groningen), Alan Baro (Victory), Antony Golec (Bucheon FC 1995), Andrew Hoole (Jets), Ben Kennedy (Jets), Kye Rowles (Roar), Josh Rose (City), Daniel De Silva (Roda JC), Thomas Glover (Tottenham Hotspur - loan), Asdrúbal (Port FC), Wout Brama (Utrecht).
Outs: Paul Izzo (United), Roy O'Donovan (Jets), Fabio Ferreira (PKNS), Ivan Necevski (Released), Nick Montgomery (Wollongong Wolves), Jacob Poscoliero (Glory), Jacques Faty (Released), Scott Galloway (Phoenix), Mickaël Tavares (Released), Michael Neill (Sydney United), Jake Adelson (Jets).
Last season's finish: 8th
Optimism: There are young fresh legs with Daniel De Silva returning to Australia, along with Andrew Hoole who joins from Newcastle Jets.
Pessimism: Is there enough quality in Paul Okon's side?
Key Player: Daniel De Silva - Australia's once brightest prospect has returned to the A-League after failing to break through in Europe. He'll have a chip on his shoulder.
Prediction: 9th - Paul Okon's hiring last season was a great move for the Mariners. The former Australian international has signed four visa players - two from Spain and two from the Netherlands - and it will be interesting to see how they acclimatise down under. The Gosford-club have had a solid pre-season, collecting the scalps of Wellington, Victory and Jets. However, they need a lot more to get themselves into finals contention.
Ins: Eugene Galekovic (Adelaide), Scott Jamieson (ITK Göteborg), Iacopo La Rocca (Adelaide), John Roberts (FFA COE), Ramy Najjarine (Wanderers), Stefan Mauk (NEC – loan), Bart Schenkeveld (PEC Zwolle), Marcelo Carrusca (Adelaide), Marcin Budziński (Cracovia) Ross McCormack (Aston Villa – loan)
Outs: Corey Gameiro (Roar), Steve Kuzmanovski (released), Josh Rose (Mariners), Nicolás Colazo (Boca Juniors – loan ended), Thomas Sørensen (retired), Paulo Retre (Sydney), Ivan Franjic (Daegu FC), Anthony Cáceres (Al Wasl)
Last season's finish: 6th
Optimism: Bruno Fonaroli's injury absence has been covered by Aston Villa striker Ross McCormack.
Pessimism: The lack of replacement for Aaron Mooy, or more precisely, Mooy's penetrating passing.
Key Player: Ross McCormack - the signing represents a coup for not only City, but the entire competition. McCormack has incredible pedigree as a goalscorer, and if he is fit and switched on mentally, he will dominate.
Prediction: 4th - New manager Warren Joyce will be charged with stabilising a side that seemed to have lost it's identity last season. They struggled with consistency throughout the whole season. They showed showing patches of brilliance, but were equally as disappointing in other matches. The loss of Fornaroli cannot be understated, however with the addition of McCormack, who has arrived on loan from Aston Villa, as well as midfield hardman Iacopo La Rocca and Adelaide winger Marcelo Carrusca, City will make the finals again this season.
Outs: Marco Rojas (SC Heerenveen), Daniel Georgievski (Jets), Rashid Mahazi (retired), Fahid Ben Khalfallah (Roar), Nick Ansell (CD Tondela), Alan Baro (Mariners), Alastair Bray (released), George Howard (released), Lucas Spinella (released).
Last season's finish: 2nd
Optimism: Their offseason recruitment has been stellar. Williams, Deng, Milligan and Barbarouses all have the quality and experience to excel in this season.
Pessimism: Have they done enough to surpass Sydney?
Key Player: James Troisi - The attacking midfielder managed just six goals last season and he must score more to help ease the load on Besart Berisha's.
Prediction: 1st - Despite losing Rojas, Ben Khafallah and Georgievski, Victory have recruited brilliantly. Thomas Deng replaces Alan Baro in defence, and he will be partnered alongside former Middlesbrough defender Rhys Williams, who joins from Perth. Mark Milligan returns to his former club after a stint in the Middle East, as does Kosta Barbarouses who spent last season with Wellington Phoenix. Leroy George and former Argentina U21 international Matias Sanchez are also intriguing additions. Kevin Muscat will have his side organised and ready to go come round one. Expect Victory to challenge defending champions Sydney all season.
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