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 Two:
Ins: Daniel Georgievski (Victory), Mario Shabow (Wanderers), Roy O'Donovan (Mariners), Kosta Petratos (Glory), Glen Moss (Phoenix), Dimi Petratos (Ulsan Hyundai), Nikolai Topor-Stanley (Hatta Club), Jake Adelson (Mariners), Ronald Vargas (AEK Athens).
Outs: Andrew Hoole (Mariners), Morten Nordstrand (Fremad Amager), Joel Allwright (Adelaide City), Labinot Haliti (retired), Ben Kennedy (Mariners), Ma Lei Lei (Released), Daniel Mullen (Phoenix), Mateo Poljak (Astra Giurgiu), Kristian Brymora (Millwall), Aleksandr Kokko (Eastern).
Last season's finish: 10th
Optimism:They have a much improved squad compared to last season
Pessimism:There isn't a lot of belief in the Hunter - the Jets have not made the finals in seven seasons
Key Player: Roy O'Donovan - Jets haven't scored more than 28 goals in a season since 2013/14. The Irishman needs to bring his best to lift Newcastle up the ladder.
Prediction: There certainly is a sense of optimism for the upcoming season after a complete squad overhaul. Exciting attacker Dimi Petratos returns from a spell in Korea, while Ronald Vargas arrives with high praise. Defenders Georgievski and Topor-Stanley provide some much needed strength and experience for a side that conceded 53 goals last season. However, the most important addition for the Jets is manager Ernie Merrick. The Scotsman has managed in the league since day one and knows what it takes to win championships having won two with Melbourne Victory.
Outs: Dino Djulbic (Felda United), Kosta Petratos (Jets), Richard Garcia (retired), Josh Risdon (Wanderers), Aryn Williams (NEROCA FC), Rhys Williams (Victory), Lucian Goian (Mumbai City), Nebojša Marinković (released), Mitchell Oxborrow (Roar), Rostyn Griffiths (Pakhtakor Tashkent)
Last season's finish: 5th
Optimism:The front trio of Castro, Keogh and Taggart could be even more potent after a season getting to know each other.
Pessimism: There back line is considerably worse and they conceded 53 goals last season…
Key Player: Andy Keogh - The Irish striker must be on his game for the whole season because scoring plenty of goals is the only way Perth will win games this season.
Prediction: 5th - The league's entertainers last season, Glory will be expected to repeat their antics in the upcoming campaign. With defensive starters Djubic, Risdon, Williams and Griffiths leaving the club, it seems manager Kenny Lowe has embraced the 'you score 3, we'll score 4' ideology. What's even more bizarre is that he hasn't replaced his outgoing defenders, instead passing the responsibility onto squad players and the returning full-back Neville. Torres arrives from a decade playing in Spain's top two flights. If he can acclimatise quickly, expect the Barcelona youth product to be one of the best imports this season. Perth will be one of the better teams to watch this year, but don't expect to seriously challenge for the title.
Outs: Riley Woodcock (Sydney United), Bernie Ibini (Vancouver Whitecaps), Filip Holosko (Slovan Bratislava), George Blackwood (Adelaide), George Timotheou (Sydney Olympic), Danny Vukovic (Genk), Milos Dimitrijevic (released).
Last season's finish: 1st
Optimism:They are still the one to beat. And Graham Arnold has retained the majority of his squad that dominated last season's competition.
Pessimism: There isn't any.
Key Player: Milos Ninkovic - The Serbian collected the club's player of the year award last season and his brilliance will be needed if the Sky Blues are to go back-to-back
Prediction: 2nd - The only thing Sydney needed to do this offseason was consolidate and that's what they did. Arnold has no complaints with his squad and the arrival of Polish striker Mierzejewski looks exciting after his impressive debut in the FFA Cup. Although there are no blemishes on the Sky Blues, their main rivals for the title, Melbourne Victory, have improved considerably since last season. The two will go head to head all season, but if another Big Blue is destined for the grand final, there could be a different winner this season.
Ins: Scott Galloway (Mariners), Goran Paracki (NK Istra 1961), Dario Vidošić (Seongnam FC), Daniel Mullen (Jets), Andrija Kaluđerović (Port FC), Ali Abbas (Pohang Steelers).
Last season's finish: 7th
Optimism: New manager Darije Kalezić has plenty of experience, having coached in the Eredivisie and Belgium's Jupiler League.
Pessimism: Their recruitment has been underwhelming to say the least.
Key Player: Michael McGlinchey - The New Zealand international had a poor season by his standards. The Nix need him to fire if they are to have any chance.
Prediction: 10th - It's an unfortunate situation for Wellington. Although they're not terrible, their lack of positive recruitment compared to their rivals down the bottom of the table means they will more than likely win the wooden spoon. Kalezic will have his side organised and he does possess some attacking talent in McGlinchey, Vidosic, Gui Finkler and Roy Krishna. It is not all doom and gloom, but they are the worst of a bad bunch.
Western Sydney Wanderers
Ins: Oriol Riera (Deportivo La Coruña), Álvaro Cejudo (Betis), Roly Bonevacia (Phoenix), Josh Risdon (Glory), Michael Thwaite (Liaoning Whowin), John Hall (Adelaide), Marc Tokich (Centre of Excellence), Chris Herd (Gillingham), Mark Bridge (Chiangrai United), Raul Llorente (Platanias).
Outs: Ryan Griffiths (Lambton Jaffas), Shannon Cole (released), Mario Shabow (Jets), Scott Neville (Glory), Mitch Nichols (Glory), Dimas (Bengaluru), Bruno Piñatares (River Plate), Terry Antonis (PAOK - end of loan), Nicolas Martinez (Olympiacos - end of loan), Aritz Borda (Burgos).
Last season's finish: 6th
Optimism:They have drafted into some fine talent to boost on last season's performance
Pessimism: The only manager the Wanderers have ever known - Tony Popovic - left for the Turkish Super Lig this week.
Key Player: Chris Herd - The Perth-born lad spent ten years at Aston Villa and was one of the club's brightest prospects. Off the field troubles and injuries have derailed him but he still the ability to have a huge impact
Prediction: 3rd - When you thought of the Wanderers, you thought of Popovic. But the show must go on, and ex-West Ham United defender Hayden Foxe will be tasked with filling some enormous shoes. He will have help though; the Wanderers squad is filled with young talent and hardened experience. Herd returns to Australia, as does Mark Bridge and Michael Thwaite. Roly Bonevacia will provide some flair up front following his arrival from the Phoenix. Despite the loss of Popovic, their is still a chance the Wanderers could cause Sydney and Victory some trouble.
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