One hundred and fifty eight days have passed since Melbourne Victory were torturously crowned A-League champions for the second time and season 5 (or is it Version 5.0?) of the A-League is nearly upon us!
Last season’s A-League had become somewhat stale, even for the most die hard fan. There’s only so many times you can play dross teams like Wellington and Perth (and get spanked by them at home 😦 ) before things start getting a little repetitive.
This season, however, things are looking up. Two new teams, new strips, big name signings across the league, billionaire owners taking part in pissing contests… A ball hasn’t even been kicked in Season 5, but things are already brighter!
As kick off approaches (Melbourne Victory v Central Coast Mariners, Thursday, 6 August, 2009, 8:00pm @ Telstra Dome Etihad Stadium) big questions are being asked. “Will Gold Coast United fail spectacularly in their bid to win the championship undefeated?”, “Is Branko Culina going to amount to anything on his second attempt at the reigns of an A-League club?” [This writer says “No”], “Just how long will it be until Robbie Fowler keels over and dies of a heart attack in the Townsville heat?”
The biggest and most important question, however, is about Sydney FC. Will Sydney actually amount to something this year?! It has been three years of false dawns for the ‘Manchester United of the A-League’ [thanks for that nickname, Branko you useless, useless twat]. For Sydney FC fans the last three seasons have followed a familiar pattern: New manager, big expectations, early season optimism, midseason mediocrity, late season heartbreak.
As a Sydney fan, it’s been incredibly tough watching my club go through 4 coaches, a bazillion CEOs and chairmen and god only knows how much money spent on terrible, injury prone players.
BUT THIS SEASON IT’S DIFFERENT! [I am, of course, well aware that I had these feelings at the start of previous seasons, but I swear, seriously, really, it’s different this time]
For starters we have a new coach, Vítězslav Lavička. Coming from the Czech Republic, this guy has brought a new level of professionalism to the team, which is of course, not difficult when your predecessor thought the appropriate position for a manger was slumped in his chair sipping coffee whilst his team got torn apart.
We’ve got a new owner, David Traktovenko. This man previously owned Zenit St. Petersburg and brought them to the success they are now enjoying. Everyone knows having a dodgy Russian owner brings success.
And, finally, we’ve got some promising new players, like Kisel, Keller and Byun, as well as the young guns like Danning, Gan and Grant who already started stepping up at the end of last year.
Things surely can’t go as bad for us as last year, can they?! CAN THEY?! I certainly hope not.
So, in anticipation of the new A-League season here is a completely unbiased summary of each team in this wonderful little league of ours and their chances this year. If you’re not familiar with the A-League at all, then this should bring you up to speed.
Home ground: Hindmarsh Stadium
Nickname: The Barrel Boys, The Reds.
Manager: Aurelio Vidmar
Adelaide is one of those teams that always gets far only to meekly drop to their knees like a cheap Thai hooker at the final hurdle. They of course finished top of the table in Season 1 of the A-League only to lose in the semi finals to Sydney FC, then got torn apart 6-0 by Melbourne Victory in the Season 2 grand final. They made the Asian Champions League final in 2008 only to lose 5-0 on aggregate to Gamba Osaka, then again lost to Melbourne Victory in the A-League grand final 1-0 in Season 4.
Adelaide sucks. Really sucks. Their coach didn’t label the place a ‘pissant town’ for no reason. This offseason they’ve been taken over by the FFA because nobody wants to be associated with them, they’ve sold their only half decent defender Sasa Ognenovski, and replaced him with the liability that is ex-Sydney FC defender Iain Fyfe and one of their new players, Lloyd Owusu, managed to catch swine flu.
Prediction: They will be completely crap.
Home ground: Suncorp Stadium
Nickname: The Pussycats
Manager: Frank Farina
No, Brisbane isn’t one of the new teams that have been brought in this year. This is, of course, a rebadged, renamed, Queensland Roar, who still, unfortunately, wear horrible orange and maroon jerseys. What is there to say about the Roar… they had a hilarious streak of bad home form last year, winning only one game at Suncorp between December 13, 2007 and November 22, 2008. Then, miraculously, they started playing well and everyone got excited about them.
Not me, though. I hate this team. Truly, utterly despise them. Having been to watch Sydney FC play up there, I can officially say that their support is terrible and that Brisbane is filled with too many bogan, twelve year olds. Their beer is crap, their fans are wankers and they always seem to beat us when it matters. But, it won’t happen this season.
Prediction: Charlie Miller will break his hip when he stumbles over his walking frame coming down the tunnel for their first match and they will amount to nothing.
Central Coast Mariners
Home ground: Bluetongue Stadium
Manager: Lawrie McKinna
The Central Coast are a ‘family’ team based in Gosford, a small little town one hour north of Sydney whose local economy relies heavily on fortnightly Centrelink payments being made to its population of inbred, scummy people. The Central Coast are a team that plays dire football at the best of times, yet still manage to get places in the A-League. They lost the inaugural A-League grand final to Sydney FC 1-0 and the Season 3 grand final to the Newcastle Jets by the same score line. Their Asian Champions League campaign in 2009 was absolutely atrocious. In fact, this team has not won a competitive game since Christmas 2008.
Can I see them going places? The short answer is ‘no’. They lost their one half decent player, Mile Jedinak, midway through last season and have never managed to recover. Their home end is called ‘The Marinators’. No, they’re not some kind of gladiatorial chefs who are going to beat us to death with delicious food, they’re just 2 blokes who get pissed at the leagues club next door before the games then sit in deathly silence for 90 minutes. I sincerely hope this club folds before the end of the season so that a team from Canberra gets the go ahead for next year’s planned expansion.
Gold Coast United
Home ground: Skilled Park
Nickname: None, yet their home end are seriously considering calling themselves the White Shoe Brigade (lololol)
Manager: Miron Bleiberg
A new club on the scene who talk a lot of trash, have made big signings and are being tipped by many to win the title. Led by returning Socceroo Jason Culina and featuring last year’s Golden Boot winner Shane Smeltz, Adam Griffiths and 3 Brazilian no-names [but they’re Brazilian!!], it does all certainly look good on paper.
But other things have looked good on paper, too. Like the Titanic. Like the Bay of Pigs. Like Terminator 4. But none of those turned out any good, did they? So what if their owner, a big fat billionaire with a terrible hairstyle from Queensland who has been noted to look suspiciously like Jabba the Hut, thinks they’ll win the league undefeated. The fact is, they still need to prove themselves before they should be tipped for anything.
Prediction: A few key injuries and things will go horribly pear shaped.
Home ground: Etihad Stadium
Nickname: The Tards
Manager: Ernie Merrick
FUCK THE TARDS.
The league’s most successful team, having won the premiership/championship double in both Season 2 and Season 4 of the A-League, the Melbourne Victory are subhuman filth. Their supporters are animals and their players are pedophiles. I sincerely hope every single supporter, player and member of the backroom staff die a slow and painful death. Preferably something like Ebola.
Prediction: Lose the grand final 5-0 to Sydney FC.
Home ground: EnergyAustralia Stadium
Nickname: The Jest
Manager: Branko Culina (seriously!)
What a ramshackles of a club. They managed to win the A-League championship in Season 3, only to taste the delicious, piney flavour of the wooden spoon the very next season. In the offseason they somehow managed to make it to the last 16 of the Asian Champions League, only to be completely and utterly touched up by Pohang Steelers 6-0. That was the only game I managed to catch and it was embarrassing as an Australian to be even slightly associated with that club.
They are based in an absolute dump of a ghost town. Have you ever been to Newcastle after dark? I have. And it was not fun. The highlight was getting the hell out of there and jumping on the F3 back to civilization. Newcastle is owned by a Mr Con Constantine, who last year threatened to throw one of their supporters who criticized the club off a balcony . With ex-Sydney FC coach Branko Culina now at the helm, plus the league’s most crazy player, Ljubo ‘I like to go to gay night clubs and watch porn’ Milicevic, I can just see things getting more and more whacky.
Prediction: Hilarity both on and off the pitch. Dire dire stuff.
North Queensland Fury
Home ground: Dairy Farmers Stadium
Nickname: I think Fury is pretty hilarious enough
Manager: Ian Ferguson
The second new team in the A-League, their recruitment policy seemed to be this: find as many rubbish and/or ex-Sydney FC players as possible (namely Jacob Timpano, Ufuk Talay, Brendan Santalab, Beau Busch, Robbie Middleby, Jeremy Brockie, Justin Pasfield), combine them with a flabby ex-English Premier League legend Robbie Fowler and hope for the best!
Unfortunately for the Fury, however, things don’t look they will go for the best. Even before a ball was kicked, players were quickly realizing that this team was going to be absolute mince and were lining up to get out of there as soon as humanly possible. Jade North shot off to Turkey, Felipe disappeared to the Middle East, heck, Santalab even decided to head to China! They’ve managed dick all in the preseason and will be the whipping boys all year.
Home ground: Members Equity Stadium
Nickname: Their supporters call themselves The Shed
Manager: David Mitchell
The Glory were the only club let into the A-League from the old NSL. Back in the NSL days they were great but since the inception of the A-League things haven’t been quite so good. The Glory were the team that everybody could expect to take 3 points off [except, of course, Sydney, but we will conveniently ignore that]. Things were looking bleak for the Glory.
But then, something miraculous happened. They got a new owner and things started turning around. In the off-season they’ve unveiled a new logo which harkens back to their NSL days, they’ve signed an impressive squad including three Socceroos, Mile Sterjovski, Chris Coyne and Jacob Burns and will now be wearing a new striped kit.
Could it be the start of a new era for Perth?
Prediction: No. They’ve got mediocrity in their veins.
Home ground: Sydney Football Stadium
Nickname: Bling FC, The Sky Blues.
Manager: Vítězslav Lavička
Sydney FC is without a doubt the greatest football club to have ever existed in the history of humanity. Well, not really. We’re the team everybody loves to hate. In Season 1 of the A-League Sydney talked the talk and walked the walk, winning the grand final against the Central Coast Mariners 1-0. Since then, however, things haven’t been quite so grand. We’re onto our 5th manager (Pierre Littbarski, Terry Butcher, Branko Culina, John Kosmina being the other four). We only pull crowds when we play well. Last year was particularly torturous. After a promising beginning of the year, the wheels literally fell off. Our marquee player, John Aloisi, was booed for not being able to score in a brothel, our manager reverted to blaming bars of light for our losses and insisted we were playing good football even when we were getting spanked by Perth at home and one of our players was actually beaten up by a fan in the car park after a match.
But hey. That’s the past. Things are different now.
Spend a day in the Cove, Sydney’s passionate home end. Listen to the banter, sing the songs as loudly as you can and rejoice when the beer showers down upon you after a goal. There’s nothing quite like it. We’re the team everybody loves to hate and this year, that will be for a reason. We’re not being talked up like usual, but that can only work in our favour. Come on you boys in blue!!!
Home ground: Westpac Stadium
Nickname: The Nux
Manager: Ricki Herbert
Wellington are an interesting team. Admitted into the A-League in Season 3 after the capitulation of the New Zealand Knights, they’ve not yet amounted to much, but they’re still somewhat entertaining to watch. Their fans are loud and proud and their new black and yellow striped strip is damn sexy to say the least. Last year they finished 6th, yet had the league’s golden boot winner, Shane Smeltz. Will the loss of Smeltz hurt them? Undoubtably so. But still, I just can’t bring myself to despise them as much as they other clubs. I hope they do well, but when they play against Sydney I hope they are as bad as the New Zealand Knights. We always seem to lose to these guys, please please please let that change this year.
Prediction: No good, again.
So there you have it The new season kicks off in less than 48 hours and it promises to be a blinder.
SYDNEY ‘TIL I DIE!
Round 1 fixtures
6 August, 2009 – Melbourne v Central Coast – Etihad Stadium, 8:00pm
7 August, 2009 – Adelaide v Perth, Hindmarsh Stadium, 7:30pm
8 August, 2009 – North Queensland v Sydney, Dairy Farmers Stadium, 5:30pm
8 August, 2009 – Brisbane v Gold Coast – Suncorp Stadium, 7:30pm
9 August 2009 – Newcastle v Wellington – EnergyAustralia Stadium, 3:00pm