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There have been a few changes during the off-season and the major ones being the appointment of Branko Culina and Aurelio Vidmar as coaches of Sydney FC and Adelaide United respectively.
From a player perspective, maybe we can look at the departure of David Carney and Fred from Sydney and Melbourne respectively as possibly the major player departures but there has also been an influx of new players which should make the first few rounds very unpredictable.
With the A-League, basically the first aim is to finish in the top four places to go into the finals series and also winning the minor premiership is also very important as it gets a team in the Asian Champions League.
Its very hard at this stage to even try to predict which teams will finish in the top four positions in such a balanced league like the A-League. I think the team that has changed everything is the new Wellington Phoenix which replaced the New Zealand Knights. While the New Zealand Knights teams were sort of easy beats until the very last few matches, their replacement looks like a far much stronger side which should be capable of finishing in the top four places.
Melbourne and Newcastle lost their most influential players in Nicky Carle and Fred. while Newcastle have tried to cover that gap with some south American players notably Argentinian Jorge Drovandi, Melbourne have brought in Carlos Hernandez.
The off-season has also seen 12 Brazilians signed by the A-League teams and the most famous of them all must be Juninho signed by Sydney FC and then there is also Mario Jardel signed by Newcastle.
Queensland Roar have brought in some experience in Craig Moore and Danny Tiatto. That should form a better team than last season with a good chance of getting a finals spot and coach Frank Farina has a full season to play with this time around.
Perth Glory narrowly lost in the pre-season cup final and if they continue their pre-season form then they should make it hard for teams to come away with three points from Western Australia.
Adelaide who won the pre-season cup benefited from their participation in the Asian Champions League and with a new coach at the helm should be just as strong as they have always been. I think this is only team I definitely think will finish in the top four places.
Lawrie McKinna at Central Coast has added Sasho Petrovski and Greg Owens among others to his ranks. These are two players with A-League experience and he has also welcomed back Dean Heffernan from FC Nürnberg. Interestingly, CCM has not signed any South Americans preferring to sign local players instead and I am keen to see how they will do.
To make the season more interesting for me and to keep engaged with the A-League
I am going to participate in the A-League tipping competition at TipsChallenge.
Despite the fact that Sydney now have Juninho, I still reckon they are a weaker team than last year and therefore will miss the finals this time.
The Roar and the Mariners just lack depth to take them into the finals and as for Perth nothing much has changed there and therefore they should still finish in the bottom four, maybe not last position as such.
I will check out Tipschallenge before season start.
Who misses out of the top four? Thats where its very interesting to me.
I don't know what can be done about harmonising this league with the region because at the end of the day we are playing in Asia...a team is declared champions in the first quarter of the year, and they wait for more than six months before they represent their league in Asia and by the time the Asian championships start, the local league will be celebrating new champions......and that long break, doesn't help players to maintain their fitness and focus, ...these players can register and play for two leagues in one season...or play rugby union/footy in the off season, ..