Sydney, Victory, and Adelaide have not kept up with this year's step up in the A-League arms race. Sorry Robbie, Craig Foster got to it right. It isn't the Victory players - they have by far the best squad on paper. Sydney and Melbourne's coaches and tactics have not been good enough.
Adelaide and John Kosmina have shown it is not the platers. In Asia, they have shown what you can do in a very short time with the squad you have and that should be enough for Victory that was once the most sustainable club in the A-League. It would be very interesting to see Adelaide v Tokyo.
But Victory and Sydney should not be stealing Ange or Graham, they need to find their own answer. Preferably Australian, but I suspect that Harry Kewell was on an effective track with an Argentinian. That flare would suit Melbourne.
Group 2 - now it is the players
At the other end of the table, Brisbane has by far the best attack in the league, 46 goals, and CCM the best defence, only 23 conceded. As pointed out by a commentator this week, Brisbane need Zwaanwijk, while CCM need Berisha. And Brisbane's game v Tokyo demonstrated clearly the salary cap caused golf in athleticism between the teams, Japan's players selected from across a sporting population were faster and stronger in playing the same style of game. To reach the peak, the A-League will need to be the sport of choice for Australia's best potential athletes. That is another revolution and a media vested interest away. Not that soccer doesn't have its own massive own goals - FIFA, lack of technology, media own goals, former player own goals...
This year Perth and Wellington have demonstrated the value of the salary cap. The tyranny of distance, an advantage when Perth outspent NSL teams for better squads and coaches, has been broken. The evening out factor of the cap, has brought the pressure of half the games involving massive travel to bear. But this year, improved playing styles and 'home fortresses' worked magic. It will be interesting to see Perth's owner follows through will a massive cut in the wages bill next year. If he does, I expect Perth to return to the also run category.
Group 3 - it is the club structure and direction
In the middle are Heart and Newcastle. Playing the style of CCM and Brisbane but club conflict taking their eyes off the ball. It will be interesting to see what happens in Newcastle next season. They have something, but... And Heart, clearly their coach wanted out at the start of the year, a new club whose marketing strategy was based on fantasy and didn't draw on the experiences of the A-League. Their next coach and, probably, a new partner could determine if they go on with it next year. Can they get both?
Gold Coast are in this group. But they are playing their last match today. They have trained up some great players for other teams next year.
|1||Central Coast Mariners FC||25||13||6||6||37||23||14||45|
|2||Brisbane Roar FC||25||12||7||6||46||26||20||43|
|3||Perth Glory FC||26||13||4||9||40||32||8||43|
|4||Wellington Phoenix FC||25||12||4||9||33||27||6||40|
|5||Melbourne Heart FC||26||9||9||8||33||32||1||36|
|6||Newcastle Jets FC||25||10||5||10||35||36||-1||35|
|8||Melbourne Victory FC||26||5||11||10||32||43||-11||26|
|9||Adelaide United FC||26||5||10||11||26||43||-17||25|
|10||Gold Coast United FC||25||3||9||13||26||40||-14||18|