How is your A-League team travelling?
WITH 10 games gone in the A-League season, it's time for a "school report” on how your team is travelling with a third of the season gone.
It's a busy Christmas period and by the time the festive fun is over, so could some teams' seasons.
There is work to do for all teams - some more than others - so let's take a look at just what each club needs to do as the season moves into the new year and crunch time.
Graham Arnold has got his Sky Blues to the top of the ladder without losing a league game and they deserve to be there after an impressive start to the season. There has been a slight drop-off of form recently and Sydney was a little bit lucky to get a point against Melbourne City last week. The goals have dried up recently and Arnold needs to find a way for Bobo and Filip Holosko to start scoring goals regularly again. If he can do that then there is no reason why Sydney cannot end its A-League title drought.
John van't Schip would be pleased with the first 10 games of the season but there would also be something inside the City coach that says the team could have achieved more. A first trophy for the club - the FFA Cup - was obviously a great thing but there is no doubt that van't Schip is desperate for an A-League title success, particularly if reports are right that he is heading back to the Netherlands after this season. City has to find goals from players other than Bruno Fornaroli and Tim Cahill needs to stay fit. If that happens then expect to see City up there at the end of the season.
Besart Berisha's return to goalscoring form could not have come at a better time. His hat-trick against the Wanderers last week showed he is on his way back to being at his sharpest. Tonight's Melbourne derby result will go a long way to who comes out on top between the two city rivals come the end of the campaign, and the other good sign for Kevin Muscat is the concession of only a goal a game, the joint second-best record in the competition. Keeping Marcos Rojas healthy will also be key to Victory's A-League title chances.
Last week's 4-0 demolition of Adelaide United shows what the Roar can do when it hits its straps but you you only have to look at the ladder to see where John Aloisi's problems lie. Five draws in 10 games is far too many and that must be sorted. In most of those games, Brisbane was in a winning position and could not finish its opponent off. Thomas Kristensen needs to continue the way he has started, while goals from Jamie Maclaren and Brett Holman's return to fitness are key to the Roar's push for honours.
Injuries to key men Josh Risdon and Diego Castro have obviously cruelled the Glory's chances but last week's home defeat to Newcastle Jets was more of a surrender and there is a lot for coach Kenny Lowe to fix. In Andy Keogh, Perth has one of the best strikers in the competition but he can't do it on his own. Tonight's big game against leader Sydney FC at home will show whether this team is up for the fight. The side definitely has the players to challenge but they have to show it if they want success.
Western Sydney Wanderers
Two wins for this club at this stage of the season is simply not good enough and even though Tony Popovic is defending his players, privately he must be wondering what he has to do to turn things around. The excuse of a number of new signings doesn't wash now because we are 10 games into the season. The players have to start to gel now before it's too late. There is enough quality in the side to turn things around but it has to happen sooner rather than later.
Last week's win over Perth was something to build on but one swallow does not make a summer and coach Mark Jones must build on that performance. The Jets have showed plenty of promise and in Andrew Nabbout they have one of the rising stars in the A-League. Consistency has been the problem, and not only this season. The Jets must now start showing they have the staying power and get in the top six.
Ernie Merrick's untimely resignation has not helped but the Phoenix is starting to show it can rise up the ladder. It has great players in the side, including Gui Finkler and Costas Barbarouses, but at the moment for whatever reason they are not giving anything. Only Roy Krishna is delivering for the Phoenix but he can not carry the burden for too much longer. If they find some others to step up to the plate then Wellington can have a better time of it as the season progresses, and could even make the top six.
Central Coast Mariners
Paul Okon has brought plenty of energy since taking over as coach at the start of the season but the Mariners have to turn their reasonable performances into wins to improve on their position. They have not been outclassed in many games and show plenty of passion but there is no end result on the whole. Conceding 20 goals - the most in the A-League so far - hasn't helped and that must improve if there is any chance of moving up the ladder.
All is not well in the state of Adelaide. Guillermo Amor is at a loss to why his team is bottom of the ladder. Well there is one obvious answer: scoring nine goals in 10 games will not win you matches. Sergio Guardiola has hit the back of the net only three times in nine appearances before last night's game with the Jets and that's not a good enough return for a player of his quality. Sadly for Reds fans I can't see a repeat of last season's turnaround in fortunes, which led to the Premier's Plate-A-League title double.