A-League Season Preview 2018-19
Published: 20 October 2018 Image credit: Getty Images
What to look out for in the A-League season ahead
Season 14 of the Hyundai A-League looks to lift the spirits following a disappointing Socceroos performance at the World Cup in Russia.
Marquee signings are relatively low-key, with the exception of reigning champions Melbourne Victory who snapped up Japan veteran Keisuke Honda and Swedish World Cup scorer Ola Toivonen.
Kevin Muscat's side will be hard to beat and will have to be amongst the favourites, although last season's premiers Sydney FC will look to push them all the way. Following Graham Arnold's move to the Socceroos, Steve Corica has been able to bring in experience in the form of Siem de Jong from Ajax, Adam le Fondre from Bolton Wanderers and Jop van der Linden from AZ Alkmaar.
Former Socceroo Tony Popovic leads Perth Glory into the season with a bolstered defence and new signing Chris Ikonomedis looking to harness the skills of newly made captain Diego Castro.
All of the pre-season headlines have followed last years wooden spoon recipients Central Coast Mariners and their on-off pursuit of 100 metres record holder Usain Bolt. If he ever does play an A-League match for the Mariners, the world's spotlight will be on him and the team, but anything should be an improvement on last year's performance.
Newcastle Jets were the surprise package last season and have a relatively stable squad to go into the new campaign - however will be without Roy O'Donovan for 10 matches out of 27, for his grand final studs-up head-high tackle on Victory keeper Lawrence Thomas.
Western Sydney Wanderers will look for a season of stability ahead of their return to their own ground next year. New boss, former Liverpool defender Markus Babbel has brought in fellow Germans Alexander Baumjohann and Patrick Zeigler and the A-League experience of Tarek Elrich from Adelaide United.
John Aloisi takes Brisbane Roar into their fourth season as manager and will look to new signings Alex Lopez and Tobias Mikkelson to make progress and improve on last season's 6th position and elimination at the start of the finals series.
Adelaide United have made solid signings in the form of Ben Holloran and Craig Goodwin - strong pre-season form could well make them a good outside bet to improve on last year's results.
Melbourne City will look to overshadow their big-name local rivals, with Premier League winner Ritchie de Laet and scorpion-kick teenager Riley McGree joining in the close season.
Finally New Zealand's Wellington Phoenix have added some EPL experience with ex-Newcastle United defender Steven Taylor and new coach Mark Rudan will add A-League know-how, in a bid to get the Phoenix into the end of season play-offs.