Finally, after almost a full month of waiting, the A-League Men returns at last.
The league resumes as we find ourselves in an incredibly healthy position: top of the table and with returning Socceroos coming back to a squad that is raring to go for the rest of the season, evidenced by one of Andrew Nabbout’s latest Instagram posts, stating “get me back on that pitch”.
The talk of the town will undoubtedly be Mathew Leckie’s well-measured performances on the world stage, especially that wonder goal against Denmark which made our Group Stage dreams a reality. Jamie Maclaren certainly put in some late shifts, almost nabbing an assist if only Leckie was a fraction faster to the ball. Although Marco Tilio did not play any minutes, all three World Cup heroes will surely be expecting a standing ovation (even by Sydney FC fans) come Saturday night.
With much to dissect, here are the three things to look out for come this weekend’s league restart:
New boss at the helm
This past month has hosted some of the most unthinkable headlines our club has ever had in its history. To start with, who would have thought that an A-League player could actually turn a top 10 FIFA nation inside-out to score a winning goal? Not me. That was absurd. But is it the wildest thing to happen over the past four weeks?
Patrick Kisnorbo had something to say about that. In just a short managerial career, he has become the first Australian male coach to manage a club in the ‘top five’ leagues of Europe. Nothing less than he deserves, of course. That leaves our club with a difficult task… how do you replace brilliance?
Until we find a permanent answer (Des Buckingham, please), Rado Vidosic will be the caretaker of the Men’s side. Rado also took over the top role at the Women’s team after Kisnorbo’s stint, winning both a Premiership and Championship since 2018.
However, will he be up to the task posed by our Men’s side? Can he bring the boys together and push on in this currently undefeated season? Only time will tell.
Will the Roos play?
It is the question on everyone’s mind: should we expect many minutes from our national team heroes?
Mathew Leckie should be the only exception (if any), after averaging 84 minutes across each of the four games in 12 days. For a 31-year-old winger, that is insanely impressive. Leckie looked comfortable on the ball at all times, even when being pressed by difficult opposition. Of course, that is what we would want come Saturday night. However, we must be realistic, and he probably deserves a rest.
As for Maclaren, the A-League Men golden boot-leading striker only played an average of 17 minutes across 3 games, running his heart out each time he came on. Getting himself into positive situations has always been a forte of Maclaren’s, but not usually when his side struggles to get the ball. He proved the critics wrong this World Cup, making the most of his limited chances with the ball and was unlucky not to come away with a direct goal involvement.
Marco Tilio will be one of the unluckiest talents to not gain any minutes this World Cup, being cast aside as Garang Kuol rightfully took on the world. We all know his talent and that his time will come, it is just unfortunate that Craig Goodwin, Mathew Leckie, Awer Mabil and Garang Kuol represented his competition for playing time.
Having all been said, I would be surprised not to see Maclaren and Tilio straight back in the starting line-up come Saturday evening. It will do good for them to get back on the pitch immediately, and surely boost our chances of a positive result against Sydney FC.
Jordan Bos back in action
It may be easy to forget just how good the start to this season has been but let’s not forget one thing: Jordan Bos is in fact a boss.
The youngster has put the entire league on notice, evidently trying his best to write up a one-way ticket to Europe come season end, putting in splendid performances both in attack and defence. Scott Jamieson must be shaking in his boots while welcoming the challenge all the same.
Playing the entire 90 minutes of all six games this season is a wonderful achievement, but we want more, and I will not be surprised if the 20-year-old starts again on Saturday. After all, he scored against Sydney FC last time out, so hopefully he can do it again.
While the hype may be around the Socceroos at the moment, just you wait until Jordy Bos steps up to the plate.
Watch out, A-League.
Wait no longer, the A-Liga is back. For the first time this season, we wear the beautiful red & white kit away at Sydney FC. This will surely be a great test prior to the Melbourne Derby in the following week. Come on you City boys.
Score prediction: Sydney 1 – 3 City