The 2013/14 Hyundai A-League ladder has condensed somewhat since the start of the new year, with the bottom teams going on impressive unbeaten runs and the top teams consistently dropping points.
Only seven points currently separates third to ninth and every team still harbours legitimate claims on being able to qualify for this year’s finals series – not something we have seen in seasons past.
This got us hypothesising just what the ladder would look like if we were to take just the results of 2014 to create an “alternate ladder.”
In the interests of equality, we have discounted the Round 19 match that has already been played, where the Victory overcame the Wanderers 3-1 at AAMI Park exactly a month ago.
In all six rounds have played, with a resurgent Wellington Phoenix rising to the summit with five wins on the back of some impressive form from their imports. Meanwhile labouring at the bottom are the Newcastle Jets, who’ve failed to register a win since they bossed this weekend’s opponents Brisbane Roar before Christmas last year.
Here’s what the table would look like in its entirety.
As you can see the confidence coming out of the Wellington, Adelaide and the Heart camps looks to be well founded, with the three teams that were anchored to the bottom of the ladder for much of the season occupying three of the top four spots.
Alongside them are Brisbane Roar who’ve managed to maintain their consistent form throughout the season. Mike Mulvey’s men are seven points clear at the top of the season’s ladder and have only been beaten once in 2014.
The other end of the spectrum makes grim reading for New South Wales teams, with the Jets, Sky Blues and Wanderers managing just three wins between them. The Victory have consecutive 5-0 defeats to blame for their lowly position, but they looked to have turned the corner after last week’s win over the Champions.
The Mariners and Glory were the two busiest clubs during the January transfer window and are wedged in mid-table. How well their new recruits are able to integrate with their respective sides will no doubt have a big impact on where they finish at season’s end.
Looking ahead and another interesting factor to take into consideration will be the influence the Asian Champions League will have on the campaigns of the Wanderers, Mariners and Victory. Last year’s grand finalists will have at least an additional six fixtures and travel to contend with, while Kevin Muscat’s side are involved in a play-off on Saturday night to determine their fate in the competition.
It just goes to show you teams can take nothing for granted in season nine of the Hyundai A-League. While Roar may be the favourites to clinch the Championship, this season has shown any team on their day are capable of toppling any other.
There will no doubt be many more talking points in this season's narrative over the last nine rounds of the competition. How the table will look come the end of the campaign is very much still to be decided.