The draw for Hyundai A-League season 2012/13 is only days away and it’s hard not to start thinking about some of the massive fixtures we can already start looking forward to...
New Sydney club v Sydney FC
All the work and all the hype around the lightning creation of the new club in western Sydney should make this fixture even more anticipated than the first Melbourne derby; the fabled breeding ground of football against the two-time champions but somehow still-underperforming Sky Blues.
Sydney FC have undergone yet another transformation following the departure of Viteslav Lavicka, and new coach Ian Crook is the man charged with turning the Sky Blues into the club everyone thinks they should be.
In the way stand the returned Tony Popovic and his hastily assembled squad, still utterly unknown at the time of writing.
Assuming the new club will feature a list of experienced and available A-League talent, not to mention possibly a number of former Sydney FC players; this will be a fascinating event, from the crowds to the coaches to style of play the teams offer.
Brisbane Roar v Melbourne Victory
Ange Postecoglou returns to face his former assistant and all-conquering Brisbane Roar side, now in charge of arguably the biggest club in the league. It’s already a great story.
Will Postecoglou be able to replicate his success with Victory? Will his philosophy and style differ from his old team, and will his new players have adapted over the off-season?
And what of Rado Vidosic, elevated to the big chair for the first time? Can he emulate his former boss’s blueprint and keep Roar at the top of the pile with that slick style that became the envy of the league?
So many questions, so much to look forward to.
Adelaide United v Newcastle Jets
After roller-coaster seasons in recent years, both of these sides seem to have found a degree of stability and are looking to their investment in youth development to pay off.
Gary van Egmond struggled to define his Jets side after re-joining the club so quickly last season but the former AIS boss has snapped up some excellent young talent and will be looking to implement a game built on movement as he aims to take the Jets back up the table.
John Kosmina’s return to Adelaide raised some eyebrows and while their second-from-last finish didn’t help his case, the United’s success in the AFC Champions League seems to have shown that some of the rising talent from South Australia could hold the key to resurrecting the Reds.
Melbourne Victory v Melbourne Heart
The Melbourne derby has risen in intensity with every game and the arrival of two new much-heralded coaches should make this one even more fascinating.
Victory, of course, will want to assert their status as the city’s No.1 club and Ange Postecoglou loves nothing more than putting his closest rivals down swiftly.
And while John Aloisi’s rapid rise from youth team coach to head coach has been praised by many, how the former Socceroo will handle the promotion remains to be seen.
Heart already have an excellent structure and squad in place – what matters is whether Aloisi can take them on the next step from John van ‘t Schip’s foundations.
New Sydney club v Melbourne Heart
This one’s all about the coaches – former Socceroos going head-to-head, former first-team coaches in their first head coach roles, and two new franchises that can illustrate how the A-League can sustain its development.
Melbourne’s Heart’s creation differs greatly from the new Sydney club, however, and Heart’s two seasons of growth will always count heavily in its favour.
Can Tony Popovic match the red-and-white’s strong debut? There’s a great deal riding on his ability to mould a successful, cohesive team in a very short space of time.
John Aloisi might feel the same sort of pressure but Heart as club are certainly in a much stronger position, and they will be in no mood to grant any favours now they’re no longer the new kids on the block.
The draw for Hyundai A-League season 2012/13 will be released on footballaustralia.com.au/aleague at 10am (AEST) on Tuesday, 19 June.