Seven Burning Questions For The A-League
The A-League was launched on Monday, and these are the biggest questions that will be asked in the new season.
Will Keisuke Honda be a star?
Melbourne Victory's prized recruit Keisuke Honda is the A-League's biggest signing since Alessandro Del Piero. But unlike the Italian maestro, Honda is still close to his prime. At 32, and having scored at the World Cup in Russia, he should be the competition's most dominant player and right in the mix for the Johnny Warren Medal.
Is Central Coast's revolution for real?
For the first time in a long time, Central Coast appear contenders for the finals. The signings of attacking dynamos Ross McCormack and Tommy Oar are symbolically significant and should give coach Mike Mulvey enough firepower to mount a legitimate top-six bid. They look good on paper but will the Mariners be any good on the park?
Can Steve Corica carry the torch?
Sydney FC searched far and wide to replace Graham Arnold, making contact with the likes of Arsene Wenger and Mick McCarthy before handing the job to Arnold's assistant, Steve Corica. Does the former Socceroos and Sky Blues midfielder have what it takes to keep the Sky Blues at the top? With a quality-laden squad at his disposal there should be no excuses.
Can Newcastle back up the fairytale?
Newcastle were the feel-good story of last season, breaking a long finals drought to finish second and secure grand final hosting rights. But will they remain contenders for the top prize or were they just one-year wonders? Coach Ernie Merrick needs to be on guard for any hint of second-season blues from his largely settled Jets squad.
Will Tony Popovic make Perth great again?
They were a powerhouse of the National Soccer League but are yet to win a single piece of A-League silverware. The Glory are a true sleeping giant of Australian soccer. Tony Popovic is the kind of coach who can wake them up and drive them to a new era of success. A suite of new defensive signings should provide Popovic and Perth a solid enough foundation.
Can Wellington avoid the axe?
The Phoenix have two more seasons left on their A-League licence and a renewal is conditional on improving off-field benchmarks like crowds and TV ratings. The way things have been going, they look to be on death row - unless new coach Mark Rudan can turn things around on the pitch and spark a club-wide revival that brings punters back to Westpac Stadium en masse.
How will the A-League's metrics fare?
Crowds fell by 14 per cent last season and pay TV ratings plummeted by a staggering 24 per cent. Football Federation Australia has tried to arrest that concerning slide with several initiatives designed to renew mainstream interest and lure back active supporters. Will they work or will the downward trends continue?
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