The A-League returns and The Wolf takes in-depth look at all 10 teams to give us his predicted ladder and best futures bets including A-League winner and Johnny Warren medalist.
A-League Futures Bets
|Match (Time AEDT)||Tips|
|A-League Championship Winner||Best: Sydney FC ($3.20)
Value: Adelaide United ($15.00)
|A-League Minor Premiers||Best: Sydney FC ($2.50)|
|Wooden Spoon||Best: Central Coast ($2.85)
Value: Brisbane ($10.00)
|Make The Finals (Top 6)||Best: Adelaide ($1.90)|
|Top Goalscorer||Best: Besart Berisha ($4.50)
Value: Andy Keogh ($17.00)
|Johnny Warren Medal||Best: Roly Bonevacia ($51.00)
Other: Johan Absalonsen ($41.00)
A-League Season Preview
Last season was one to forget for Adelaide. They went from A-League champions to cellar dwellers for most of the season before losing just 1 of their last 6 to save themselves from embarrassment. The Wolf says failure is not an option this season – not under manager Marco Kruz. The German has been a man on a mission and the early signs are promising to say the least. Wins over Newcastle, Melbourne and Heidelberg has seen them qualify for the FFA Cup final and they have done so without conceding a single goal. He put the ringer through the squad getting rid of ageing players such as Cirio, La Rocca and Carrusca. He has opted for hard working and high energy players in what is a classic German regime. He claims that his aim is to eventually double his sides training sessions and that they will soon be able to train up to 4 times a day. The players have responded positively and Wolfy loves what he has seen from Absalonsen and Mileusnic. Look for Adelaide to make a very fast start to the upcoming season.
Predicted Finish: 3rd
This shapes as a season of transition for the Brisbane Roar. Stalwart Thomas Broich has retired while Borello, Maclaren and Tommy Oar (last season’s forward trio) have all been poached by European clubs. To replace them the club has obtained three men with an average age of 34 – Maccarone (37), Khalfallah (34) and Bautheac (30). He will not play in the season opener but keep an eye on Bautheac who has a crafty left foot and is a free kick specialist. The 5-1 loss at home to Melbourne Victory was a real wake up call and The Wolf says the first month of the season will be all about finding their feet and building combinations. Any points earned in that period will be a bonus.
Predicted Finish: 8th
Central Coast Mariners
Paul Okon’s reign at the Mariners will continue this season but for how long… They bundled out of the FFA Cup at the hands of Blacktown City have allowed O’Donovan, Tavares and Faty to move on. The biggest addition is former Perth Glory star Daniel De Silva and The Wolf says that he and Brama will determine just how far the Mariners can go this season. A streak of 3 wins in the middle of last season really disguised just how bad the Mariners were last season. They will need a Johnny Warren Medal winning season from De Silva to make the finals.
Predicted Finish: 10th
City claimed their first piece of silverware with the FFA Cup last season but a year on and the League Cup is proving memorable for all the wrong reasons. The clubs marquee and leading scorer over the last tow seasons, Bruno Fornaroli, fractured his ankle in the quarter final clash against Hakoah. His earliest return date has been listed as January which has prompted the club to signing Aston Villa striker Ross McCormack on loan. The Wolf is unimpressed with their decisions in terms of player movement. They have added La Rocca and Carusca – both in their mid 30’s and well past their best. If the 2-0 loss to Sydney FC in the FFA Cup quarters is anything to go by they have a long way to go.
Predicted Finish: 5th
Kevin Muscat’s Victory will look more like the side that won the title in 2014/15 than the one which went down in the final to rivals Sydney back in May. The duo of Milligan and Barbarouses return and will join Troisi and Broxham in a stacked midfield. Any side that has Berisha spearheading it’s attack will always score goals but The Wolf does have concerns over their defence. Ansell and Georgievski were two of the most consistent performers for Muscat over the last two seasons and replacing them will not be easy. It is not as simple as getting players of their quality as they had a clear understanding of the structure, style and off the ball positioning under the Muscat system. The first month of the season will reveal their potential but The Wolf says they have not done enough to challenge the Sky Blues over 27 rounds.
Predicted Finish: 2nd
The Jets claimed to dreaded wooden spoon last season but The Wolf is predicting a massive turn-around. The appointment of 2 time A-League Coach of the Year Ernie Merrick has brought with it a host of new talent. Topor Stanley and Daniel Georgievski will help improve what was the A-League’s worst defence while the Petratos brothers and Ronald Vargas are sure to increase the sides average from a single goal per game. The Wolf is expecting a huge improvement this season and says the key lies in their form on the road. With just 7 points away from home last season they really cannot do much worse.
Predicted Finish: 7th
Perth have consistently been one of the higher scoring teams in recent seasons but we could see that change with the departure of Marinkovic and De Silva. Marinkovic was all class and Mitch Nichols has big shoes to fill. With Casto now 35 years of age it is hard to see where the creative spark will come from. Andreu is 34, Torres 30 and Keogh 31. Keogh is a proven goalscorer but Lowe’s squad lacks depth and The Wolf has concerns over their ability as a defensive unit. Wolfy rates them as a middle of the road team at best and their results at home will determine whether or not they make it into the finals.
Predicted Finish: 6th
Sydney FC broke record after record last season and we have never seen a more deserving A-League champion. They finished 17 points clear of 2nd placed Melbourne Victory, lost just the one game all season and conceded only 12 goals! The scary part is that Graham Arnold feels that his squad is even stronger this time around. Mierzejewski has slotted in alongside Ninkovic in midfield while Retre and Wilkshire will add to the sides depth. Danny Vukovic has taken full advantage of his stellar season with a move to Belgian side Genk but The Wolf says Buijs, Wilkinson, Zullo and Ryall will provide more than enough of a barrier to get by. The Sky Blues have the most settled squad and it has shown in their early season form in the FFA Cup. They are the standout team in the A-League and will be winning the Premier’s Plate in a canter and will take some beating come finals time.
Predicted Finish: 1st
The Wolf has marked Wellington as one of the sides to take a backward step this season. Not only has Barbarouses returned to Melbourne but the club has failed to keep Roly Bonevacia on it’s books. The Dutchman was the heart of their midfield and is absence will be felt. He and Krishna were always on the same page so look for the production of the latter to also diminish. The club claims that new coach Darije Kalezic was on it’s radar since 2013 and that they have finally gotten the man they wanted. The Wolf expects their tone to change in the coming months. New signings Kaluderovic and Paracki will shoulder a lot of the responsibility in a squad where a third of the played are over 30. Ali Abbas has the potential to be a great signing but with almost 2 years since he played regular football it is hard to see him making an immediate impact. If the new signings don’t make an impact we could be looking at the wooden spooners.
Predicted Finish: 9th
Western Sydney Wanderers
Tony Popovic dropped a bombshell less than a fortnight out from the start of the new season when he announced that he is moving to Turkey to further his coaching career. His success at the Wanderers should not be underestimated and caretaker manager Hayden Foxe has big shoes to fill. The Wanderers were disappointing last season scraping into the finals. The shift to Spotless Stadium was a huge factor and they will again play the majority of their home games there with Pirtek Stadium still a construction zone. Bridge returns to the RBB with Riera and Bonevacia two very important signings. The latter will take complete control in the centre of the park and Riera will provide them the potency they have lacked up front. Their record at Spotless though is concerning. They managed just two wins there last season and if they fail to improve on that they will not be challenging for a top two finish. Nevertheless The Wolf has them grabbing a top 4 finish with Bonevacia a chance to claim the Johnny Warren Medal.
Predicted Finish: 4th
A-League Tips Round 1
|Match (Time AEDT)||Tips|
|Melbourne City v Brisbane
|Best Bet: Melbourne City WIN ($2.05)
Value Bet: Teams To Score – Melbourne City Only ($4.00)
|Central Coast v Newcastle
|Best Bet: Under 2.5 goals ($2.10)
Value Bet: Draw ($3.50)
|Melbourne Victory v Sydney FC
|Best Bet: 1st Half Result – Draw ($2.15)
Value Bet: Under 2.5 goals ($2.15)
|Wellington v Adelaide
|Best Bet: Adelaide WIN ($2.90)
Value Bet: Adelaide Over 2.5 goals ($6.50)
|Western Sydney v Perth
|Best Bet: Western Sydney WIN ($2.05)
Value Bet: Correct Score WSW 2-1 ($8.50)