Another season has come and gone and another edition of the world’s longest pre-season awaits.
It will be some time before another ball is kicked but this time it could be worth the wait, as season 2019/20 could be the start of a new era in the A-League.
A new side enter the competition – with another waiting in the wings – while six of the existing clubs will have a new head coach at the helm.
There will also once again be plenty of players linked to the A-League – with the Franck Ribery rumour currently doing the rounds.
While a whole not may not change from previous seasons, there is still plenty to look forward to in season 2019/20.
There’s a big, big sound from the west of the town.
Western United have ticked several boxes so far as they prepare to enter the competition as the league’s eleventh team.
Regardless of how fans feel about the side coming in a significant amount of intrigue looms over how they will fare and – most importantly – benefit the league.
Will they follow the lead set by the Western Sydney Wanderers and set the league on fire right from the start?
Given Lou Sticca’s involvement – who took Carlton SC to a Grand Final in their inaugural season – the sky is the limit for this club in season one.
Moreover, the concept of more Melbourne derbies is an exciting one.
Not only will fans feel motivated to greater extents to attend but the significance of league games will amplify as a result of this increase in local derbies.
New coaches…new coaches everywhere
This season saw a record exodus from head coaches as six clubs will head into next season with a new head coach – with Ernie Merrick, Steve Corica, Markus Babbel and Tony Popovic the only survivors…so far.
The Championship has only been won four times by managers in their first season in charge – with Steve Corica the latest to do so.
Brisbane Roar have landed a big international fish in Robbie Fowler, while Wellington Phoenix appointed former Sydney FC assistant Ufuk Talay and the Central Coast Mariners signed former Matildas boss Alan Stajcic.
Both Melbourne clubs are reportedly looking overseas for their next manager – with Marco Kurz the first of what will be many names linked to the Victory job.
With new coaches comes new personalities who will no doubt add plenty of excitement and entertainment to press conferences.
Perth Glory in Asia
While the Grand Final loss is still fresh in the mind, the Glory set their sights to their first ever Asian Champions League campaign.
Questions remain over whether the club will keep Chris Ikonomidis – who could be set for a return to Europe – while Diego Castro will partner up with Bruno Fornaroli as part of a mouth watering attacking third.
Tony Popovic also knows a thing or two about Champions League success as the Glory could be what saves the A-League from losing one of its automatic entries into the competition.
Potential Second Division announcement
The Association of Australian Football Clubs is determined to get a second tier under way by 2020/21, meaning there will be plenty going on next season to ensure this happens.
If the AAFC want to achieve this by 2020/21 then they will certainly be working into overdrive over the next few months and throughout next season to ensure they get this operation ticked off.
The next stage would then be the most exciting of all – selecting the clubs.
While promotion and relegation does not appear to be on the agenda for the next few years, there is still plenty to be excited about in relation to a second division – especially among NSL supporters who will be one step closer to seeing their sides back in the top flight.
In what was the biggest off-field case of the season – maybe ever in the A-League – Bruno Fornaroli will return to the field.
Despite the constant cries for Fornaroli’s internal ban to be lifted, Warren Joyce did not budge as the once great striker for Melbourne City was left frozen out.
Offered a lifeline at the Glory – how Fornaroli responds after a lengthy spell on the side lines remains to be seen.
The former golden boot winner – who once scored 23 goals in a season – will also at some stage line-up against his former side and while Warren Joyce will not be on the opposite bench, it will still make for entertaining viewing.
The Wanderers return home
It’s been a long time coming but the Western Sydney Wanderers will bid adieu to playing on AFL grounds and enter a new era.
In returning home, the Wanderers regain their identity after several seasons in the wilderness.
The famous Western Sydney atmosphere will return in full-force while Markus Babbel is expected to improve on this season’s eighth placed finish,
Despite missing the top-six the German injected several youth players into the squad and showed signs of improvement at the end of the season.
But there will be no excuses for the side next season whose fans will be expecting a return to the top-end.