Central Coast Mariners
For the first time in a long time, the Central Coast Mariners come into the season with a reason to smile.
Their FFA Cup run – which perhaps would have kept going if Matt Simon wasn’t sent off – was commended by many as it gave the competition an early indication as to what the side can do under new boss Alen Stajcic.
Stajcic took over with six games remaining last season and guided the Mariners to victory twice before being offered the job.
Despite losing regulars Matt Millar, Andrew Hoole, Tom Hiariej, Jem Karacan and Connor Pain, Stajcic has brought in plenty of experience with former Suwon captain Kim Eun-Sun joining the club in addition to Milan Duric.
Daniel De Silva returns to the club and is expected for a big campaign after struggling for consistency last season as a result of battling injury.
In addition, Stajcic has added Mark Birighitti to the line-up as well as former Brisbane Roar striker Luke DeVere.
Sam Silvera, 18, has shown plenty of promise as well with an eye-catching performance in the side’s FFA Cup semi-final loss to Adelaide United.
The Mariners start their season away to the Western Sydney Wanderers before hosting the Newcastle Jets in the season’s first F3 derby.
A new style has been injected into Melbourne City this off-season.
The incoming Erick Mombaerts has brought about a new philosophy – and dress sense – as he looks to get Melbourne City on the right path winning trophies.
Mombaerts comes to the club with a wealth of experience coaching France’s youth ranks – having worked with Zinedine Zidane and Paul Pogba – and intends to implement the City style of play.
The Frenchman is highly regarded within the City Football Group after his stint in Japan with Yokohama F. Marinos, with the group’s philosophy largely revolving around the development of youth.
Several of City’s young guns have featured heavily in the pre-season with Connor Metcalfe and Ramy Najjarine almost certain to start in Round 1, while Denis Genreau, Nathanial Atkinson and Moudi Najjar are expected to feature heavily as well.
Up front Jamie Maclaren has not missed a beat, scoring six goals in four FFA Cup matches – linking up nicely with new recruit Craig Noone.
Concerns remain over how they will cover the outgoing Bart Schenkeveld and Ritchie De Laet – who both contributed significantly to the side’s success last season.
Another FFA Cup final berth has City off on the right foot early in season 2019/20, but it is a long season – something City fans would know all too well.