04 May 2020
A-League Champions at the first attempt. Totally unexpected and rather pleasing. The highlights of the season form me as manager was that the new team adapted to the way I want to play the game and by the end of the campaign were playing good football.
Looking forward to next year there are few changes needed to be made to the squad. Despite Devid Carli’s heroics I need to strengthen the front line. I have my eye on a couple of players for that and hope to have the paperwork tied up before the end of the month so watch this space!
At the back I am happy with what I have to work with and so don’t expect there to be too many changes needed to be made. The same goes with the midfield, although there will be quite a lot of positional shuffling being undertaken.
We also have the champions league to contend with, with at least six group games to play. This will test the depth of my squad, and player depth is something I have to be mindful of.
Due to the wholesale changes which saw a whopping nineteen players join the club, there is not much to accomplish by detailing all of the dealings.
The A-League is interesting in that you can only have 23 players on non-youth contracts. Once you hit the 23 player threshold, you have to release any players not on a youth contract on a free transfer. This changes the dynamic of how you construct a team.
Developing players becomes more challenging, as you have to have them in your 23 which means injuries become more problematic.
Phil Hughes (GK)
Nickname “The Major”
The Major had a storming season, conceding just 16 goals in 26 starts, with one POM award and an average rating of 6.99. He remains number one keeper although he may well become under pressure from young Nikos Tsatsalidis.
Natale Bartolo (RB, MR)
Bartolo has been a revelation since his signing from Parma in the January transfer window. 14 matches for an average rating of 7.31. I am thinking that we may struggle to keep him long term, so the pressure is on to find a suitable replacement.
Sam Booth (CD)
Games 23 (1)
New Zealand international Booth has been our key central defender this season. Not as commanding as Rory Adams, he has still managed to end the season with a 7.08 rating in 24 appearances.
Rory Adams (CD)
Games 15 (2)
Nickname “Family Man”
Rory Adams took a while to force his way into the starting line-up. Since he has done so he has been an automatic first pick. At 6’4″ he brings a dominating aerial presence to the side and backs this up with a very strong mental game. Named vice-captain at the mid point of the season he has brought stability to our defence.
Matias Beltran (LB,WBL,ML)
At 32, Matias is the senior statesman of the team. Brought in to fill a void at left back he has done well with a 7.15 average rating. He has been a bit of a walking yellow card this season and is starting to show his age. He is still my best left back, and has been retained for the 2020/21 season, although his participation may diminish should his understudy develop suitably.
Clayton King (DM,MC)
Clayton King has played all season at register. He has a 90% pass completion ratio, three goals, and two player of the match awards. Moving forward I am looking at some midfield changes and next season Clayton will be given some games as an advanced play-maker from central midfield.
Jason Ferguson (MC, DM, RB)
Games 23 (1)
Nickname “The Count”
“The Count has been a mainstay in our midfield this season. He started 23 matches and turned in a 7.34 average rating. He was equal top assister with 6, and added 2 goals and one POM award. While not as talented as some of the younger players coming through the ranks, I expect him to play a big part in the next seasons campaign.
Sean Brook (MC, AMC)
Games 22 (1)
The picking up of Sean Brook following a breakdown in his contract negotiations with New Zealand club Hawke’s Bay was a real bonus. In 23 games he scored 3 goals and provided 5 assists. Due to him having Australian heritage on account of being born in Australia to New Zealand parents, Brook also counts as an Australian for squad registration purposes.
Michael Dobson (AMR, ST, AMC)
Dobson is a home-grown talent who has played 100 games for Newcastle United. He has started to come into his own, and turned in a fantastic performance this season. He bagged 7 goals, 6 assists, and 4 player of the match awards in the 2019/20 season.
Ray McDonough (AML, ML, MC)
Games 21 (2)
Ray McDonough is a youth player who filled a hole in the ranks following the move of Michael Thomas to Dresden. McDonough performed satisfactorily but ws not as prolific in front of goal as I require an inside forward to be. He contributed 2 goals, 5 assists and 1 POM award.
Devid Carli ( ST)
Talented youngster Devid Carli set the record for most goals for the club in a season with 14 goals from 26 appearances. What made this more impressive is that he is only on a youth contract. He also made 17 key passes, 4 assists, and collected 3 POM awards.
Nikos Tsatsalidis (GK)
Nickname “The Greek”
Young Tsatsalidis is a player for the future. He may soon eclipse “The Major” in skill level, which poses a real dihlema as I am unsure wherther I can keep him. Backup goalkeepers are hard to manage in this regard.
Nikos Koumantaros (CD)
Games 16 (1)
Nickname “The Axe”
Hard tackling Nikos “The Axe” Koumantaros has developed the reputation of being the enforcer in the the side this year. He lost his starting place as a result of his being red carded for a silly foul which left the side down to only one fit centreback. He has learned from this error of judgement and is still a key member of the squad for then next season.
Sergej Adilovic (MC)
Games 4 (7)
Adilovic has been a solid bench player for the side performing well when called upon. Injured in the second to last league game he missed the chance to be part of the finals series run. With the added burden of champions league group games this season, he will almost certainly get more playing time. I expect him to develop into a solid squad member.
Andie Maseti (CD, DM, MC)
Games 3 (7)
Andie Maseti was a late addition to the team. He proved his versatility when called upon to fill in at centerback. He is a big part of my plans moving forward and will almost certainly get more game time next year.
Nick Wells (ST, AML, AMR)
Games 9 (8)
Nick had a disappointing season, and his place in the team is under review as a consequence. Though he scored 4 goals in 17 appearances, he often failed to contribute sufficiently in the other aspects of the game. He will has another year on his contract and will be given the chance to cement a place in the side, although that may be at AML.
Christopher Robinson (AML, AMC, AMR, ML, MC, MR)
Games 8 (1)
Christopher Robinson is another player who didn’t really live up to expectations. His versatility is the only thing that saves him, and he has the next season to prove that he is a good fit for the team. We will watch his progress with interest., as does he when he settles down to a game of Football Manager after training.
Brodie Phillips (LB)
Understudy to Matias Beltran, Brodie Phillips has developed well this season. Sadly he didn’t get on as well as I hoped wiith the Argentinian and thus tutoring was not a success. I plan on giving him more game time this next season as I don’t see Beltran lasting more than one more season at the club. Hopefully he can develop successfully into a good team member.
Paul Thurtell (RB)
Games 5 (1)
Paul Thurtell has not come on as well as I had hoped this season. However he still remains a key backup player at right back, although I am looking seriously at the market as I decide whether he is in my long term plans.
Robert Batidegei (MC, AMC)
Games 7 (8)
Nickname “Cone Head”
Robert Batidegei is another player whose place is under review. He featured in 17 matches this campaign, and his return of only a solitary POM award was disappointing. No goals, and more importantly no assists is a major concern. I have had a sit down with him and made clear that he is lucky to be given a chance to change things.
Nick Turnbull (CD)
Games 1 (4)
Number four in the central defender pecking order, Turnbull went on loan to Sydney Olympic for the season. The centre back injury crisis saw him get recalled, and while he only played 153 minutes he still managed a 7.03 average rating.
Jonathan Watson (DM)
Games 3 (1)
Signed on a free transfer for the Adelaide Blue Eagles, Watson did not do enough to get more than a handful of games. He also failed the diversity test which is why he never got more time on the bench. Surplus to requirements his contract will not be extended.
Nicolas Orlando (AMR)
Games 0 (3)
Another summer free transfer, Orlando was a victim of Michael Dobson’s success and only saw 65 minutes of playing time. Orlando also fails the requirement that all front players can cover more than on position. His deal will not be extended.
The seasons stats in all their glory!
Pre-season for the next campaign is next up. Can we do well in the champions league?