The A-League’s fearful four

We’re four weeks into the A-League season and each week has been intriguing as the last. Melbourne City sit atop the table with four wins and one goal conceded, Sydney FC aren’t perfect but are still undefeated, the same can be said about Newcastle Jets and Western Sydney Wanderers. But where are the usual suspects? Brisbane Roar and Melbourne Victory, two of the A-League most decorated clubs are winless after a month, as are the Central Coast Mariners and Wellington Phoenix. But where do these teams go from here?

Can they make the finals? Mathematically, yes, but historically, it’s very unlikely. Teams have started the season winless 29 times so it’s not panic stations yet. However, only six of those teams have recovered to qualify for the finals.

  • Newcastle Jets 2006-07 (winless in seven)
  • Sydney FC 2007-08 (winless in four)
  • Melbourne City 2011-12 (winless in five)
  • Brisbane Roar 2014-15 (winless in four)
  • Melbourne City 2014-15 (winless in four)
  • Adelaide United 2015-16 (winless in eight)

That’s 20.6 per cent, which doesn’t bode well for the four clubs currently in that predicament.

The beauty of living in another country, is Wellington Phoenix are never given the expectations the likes of the two Sydney and Melbourne teams are given. Which goes one of two ways: they either fly under the radar like the 2014-15 season, or prove everyone right like the 2016-17 season.

And it looks like they will be missing out on the finals for the third consecutive season. Dario Vidosic is a decent signing, and Andrija Kaluderovic has scored three goals in four games, but if a team leads 3-0 after 20 minutes, victory is expected, heck it’s almost guaranteed. They travel to face former head coach Ernie Merrick’s Newcastle Jets who have scored the most goals this season (10) and sit in third position. They haven’t won in Newcastle in three years and will need a big performance to grab three points.

It’s unfamiliar grounds for Kevin Muscat’s men. They were a penalty shoot-out away from winning last season’s Grand Final and recruited very well. But could miss out on their first finals campaign since 2011-12 if they don’t get a win on the board quickly. Preparing for the Asian Champions League with a side with not a whole lot of depth is hard enough to begin with, but is almost made impossible with their slow start. They face the undefeated Wanderers at home this Monday who are winless at Etihad Stadium from three attempts.

Are the Central Coast playing better football under Paul Okon? Yes. Are the Central Coast getting better results under Paul Okon? Kinda, but not really. Slow starts aren’t new for the Mariners, in fact, in the past four seasons they’ve only won two matches in the first four weeks of the competition. But can they turn their season around? Because they haven’t been able to do that since 2013-14. It doesn’t get any easier, they travel to Suncorp Stadium this week, a venue they have only won five times at in 13 years.

Speaking of Brisbane, this is just the second time in their history they’ve not won a match after four matches. The lowest Brisbane have finished is ninth in the 2009-10 season. Losses to Melbourne City, Adelaide United, and Newcastle Jets isn’t the best start to the season, the fact they were able to come from 3-0 down away from home shows they have potential, but similarly to the Victory, and the other teams, they really need to get a win soon so they don’t fall too far behind the top six.

At the moment there is only three points between sixth placed Perth Glory and 10th placed Brisbane Roar so this could all change next week, but if it doesn’t then we could already have the top six determined.


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