First vs second play off for Championship glory.
The two most successful sides in the A-League’s history meet for the first time ever in a finals match.
Only one of last year’s grand finalists will return to this year’s Championship match.
The defending champions host Josep Gombau’s Adelaide in an exciting preliminary final.
For the fourth time this season, interstate rivals Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC face off for a place in the penultimate round of the finals series, competing in a knockout-tie for the first time since the 2010 Grand Final.
The main story in Wellington last season was all about Gareth Morgan’s bizarre mid-season decision that “the style of football will be determined by the club, not by the coach,” which was a fair enough call.
Some people say that the hardest thing in football is to win something twice, and that might prove a challenge too much even for the fairy tale that is the Western Sydney Wanderers.
Sydney FC seem to be reverting back to type, both with the ‘Bling FC’ image but also with the disorganised, chaotic attempts to progress towards a more ‘modern’ brand of football, which they attempted to implement under Ian Crook last season – to disastrous effect.
Although he enjoyed a distinguished playing career – including a 93 game stint at Perth Glory – and risen through the ranks of the national team setup as coach, including stints as National High Performance Consultant and FFA Assistant Technical Director, very little was known about Alistair Edwards’ style when he was appointed coach after the sacking of Iain Ferguson.
Gary Van Egmond was responsible for Newcastle’s stunning surge to the 2008-09 A-League title, but his return to the club has not inspired them back to such lofty heights. He’s now the second longest serving coach at a current club in the league (behind Graham Arnold), but he’s many people’s choice for first sacked, illustrating the pressure he’s under this season after last year’s frustrating inconsistency.