BEHIND THE DESK: Who will win the 2019/20 A-League?
WILL the A-League be won by one of the two 'big blues' or will a new king rise? We hedged our bets on the latest instalment of the competition.
MELBOURNE KRUSE TO VICTORY
WHILE picking one of the sides that make up the famous "big blue” derby may be predictable, there's a reason they've always been around the mark and with a bolstered squad, Melbourne Victory will be up there once again.
Melbourne lost some key players in Terry Antonis, Kosta Barbarouses and Keisuke Honda among others, but their additions this year have only made them stronger, with Socceroos' Robbie Kruse and Andrew Nabbout joining European stars Tim Hoogland and Jakob Poulsen.
The thought of Swedish sensation and new club captain Ola Toivonen playing up front ahead of Nabbout and Kruse is a mouth-watering combination sure to be a shining light in the competition this year.
As the Victory strengthened their ranks, so did a number of their rivals, with minor premiers Perth Glory adding superstar striker Bruno Fornaroli and Sydney FC once again adding a plateau of stars.
Victory's new neighbour, Western United, may be a surprise package in what will be a thrilling year for the Hyundai A-League but I'm tipping Melbourne to win their fifth "silver toilet seat” this season.
Here's my prediction for the top six in no particular order: Victory, Wanderers, Perth, Sydney, Brisbane, City.
NEW ADDITION CAN LIGHT IT UP
WITH all of the boring winter sport out of the way it's time for the real battles to begin.
And nothing says excitement more than the A-League.
If the history of expansion teams with Western in the title tells us anything it should be a cracker year for the new Melbourne side - Western United.
With Josh Risdon, Besart Berisha and Allesandro Diamanti they have some killer signings but it is in the Wellington Phoenix pair Andrew Durante and coach Mark Rudan that make me think they will be a force.
Durante sits fourth on the all time A-League appearances ladder and his experience along with Mark Rudan's ability to get the best out of his players bode well for the club.
When Western Sydney joined the comp they had the experience of Michael Beachamp to lead them through that first season and I see parallels in the way WU have recruited.
In terms of who else, it's a lottery really with most clubs aside from Sydney and Perth going through some serious personnel changes.
As much as it pains me to say, I think Sydney will still be a force though not in the way we have seen previously and I can see Robbie Fowler coaching Brisbane back into form.
But I think Perth will top the league this year.
My top six prediction in no particular order: Perth, Sydney, Adelaide, Western Sydney, Western United and Brisbane.