Tuesday, February 07, 2006

A-League Team of the Season 2005/06

The task of picking the A-League team of the year from the inaugural season was made all the more difficult by the evenness of the competition, with the second last team, Melbourne Victory, finishing just five points outside the four. But for the NZ Knights, all teams featured players with strong claims for inclusion. While some big name players have produced patches or moments of brilliance, compiling this team was based more on consistency over the 21 rounds. As far as a formation is concerned, I've gone for the A-League's most popular, 4-4-2;
Goalkeeper; Clint Bolton
Back Four (right to left); Hyuk-Su Seo, Michael Beauchamp, Michael Valkanis, Dean Heffernan
Midfield (right to left); David Carney, Andre Gumprecht, Ross Aloisi (C), Carl Veart
Strikers; Shengqing Qu, Stewart Petrie
Goalkeeper, Clint Bolton (Sydney FC); Had he been a little more ambitious and pushed to go overseas earlier in his career, there's no doubt he would now be vying with Mark Schwarzer and Zeljko Kalac for the Socceroos number one jersey. At 30, it might not be too late for a lucrative overseas move or a World Cup birth, and this season he has again enhanced his reputation as the best custodian on our shores, rescuing Sydney in a number of games with his superb shot stopping and ability to relieve pressure by commanding his area, whether in the first minute or deep into stoppage time. The best of the rest was undoubtedly young Danny Vukovic of the Mariners, who started the campaign as back up to John Crawley but has been outstanding since getting his chance.
Right fullback, Hyuk-Su Seo (Queensland Roar); 'Harold', as he prefers, featured in central midfield for the first two-thirds of the season, where his simply distribution, game reading and sting in the shot were all easy on the eye. Technically sound and simply, he showed in the final third of the season just how adaptable he is when shifted to right back by Miron Bleiberg to fill a hole for the injury depleted Roar. A Korean import, Seo is a model example of how our Asian future can be a healthy one.
Central defender, Michael Beauchamp (Central Coast Mariners); Outstanding, particularly in the first two-thirds of the season, where his timing in the tackle has been a particular feature. Has been rattled in the past few weeks by some opposition strikers keen to test his temperament out, an area he needs to improve if he is to take the next step.
Central defender, Michael Valkanis (Adelaide United); A rock at the back of a wonderful Adelaide spine which features the likes of Angelo Costanzo, Carl Veart, Ross Aloisi, Fernando Rech and Shengqing Qu. Courageous, tough, reads the game well, good communicator and ventures forward at set-pieces to provide a real goal scoring threat, everything you want in a central defender.
Left fullback, Dean Heffernan (Central Coast Mariners); A close call between 'The Heff' and Sydney's Alvin Ceccoli, but Heffernan's ability to flow forward and score some crucial goals, seven in total, gives him the nod. Blessed with blistering pace, he is proving a threat every time he ventures forward and is a vital part of the Mariners' dynamic attack. More work on his final cross will make him an even better player.
Right midfield, David Carney (Sydney FC); One of only a couple of players to be signed by coach Pierre Littbarski, Carney has emerged as one of the biggest threats from midfield in the league, cutting in from the right on his left foot and causing problems with his deceptive pace and trickery. Has improved his option taking as the season has gone on. Needs to continue working hard on his right foot delivery.
Central midfield, Andre Gumprecht (Central Coast Mariners); Consistently one of the stand out players of the old NSL and the form has continued through this inaugural A-League season. Terrific work-rate and wonderful technique combine to make this bloke one of the most complete box-to-box players in Australia. Weighed in with a couple of crucial assists.
Central midfield, Ross Aloisi (Adelaide United); After a long career overseas, he is clearly relishing the return to his home state and the extra responsibilities that come with the captain's armband. While a high work-rate and physical edge have been the hallmarks of his season, he has been as articulate with the ball at his feet as he has fronting the media. A class act on and off the pitch.
Left midfield, Carl Veart (Adelaide United); One of the veterans of the league, has been simply outstanding in any position he has played, whether up front, in the hole between attack and midfield, out left or in central midfield, where he has been for the second half of the season. Like Aloisi, has a physical edge to his game and gets a birth on the left due to his adaptability. Hard to argue with his coach's claim that he is playing better today than he was when he featured for the Socceroos over a decade ago.
Striker, Shengqing Qu (Adelaide United); What a success story this bloke has been. A former Chinese international, he has been a vital ingredient in United's minor premiership run, scoring six, most of them quality strikes, as well as five assists in only 16 games. But it is not just his impressive work in front of goal that has impressed. Qu has a fantastic appetite to be involved in a game, working as hard as any midfielder to pressurise opposition defences from the front. A manager's dream.
Striker, Stewart Petrie (Central Coast Mariners): For sheer class, Dwight Yorke, Archie Thompson or Bobby Despotovski would get the gig hands down, but for sheer determination and consistency, Petrie has been a phenomenon. Nobody has exemplified the Mariners' spirit and will to win better than this bloke. Started the pre-season behind Nick Mrdja in the pecking order, but has made the most of his opportunity, becoming a real focal point of the Mariners attack as the link-man and finisher.
Manager, John Kosmina (Adelaide United); A line ball decision between two guys who have been around football in Australia for years, Socceroo legend John Kosmina and the affable Scot Lawrie McKinna at the Central Coast Mariners. Both have done a brilliant job, focusing on the detail and team spirit as the basis for their clubs' success. McKinna put together a team on a tight budget in a new football market and still managed to produce some wonderful flowing football, full of purpose and good technique, while Kosmina decided to stick with the tried and tested from the old NSL, relying on an experienced spine and some determined characters. Special mention also to Miron Bleiberg, who, while his team haven't always been rewarded with the results, has at least encouraged his young men to play open and positive football, an important consideration in such a important market like Queensland and for a start up venture such as the A-League.
Reserve Team of the Year (4-3-3); Danny Vukovic (CCM), Adrian Leijer (Melbourne Victory), Jacob Timpano (Sydney FC), Angelo Costanzo (Adelaide United), Alvin Ceccoli (Sydney FC); Tom Pondeljak (Central Coast Mariners), Dwight Yorke (Sydney FC), Nick Ward (Perth Glory); Archie Thompson (Melbourne Victory), Bobby Despotovski (Perth Glory), Alex Brosque (Queensland Roar). Manager, Lawrie McKinna (Central Coast Mariners).


Anonymous Anonymous said...

great to see some analysis of the a-league, keep it coming

Wed. Feb. 08, 08:33:00 pm AEDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about Kitzbichler from the Victory?

Thu. Feb. 09, 09:52:00 am AEDT  
Anonymous Peanuts Pethia said...

NZ needs a massive playing roster cleanout. apart from exciting youngsters, they should target some fringe Aussie A-League players, and even players contracted to A-league clubs this year who have spent time warming the bench. Eg Bingley and Young. And please take Rudan!

Fri. Feb. 10, 11:10:00 am AEDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For consistency you should keep the same 4-4-2 formation for the 'reserve' team

Fri. Feb. 10, 12:06:00 pm AEDT  
Anonymous pierre said...


Mon. Feb. 13, 09:33:00 am AEDT  
Blogger The Round Ball Analyst said...

The thing for me with Kitzbichler is that he started the season off in smashing form, like most of his team-mates, but as the season went on, his form dipped and he was unable to lift Melbourne out of their slump, not that it should have been his sole responsibility, but as a senior player he takes some reponsibility

Thu. Feb. 16, 02:10:00 pm AEDT  

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