Sky Blues still out in front for A-League glory
HERE we go again.
I am really looking forward to the A-League season.
I think it will be a really even competition which is great news for the football purist.
They won't have things as much their way as they did last season but I think Sydney FC will go back to back.
Their squad hasn't changed that much. I know they have lost Rhyan Grant with a knee injury but Luke Wilkshire will be a fairly solid replacement.
He has got plenty of experience and Arnie (coach Graham Arnold) has known him for quite a while, he went to the World Cup in Germany in 2006 and Arnie was there with him.
Their Polish recruit, winger Adrian Mierzejewski, I think is going to be outstanding and if Milos Ninkovic plays to 70% of what he produced last year, Sydney are going to be very hard to beat.
I think their city neighbours Western Sydney Wanderers will also be up there despite Poppa (Tony Popovic) leaving before the season started.
Western Sydney have recruited exceptionally well and when you have got a club as well organised as the Wanderers, it will be a smooth transition with interim coach Hayden Fox now in charge.
Mark Bridge coming back is huge and hopefully he can show the form he showed before he left.
Spanish striker Oriol Riera will add something to their game because he can hold the ball up and he's good individually.
Provided he can finish a little bit better than he has shown so far in the FFA Cup, he will do well.
Last year's runners-up Melbourne Victory will also be there or thereabouts at the end of the season.
Argentine midfielder Matias Sanchez can add something to their team and Kosta Barbarouses coming back from his season with Wellington Phoenix will be good too and he should be able to pick up where he left off.
I don't think they will change all that much. They haven't evolved. They will play the same kind of football.
They will be very hard to break down. They will be tough mentally and competitive physically.
Cross-town rivals Melbourne City meanwhile might have a few teething problems that new coach Warren Joyce will have to sort out if they are to challenge.
They did have a culture problem last year as much as they want to deny it and that's why they never went on with things.
They need to just harden up and take a bit of the primadonna out of their play.
They almost played with too much of a sense of entitlement because of who they thought they were.
They are playing under the radar a bit this season, which is a good thing and Tim Cahill mentioned that in the press.
They will be up there but it will all depend on new striker Ross McCormack and how the side copes without injured captain and top goalscorer Bruno Fornaroli.
McCormack is a proven goalscorer and he can play but it will be interesting to see how that pans out.
Adelaide United had a rough trot last season but with new coach Marco Kurz at the helm, I think they are going to be resurgent.
I think the Algerian midfielder Karim Matmour will do well for the Reds as will Johan Absalonsen from Denmark.
George Blackwood will come into his own this season after signing from Sydney and Baba Diawara, if he stays fit, will get them goals.
There's a lot more balance right across the park but I think the only thing Adelaide lacks is a little bit of depth at the back.
I can't see them making the top three, but they will certainly be in the finals.
For me Wellington will be really interesting. They bombed out badly last year.
I don't know much about the coach Darije Kalezic and I don't know enough about some of the newer players he has brought in, so they are an unknown quantity.
I think the previous coach Ernie Merrick will do OK at Newcastle but I can see some problems at Brisbane Roar.
Brisbane are all over the shop at the moment and I think they are going to struggle a little bit in terms of their depth as well.
They have signed some interesting players. How they fit into the local landscape remains to be seen.
All in all I think this will be a fascinating season and you won't get that gap between the top and the bottom as you did last year.
It's going to be a fairly good competition to watch.
There will be surprises but if I had to tip I would say Sydney and probably the Wanderers for second with either Melbourne Victory, Perth or even Melbourne City taking third.
I think it's going to be a real fight for fifth and sixth and that should make for an interesting campaign.