Ten rounds, 10 teams, 10 big questions

How well is your team placed, 10 rounds into this A-League season? What can they do to get better, or is the task confronting some already appearing too difficult? The World Game looks at the challenges facing every side.

Bruno Fornaroli

Bruno Fornaroli (left), Bobo (centre), Jamie Maclaren (right) Source: Getty Images

1. Adelaide United: Can they make another huge run for the title?

No. Even if they had the same squad as last season it would be too much to expect from the position they're in on the table. Runs like that don't come on tap - that's what makes them incredible. They could still sneak into the finals, but they might be better off concentrating on trying to advance from the group stage of the Asian Champions League and then building up their squad again from there.

2. Brisbane Roar: Have they got enough goals in them?

It might seem a silly question when they are coming off a 4-0 win over Adelaide United, but before that they had scored just nine goals in nine games and were coming off four straight 1-1 draws. Jamie Maclaren (five goals) is contributing, and Thomas Kristensen (four) has been a bonus out of midfield, but they need more from others, including Brandon Borello (one) and Dimi Petratos (none).

3. Central Coast Mariners: Are they capable of doing more with possession?

Their fans had better hope so, because what they're doing at the moment isn't cutting it. They make a lot of passes and have a high completion rate, but they don't take nearly enough shots at goal, so we're not talking about genuine penetration here. The team's leading goal-scorer, striker Roy O'Donovan, only has four goals, but the service to him simply isn't good enough.

4. Melbourne City: How will Bruno Fornaroli handle the increased defensive pressure on him?

That challenge is being put to him right now, and it is obviously not just about defending tightly on him but also restricting the quality of the service to him. The increased emphasis on making it more difficult for Fornaroli is part of the reason Fernando Brandan is excelling in his wider role at the moment. Fornaroli will have to work even harder at freeing himself up, but he'll make the effort.

5. Melbourne Victory: Will they get their defence right?

They have ridden their luck in several games, including last weekend's 3-0 win over Western Sydney Wanderers. Victory took their chances and good luck to them, but they were assisted by the fact the opposition didn't take theirs. Wanderers had 18 shots to 12, including 11 to four inside the box. Victory can get tighter with the players they have got, but probably not as tight as they would like.   

6. Newcastle Jets: Will the owner loosen the purse strings this season, rather than wait until next?

Coach Mark Jones said last week it was possible he could approach the club's owner, Martin Lee, head of the Ledman Group, with a view towards signing a marquee player in the January transfer window. Last weekend's brave, 2-1 win over Perth Glory on the road hasn't masked the fact they need a real go-to man who can take charge of the team. That is sadly lacking at the moment.

7. Perth Glory: Why don't they play for 90 minutes?

Who knows? But they had better figure it out or they're just going to remain a mid-table team or worse. Too often, the intensity drops for extended periods in matches and their biggest sins have come against the so-called weaker teams. They butchered a 3-0 lead for a 3-3 draw against Central Coast Mariners and gave up a 1-0 advantage for a 2-1 loss to Newcastle Jets, both times at home.

8. Sydney FC: Is Bobo the answer up front?

The jury is still out on that one. The signs were promising in the pre-season and at the start of the competition proper, but for a marquee striker his performances since have mostly not been up to the standard that would have been expected. He did go down convincingly enough to convince the referee to award a soft penalty against Melbourne City last weekend, though, so he has the smarts.

9. Wellington Phoenix: Will Ernie Merrick's departure as coach make a positive difference?

It shouldn't, because Merrick is a proven coach who had gotten results out of the team in the past. The fact he was prepared to fall on his sword and say it was time for someone else to have a go might embarrass the players into better performances, at least in the short term, but last weekend's 3-0 home win over Central Coast Mariners isn't a guide. There are much stiffer tests to come.

10. Western Sydney Wanderers: Will they sign a marquee striker?

They're looking, so that's a start, and they could definitely do with that sort of player, so it would presumably be a priority for them, but it's getting the right one that is the challenge and after last season's signing of Federico Piovaccari turned out to be a disaster they won't be tempted to rush into anything. Veterans Robbie Keane and Dimitar Berbatov have been mentioned as possibilities.

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4 min read
Published 13 December 2016 at 2:48pm
By Greg Prichard