Thursday 22 February 2018 / 03:39 AM

Is The Title Up For Grabs?

The A-League, with its unfathomable results and wild form reversals, is staking a claim as one of the most mercurial club competitions on the planet.

The only consistent narrative throughout the season so far has been that Brisbane Roar are the benchmark side, with the Western Sydney Wanderers being their closest (erstwhile) challengers.

Aside from that, chaos reigns.

Take Adelaide United. The plot for their campaign appeared to be mapped out early.

Under tiki-taka sanctioning Spanish coach Josep Gombau they would attempt to implement a system of possession-based football that would produce some beautiful passages of play and the occasional positive result, but ultimately their season was destined to be a fruitless one.

The conflict would come as fans and journalists demanded some level of success on the pitch, while the coach continued to insist that long-term goals were far more important than instant gratification.

The critical question for the Reds was whether the club hierarchy would have the patience to stick with Gombau in the face of the performance anxiety he was causing supporters.

For a while, this storyline chugged along nicely. Adelaide went eight games without a win and tensions mounted. They looked incapable of making the finals series, but that did not matter, according to the Spaniard.

But then everything clicked. United thumped the Mariners 4-0 to commence a run that involved six wins and three draws in 10 games. They now sit third in the ladder and look to be one of the dark horses for the title.

It was only fitting that Adelaide’s sequence of undefeated games was eventually ended by the Wellington Phoenix, another side that was previously written off.

The New Zealanders had appeared completely listless at the start of the season, going ten games without a win.

All of a sudden, though, things turned around for the Nix as well. Three straight wins over the Christmas period saw them kick-start their season in spectacular fashion. They collected 19 points in eight games to become the form team of the competition.

Until they were eviscerated 5-0 last weekend by the Melbourne Heart.

Where to start with the Heart? They are the walking dead of the A-League.

Buried at the bottom of the table after failing to win in 19 games (a record stretching back to last season), their victory over the Newcastle Jets was the equivalent of the moment a decaying hand bursts out of a grave in a zombie movie.

They now have four wins and a draw in their last five games, and even though their top six hopes are still extremely remote, to even mention them in the context of the finals would have drawn howls of laughter just a few weeks ago.

Meanwhile, coaching upheavals at the Mariners and the Victory have ensured their seasons have both taken on particularly bipolar qualities.

Sydney FC manage to look resolutely mediocre most of the time but amazingly won four matches in a row in November, destroyed the Victory 5-0 in January and are somehow clinging on to sixth spot with only a few weeks to go until the finals.

To add to the general sense of anarchy, the best side in the land, the Roar, have managed to lose (and lose well) three times to one of the worst, the Jets.

The whole sequence of events makes the A-League extremely unpredictable, and very entertaining.

If anyone knows what’s going on, I’d love to know. Answers on the back of a postcard.


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Dan Colasimone

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