IT'S BEEN a mammoth off-season...but the A-League is now just days away at last! With some clubs still to make or confirm some signings, we've had a look at the squad movements so far and assess each team's impact on the months ahead.
Manager: Vitezslav Lavicka
Last Season: 9th
Ins: Brett Emerton (Blackburn Rovers), Jamie Coyne (Perth Glory), Pascal Bosschaart (ADO Den Haag), Michael Beauchamp (Melbourne Heart), Karol Kisel (Slavia Prague).
Outs: Stephan Keller (Released), Hayden Foxe (Retired), Brendan Gan (Released), Stuart Musialik (Central Coast Mariners), Kofi Danning (Brisbane Roar), Matt Jurman (Brisbane Roar), Byun Sung-Hwan (Newcastle Jets), Anthony Golec (Released).
Brett Emerton has returned to Australia and Sydney FC is confident his homecoming will see a renewed interest in the club and based on early signs, the signing is proving an instant success. His liveliness and dynamism has the fans expecting Sydney to return to the lofty heights of Australian football and challenging for silverware. Championship winning player Karol Kisel is bound to delight fans, The Slovakian midfielder returns to the club after spending a season with Slavia Prague. After a disappointing season, Sydney decided to release defender Stephan Keller and replace the giant Swiss with Socceroo Michael Beauchamp who will look to partner either Jamie Coyne or Pascal Bosschaart in the heart of defence. The key to Sydney’s success however is Nicky Carle. If the gifted midfielder can stay injury-free, their disastrous 2010/11 campaign may soon be a distant memory.
Manager: Ricki Herbert
Last Season: 6th
Ins: Nik Tsattalios (Sutherland), Jimmy Downey (Sparta Rotterdam), Dani Sanchez (Inverness CT), Tony Warner (Tranmere), Lucas Pantelis (Adelaide United),
Outs: Nick Ward (Released), Diego Walsh (Charleston Battery), Oscar Cornejo (Santa Rosa), James Musa (Released), Troy Hearfield (Central Coast Mariners), Jade North (FC Tokyo), Danny Vukovic (Perth Glory), Reece Crowther (Released), Dylan MacAllister (Gold Coast United), Marco Rojas (Melbourne Victory).
Wellington Phoenix have appeared in two consecutive finals series and will be looking to continue their good form with the return of their talisman, Paul Ifill. The Barbados forward had an injury interrupted 2010/11 season and Ricki Herbert will be hoping his star man can stay injury free. In an exciting coup for the club, they have managed to recruit the league's first Spanish player, Dani Sanchez. The Spaniard underwent a successful trial with Wellington in July. Fans will also be undoubtedly pleased with the signing of former Adelaide speedster, Lucas Pantelis. With Marcos Rojas heading to Melbourne, Pantelis will offer some much needed pace and width.
With the club wracked by uncertainty off the field and still more signings to make to complete even a minimum roster, Phoenix have so far failed to add to the list of two current strikers and with a lack of depth in that department, an injury might prove costly for the New Zealand based club.