It was one of the closest A-League seasons in history and selecting the Team of the Season was just as tight. Joey Ratcliffe goes through the players who starred this season and made it into our Team of the Season for 2014/15.
EUGENE GALEKOVIC (ADELAIDE)
Arguably the best goalkeeper in the A-Leagues 10-year history, Eugene Galekovic had another stand out season. At times, he showed his world class shot-stopping and at others his ability to determine the outcome of games with sheer determination and strength. The Adelaide captain is a commanding and respected voice for his defenders and an influential player in a side going through a massive overhaul of their playing style.
Clean Sheets: 7
Pass Average: 33.8
JOSH RISDON (PERTH GLORY)
22-year-old Josh Risdon was a key threat and speedy defender that offered much to a Perth side that was so strong through the middle. Apart from excelling in many of his defensive duties, Risdon’s ability to push forward with pace and track back in defense was a crucial quality in a side that often put 11 players behind the ball.
Clean Sheets: 4
Pass Average: 31.7
ANDREW DURANTE (WELLINGTON)
Six season spent in Wellington never bore much fruit for the Australian-born New Zealander international, but 2014/15 was a breakout season for the Phoenix. Durante, as he always is, was a rock-hard wall in defense and a fearless leader that commanded a back-four consisting of fellow bruisers Ben Sigmund and Michael Boxall.
Clean Sheets: 7
PATRICK KISNORBO (CITY)
A season of high expectation for Melbourne City ended with a modest berth in the finals. But if it wasn’t for Patrick Kisnorbo, the Manchester City-owned club would have struggled a lot more. In particular, his stand out performance against Sydney FC in March, when he won the match for his side by marking Janko out of the game, was a performance that oozed agility and defensive nous. It was a performance that underlined much of what he did for Melbourne City in 2014/15.
Clean Sheets: 9
After two underwhelming seasons at Western Sydney where Elrich struggled to break into the first team behind Jerome Polenz, it was surprising to see Spaniard Joseph Gombau deploy him on the left behind a more natural choice at left-back, Craig Goodwin. However, from the get-go, Elrich excelled in his position by providing a reliable outlet in a side keen to develop a modern ‘Spanish style’ of football.
Elrich’s season was highlighted by a Socceroos debut and scoring the A-League’s goal of the season (and possibly a Puskas nomination, according to some).
Clean Sheets: 6
Pass Average: 46.2
ISAIAS SANCHEZ (ADELAIDE)
The Spaniard is one of the most important cogs in the Adelaide style. While Argentine Marcelo Carrusca gets many of the plaudits for his skill and trickery, Isaias has the humble class and qualities to allow Carrusca to shine. Isaias is the most important cog in Adelaide’s structure. Apart from Galekovic, without Isais Adelaide would have finished much lower than third. An easy outlet for the centre-backs, he also distributes the ball more than effectively and allows time and space for the Reds’ fullbacks and other midfielders to get forward.
Pass Average: 62.4
MILOS DIMITRIJEVIC (SYDNEY)
Much like Isaias for Adelaide, French-Serbian Dimitrijevic was a critical cog in the way Sydney FC played. Signed under Frank Farina’s ill-fated reign, Dimitrijevic arrived over-weight and unfit, but showed signs of class. This season he was immense. Playing in a deeper role, he and partner Terry Antonis completed eachother, almost to perfection. Together they implemented manager Graham Arnold’s transition from playing out of defense to quick counters. In the early season, when Dimitrijevic was in season-best form, the ball arrived to the forward line much faster and more effectively than ever did with Alessandro Del Piero under Farina.
With the arrival of Mikael Tavares, Dimitrijevic was relieved of some of his deep-lying duties. A slight dip in form later in the season was further undermined by a tame performance in the Grand final when the Serbian was, tactically, wiped from the game by Melbourne Victory’s manager Kevin Muscat and midfielder Mark Milligan.
Pass Average: 57
GUI FINKLER (VICTORY)
The Brazilian Finkler has always shown signs of promise to the A-League. A career journeyman, Finkler’s first season was destroyed by an ACL injury. Two years later, this season he became one of the best players in the league. Partly enabled by a lethal front-three ahead of him, Finkler shines in his ability to create chances for his team.
Arguably the best in the league with the dead ball, Finkler has so many tools in his locker that opposing teams are rarely, if ever, are able to restrict his influence on games.
Pass Average: 37.6
NATHAN BURNS (WELLINGTON)
A young starlet with Adelaide, Burns tried to forge a career in Europe but ended up in Korea instead. Last season, he went on loan to the Newcastle Jets but that spell was unexceptional. A permanent move to Wellington almost went under the radar, but his coach Ernie Merrick did something not many other managers had allowed Burns. He gave him free reign. Unshackled and unencumbered, Burns was dubbed the ‘Aussie Messi’ in 2013/14. Coming close to the Golden Boot and chipping in with his fair share of assists, Burns’ influence was excellent. Slaloming his way around fullbacks, Burns was able to cut-inside and run along the byline with such ease it earned him a call-up to the Socceroos for the Asian Cup.
At only 27, Burns is again showing the promise of his earlier A-League spell. He also proves that Europe isn’t always the answer.
MARC JANKO( SYDNEY)
Filling the boots of Alessandro Del Piero was never going to be easy. But somehow, little-known Austrian Marc Janko became more important to Sydney than the Italian ever was. Janko may not have garnered the media hype that the Pinturicchio did, but he broke Sydney’s season goal record with a spectacular streak of form after the Asian Cup. Scoring his way to the A-League’s Golden Boot, Janko also contributed to Sydney entire game plan by always being the first line of defence.
Unfortunately for the Sydney faithful and the entire league, Janko’s time at Sydney came to an end after a protracted contract negotiation ended in debatable circumstances. Janko will, more than likely, return to Europe and Sydney will have their scouting team working overtime to find a player who can score as many goals as the former captain of Austria.
FAHID BEN KHALFALLAH (VICTORY)
One of the signings of the season, Khalfallah’s importance to Melbourne Victory was immeasurable. Able to score and assist, one of his best attributes was bringing the ball from deep. All his team mates knew that giving the Tunisian the ball meant that you could guarantee metres of field position and valuable seconds of possession.
Originally only on a one-year contract, Kevin Muscat desperately tried to re-sign the Tunisian international, even though Khalfallah was asking for a hefty increase in his wages. Khalfallah admitted that he thought Muscat was ‘f**ked’, but he extended his contract by two years anyway.
Pass Average: 27.9
VEDRAN JANJETOVIC (SYDNEY)
Clean Sheets: 9
MICHAEL THWAITE (PERTH)
Clean Sheets: 4
Pass Average: 37.7
AARON MOOY (CITY)
Pass Average: 53.4
ROLY BONEVACIA (WELLINGTON)
Pass Average: 41.3
BESART BERISHA (VICTORY)
GRAHAM ARNOLD (SYDNEY)