Saturday, February 27, 2010
The power balance seems to have shifted this year, with the Serbian-backed Bonnyrigg White Eagles making a none-too-subtle attempt to purchase the title. Brad Boardman, who led the line so forcefully and effectively for Sutherland during their 2009 triumph, has arrived at the Serbian Centre, as have several other highly-rated NSWPL regulars.
Bankstown City have provided two key players for the Bonnyrigg revolution in Shane Webb and Daniel Severino. Webb, who didn't quite make the most of his A-League stint with Newcastle, is an all-action left-back or midfielder who provides dynamism and grit in spades, along with neat skills. Severino is a tad over-rated in my opinion, but his left-footed free kicks are certainly a great asset.
David Zdrilic is now in the coaching hot-seat with Sydney United, following Ante Milicic's move to Melbourne. It will be very interesting to see how he fares; he cuts quite a thoughtful and insightful figure on SBS's analysis panel, and United certainly found a player/manager setup suitable in 2009. The squad at King Tom still looks good, with influential midfielder Pete Markovic apparently recovered from his recent injury problems.
Another new coach on the block is Pat Marando at Olympic. Long-suffering assistant to the string of high-profile coaches at Belmore over the past few years, the affable Marando knows the game and the NSWPL scene well, but how he copes with the legendarily prickly egos of the Olympic dressing-room is another matter. The squad has a few new faces, but none to really inspire.
Little change at Manly United, who will be grittily competitive again. Bankstown and champions Sutherland both have a familiar look as well; Sutherland may find it hard to cope with their two serious losses, namely Boardman and Panny Nikas, who has joined the Mariners (and should really have been given a chance by Lawrie McKinna towards the end of their disappointing season).
The interesting outsider this season is that fallen giant of the NSWPL, Blacktown City. After a truly grim couple of years following their 2007 title win, the club has been re-united with Aytek Genc, who had such success in the Blacktown dugout previously. Genc has re-acquired some of his most effective troops from that era, including bustling striker Luke Roodenburg and defensive lynchpin Mirko Jurilj. The Demons are not to be underestimated in 2010.
Bonnyrigg go into the season as clear favourites, but a good five or six others could challenge for the title this year. And a rising star to watch? Hard to say, but keep an eye on Sutherland's Blake Powell, who played with precocious maturity in the 2009 grand final.
I'm an NSWPL noob from an Anglo-Celtic background living in Marrickville with general Inner-West loyalties - which team should I support?
It's a choice of either APIA (based out of Leichhardt) or Olympic (Belmore) in that part of the World.
Of course go down a level or two and there's heaps of teams in the area; Stanmore, Dulwich Hill, Fraser Park (carnts) to name a few.
Vic: hope none of your relatives were caught in the mudslides of the last week.