Which Hyundai A-League side has left the greatest legacy ?
Australia's premier competition may still be relatively young but there's been no shortage of memorable teams as we enter the competition's 14th season in 2018/19.
And with Graham Arnold's record-breaking era at Sydney FC now firmly in the rear view mirror, we decided to take a look back at some of the greatest eras in the Hyundai A-League.
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Central Coast Mariners under Graham Arnold
(2010/11 until Round 5, 2013/14)
Graham Arnold’s recent dominance with Sydney FC makes it easy to overlook his against-all-odds achievements with Central Coast Mariners during his tenure at the Gosford club.
Expectations were minimal when the Mariners commenced the 2010/11 season, but under Arnold’s tutelage Central Coast finished runners up in the regular season and were three minutes away from claiming their maiden Premiership against Brisbane Roar.
That famous Suncorp Stadium Grand Final, which saw Roar prevail on penalties after scoring twice in the dying embers of extra time, could’ve been a terminal blow for the Mariners. It was then some measure of Arnold and the club’s resolve that they did not allow that Grand Final hoodoo to scupper their progress.
Instead, the Mariners established themselves as the unlikely benchmark of the competition and powered their way to the Premiership victory in 2011/12. They would finally end their Championship drought in 2012/13, defeating Western Sydney Wanderers 2-0 in Sydney.
Although the feats of Arnold’s Mariners are arguably outshone by some of their more esteemed rivals, the way the team from Gosford consistently punched above their weight and unearthed future Caltex Socceroos stars Mathew Ryan, Trent Sainsbury and Tom Rogic rightfully earns the team a place in Hyundai A-League folklore.
Brisbane Roar under Ange Postecoglou
(Round 11 2009-10, until 2011-12)
Ange Postecoglou resided over a Brisbane Roar side in rapid decline when he assumed the role midway through the 2009/10 campaign.
Roar recorded their poorest ever finish in that season, but what followed was staggering.
Postecoglou masterminded some of the finest attacking football seen in the Hyundai A-League, replacing Brisbane’s faltering old-guard with an array of exciting overseas talent fronted by Thomas Broich and Besart Berisha.
Roar claimed a sensational Premiership and Championship double in 2010/11, a feat crowned by that memorable comeback win over Central Coast in the Grand Final.
The ex-Caltex Socceroos boss led Brisbane to the Championship again in 2011/12 before departing Roar as the most successful coach in the club's history. But he left some legacy.
Arguably no other side in the Hyundai A-League successfully established a more resounding attacking philosophy than Postecoglou’s Roar, whose famous 36 match unbeaten run stands as the longest run without defeat at the top level of any Australian football code.
Broich and Berisha are today heralded as two of the most significant Hyundai A-League imports, and Postecoglou’s achievements are still regarded by many as the yardstick by which other teams and coaches are judged.
Sydney FC under Graham Arnold
(2014/15 until 2017/18)
Perhaps only the Graham Arnold era at Sydney FC rivals that of Postecoglou’s Roar.
Sydney were the league’s underachievers prior to Arnold’s arrival, who transformed the Sky Blues into one of the most well-oiled Hyundai A-League machines of all time.
After finishing 2nd in 2014/15 and a patchy 2015/16 that saw Sydney finish seventh, Sydney swept all before them in the following two campaigns.
In those two seasons under Arnold, the Sky Blues set a total of eight new Hyundai A-League records. They won the 2016/17 Championship and won both 2016/17 and 2017/18 Premierships by a combined margin of 31 points – becoming the first side to win back to back Premiers' Plates.
They reached two FFA Cup finals, winning the 2017 edition against Adelaide United, while Milos Ninkovic and Adrian Mierzejewski snared consecutive Johnny Warren medals.
Kevin Muscat under Melbourne Victory
Kevin Muscat won two Premiership and Championship doubles at Melbourne Victory as a player, helping the navy blues push their claim for supremacy in the Hyundai A-League’s early years.
But after claiming the club’s fourth championship last season, and the second under his reign as coach, Muscat has cemented Victory’s status as the most successful club in the competition.
Under his charge, Victory are yet to miss a finals series and the conveyor belt of talent he has lured to Australian shores, led principally by the recent arrival of Japanese superstar Keisuke Honda, had produced some of the most memorable moments in the Hyundai A-League.