Biggest stories of the season

Now that the Hyundai A-League Grand Final is over for season nine we look back at some of the biggest stories of this season.

Now that the Hyundai A-League Grand Final is over for season nine we look back at some of the biggest stories of this season.

Manchester City takes controlling interest in Heart

This was huge! After a difficult season on the park for Heart which saw them fail to win a game until round 15, news of Manchester City purchasing the club came as a massive shock. The English Premier League powerhouse-s investment in the club generated huge excitement across the A-League and word of high-profile marquee players for next season is a tantalising prospect.

End of an era

The term ‘retiring great- was used a remarkable number of times this season: Harry Kewell, Brett Emerton, Jacob Burns, Terry McFlynn, Mile Sterjovski, Michael Bridges… just some of the wonderful players in this league who called time on their careers.

Ange leaves Victory for Socceroos

Following the removal of Socceroos boss Holger Osiek there were strong calls for a Australian based coach to take over and Ange Postecoglou was the obvious choice. The Victory coach was named the national boss and left Victory after its round three clash with Brisbane Roar - his former club. What a poetic way to go.

Crazy coaching carousel

After winning the A-League Grand Final last season with the Mariners, Graham Arnold-s dream of coaching in Japan was fulfilled when poached by J-League club Vegalta Sendai. But after failing to win a match in the opening six rounds of the season, Arnold parted ways with the club by mutual consent. He-s now favoured to join Sydney FC, who released Frank Farina. Similarly Perth Glory with Alistair Edwards, Jets with Gary Van Egmond and Heart with John Aloisi all made coaching changes.

Gombau-s rise as a Red menace

The popular Spaniard not only put his own special stamp on goal celebrations, the fans voted him coach of the FOXTEL A-League All Stars after his Reds side impressed many with their possession-based game. It-s been his year after arriving as an unknown in the off-season.

Heart's revival after winless run

After failing to win a match for around half the season and following John Aloisi-s sacking, Heart threatened to stage one of the all-time great turnarounds. They went on a seven match unbeaten streak which included six wins and a draw to remarkably put them within striking distance of the top six. Ultimately a late season slump extinguished their finals chances and they eventually ended up with the dreaded wooden spoon. But that revival caught the imagination of many.

Engelaar-s Stunner

Heart-s marquee-man Orlando Engelaar missed the first half of the season after suffering a broken leg in pre-season, but it is no coincidence that his return sparked a Heart revival. The giant midfielder underlined his quality with a stunning half-way goal in round 23 against Central Coast, with some labeling it the best in A-League history. Picking up the ball inside his own half, Engelaar spotted Mariners keeper Liam Reddy off his line and audaciously smacked a drive which left the custodian hopelessly stranded. Rightly awarded A-League goal of the season.

Marquees exit

After two fabulous seasons, Alessandro Del Piero bid farewell to the league and Sydney FC, announcing it just hours before the end of season awards. Will we see him again? Well, yes, the FOXTEL All Stars will feature the Italian master and perhaps he may return in a coaching capacity. As for Shinji Ono, the master left on a high with stunning ACL and A-League performances (and what about the Wanderers- fans- tifo at Pirtek Stadium? It was a work of art). As for Emile Heskey a warm reception when he left the pitch showed how Jets fans felt about their English striker. They loved his contribution to the club.