Yesterday we handed in our mid-season wrap for the current top five clubs in Hyundai A-League 2017/18 Season, now it’s the next five.
It’s been an inconsistent campaign so far for most of the clubs on the cusp of the top six, but a New Year brings about a chance to make a charge up the ladder as they look to cement a spot in the Finals Series in April.
Check out part two of our mid-season report card below.
Ladder position: sixth
Getting his best players on the park at the same time might be Kenny Lowe’s biggest challenge over the second half of the season.
Perth at their best are an energetic, attacking team that can be hard to stop when on a roll.
But a damaging injury list has prevented their full potential from being explored, with the absences of key attackers Diego Castro and Adam Taggart hitting the hardest.
Spanish star Castro has since returned and will be essential to shoring up a top six spot, while Lowe will hope to restore Taggart alongside strike partner Andy Keogh as quickly as possible.
The silver lining to their unavailability has undoubtedly been the emergence of talented teenager Jacob Italiano, who has looked at home in his short Hyundai A-League career to date.
If they can unite that front four – and, just as importantly, stabilise a defence to support them – Glory can certainly have an influence come finals time.
Report card mark: C+
WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS
Ladder position: seventh
The Wanderers’ season was thrown into turmoil before it even got started with coach Tony Popovic walking out in the week before the opening match.
While they won in round 1 it was tough going from that point on, failing to win another match until Round 11.
And after a slow start under new boss Josep Gombau, including heavy defeats to Sydney FC and the Jets, there are signs this proud and passionate club could be on the rise.
Not only have they won two of their last three games but the players look to be getting to grips with the Spaniard’s philosophy.
Gombau is sure to try and strengthen during the transfer window – already releasing Jumpei and Melling.
While they have struggled to put 90 minutes together too often this season, there’s no doubt they have the quality in the squad to be a threat if they can get things together.
Report card mark: C-
Ladder Position: eighth
Is this the season Brisbane Roar slide out of the top six?
John Aloisi will hope not as he attempts to invigorate a faltering campaign which could result in the club missing finals football for the first time since 2009/10.
Crippling injuries have hindered his plans, with the likes of Luke DeVere, Jade North, Thomas Kristensen and Brett Holman all spending lengthy stints on the sideline.
But big names are beginning to return and should complement the useful tools already finding form.
Jamie Young has been superb in goal, while marquee striker Massimo Maccarone is regularly putting them away at the other end. Eric Bautheac, when fit, also looks a shrewd signing.
And if they can restore a sense of authority at Suncorp Stadium, don’t be surprised to see Brisbane forcing their way up the ladder.
The three-time champions have only take five points from a possible 21 in home fixtures this term, suggesting there is plenty of room for realistic improvement.
Report card mark: C
CENTRAL COAST MARINERS
Ladder position: ninth
You can’t deny the strides the Mariners have made under their smart, passionate coach in Paul Okon.
At times some of their football has been scintillating, but they’ve often lacked the finesse, experience and killer instinct to translate that into goals and wins.
The improvement and form of playmaker Daniel De Silva has been a feature, while the speed of attacking stars Andrew Hoole, Connor Pain, Kwabena Appiah and Trent Buhagiar means they have the ammunition to beat anyone on their day.
Just ask champions Sydney FC!
That memorable win over the Sky Blues remains the major high of the season so far, but replicate that type of display regularly will be the key for Okon’s men for the remainder of the campaign.
Scoring goals is also an issue having failed to find the net in any of their last four Hyundai A-League games on 2017.
Report card mark: C
Ladder position: tenth
There hasn’t been a whole lot for Phoenix fans to get excited about this season but striker Andrija Kaluderovic has been a standout.
The Serbian hitman has scored eight goals so far to be right near the top of the scoring charts.
The addition of Johnny Warren medallist Nathan Burns is a huge bonus heading into 2018.
But there simply haven’t been enough good performances from Darije Kalezic’s men over the first 13 rounds.
Not helping their cause has been a tendency to throw away big leads in matches, while crucial mistakes at the back have cost them dearly.
There is undoubted quality in the squad but putting consistent, 90-minute performances together will be the key to moving up the table in 2018.
Report card mark: D