Marking the marquees
This season we've truly seen the worth of the marquee system as some of the biggest names in world football lit up the A-League. But who impressed the most?
Nine marquees have played in the Hyundai A-League this season with differing levels of success.
So who delivered the goods? Who didn-t? And who was the victim of circumstances that were out of their control? Time to rate the marquees from 9-1 and give them a score out of 10 for their regular season performances.
#9 Brett Emerton, Sydney FC Personally, I quite like Brett Emerton but even the wide midfielder would admit that this has been far from his best season. In fact in a long and distinguished career that has seen him star in the Eredivisie, the EPL and the Hyundai A-League, it was his worst season in some time.
Troublesome hamstrings, the loss of his once blinding pace and Sydney FC-s ever-changing football philosophy haven-t helped Emmo settle.
And, just when it seemed his season was coming to life with a move into the centre of the park, he received a red card in the Sydney derby; it was an unfotunately fitting end to a season where he just couldn-t get out of the blocks no matter how hard he tried. Marquee rating 4/10
#8 Shane Smeltz, Perth Glory Seven goals from 18 goals is hardly the return we all expected from the league-s most prolific striker. Whichever way you slice it, Smeltz hasn-t had his best year.
Part of that was because he struggled with injuries, part of it was because the Glory midfield didn-t do their job properly and part of it looked like a loss of confidence.
More times than I can count Smeltz has missed where he would have made the opposition pay in seasons gone by. That said, he-s still a proven match-winner and will hoping to be back his deadly best under Alistair Edwards-s new pass-and-move regime. Marquee rating 5/10
#7 Emile Heskey, Newcastle Jets Arguably one of the most-maligned players in English football, I-ve lost count of the number of times I-ve heard the line “couldn-t hit a barn door” in relation to Emile Heskey. And it-s not true.
Nine goals from 23 games is not a great return for a striker of his ilk, but Heskey was also a victim of circumstance. The Jets just weren-t set up to make the most of his skillset and often times the likes of Adam Taggart and Michael Bridges butchered the chances he created.
He had an impact for the Jets, it just wasn-t enough; he needs more quality around him before he is written off as a flop. Marquee rating 6.5/10
#6 Dario Vidosic, Adelaide United No player jumped out of the blocks this season quite like Dario Vidosic. The sometime Socceroo had Reds- fans dancing in the stands as he showed what he could do when he was fully fit.
Vidosic started the season by breaking every team in the competition through his crisp passing, fierce shooting and mesmerising skills on the ball and as a result Adelaide reaped the benefits of his play.
That he was joined by the likes of Jeronimo Neumann, Marcelo Carrusca, Fabio Ferreira and Bruce Djite as part of Adelaide-s attacking fulcrum only helped him out, but when the others went down injured he was forced into a striking role and his ability to lift the team was hampered. He couldn-t do it all himself. Marquee rating 7/10
#5 Thomas Broich, Brisbane Roar The German has always been an enigma; there might not be a more relaxed cat in world football. He actually looked a little too relaxed in the first half of the season, as Roar struggled to find any fluidity and Broich was left on the periphery.
Mike Mulvey-s arrival brought about a change for the Roar-s stand-in skipper. With Jade North anchoring the defence and adequate support on the flanks from the fullbacks, Broich rediscovered that old magic, lifting the Roar to the finals and once again becoming the player to watch in the league. Marquee rating 7.5/10
#4 Marcos Flores, Melbourne Victory Flores was never going to be the player he was at Adelaide United. Ange Postecoglou-s set-up at Victory significantly changes his role - but it doesn-t mean Flores was a failure.
Deployed as part of Victory-s skilful, adaptable front three, the Argentine revelled in the creativity of his teammates Thompson and Rojas, more often becoming supplier rather than scorer.
He is as important to the success of the team as the likes of Archie Thompson and Marco Rojas and that he only scored four goals is somewhat irrelevant. He played the role he was been asked to play to perfection. Marquee rating 8/10
#3 Archie Thompson, Melbourne Victory Thompson is Victory-s talisman, it-s undisputed. When he isn-t there they truly struggle to win games, despite the wealth of talent they have at the club.
And at 34 years of age that is a testament to Archie-s longevity and his own fitness. He-s still the jack-in-a-box striker that he has always been, playing off the shoulders of defenders, breaking free and scoring, or more recently playing the role of mentor and creator for the likes of Marco Rojas, Connor Pain and Andrew Nabbout.
Archie-s Victory season has been nothing short of brilliant and he has been rewarded with a constant role in the national team for his efforts. Teams fear what he can do, his classy finishing, just ask Clint Bolton, who he famously chipped in one of this year-s Melbourne derbies and he finds space on the field where others might not. Marquee rating 8.5/10
#2 Alessandro del Piero, Sydney FC This isn-t because he is Alessandro del Piero; it-s because the 38-year-old has been that good, despite Sydney-s malaise.
Yes, Sydney-s season was an abject failure but it was not the fault of ADP. Five assists, countless classy moments, 13 goals - some of them from his trademark Del Piero Zone (running in from the left side and curling the shot into the far top corner) all attest to that.
At times he single-handedly carried a burdensome and dead weight on his own back and got results. The years may have taken away some pace, but class is permanent and was there for all to see as he mesmerised player after player with his ability on the ball, left teammates and opponents alike in his wake with his understanding of the game.
Along the way he broke Sydney FC-s record for the most goals by a single player in a season and also put plenty of bums in seats as even the most ardent football haters went to watch him. His charm, his skill and his ability to change the game see him high on this list. Marquee rating 9/10
#1 Shinji Ono, Wanderers FC In all honesty it was a slow start for the man known as “Tensai”, but Tony Popovic wasn-t worried and as it turns out he didn-t need to be. Ono was short of a gallop when he arrived on these shores, but once he got some fitness, he turned it on.
The fanfare he received wasn-t anywhere near what ADP got, but much like an Italian media contingent followed ADP everywhere he went, Ono received the same treatment from a partisan Japanese media scrum. It-s a measure of the man-s standing in the game.
As the season went on that star shone brightly. His vision on the pitch, creativity, dead-ball skills and goalscoring ability coming to the fore as he delivered week after week in a team that have gone on to create history.
He also made Aaron Mooy, Mark Bridge, Kwabena Appiah and Mateo Poljak into better players. His season has been superb and it might yet get even better.
The reason he has been better than ADP? His brilliance led the Wanderers to a history making premiership. Marquee rating 9/10