Season preview | Perth Glory

Last season they were left to rue late bad luck, now Glory can be considered among the favourites.

Last season they were left to rue late bad luck, now Glory can be considered among the favourites.

The Glory took fans on a wild ride to the Grand Final last season, and given that most pundits had Ian Ferguson out of a job before any other coach and the Glory written off at Christmas it was a remarkable achievement.

Since then they have had a remarkable amount of player turnover but most of that has looked like a case of wage cutting and the only player they will really miss is Brazilian whiz Andrezinho on the left side.

What Ian Ferguson has done effectively is further stiffen his side's defence; Michael Thwaite is perhaps one of the most underrated footballers in Australia and Adrian Zahra will also provide plenty for the Glory.

Ferguson has done his best to strengthen an already powerful side, adding the likes of Zahra, Scott Jamieson and Chris Harold to add a little more youthful energy, with the former Gold Coast United striker perhaps the pick of the bunch. All in all, Glory look set to continue their good work from last season.

Key player: Shane Smeltz Statistically he is the best striker the league has ever seen and when he is on it rains goals at Patersons Stadium.

He-s versatile too, in the sense that he can poach goals or create them, can score from long range or up close. Consistency is king in the A-League - and Smeltz is consistently brilliant.

Coach: Ian Ferguson Pretty unlucky to be beat out for coach of the year last year, Ferguson has earned the respect of the playing group and shows he knows how to get the best out of the assets he has with this group.

Glory weren-t perhaps the most esoteric side in the league, but they-re smart, strong and effective. Only late bad luck took the title away from last season. Now Ferguson has to push on for one better.

X-Factor: Travis Dodd If you asked Dodd, it-s likely he would admit last season was not his finest and maybe as he gets older the flash he is renowned for fades a little, but he is still capable of bursting into the box and finding the net when the is in the mood.

Transfers In: Adrian Zahra (Melbourne Heart), Michael Thwaite (Gold Coast United), Scott Jamieson (Sydney FC), Chris Harold (Gold Coast United), Nick Ward (Wellington Phoenix), Brandon O-Neill (NYL), Ndumba Makeche (NYL) Out: Trent McClenahan (Released), Josh Mitchell (Perth Glory), Adam Taggart (Newcastle Jets), Scott Neville (Newcastle Jets), Adrezinho (released), Todd Howarth, Chris Coyne, Victor Sikora (retired)

Key fixtures: Round 1 v Brisbane Roar (H) The grand final rematch is so big it will be held on the hallowed turf of Subiaco Oval and while it-s hard to peak in round one, given the hoopla around the result of the previous encounter between these two, there is bound to be some desire on the pitch.

Round 7 v Wanderers FC (H) A tough opening month features games against Brisbane, Central Coast, the Heart and Sydney, the second month sees matches against the Jets, Reds and then Wanderers, this stretch could see Perth pick up nine points straight.

Round 26 v Melbourne Victory (A) Two weeks out from finals and both teams should be in contention, many have the Victory ready to return to their glory days, but Perth won-t be letting go of theirs either.

Stat shot Conceded the most fouls (437) and second most yellow cards (65) in 2011/12, perhaps it is no wonder the grand final came down to a foul, time to curb the silly stuff for the likes of Heffernan, Burns, Mehmet and Miller.

Prediction: Fourth (This is not the author-s prediction but an average of contributors.)

The Hyundai A-League 2012/13 season kicks off on Friday 5 October with the season-s first Melbourne derby at Etihad Stadium. Click here for tickets to all the matches.

The official Hyundai A-League 2012/13 fantasy football game and tipping competitions are also open - so sign up now.