The Hyundai A-League's upcoming January transfer window could decide the championship as all 10 clubs have problem areas in their squads.
The Hyundai A-League's upcoming January transfer window could decide the championship as the first half of the season has shown all 10 clubs have problem areas in their squads.
With 13 of 27 rounds completed, each of the A-League's coaches have had plenty of time to assess their squads and identify positions where they are weak.
As has become typical, all 10 clubs remain in the hunt for a spot in the finals this season but the difference may come down to which coaches can succeed in next month's transfer window and bring in the players they need.
While some of the clubs may need to move players on to make room in their squads and under the salary cap, no coach can consider his team to be the finished product yet.
In this first section of a two-part article, we will look at the players Adelaide United, Brisbane Roar, Central Coast Mariners, Melbourne Heart and Melbourne Victory need to target in the January transfer window.
Adelaide United Transfer Target: Dependable right full-back
Having conceded 12 goals in their past five matches, the era of Adelaide United as a defensive powerhouse seem to be waning. Neither Daniel Bowles or Cameron Watson have been able to make the right full-back position their own this season and Henrique's goal in Brisbane's 1-0 defeat of the Reds on Boxing Day is not the first to have come from the right-hand side of Adelaide's back four.
While John Kosmina should probably also reconsider his midfield structure to avoid his team being overrun as they were against the Wanderers and the Roar, Adelaide desperately need a top-line right-sided defender to tighten up at the back.
Brisbane Roar Transfer Target: Deadly striker
New Roar manager Mike Mulvey has already made it clear Brisbane need another striking option and the stats back him up. In their two championship-winning seasons, Brisbane scored 1.93 and 1.85 goals per game respectively. In the opening 13 games of this campaign, the Roar have scored 1.15 goals per game.
Last season's A-League Golden Boot winner, Besart Berisha, has scored five goals this campaign but has not hit the back of the net in open play since Round 7. Brisbane have no other legitimate option to play as lead striker; the one position in their squad without depth.
The departure of young Japanese defender Yuji Takahashi means Brisbane have an import spot available and Mulvey needs to bring in a real poacher to take advantage of the Roar's impressive midfield.
Central Coast Mariners Transfer Target: Super-sub
When your team is top of the league, has the best defensive record and has the second-highest goals tally in the competition, it can be hard to find a problem area. But Mariners coach Graham Arnold could use a top forward to bring off the bench.
Central Coast's lead striker, Daniel McBreen, is top of the A-League scoring charts with 11 goals this season but with other forwards Bernie Ibini-Isei and Mitchell Duke having only hit the back of the net twice so far, Arnold could use some more options.
With the Mariners forwards all tall, powerful types, a speedy, creative striker in the mould of Jeronimo Neumann would give Arnold a wildcard to bring on late in games to try and break down stubborn opponents.
Melbourne Heart Transfer Target: Speedy goal-scorer
Rock bottom after 13 rounds, Melbourne Heart have plenty of problems. With just six genuine defenders in their first-team squad and Simon Colosimo struggling, Heart coach John Aloisi could use some more defensive depth. But the biggest issue for Aloisi is his team's lack of speed and goal-scoring ability.
Without Mate Dugandzic, who is out for the season with a foot injury, Heart have looked decidedly one-paced. Meanwhile, strikers Josip Tadic (three goals in 12 games) and Dylan Macallister (one in 13), neither of whom are quick, have failed to put the ball in the net enough.
Aloisi's team have scored just 15 goals this season (only Perth have scored less) and while he will be pleased with Golgol Mebrahtu's contribution over the past month, a speedy goal-scorer, who can lead the line, could save Heart's season.
Melbourne Victory Transfer Target: A right-footed Adama Traore
Adama Traore has been one of the recruits of the season for Melbourne Victory. The Ivory Coast-born left full-back's form has been so good Victory coach Ange Postecoglou reckons Traore should be given a chance by the Socceroos when he is eligible for Australian citizenship next year.
After a poor start to the season, Victory have started to come together under Postecoglou's leadership but the two-time A-League championship winner would surely like to be able to clone Traore to have a quality right-back. Despite their improvement, the Big V remain one of the worst teams in the A-League, defensively.
While Traore has been brilliant at left-back, Postecoglou has tried Matthew Foschini, Diogo Ferreira and Spase Dilevski at right-back but remains unconvinced by all of them. A right-footed, strong-tackling and attack-minded full-back would fill the void.