What will the new year bring and what does your club need? As New Year's Eve approaches, we assess each club in the Hyundai A-League.
The outlook for 2017: Another tilt at the Championship appears out of reach but the Finals Series is a more realistic target, all mixed in with the start of their AFC Champions League campaign. A new year could mean a new start for the Reds and the ACL might just be the circuit breaker for their spluttering league form.
Where they could strengthen: Could use another striker to support Sergi Guardiola - one who is direct and can play off the shoulder. Injuries to key players out wide have also been an issue – coupled with the departures of Craig Goodwin and Bruce Kamau in the off-season – meaning another winger could be a handy pick-up. And with their involvement in the ACL, looking for targets from Asia could be a good option.
The outlook for 2017: Well-placed for a crack at some silverware in 2017 as they also try to qualify for the group stage of the ACL, potentially against Carlos Tevez' Shanghai Shenhua.
Where they could strengthen: Up front. Jamie Maclaren is still knocking in the goals but they have few options in that central striking role should the Caltex Socceroo get hit by an injury (Brett Holman was tried there before his untimely injury).
They were linked with Uruguayan international Diego Forlan in the pre-season before the deal fell through and he joined Indian Super League club Mumbai. Could they go for the 37-year-old again once his commitments in the ISL are over?
Central Coast Mariners
The outlook for 2017: Striving for consistency to stay in touch with the top six. Unless they can find that – and tighten up at the back – another season without finals footy is likely. But they'll give it a good crack and if they can cause a boilover on NYE against City, who knows what that could do for their confidence.
Where they could strengthen: Central defence. With just one clean sheet in their last 40 Hyundai A-League games that’s no surprise but they also lack experience at the back. With Jacques Faty struggling to stay fit, youngsters Jake McGing and Harry Ascroft have done a decent job and will be stars of the future, but could do with another more seasoned partner right now.
The outlook for 2017: With the Westfield FFA Cup already nicely tucked away in the club’s trophy cabinet, City will expect to add some more of the shiny stuff to the shelves in the New Year. JVS’s boys are so far the only side to topple Sydney FC as well. A bright 2017 is expected as the club continues to grow on and off the park.
Where they could strengthen: With a squad as talented and experienced as City’s, there aren’t any real holes to plug. JVS and his coaching staff are more intent on trying to improve and get more out of his current bunch than look for options elsewhere.
The outlook for 2017: Another title is very much on Victory’s radar in 2017, with Kevin Muscat’s side improving all the time and packing plenty of attacking weapons. Things are looking good for the Big V.
Where they could strengthen: Central midfield. While skipper Carl Valeri is ensconced in one of the two holding midfield roles Muscat prefers, he has struggled to find a consistent partner since the sublime Mark Milligan left, with Oliver Bozanic, Rashid Mahazi and Leigh Broxham all playing there at times. "Millsy's" club is struggling in the UAE so who knows if they get relegated he could be back.
The outlook for 2017: Unlikely to challenge the big clubs for the Championship but a top-six finish is a genuine possibility, in what would be the club’s first appearances in the Finals Series in seven seasons.
Where they could strengthen: Jack Duncan has been magnificent in goal, but some more cover down in defence may be the missing ingredient, if they can get fringe players off the books in January to bring in new faces.
The outlook for 2017: In a bit of a form slump of late with some worrying signs with the club issuing a statement about Rhys Williams after he was left out of a recent match-day squad. A Finals Series spot is the bare minimum expectation in the West.
Where they could strengthen: Creativity in midfield. While they have good options in the middle of the park – the likes of Rostyn Griiffiths, Brandon Wilson, Milan Smiljanic and Mitch Oxborrow - there’s a sameness about Glory’s midfield. Some creative flair could just kick-start Perth’s attack.
The outlook for 2017: Top of the league and clear favourites for the Premiership-Championship double. It’s been six years without any silverware for the Sky Blues, could this be their year? May 7, 2017 is Grand Final day, expect them to be there.
Where they could strengthen: The departure of Vedran Janjetovic to the Wanderers means a gloveman to back-up No.1 Danny Vukovic will be on Arnie’s January wish-list. But it's almost a perfect squad, however, Arnie will already be planning next season.
The outlook for 2017: After a slow start, Phoenix will be eyeing a finals berth, especially with prolific marksman Shane Smeltz on board for the rest of the season. It's some forward line going into 2017.
Where they could strengthen: Cover for Andrew Durante or Marco Rossi if they miss games. Another experienced player who can play central or even full back would do nicely.
Western Sydney Wanderers
The outlook for 2017: Will believe a Finals Series berth is the least they deserve but will need to go on a long winning run to challenge for the title, especially with an ACL campaign to contend with starting February. Consistent, winning performances is what they need.
Where they could strengthen: Central defender and striker. The Wanderers are missing the leadership of ex-skipper Nikolai Topor-Stanley at the back and need a similar player to tighten up their defence (Matt Spiranovic anyone?). A ruthless number 9 would be ideal to help finish off the excellent build-up play from the likes of Martinez and Nichols.