FPF's Mid-Season A-League Report Cards
Given we are more or less at the halfway mark of the 2020-21 A-League season, Front Page Football thought it was a good time to give each club a grade from A to E for their performance this season thus far.
Each team is graded based on how they have performed compared to their expectations at the start of the campaign.
Adelaide United - B
Despite a difficult start to the campaign, the Reds are flying now under Carl Veart.
There is even talk that they could make a challenge for the Championship this year.
That is all well and good, but we mustn't forget that this young side was expected to compete for a finals place, let alone comfortably make the six.
They have exceeded expectations so far, but this grade could yet improve before the season's end.
Brisbane Roar - C
Brisbane have had a funny season under Warren Moon.
They started brilliantly, and it looked as if they had guaranteed a finals spot.
However, the same inability to score goals regularly has plagued them again, just as it did under Robbie Fowler last season.
The Roar are performing to expectation, though. Finals football was the expectation but not a necessity, and right now, they are fulfilling that target.
Central Coast Mariners - A
The Mariners top the class without a shadow of a doubt.
Alen Stajcic has revitalised the boys from Gosford. There are no reasons why they couldn't now win the Championship, which is a far cry from the wooden spoon they got just last season.
Stajcic has worked wonders with the Mariners this season (AAP).
Experienced players like Oli Bozanic and Matt Simon are getting better with age.
Meanwhile, Daniel De Silva is starting to blossom, whilst Ruon Tongyik, Kye Rowles, and Mark Birighitti have formed a solid defensive base.
The question remains of whether the Mariners can complete their fairytale campaign and win an unexpected title.
Macarthur FC - C+
It wasn't easy to gauge what to expect from Macarthur before this season started. Still, on paper, their squad is certainly top-six material.
They started well, but inconsistency has prevented them from sitting in the top two spots.
However, a spot in fifth is enough to convince us they have had a good campaign so far.
The only criticism is that they have been slightly dull to watch at times, and sharing around the goals a bit more might be a way to solve that issue.
Melbourne City - C+
This grade may seem harsh, but when you consider the City Football Group's ultimate goal for their Australian side each season, it makes more sense.
Given their pedigree as a club, a top-two finish should be a minimum target for each campaign.
However, City is top with a game in hand. More importantly, they have played some brilliant attacking football to sit where they are too, which is why they get extra points from us.
Jamie Maclaren has been in incredible form for City, netting 19 times in 16 matches (AAP).
The other significant achievement has been shifting the power in Melbourne with two stunning derby wins against the Victory, who we will get onto now.
Melbourne Victory - E
Where do you start with this lot?
By far, it has been the worst ever campaign in the club's history, with poor recruitment, an inexperienced manager, and a disgruntled fanbase underlining the deep-ceded issues.
We said before the season started that a top-six finish was non-negotiable. Still, we were generous because of Victory's poor 2019-20 season.
Like their cross-town rivals, Victory has to prioritise the top two each season. However, given how their performances have been lately, it might be years before we see them finish there again.
Newcastle Jets - C
Some Newcastle fans may not agree with us, but given the turmoil the club seemed to be in on the eve of their season opener, they have fared ok for the most part.
They look like they should avoid the wooden spoon, which is a big tick in our books.
It's a shame that things haven't quite worked out for Craig Deans since he took the manager's role full-time, but there have been some highlights anyway.
Valentino Yuel's form has been refreshing, whilst youngsters Angus Thurgate, Luka Prso and Ramy Najjarine have shown glimpses of quality, despite their inconsistency.
Perth Glory - E
This grade has even surprised us a little bit. Still, when you consider how Perth performed under Tony Popovic, the differences are very notable.
Despite starting like a house on fire under Richard Garcia and scoring a record eighteen times in their opening six games, Perth has been atrocious defensively.
Garcia has found it difficult in his first season as an A-League coach (AAP).
They STILL haven't kept a clean sheet, and the goals at the other end have dried up too.
Under Popovic, they were a solid unit that had a sense of know-how in games. But this side is unorganised and too reliant on the brilliant Bruno Fornaroli.
Sydney FC - D
Sydney FC set high standards for themselves each season, and therefore we have graded them on those high standards.
By this stage in recent seasons, they would be in the top two or even starting to build an unassailable lead at the top.
That hasn't been the case this season, though, with the loss of Adam Le Fondre certainly playing a part in a drop off in goals scored.
Despite this, Corica's side is still in a good position, and if they find a purple patch of form, their grade will improve.
Wellington Phoenix - D
This grade also seems harsh because Ufuk Talay overachieved so much with Wellington last year that a dip was bound to happen.
However, their squad is still good enough for a top-six finish. Although the Nix have improved recently and may turn their campaign around, we believe they should be in the six right now.
If they can get more out of import Tomer Hemed upfront, that would go a long way to making finals.
Ulises Davila has continued to deliver week in, week out like he did last year, whilst Steven Taylor's re-introduction has helped.
Western Sydney Wanderers - C
Although it feels as if Carl Robinson is positively influencing the Wanderers, the table suggests they are having nothing more than an average campaign so far.
A club of their size should expect finals football, and right now, they are clinging on but given they haven't made the six in the past three seasons, that might be acceptable.
The main issue for Robinson has been finding his best eleven. If he can decide this, then the Wanderers will surely return to the finals.
Their squad is stacked with quality; the challenge is to get the right tune out of it.
Western United - D+
Western United has been far too inconsistent this term. Given how close they were to a maiden grand final appearance last season, that isn't good enough.
They have beaten the Mariners and Melbourne City but dropped points to the likes of Wellington and Melbourne Victory.
It's not as if individuals haven't performed either. Alessandro Diamanti has somehow gotten better, whilst Dylan Pierias and Tomi Uskok have improved significantly this campaign.
Pierias and Diamanti celebrate in Western's 5-4 win over Perth earlier this season (AAP).
Rudan's challenge is to fine-tune his players' mentality because they are more than capable of beating anyone in this league on their day.