This week has seen the senior squad begin the long road to avoiding our longest league title drought - in other words, pre-season training has started. After missing out on the supposed seven year itch omen last year, our record of the eight years it took to win a title after leaving the state leagues in 1976 stands to fall if we don't pull our finger out this season.
Player Points System Is Here!
Well, well, well. Here we go. We get 275 points this season, fewer in subsequent seasons, unless the PFA pull their finger out and do something major. Once again, here's the gist. Everyone is worth 10 base points, and then gets points added or taken away based on a whole bunch of criteria. In a nutshell, here's what's 'good' and 'bad'.
Players you'll tend to want include:
- Those who came up through your junior system.
- Local players.
- Players who are 25 or under.
- Players you already have.
Players you don't want as much:
- Players brought up through the junior wings of other clubs.
- Foreign players.
- Players over 25.
- Players from other clubs.
Now, a very important addition to all this is the fact that you will now only be able to have two visa players. They'll cost you 20 points at a minimum. The FFV's explanatory PDF says:
Any player who is not an Australian Citizen, or does not have Permanent Residency status, is considered a Visa Player.Which should make things easier and more lenient than I expected. There;s also scope for what they call a 'marquee' player, who is described as"
who was playing in a fully professional league the previous season, and subsequently signs for an NPL club.
Lastly, you also get bonus points in your cap for having players get promoted to the A-League or an Australian based pathway. It does not appear to count if your player gets sold overseas first.
So, Who's Gonna Save Us? (and will we come in under the points cap?)
Well, pinching a whole bunch of Northcote players didn't work. Pinching a whole bunch of Thunder players didn't work, though it did get us closer. How about getting players from both of those teams!
Re-signed/Apparently sticking around
- Dimi Tsiaras - despite getting increasingly limited game time, has re-signed. Will provide decent cover even if he's not in the starting eleven.
- Nick Epifano - fell away badly toward the end of last season, so will be interesting to see if he finds the form that initially made him one of the more valuable mid-season acquisitions.
- Tim Mala - probably the weakest of the Dandenong acquisitions in 2013, but beggars can't be choosers.
- Tyson Holmes - signed a two year deal. Steve from Broady will be happy.
- Brad Norton - has been signed up for our 2014 plans.
- Iqi Jawadi - apart from being one of the Dandenong Thunder boys, played in the friendly the 21s played against Selangor late last year.
- Shaun Kelly - will need to adapt to a new partner. Did well again last season, but Bran going will mean that perhaps more attention will be paid again to his performances
New players/invited to train/rumoured
- Michael Eagar - defender from Northcote. Dual citizenship helps his and our cause when it comes to visa spots.
- Matthew Theodore - midfielder from Dandenong Thunder. This was apparently a done deal last season (or as much as deals can possibly be done back during that period of time, which resembles more the primordial ooze than anything concrete and stable). Young, lots of experience at this level.
- Anthony Giannopoulos - after having spent the second half of last year at Sunshine George Cross in state league one, where he apparently played well predominantly as a left back (as opposed to his usual under 21s forward position), he's apparently been training with the side. Whether he'll be able to make the step up is anyone's guess.
- More players of unknown provenance.
- Kieran Gonzalez - Green Gully's goalkeeper has been thrown up as a possible replacement for the retired Peter Gavalas.
- Milos Luic - Northcote's star forward had been thrown up as a possible acquisition, pending him not being picked up by an A-league team. While his initial attempt to get on Sydney FC's books didn't work out, it looks like he's got at least a temporary spot at Wellington Phoenix.
Who's gone so far? (and who else may be going?)
Remembering that it is pre-season, and that there are new rules to play by this season, it's a scenario that's been complicated beyond the usual 'can we afford him/does he want to play for us/is he under contract' shenanigans.
Now we also have to deal with a 275 player points cap (which will probably be reduced in the coming seasons), which penalises teams who recruit heavily, rely on visa players, and generally favour older, non-own club products to younger, crafted by your own hand players.
- Bryan Bran, supposedly to FC Chabab, an ethnic Moroccan team playing in the Dutch third division (which is a recent attempt to bridge the gap between amatuer and professional football there, or so Wikipedia says.
- Trent Rixon, gone back to Northcote. A shame, but not entirely unexpected.
- Alan Kearney - apparently to Dandenong Thunder. For whatever reason, looked like he was falling out of favour once the new signings came in during last year's mid-season transfer window. The limit of visa spots has not helped his claim I would think.
- Peter Gavalas, retired, a big hole to fill, whether you rated him or not.
- Fernando De Moraes, retired. Fare thee well, Nando.
In the maybe/likely/fucked if I know pile
- Luke Hopper - with only two visa spots available (and one of those being taken up by Shaun Kelly, the other probably to Nick Soolsma), he looks like the one that will miss out. Or will he?
- Carl Recchia - supposedly going to Pascoe Vale - disappointing as he was allegedly paid throughout 2013 despite missing the entire season due to his knee injury. Though quite how much value he'll provide a season after a serious knee injury and at his age is anyone's guess.
- Renco Van Eeken - almost certainly gone back home. His chronic osteitis pubis problem is probably where our downward slide started in the first half of the season.
- Nicky Soolsma - the info on this keep changing, but the assumption at the moment is that he'll stay
- Chris Maynard - I'm hearing disturbing things related to a shit attitude towards training. I hope this is not true, as a) we need a keeper b) I would rather have one of our youth products make the grade if he's good enough and c) I think it's fairly well known what Chris Taylor's attitudes to a slack attitude to training are.
- Rhys Meredith - Have heard he's gone back to Queensland. A pity, and a little bit of a surprise I think. At one point I thought that if either of the two Queenslanders was going to win a spot here, it would have been Rhys over Tyson, but the latter's late season form really turned a corner.
- James Karvelis - the young defender got a few games last season and actually did OK, but if he stays it looks like he'll be a back up player again.
- Nick Jacobs - despite my love of this player, have the gut feeling he's destined to be remembered as a future SMFC trivia question for his winning goal against Southern Stars in 2012. Still young though, so hopefully he's still deemed worthy of overcoming his injury problems and giving it a real crack.
- Matko Budimir - the big defender probably should have got more game time last year, but for whatever reasons didn't. Not sure what his future holds. Would like to see him given a chance, but I'm not sure it's in his best interests to stick around.
- Baggio Yousif - apparently left for Hume. Scored a ton of goals and seemed to take up a lot of the on field leadership slack after Giannopoulos left the 21s last year. While 21s football is not senior football by any stretch, I'm actually disappointed to see him go.
- Erdem Ozcagli - assume he will be staying.
- Andrew Cartanos - got more senior game time than most from the 21s last season, but I'm not personally convinced by him. Would love to be proven wrong.
So when do we get to start seeing them in action?
No firm dates for friendly or trial matches have come forth yet, though some other clubs are apparently getting into gear. But on that note. here's what one of the peoples on the old smfcboard posted recently:
George Katsakis interviewed by George Karandonis on Rythmos 1656 just before where he stated Heidelberg are conducting a tournament that starts on Sunday Jan 26th.
- Sydney Olympic
- West Adelaide
- Hobart Olympic
Declined to participate:
- Northcote City
Further to that information, my mail is that Hobart Olympia will not participate in this tournament, but will be heading down to Melbourne to play a couple of games against us. Another chance for Jake Vandermey to show his worth against his old mob?
It's a pity we don't get an interstate trip, as was mooted towards the end of last year, but since Melbourne is the centre of the Greek-Australian universe, it makes sense for everyone else to come to us.
Of course, this hasn't been confirmed as of yet beyond the radio broadcast, so expect some changes. One of the Football Anarchy Sydney Olympic fans has pointed out that the NSWPL pre-season cup starts in the first week of February.
Quite why they're proposing to start on Sunday 26th - instead of say, starting on the night of Friday 24th, taking advantage of the whole of the Australia Day long weekend is anyone's guess. The Groundskeeper Willie of smfcboard has also noted that Olympic Village's turf is not in good nick.