On-field, the expectations will of course be high. That's what South fans expect, and finishing inside the top three, with the double chance that comes with that, is the only acceptable outcome in the home and away season. For better or worse, there's no more Joe Montemurro on the sidelines for the first time in three years - and now it's all down to Gus Tsolakis and his crew. During this pre-season, however much you can take out of that, we've moved the ball forward more quickly, and haven't been reliant on two or three chances to score all our goals - even if our finishing has been poor this so far.
Defensively, the English trio of Matthews, Byles and Kelly, provided they stick together for most of the season, should provide a more solid defensive framework than last year. With Kiwi Rhodri Payne seemingly finally out of favour, the left-back slot will be a hotly contested position, though there don't appear to be any obvious replacements yet. Will much maligned utility Brad Norton get the gig? Will Phil Petreski be shifted out of his midfield roles to fill the gap? Or will they pull a rabbit out of the hat and give the passionate/temperamental Anthony Giannopoulos a gig?
Since waking up finally when he got a back pass against Port (all praise to mighty Baal), Peter Gavalas has actually looked hungry. He got benched against I think it was the Bergers and instead of a doing a casual warm down he was doing sit ups and push ups like a bit of a maniac. Rumour has it that likely second choice Seb Mattei doesn't give a shit about football anymore, but since it seemed like we had one of those last year as a first choice, who'd notice the difference this year if it turned out the same?
As usual we have more midfielders than you can poke a stick at, and how we fit them all into a starting eleven will be very interesting. With Carl Recchia done for the year, you'd expect Dimi Tsiaras to have the defensive mid slot sown up. Alan Kearney will hopefully add some much needed toughness to the middle, but the attacking midfield roles and wing positions are still all up for grabs, with most of the contenders not completely grabbing the bull by the horns just yet.
Marinos Gasparis looks fitter than he's ever been, but will that help him to overcome his chronic inconsistency? Joe Keenan has been given a fair bit of time this pre-season to show his mettle, but the Keenan of old, who was able to slide past players, slot lovely curved goals and put in good crosses hasn't been spotted for some time. Dimi Hatzimouratis's 2012 season was cut down by injury, and while he hasn't done anything remarkable this past month, there are still those who rate him highly
There are also several young players - among them James Karvellis and Andrew Cartanos - who got game time last year and during the pre-season -, who may be called upon if the above players don't perform.
And what of Fernando De Moraes? He didn't have one of his best seasons last year, and even though his work rate did go up to unprecedented levels for him, that's not what he's there for. A role off the bench role may be what's forthcoming, but will he bes satisfied by that?
There's also the question of Andy Vlahos, who could be used either forward or in midfield. While surely coming to the end of his career, he seems content with coming off the bench, and he was useful in that role last season. His greatest strength may lie in his several years of coaching experience, perhaps adding to the tactical arsenal available to Tsolakis.
Further upfield, Renco Van Eeken, and the Queensland pairing of Tyson Holmes and Rhys Meredith have looked fast and dangerous, without putting anyone other state league two Malvern City to the sword. I can't wait to see how they fit Trent Rixon into this line up. Hell, I can't wait to see Trent's reaction when his first touch in an attacking move isn't 15 metres in our own half.
Let's Digress and Have a Look at the Other Teams
|What disaster will happen to us there this year?|
Port Melbourne, Bentleigh Greens, Oakleigh Cannons (combined preview)
I don't care about their management switch, or which players they've lost or brought in. Like Michael Lynch, all I want to know is, will the food still be as good?
Back home again, no need for a trip out to Epping.
Our very own Gus Tsolakis reckons people should keep an eye out for them this year.
|Thanks to the FFV (and for me on two fronts!), this is where we'll be watching this game from this year.|
Another team going for the night game angle.
What now after the end of the Irish Free State? I suppose there'll be some prurient interest in seeing in how Rama is getting along, a bit less so for Jason Ricciuti.
Should not be underestimated.
As usual there will also be the myriad off-field shenanigans.
The social club's progress - or rather, lack of it - will be felt more and more as the season wears on. What was meant to be one of the linchpins of our return has yet to materialise, and the dispute with the government about the social club redevelopment fund could well drag on. What would be good would be to see some information from the club on this issue, and though there have been inferences that it is forthcoming,
The end of the year also sees elections for the boards of SMFC and SMH. Will there be any rival tickets this time around? We've not had an actual election for so long. There's been much dissatisfaction from among certain former board members, but will they make a move? And if they do, what will their platform be? Who else will be on their ticket?
Another question to ponder is what role will the expanded suffrage will have in determining our future. Now that voting rights have been opened up to a whole lot more people, will there be increased interest in the behind the scenes working of the club? There were signs at the AGM that outside the ranks of the old social club clique, there were people who were willing to turn up and participate or at least be witness to the nitty gritty of our club's planning.
There's also the question of the National Competitions Review. There are those out there who are claiming that it won't come in next year - witness the splurging by some state league 1 clubs for a promotion spot that probably doesn't exist - and yet you also have certain VPL clubs spending cash like it's going out of fashion for what exactly?
Assuming that the NCR does go ahead next season, how will we be forced to adjust? Will the rumoured 280 point cap - instead of 200 - come in? If it does, will it be permanent, or phased down over subsequent seasons? Will the FFV allow us to keep charging our $3200 a year?
Of course, there is the ongoing issue of the re-conciliation efforts with SMWFC. Progress seems interminably slow on this front, and yet a women's unit will be an essential component of the NCR. Does SMWFC even want re-conciliation, or just co-operation for the sake of the precinct? If they want to remain a social/community outfit, what are our options after that? Is there demand for $3200 coaching for junior girls' teams?
And how much more South for the A-League nonsense will we see this year? Every time I think this issue is going to finally go away for good, it comes back with a bit of vengeance. What will be the next phase in this consuming obsession?
Hint: Another Melbourne Heart is doomed or moving to Geelong is already gathering steam.
As For The Blog
Maybe even a a retool of the blog's look, because I'm not convinced that we've got close to plumbing the depths of hideous web design that only looks semi-decent on a seven ( I think) year old Benq notebook.
There will also be the usual off the wall observations from the Kiss of Death that has earned this blog its cult audience of movers and shakers, and boy are we looking forward to its contributions before the KOD's usual late season slide into 'too much busy farken, can you do it for me farken' status.
Of course if anyone else (lol, bahahahaha) wants to write for us, just drop us a note. Some more comments would be nice, someone apart from the ever reliable Savvas Tzionis and whichever board lackeys decided to add their two cents of propaganda. Also, maybe this year we'll actually get to see Steve from Broady pitch in with his long promised regular comments or even some stats or something.
I have no idea how much time I'm going to lose for this project now that we're working(!) three days a week and are also expected to do PhD level research and writing, but if my honours thesis year and half was (or more like three months of actual half-arsed effort) is anything to go by, I don't think you'll notice any difference, except for the soccer fiction reviews I'll have teed up for the off-season at the end of the year.
I've already seen Oakleigh Harismidis at two separate matches at Chaplin Reserve, once with a knock off Brisbane Bears scarf, and once talking to the canteen ladies telling them how valuable they are to that organisation. It's going to be hard top off that spectacle, but the VPL hasn't disappointed before. Chances are another farcical loss at Gully this Saturday will do the trick.