BRINGINGITBACK TO BACK

Inside Sport - - ONE ON ONE WITH... -

While foot­ball is known for super-clubs and dy­nas­ties, in the A-League it’s a far dif­fer­ent story. Most A-League teams have found win­ning ti­tles to be a poi­soned chal­ice – with some glo­ri­ous sea­sons fol­lowed by fail­ure the next cam­paign.

Syd­ney FC’s Mi­los Ninkovic won two ti­tles in the Ukraine with Dy­namo Kyiv in 2006-07 and ’08-09, but he be­lieves go­ing back to back in the A-League is a much harder task.

“Why I think it’s much more dif­fi­cult is be­cause you have four or five teams ev­ery year in the A-League that can be cham­pi­ons,” he says. “In a salary cap sys­tem, the com­pe­ti­tion is more even; un­like in Europe, where clubs can spend and spend. It’s harder for coaches in Australia be­cause of that and clubs have to spend their money more wisely.”

In the his­tory of the A-League only Bris­bane Roar has won back-to-back grand fi­nals, while no club has topped the A-League ta­ble two sea­sons in a row. As for teams do­ing the dou­ble, only two have ever come close ... BEST DE­FENCE Bris­bane Roar (2010-11 and 2011-12) Only one club in the A-League’s 12-sea­son his­tory has won back to back cham­pi­onships. That was the Roar in 2010-2011 and 2011-2012, when they went on that in­cred­i­ble 39-game un­beaten run.

Fin­ish­ing league run­ners-up in 2011-12 by only two points also saw them nar­rowly miss out on the honour of win­ning the dou­ble­dou­ble and al­most se­cur­ing the cham­pi­onship and pre­mier­ship two years in a row. Un­der the guid­ance of Ange Postecoglou, Bris­bane earnt the moniker of "Roarcelona" as their style of play was likened to Barcelona's. Mel­bourne Vic­tory (2008-09) Mel­bourne Vic­tory won the pre­mier­ship and grand fi­nal in 2008-09 and they came within inches of win­ning the dou­ble-dou­ble the fol­low­ing sea­son but were thwarted by in­ter-state ri­vals Syd­ney FC, who won the pre­mier­ship on the last day.

The Vic­tory again faced the Sky Blues in the grand fi­nal. Af­ter 90 min­utes and ex­tra time, it was only a penalty kick miss by Kevin Mus­cat in the shootout that de­nied Vic­tory the honour of be­ing crowned con­sec­u­tive A-League cham­pi­ons. No team has come so close, yet been so far in win­ning dou­ble hon­ours. AL­MOST Ade­laide United (2006-07) Af­ter be­ing in­au­gu­ral pre­miers in 200506, Ade­laide United fin­ished run­ner-up the fol­low­ing sea­son. But the 2006-07 win­ners Mel­bourne Vic­tory won the league by a mas­sive 12-point gap. Cen­tral Coast Mariners (2011-12) With Gra­ham Arnold’s Cen­tral Coast Mariners pre­miers in 2011-12, they al­most be­came the first team to go back-to-back ta­ble-top­pers. Dur­ing the 2012-13 sea­son, the Mariners led the league from round nine to round 22, but a loss to West­ern Syd­ney in round 23 saw their lead slip away. The Wan­der­ers were playing in their in­au­gu­ral A-League cam­paign and from round 16 to round 27 went on a record un­de­feated ten-game streak that saw them se­cure the league by three points. West­ern Syd­ney Wan­der­ers (2012-13) Af­ter top­ping the ta­ble in their first sea­son, West­ern Syd­ney Wan­der­ers won the hearts and minds of the Aus­tralian sport­ing pub­lic and ar­guably be­came the A-League’s big­gest suc­cess story. With the Red and Black Bloc sup­porter group cheer­ing them on, the Wan­der­ers were top of the ta­ble in round six. How­ever, Bris­bane Roar took the lead the fol­low­ing match and never looked back, which saw them win the league by ten points. ABDICATION New­cas­tle Jets (2008-09) With Joel Grif­fiths, Nick Carle and Jade North mak­ing up the spine of the team, New­cas­tle Jets took the league by storm, win­ning the 2007-2008 grand fi­nal. But the fol­low­ing sea­son, Mark BridgeŸandŸStuart Mu­sia­likŸjoinedŸSyd­ney FC, while key de­fenderŸAndrew Du­ranteŸalso left the club. The team went from he­roes to ze­roes af­ter fin­ish­ing bot­tom of the ta­ble, as it only won four games all sea­son. A mid-sea­son ex­o­dus made things worse, with star striker Joel Grif­fiths and de­fender Mark Mil­li­gan jump­ing the sink­ing ship. Ade­laide United 2016-2017 Un­der for­mer Barcelona leg­end Guillermo Amor, Ade­laide United won the 2015-16 sea­son pre­miers plate and A-League grand fi­nal. But their suc­cess saw their squad dec­i­mated the fol­low­ing sea­son and with play­ers like Craig Good­win, Bruce Djite and Bruce Ka­mau miss­ing, they fin­ished sec­ond last – just one point from the bot­tom. It was ar­guably the worst ti­tle de­fence in his­tory; af­ter top­ping the league with 49 points, the next sea­son they fin­ished with a mea­gre 26.

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