BRINGINGITBACK TO BACK
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 BridgeandStuart MusialikjoinedSydney FC, while key defenderAndrew Durantealso 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.