Another year down and halfway through the regular season, who’s your pick for the Hyundai A-League’s best player so far? A big-name Italian or a peewee Kiwi?
Hang on, was that 2012? What happened? Where-d it go? One minute Brisbane Roar were top of pops, the next they-re bottom of the barrel. Well, not quite – but it does show how you can-t take anything for granted in football.
Another thing that caught everyone by surprise is just how good season eight of the Hyundai A-League has been. Yeah, I know what you-re thinking – trust some dope on the FFA website to come out with that. But come on, be honest – hasn-t this season grabbed you by the short and curlies?
At the halfway point of this already memorable season, it-s time to take stock and ask who-s been your pick of the players so far? We-ve been running the poll on footballaustralia.com.au for a week or so now and the results are pretty clear.
Plenty of players have stood out but two in particular look to be defining season 2012/13, each at opposing ends of their careers. So let-s go through the list and find out who you think has set a fire under the competition, with the numbers from the poll as they stand as of Sunday morning.
Tom Rogic: 10% The Mariners midfielder has been the spark in Graham Arnold-s side Premiership defence, providing intelligence, vision and creativity in Arnie-s ball-to-feet football. A couple of starring performances for the Qantas Socceroos haven-t done him any harm – but that silly red card against Sydney FC has put him out of the running for the Johnny Warren Medal. But can that stop him being the season-s best come April?
Jeronimo Neumann: 3% Adelaide are able to boast a number of excellent performers but Jeroninmo has probably been the pick so far, almost enough for United fans to ask, “Marcos who?” Brilliant technique and an eye for goal – and a bit of controversy – could make him the pick of the Reds.
Shinji Ono: 11% Like the club he signed for, Ono has proven to be a slow burner coming into his own as the season progresses. His experience and technical ability provide an inspirational fulcrum for Tony Popovic-s increasingly impressive newcomers.
Liam Miller: 5% Appreciation for the Irishman has grown steadily during his time with Perth Glory, to the point that he is now recognised as one of the most influential midfielders in the competition. But a lack of glamour and goals might keep the accolades out of his hands.
Emile Heskey: 8% The big Pom has proved just as much a conundrum in Australia and he did in England but all those who scoffed at his much-reported profligacy in front of goal can-t deny he has delivered for a talented but inconsistent Newcastle side.
Jeremy Brockie: 8% After a few seasons on the fringes of the competition, the Kiwi striker looks to have finally blossomed into one of the finest in the league, and this season boasts a hugely impressive highlights reel. If not the JWM, how about the Golden Boot?
Patrick Gerhardt: 2% Defensive midfielders rarely get much attention but as Heart have struggled this season, the Liberian has proven himself invaluable to John Aloisi. Perhaps only Adrian Zahra can match his consistency for the red and white.
Besart Berisha: 3% Picking a standout for the Roar has been unusually hard but the Albanian sums up the team-s current frustrations and potential for brilliance. If Mike Mulvey can bring them back together, Berisha could still have a large say in the season.
Marco Rojas: 27% The Victory attacker has always had the potential. Wellington Phoenix-s Yellow Fever saw it when they brought him to the attention of the club, and Ricki Herbert-s loss is certainly Ange Postecoglou-s gain. Rojas has been on fire so far, a gifted individual of often unplayable instinctive talent. It-s no wonder Twitter has him hashtagged #KiwiMessi. But if there is one man who can stop him it is…
Alessandro del Piero: 22% Remember all that craziness before the season before Del Piero signed for Sydney FC? It was all worth it. The Italian has proved his legendary status – not that he ever needed to. A gentleman on and off the field, he has been the most memorable addition for Sydney FC and the A-League as a whole. The club-s wider woes were unexpected, however, and 13 rounds in, the Sky Blues are still one point off bottom. But if he can inspire a finals charge, ADP could be hard to resist.
Agree? Disagree? Who-s your pick for the player of the season so far? Have you say below…