A-League Rev-Up: Make or break for Gombau, can the Jets fly again?

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Round 26 of the A-League will be a huge one for Western Sydney Wanderers coach Josep Gombau in particular

Just two rounds remain of the regular A-League season and with finals just around the corner there's plenty on the line.

Like it or lump it, the finals format adds an extra dimension to a competition accused of staling considerably this season. 

A crunch clash between Western Sydney Wanderers and Brisbane Roar will all but decide the top six with both clubs accustomed to playing finals football.

Elsewhere, a Newcastle side in free fall is in desperate need of pulling out of its slump, City have Asia in their sights and a certain Marco Kurz has Graham Arnold in his.

Don't get down about Australian football politics, get pumped up for another week of A-League action! 


Jets need to start flying again


Regardless of the last few weeks, Newcastle's resurgence this season deserves some serious credit.

It will however be hugely disappointing to see it all come to nothing if they can't turn current form around and make a proper mark come finals.

Guaranteed second spot, you can't blame Ernie Merrick's side for slacking off somewhat but both the results and performances point to a larger issue.

An unconvincing 1-0 win over Wellington, 5-2 thumping from Adelaide and 3-0 loss to City suggest the Jets have lost their way.

The unavoidable transfer of Andrew Nabbout and injury to Nigel Boogaard mean Newcastle have looked like a plane without wings in recent weeks.

Newcastle Jets

A side that's overcome its fair share of necessary rotation this season, the Jets need to work out how to fly again otherwise they may find themselves crashing out come finals time. 

Finishing second means they'll be facing a team on the high of a win in the finals so it's a must that they pick up some momentum now. 

Against a Perth Glory side with only very slim mathematical hopes of making the top six, Kenny Lowe's men might be exactly the runway Newcastle need. 


Make or break for Gombau against Aloisi's old men


Time is something no manager in world football is sadly afforded anymore and this is something Josep Gombau could suffer from should the Wanderers miss out on finals football this season.

Should they lose to Brisbane Roar on Saturday afternoon, Western Sydney will miss out on a spot in the top six for just the second time in their history.

Replacing Tony Popovic at the start of the season was arguably Australia's football equivalent of Manchester United trying to fill the void of Sir Alex Ferguson.

Coming in as a coach without a preseason is hard enough, so Gombau has truly been up against it this season but excuses much like time aren't afforded to managers.

The nature of recent defeats to City and Victory have been concerning and while on a three-year contract, Gombau will certainly start feeling the heat if John Aloisi leaves ANZ in glory once again.

Josep Gombau

Fielding the oldest team in A-League history, Roar have called on their experience throughout the season and slowly but surely inched towards the top six like a determined elderly man with a walking stick. 

If Aloisi was to steer this side to the finals with a win against the Wanderers, he deserves a lot of credit for getting so much out of them.

Turns out you can teach an old dog new tricks after all! 


Slick City have Asia in their sights


For a club with so much investment and sheer resources available, nothing less than third place will appease Melbourne City.

With the top two out of their reach, City have third spot and a chance to play in Asia in their hands. Two points clear of Victory and playing a Mariners outfit low on confidence, Warren Joyce’s side need to put this game to bed quickly and should be backed to do it.

Uruguayan Bruno Fornaroli is looking sharp again after returning from injury, Daniel Arzani is getting more effective with every game and Dario Vidosic seems to have brought a talented City side together since arriving from Wellington. 

Melbourne City

For the Mariners, some say you can still hear ‘Horses’ ringing out softly around Central Coast Stadium. Their impressive 2-0 win over Sydney FC earlier in the season seems like a lifetime ago and with a new coach temporarily at the helm the side is in desperate need of new life soon. 

Just half the investment of City and an appropriate replacement for Paul Okon could do wonders for a club capable of so much more. 

Sadly it’s hard to see them avoiding anything but a heavy defeat come Saturday night with City intent on claiming a spot in Asia. 


Victory out to make amends


Redemption. It’s something both Melbourne Victory and Wellington Phoenix should be fighting for on Sunday. 

For Kevin Muscat’s men, they'll be looking to restore some faith after crashing out of the ACL in embarrassing fashion to Ulsan Hyundai. Their 6-2 defeat was one of their worst in history and with finals around the corner the club need to recover quickly.

Wellington on the other hand have another disappointing season to make up for. With continued question marks over their future, they need to start proving their worth and avoiding the wooden spoon would be a vital first step.

Two points behind the Mariners, the Phoenix can still save some face after a season that’s seen them part ways with yet another coach. 

While this game against Victory won’t decide their future, a positive result could do wonders for a Wellington outfit in need of some faith. 

Ulsan v Victory


Can Kurz shoot down Arnie in potential Sydney FC audition? 


If you believe the rumours, Marco Kurz is one of a seemingly endless list of candidates to replace Graham Arnold at Sydney FC next season. 

The Adelaide United coach has impressed in his first year down under getting a lot out of a youthful Reds outfit.

Kurz’s vigorous celebration last time he played the Sky Blues and held them to a goalless draw underlined the man’s passion and potential credentials for a move to Sydney. 

While a huge doubt of actually happening, both Adelaide and Kurz will be out to prove themselves against Sydney FC on Sunday. 

Marco KurzLikely to play one another in a preliminary final, if the Reds get that far, this game is an ideal chance to get a mental edge with the Sky Blues potentially still feeling the effects of a midweek ACL game. 

Arnold’s side played at their counter-attacking best against Suwon on Tuesday scoring four goals from their five shots in a 4-1 win.

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So even if they are somewhat tired, the sharpness of this Sydney FC outfit and Arnie's tactics can still cause considerable damage.

A fascinating clash to end what will be an entertaining round of A-League action. 

Get revved up!

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