It's been a busy mid-season transfer period for A-League clubs. Goal Australia decides which sides passed with flying colours and who failed to make the right moves
By Iain Strachan
In: Ryan Griffiths, Michael Marrone
Out: Steven Lustica, Antony Golec
Griffiths, a key player and regular goal-scorer during his previous A-League spell with the Newcastle Jets, is a good signing and will add valuable depth and competition for places in the final third. Michael Marrone was a consistent performer for Melbourne Heart before being lured to China, expect him to make the right-back berth his own during the second half of the season.
Antony Golec hadn't played under Josep Gombau so can't really be considered a major loss. Steven Lustica is the strange one - his signing was heralded as a coup at the beginning of the season and he was bright early on, before falling from favour. He could well add the midfield depth that sees Brisbane Roar win the title, and Adelaide may regret failing to find room for him and indeed letting him go so easily.
In: Jean Carlos Solorzano, Steven Lustica
Out: Kwame Yeboah
The departure of promising youngster Yeboah is a certainly a loss, but he's been ably replaced by former championship-winning forward Solorzano, who could end up scoring more goals in the run-in than his less experienced predecessor. Lustica, who impressed on loan at Suncorp Stadium last season, is a smart signing. Mike Mulvey knows midfield is key to controlling and winning matches, and the Roar are now bulging with genuine talent in the centre of the pitch.
Verdict: Passed with flying colours
Central Coast Mariners
In: Bernie Ibini, Eddy Bosnar, Kim Seung-Yong.
Out: Michael McGlinchey, Trent Sainsbury, Daniel McBreen
There's no denying the Mariners have lost three key players in the form of reliable centre-back Sainsbury, creative force McGlinchey and goal-scorer McBreen, who was also relied upon for his hold-up ability. The jury is out on their replacements. Ibini won't score as many as McBreen and is unlikely to match McGlinchey's constructive output. That role will fall to Kim, and Mariners' fans will be praying he's up to it. Bosnar could prove to be a fan favourite if he lives up to his reputation as a free-kick specialist, but can the 33-year-old adequately compensate for Sainsbury's absence at the back?
Verdict: Wait and see
In: Tom Rogic
Out: Mitch Nichols, Jonathan Bru
Some Victory supporters felt the club had made a significant upgrade in replacing Nichols with Rogic, and there's no denying the newcomer is a more expansive, stylish footballer. But Nichols' high work-rate and ability to link midfield with attack has already been badly missed, especially with James Troisi suffering a downturn in form after his bright start to the campaign. Victory have a full complement of players in their squad, preventing them from exploring options such as rescuing Billy Celeski from his unproductive move to the United Arab Emirates. Do they have enough depth in holding midfield to make an impact on the finals? If the recent injury-enforced absence of Mark Milligan, who they fortunate to hold on to, is anything to go by, the answer is probably no.
Verdict: Could have been better, could have been worse
Out: Golgol Mebrahtu, Dylan MacAllister
Two peripheral figures in Mebrahtu and MacAllister have moved on, leaving Heart some room in the salary cap for what is sure to be a busy off-season under new owners Manchester City. Given those plans are yet to be decided, it would have been premature and potentially counter-productive to bring in players on short-term deals simply to make up the numbers, during what is something of a dead-rubber second half of the campaign. It's all about the lead-up to 2014-15 for the team in red and white and their long-suffering supporters.
Verdict: Nothing to see here
In: Joel Griffiths, David Carney, Nick Ward
Out: Nathan Burns
Losing Burns back to the K-League and seemingly being unable to renew his loan was a blow, but one that should be compensated for with the capture of fan favourite Joel Griffiths, if he can stay on the pitch and out of referees' notebooks. Nick Ward is a journeyman at best who looks set to deny valuable playing time to the Jets' promising crop of young forwards. As for David Carney, the much-maligned Socceroo proved a calamitous acquisition for the New York Red Bulls last season, and faces an enormous challenge to rehabilite his reputation in the eyes of Australian football supporters.
In: Darvydas Sernas, Rostyn Griffiths, Nebojsa Marinkovic.
Out: Ryo Nagai, Steve Pantelidis
Returning the injured Nagai to his parent club was a no-brainer, and the Glory have moved quickly to reinforce their squad. Sernas has already proven his potential worth with a well-taken strike against Victory last time out, while Marinkovic has a good pedigree and also looks useful. We all know about Griffiths' talents, expect him to become a first-team regular as soon as he regains match fitness. Together, the three new arrivals could help Perth challenge for a finals berth. The only negative is the question of who has authorised these long-term signings, given caretaker Kenny Lowe does not have a contract beyond the end of the campaign?
In: Sasa Ognenovski, Milos Dimitrijevic.
Out: Yairo Yau, Brett Emerton, Tiago Calvano
Yairo Yau looked quite handy for Sydney last season but didn't really feature in 2013-14 and is no real loss. Emerton realised his time was up and gracefully stepped aside, while shipping out liability Tiago Calvano should be a cause for all Sky Blues fans to rejoice. They missed out on Eddy Bosnar but have a more than adequate defensive reinforcement in Ognenovski, until recently a regular starter for the Socceroos and formerly a star defender in Asia. A good second half of the season could revive Ognenovski's World Cup hopes. Dimitrijevic has added much-needed energy to Sydney's midfield and looks like a good get.
In: Roy Krishna
Ernie Merrick certainly likes a forward at the moment. Excepting the injured Paul Ifill, the Phoenix now boast Stein Huysegems, Kenny Cunningham, Jeremy Brockie, Roy Krishna and Tyler Boyd as attacking options, meaning there should be plenty of goals at Westpac Stadium in the second half of 2013-14. Did Wellington need to add elsewhere? There are plenty of options in holding midfield and barring any serious injuries, the defence is acceptable, although you can't help but feel a quality recruit further back might have given the New Zealand side a better chance of earning a finals berth and springing some post-season surprises.
Verdict: Pass, just
Western Sydney Wanderers
In: Golgol Mebrahtu, Daniel Mullen, Antony Golec
The mid-season transfer window was one for the future at Western Sydney. The three players brought in are unable to feature in the A-League until 2014-15, but they could provide useful depth in the AFC Champions League. The worth of signing Mebrahtu, Mullen and Golec will only become apparent when the next season kicks off, and after we have seen who else leaves and who comes in at Parramatta Stadium. Shinji Ono is returning to Japan at the end of this campaign, while Youssouf Hersi, Aaron Mooy and Matthew Spiranovic have all been linked with moves away. Michael Beauchamp is out of contract and yet to be offered a new deal. Mullen is a top-line defender, but the jury is out on Mebrahtu and Golec.
Verdict: Wait and see
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