As A-League clubs and Football Federation Australia decide on their player's of the year, here's my selection as the top 10 players in season 2012-2013.
It proved tougher than I had expected, so for what it's worth here goes.
10. ANTE COVIC - Western Sydney Wanderers
Covic did a fine job of splattering egg all over the face of the club that let him go last season, Melbourne Victory and had had more clean sheets than a five-star hotel. The Wanderers goalkeeper was the difference in the opening half dozen rounds as his side took time to learn how to score, then carried the good form all the way to the Premier’s Plate-decider in Week 27.
9. MICHAEL McGLINCHEY - Central Coast Mariners
One of three New Zealand internationals to set the A-League alight this season, McGlinchey has aptly filled the hole in the Mariners midfield left by the departures of Mustafa Amini and then Tom Rogic. A fleet-footed midfielder that can create chances for his attackers and an eye for goal, McGlinchey has relished the extra responsibility entrusted by Graham Arnold this season.
8. ARCHIE THOMPSON - Melbourne Victory
After a mediocre season by Victory last campaign, Thompson has been back to his best this campaign and a regular in Holger Osieck's Aussie squads. His partnership with Marco Rojas has been superb and led to some breathtaking goals. The veteran has also provided plenty of creativity when dropping deeper and supplying the front line.
7. SHINJI ONO - Western Sydney Wanderers
After joining his new team-mates a week before the season, it took a while for Ono to hit his peak but once he did the Japan international lit up Western Sydney and the A-League. Not only providing the creative link between defence and attack, Ono was also able to work extremely hard in the defensive phase, which is an integral part of Tony Popovic’s overall strategy.
6. DANIEL McBREEN - Central Coast Mariners
At 35 years of age, one could be forgiven for thinking ‘McBreen there, done that’, but a man who toiled away for little to no reward at North Queensland Fury then Perth Glory has found a new lease on life under Arnold at the Mariners. Not only did McBreen top the A-League scoring chart, he’s displayed versatility in adapting to the various roles asked of him. He as excelled in a lone striker role and as one half of a double act with Mitchell Duke.
5. MARK MILLIGAN - Melbourne Victory
Not a lot of players benefit internationally from moving back to the A-League after playing abroad. Milligan is an exception, or at least, he would have been had Holger Osieck picked him to start against Oman. The Melbourne Victory star provides his team with the link from defence to attack and is rock solid as a penalty-taker. He can add goals from open play and will be a key figure if his team is to make the Grand Final.
4. JEREMY BROCKIE - Wellington Phoenix
Brockie almost became the first player from a last-placed club to win the golden boot. His prolific form in a well-beaten team most weeks must have had Newcastle Jets fans to wonder what might have been if he had stuck around another season.
3. YOUSSOUF HERSI - Western Sydney Wanderers
In his debut year in the A-League, Dutchman Hersi has excited with his fast attacking raids and ability to take on his man in a one-on-one situation. With his pace and guile, Hersi gives the Wanderers an attacking X-factor and it's little surprise he has become a big hit with the fans.
2. MARCO ROJAS - Melbourne Victory
Every nation needs a Messi and Rojas fits the bill for New Zealand. Lightening fast and willing to take on his marker, Rojas’s combination with Thompson has been a joy to watch. We seem to forget that both players were together at Victory last season too, but under Ange Postecoglou they have formed arguably the best attacking duo in the A-League.
1. ALESSANDRO DEL PIERO - Sydney FC
Over the eight seasons of the A-League, marquee signings have been hit and miss. Del Piero is certainly a smash hit for Sydney FC - and the game in general. In a team that often struggled, the Italian superstar provided plenty of brilliance. Goals, sublime touches, perfect passes and enough class to stick around for another season. Pure quality.
Notable mentions: Michael Thwaite, Mat Ryan, Mark Bridge, Tom Rogic, Luke Bratten, Trent Sainsbury.
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Philip Micallef is a football writer with almost 40 years of experience. He has worked for News Limited and now SBS. He is a long-time follower of AC Milan.
A journalist with decades of experience on TV and radio, Tony is an expert on all things Italian - including football.