After two disappointing seasons in the NSL, Parramatta Power is relying on a big season on the park to turn the club?s poor attendances around.
With a new theme, ?It?s a whole new ball game?, the Power is confident that the expertise of coach David Mitchell can lift the team into the finals for the first time.
?We hope to play some good football and can be one of the top teams in the league this year,? said Mitchell.
?Hopefully we can be in the top four so we can have a real good push for the grand final.?
One of the flops of last season, along with the Northern Spirit, the Power are banking on a new-look squad to help them achieve their lofty ambitions ? following rumours that the club was plagued by internal feuding last season.
Out go the likes of Milan Blagojevic, Joel Griffiths, Mark Byrnes (Vicenza ? Italy on loan), Brendon & Michael Santalab, Walter Ardone, David Lee, Joe Miller and Mark Byrnes who is on loan to Serie B outfit Vicenza.
The 2001/02 squad includes left wing-back Matthew Langdon, pint-sized striker John Buonavoglia (Newcastle United) and midfield general Lubo Lapsansky.
Teenager Bradley Groves returns to Australia after serving his apprenticeship with Leeds United while 27-year-old midfielder Wayne O?Sullivan joins from Plymouth Argyle.
The Power?s only concern is their lack of firepower up front. New boy Buonavoglia will be expected to score most of the team?s goals while youngsters Luke Roodenburg, who burst into the first grade squad last season, and Joey Brett Holman will fight it out for the remaining spot.
Mitchell admitted that this area was of concern and added that he is currently in negotiations to sign a Brazilian striker who would link up with the Power in the coming weeks.
His sentiment were echoed by 462 game NSL veteran Alex Tobin who told The World Game, ?I know that Mitch and the other coaches (assistants Stuart Munro and Lawrie McKinna) are still looking for another striker to add to our forward line but other than that I think we?re pretty happy with the rest of the depth.?
Tobin and his defensive team of Nick Orlic, Peter Bennett, David Barrett and ?keeper Les Pogliacomi, returning from shoulder surgery, will ensure a stable foundation.
In midfield Lapsansky is the key while speedsters Langdon and last season?s Power Player of the Year Ahmad Elrich will provide the penetration down the flanks.
Power captain Tobin added, ?I think it?s going to be a successful year if pre-season is any indication. It?s been very positive and the games we?ve played have all been very encouraging and the additions we?ve made to the squad have bolstered the team.
When probed on who he felt were the main contenders for the title the former Socceroos skipper declared, ?I would say Perth Glory will be strong and will be there or thereabouts but other than them it?s a little difficult to determine due to the large number of transfers between clubs.
?So it may take a while before the challengers step forward but there may be some surprises this season.?
Much is expected of the big spending Sydneysiders this season and nothing short of a top six spot will do.
Ones to watch: Matthew Thompson has already showcased his potential at the elite level and is expected to take the next step and become a first team regular while 17-year-old striker Brett Holman is sure to add to his lone NSL appearance.
Ins: Matthew Langdon (Northern Spirit), John Buonavoglia (Newcastle United), Wayne O?Sullivan (Plymouth Argyle ? England), Lubo Lapsansky (Melbourne Knights), Bradley Groves (Leeds United ? England), Steven Fitzsimmons (Gold Coast), Andrew Carman (SASI).
Outs: Milan Blagojevic & Joel Griffiths (Newcastle United), Mark Byrnes (Vicenza on loan), Brendon & Michael Santalab (Sydney United), Hamilton Thorp (Singapore), Walter Ardone, Steve Berry, Andrew Clark, Andrew Crews, Daniel Kukucka, David Lee, Joe Miller, Lachlan Campbell, Joe Vrkic (all released).