A-League mid-season report cards: Phoenix get a D

Phoenix player Vince Lia goes over the top of Western Sydney's Jack Clisby. Photosport
Phoenix player Vince Lia goes over the top of Western Sydney's Jack Clisby. Photosport

AAP hands out the mid-season report cards for the A-League's 10 teams and predicts where teams will finish the season.

ADELAIDE UNITED
Grade: F

Title defences are never easy, especially not when the list of departures includes key figures like Bruce Djite, Craig Goodwin, Stefan Mauk and Bruce Kamau. But Guillermo Amor's side are a shadow of their championship-winning selves and without major renovation in January, are headed for the wooden spoon.
Position: 10th
Predicted finish: 9th

BRISBANE ROAR
Grade: B+

John Aloisi says he's got a team of winners; that may be true given the squad's mental resilience following last season's semi-final heartbreak and more off- season turbulence. Though they've largely flown under the radar until now, the well-balanced Roar should be in it right until the end - if Jamie Maclaren sticks around.


Position: 3rd
Predicted finish: 4th

CENTRAL COAST MARINERS
Grade: C-

Paul Okon has reinstalled structure into last season's laughing stock. With the former Socceroo at the helm and young talent like Connor Pain on board, there's new-found hope within the league's least experienced and resourced team. That said, the defence is still the leakiest and they're unlikely to pick up many more points.
Position: 9th
Predicted finish: 10th

MELBOURNE CITY
Grade: B+

Melbourne City are in thick fog with the departure of John van 't Schip, who leaves with an FFA Cup in the cabinet. Interim boss Michael Valkanis inherits a team sitting in fourth but on a winless run of five games. He could do worse than shore up his defence; without a clean sheet since the opening day.
Position: 4th
Predicted finish: 3rd

MELBOURNE VICTORY
Grade: A-

After early bumps, Melbourne Victory appear to be setting sail for a top-two finish with a run of form unmatched in the league over the last two months. Marco Rojas can't stop scoring or assisting, Besart Berisha has the all-time goals record and Carl Valeri is marshalling a midfield capable of squeezing out results.
Position: 2nd
Predicted finish: 2nd

NEWCASTLE JETS
Grade: B-

There's a sense of renewed confidence and grit in Mark Jones' side that could take them to a first finals berth in seven seasons. Yet there's always an if, and evidence shows the Jets lack depth when injuries hit. The fitness of livewire winger Andrew Nabbout will be paramount, as will some quality January reinforcements.
Position: 7th
Predicted finish: 7th

PERTH GLORY
Grade: C-

Have the wheels fallen off Kenny Lowe's side or is the tide turning? Pre-season expectations haven't been realised with just three wins in 13 matches but the club is fifth and has enough up front to challenge any side. Steadiness is needed at the back; Dino Djulbic's suspension hasn't helped and the Rhys Williams saga needs to end one way or another.
Position: 5th
Predicted finish: 5th

SYDNEY FC
Grade: A

Could hardly have done more right, as a record-breaking unbeaten start suggests. Water-tight at the back and scoring goals for fun, the Sky Blues are unrecognisable from last season. It's hard to view Graham Arnold's men as anything but champions-in-waiting, though Matt Jurman's exit will test defensive depth.
Position: 1st
Predicted finish: Premiers

WELLINGTON PHOENIX
Grade: D

Ernie Merrick's decision to resign his post looks a little premature in hindsight but there's no doubting the Nix had a shocker of a start to the season. Now under dual bosses, the Phoenix are four unbeaten and have a foundation to rebuild. A few extra faces in the crowd could help; despite their woe, Wellington are just two points behind fifth place.
Position: 8th
Predicted finish: 8th

WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS
Grade: C-

Last season's grand finalists are hanging onto the top six by the skin of their teeth after scraping out eight draw from 13 games, all betraying chronic problems at the front and back despite their attractive midfield. The January transfer window is vital and a reliable striker crucial if they're to play past round 27 and compete in the Asian Champions League.
Position: 6th
Predicted finish: 6th

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