IT’S tight at the top of the A-League betting.
Australia’s premier soccer competition has never been an easy one to predict and punters are clearly having a tough time of it this year as well.
With the season still a couple of months away, online bookmaker WilliamHill.com.au has released markets on the 2016-17 title and we’ll give you the hot tip – they’re not sure.
There are five teams from first to fifth on the line of betting with odds within $1.50.
That’s right, the Perth Glory are the $5.50 favourites, with Adelaide United and Melbourne City second on the line of betting at $6. Melbourne Victory is 50 cents further back at $6.50 and the Western Sydney Wanderers are $7.
In fact, Sydney FC and Brisbane Roar are equal on the sixth line of betting at $8.
You can just about forget about the Wellington Phoenix ($13) and Newcastle Jets ($34) and the bookie thinks you should probably stay away from the Central Coast Mariners, unless of course you like giving them money.
The Glory were looking rock solid after the signing of Socceroo and former English Premier League man Chris Herd, but he dramatically back-flipped on his deal last week and decided to stay in England.
That pain has been soothed, though, by the return of Rostyn Griffiths after a stint with Dutch club Roda FC.
Griffiths is a reliable defensive midfielder who will add stature to the Glory’s ability to repel opponents.
He will join childhood teammates Shane Lowry and Rhys Williams – also returning from England – in a group that should mesh easily.
Reigning premier and champion Adelaide United, which is the $6 equal second favourite, is looking shaky at best, after losing to semi-professional club Redlands United in one of the biggest boil overs in Australian soccer history.
A late goal by Redlands, caused by a massive blunder by United goal keeper Eugene Galekovic, forced the match into over time and then David felled Goliath, thanks to a strike by Redlands with eight minutes to go in the match.
The biggest hurt for the Reds is the departure of brutal striker Bruce Djite, who always straightened them up. But don’t underestimate them. The signings of former youth team member Ryan Kitto and oft-injured, but talented former Melbourne City man Marc Marino has added to a side featuring the likes of Isaias, Marcello Carrusca and Sergio Cirio.
The big question for equal second-favourite Melbourne City is will legendary Socceroo Tim Cahill land in Melbourne?
All signs point to the former Everton great pulling on the boots in the A-League this season, but there has been no real movement from the club or the FFA on whether or not they will stump up the cash to bring him down under.
Coach John van’t Schip has given very little away, apart from saying “who wouldn’t want Tim Cahil” when asked if the club was chasing him.
“We all know there’s been speculation and so long as it’s speculation we don’t give any comment,” van’t Schip said.
“We all know Timmy’s qualities on and off the pitch and he’s a great football player.
“Who wouldn’t like to have him in his team?
“He still proves himself on the field time and time again.
“Look at what he’s still achieving at the moment — and still with the Socceroos — it speaks for itself.”
“But there’s no more than I can say on that.”
Stay tuned for that. And we reckon those odds might wind in a fair bit tighter if they do.
On the other side of town, the Melbourne Victory, at $6.50, are just chugging along, having re-signed Socceroo James Troisi only just last week.
“When I look back at my career, I think being here at this club is the most I’ve enjoyed my football,” Troisi said.
“There were talks with other clubs but the decision (to join Victory) was an easy one.
“This decision is purely about football.”
Troisi was once the club’s top scorer, before stints in Belgium, China and Saudi Arabia.
He is expected to form a devastating combination with A-League legend Besart Berisha.
Berisha only needs 10 goals to surpass fellow Victory luminary Archie Thompson as the A-League’s all time greatest goal scorer.
Considering he banged out a lazy 18 goals last season, he might achieve the record well before the season is out.
Their title chances have been greatly enhanced by a stunning performance during the recent International Champions Cup.
Kevin Muscat’s men put up a fantastic performance against Italian giant Juventus – even if they were missing severals stars. There were still the likes of world class guns Paulo Dybala and Miralem Pjanic in their line up, but the Victory managed to first take it to extra time with a 1-1 result and then claim the match on penalties.
But they were not done yet. They then beat Champions League finalists Atletico Madrid, 1-0, in Geelong.
A couple of decent scalps to set up a big season.
A-League title market
Perth Glory ($5.50)
Adelaide United ($6)
Melbourne City ($6)
Melbourne Victory ($6.50)
Western Sydney Wanderers ($7)
Sydney FC ($8)
Brisbane Roar ($8)
Wellington Phoenix ($13)
Newcastle Jets ($34)
Central Coast Mariners ($61)
Odds provided by WilliamHill.com.au