Wondering if your club will continue its dominance or emerge from its shadows to achieve great things in the A-League? Perhaps you might want to find out if your favourite players will get that big money move to Europe?

The Football Sack’s Ngau Kai Yan simulated Football Manager for five years, and takes you through some of the key highlights. Warning: don’t take this seriously.

All transfer figures are in British Pounds.

League Summary

The toilet seat has changed hands every year since and Adelaide United were unlucky to have missed out on two other Grand Finals. Central Coast Mariners shocked Australia by being the 2020/21 Premiers, while Wellington Phoenix achieved that feat in back to back seasons the subsequent years – along with the treble in 2021/22. (In case you were wondering, no, I did not remove Melbourne Victory from the database…)

FFA Cup

Melbourne Victory and the Jets were hard done by the competition, having lost two finals each.

AFC Champions League

Suffice it to say, Football Manager has envisaged a downfall for Australian teams in the AFC Champions League, with no Australian side progressing to the Quarter Finals in the next five seasons. Melbourne City and Sydney FC were the only Australian sides to make it out of the Group Stage (both in 2020), but were defeated by Chinese opponents.

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A-League clubs and players

Adelaide United

Adelaide have gradually improved themselves in the Premiership over the years, even winning the Grand Finals in 2023, and finishing as GF runners up in 2021 and 2024. After Marco Kurz was sacked in 2019, they have went through five managers in these five seasons. Warren Joyce, Carlos Salvachúa (Victory’s current assistant manager) and Mark Rudan are amongst them.

Notable Transfers

Mirko Boland > Secured a move to Bundesliga 2 side Karlsruher SC in 2022
Ben Halloran > Moved to Kawashima Antlers in 2020 for 1.2 million, hopped over to Sanfrecce Hiroshima in 2023 for 100k
Papa Baba Diawara > In 2021, Baba was bought by Portuguese second division side Nacional de Madeira for 55k
Ken Ilso > Ilso went to Vendsyssel FF in the Danish Superliga in 2020 for 37.5k

 Brisbane Roar

Another team who have categorically improved, Brisbane Roar slowly proved themselves to be mid table contenders, and enjoyed a magical 2024, after being crowned Premiers and Champions. Chris Grossman emerged from the assistant manager of the Roar’s Youth setup to steer them to success after taking over in 2021, after Scott Miller (current Langwarrin manager) had an early go at the job in 2019.

Notable Transfers

Jamie Young > For a fee of 16k, he left for MK Dons in 2019
Eric Bautheac > Transferred to French League 2 side Niort in 2023 on a free
Alex Lopez > Returned to Spain to play for Albacete in 2021 for 39.5k
Matt McKay > Was named in the club’s best XI every year until his retirement in 2021, and is now an assistant manager looking for a job

Central Coast Mariners

Drop everything, Central Coast Mariners won the premiers in 2023. It might disappoint you to hear that Alen Stajcic was not the man who lead the Mariners to glory, as he wasn’t included into the latest Football Manager database I could find. Instead, former Barcelona left back Sergi Barjuan (current manager of Chinese Second Division Zhejiang Greentown) single-handedly turned the Mariners’ fate around when he came on board in 2019, and has been at the reign ever since.

Notable Transfers

Sam Graham > Returned to Sheffield United and transferred to Preston in 2021 for 77k
Jem Karacan > Made a 155k move to Burton in 2021 and moved to Accrington the subsequent season for 25k
Stephen Mallon > Sealed a 23.5k move to Oxford United following the completion of his loan spell. Now playing at Aldershot after leaving Oxford on a free in 2023
Aiden O’Neill > Lasted only one season when he returned to Burnley, left for Tokyo Verdy in 2021 and has been a regular starter since.

Melbourne Victory

It’s good times for all A-League fans (except Melbourne Victory fans), the club finally lost its grip on Australian football in this alternate reality. The club won no silverware within this five years – nothing, nada. After a third place Premiership finish in 2019, Victory consistently finished in the bottom half of the table. After Kevin Muscat was sacked in 2020, Tony Popovic came onboard, but was not able to win any silverware in his 3 year stint. Since 2023, Scott Miller is the club’s latest manager.

Notable Transfers

Keisuke Honda > Stayed on with Victory until his retirement in 2023, was named in  Victory’s best XI every year he was at the club, now Vissel Kobe’s U23 Manager.
Terry Antonis > Moved to VVV Venlo for 300k in 2019, and then joined FC Eindhoven in the Dutch second division in 2023
Lawrence Thomas > Transferred to Blackburn Rovers in 2019, went on to play for Millwall (62K) and Bradford City
Carl Valeri > Returned to Hellas Verona on a free in 2020 (?!)
Ola Toivonen > Transferred to Rennes in 2019 for 220k
Kosta Barbarouses > signed by Sydney FC in 2019 and was sold to FC Metz for 675k in 2022
Thomas Deng > Became a Wellington Phoenix player in 2019 and was eventually signed by FC Tokyo in 2023 for 925k
Matthew Sutton > The ONLY Victory man that’s still at the club since season 2018/19

Melbourne City

Experienced early success, winning the Premiership in 2019. Somewhat fell into a slump after finishing last in 2021 after numerous management reshuffles. Warren Joyce called time on his game in 2019, and it was Marco Kurz that steered City to their successes, before Frans Adelaar (Former VV Stedeco [Dutch fourth tier] manager), Markus Babbel and the incumbent Alistair Edwards (Current Johor Darul Ta’zim F.C. technical director) took turns to helm City.

Notable Transfers

Lucas Portelli > left for Yokohama F Mariners in 2024 for 1.1 million
Curtis Good > Returned to European football in 2020, this time with Barnsley on a free
Scott Jamieson > IFK Goteborg came calling once again in 2020, and he left for 300k
Bart Schenkeveld > Moved to Tokyo Verdy in 2021 for 850k and then to Vissel Kobe for 525k in 2023
Ritchie De Last > Left Aston Villa in 2021 on a free to play for New England Revolution in the MLS
Luke Brattan > Played for Ipswich Town after leaving on a free in 2019, now at Blackburn Rovers after a 450k move in 2021
Riley McGree > Mcgree played for V-Varen Nagasaki, FC Tokyo, and Zulte Waregem in various short stints, commanding a total transfer fee of more than 1.6 million
Shayon Harrison > Was not given a chance at Tottenham after his return and joined Sunderland on a free. Made a 245k move to Charlton in 2021.
Jamie Maclaren > Left City to join Urawa Red Diamonds in 2020, for 1.2 million. Joined SC Heerenveen a year after for 1.4 million.

Newcastle Jets

Ernie Merrick’s retirement in 2019 didn’t help Newcastle Jets avoid being the bottom feeders of the league for the next few years. Kevin Muscat’s arrival in 2021 helped steer the ship, finishing in the top half of the ladder until this season, where they dropped to 9th again.

Notable Transfers 

Kwabena Appiah > Crossed over to Melbourne Victory in 2022, sold to New Zealand’s Team Wellington in 2023 for 215k.
Kaine Sheppard > Signed for Portsmouth in 2019 for 33k after a short stint with Charlton.
Roy O’Donovan > Cork City from the League of Ireland Premier Division secured his services in 2019 for 24.5k
Ronald Vargas > Made a 40k move to Doxo Dramas (Greek second tier) in 2020.
Jair > Acquired by JUV in Brazil’s second tier for 120k in 2021
Nikolai Topor-Stanley > Moved to Dibba Al-Fujairah in the Arabian Gulf League in 2021 on a free

Perth Glory

Apart from their Championship win in 2020, they’ve slipped to a mid-tier side as the seasons went by. Tony Popovic departed early in 2019, and Juan Ramon Lopez Caro (current Shenzhen FC manager) took over without such success. Now managed by Frans Adelaar.

Notable Transfers

Juande > Moved to Almeria in the Spanish second division in 2020, for 56k
Bruno Fornaroli > Left Glory in 2021 for Uruguayan first division side Boston River
Liam Reddy > Signed for Malaysia’s Johor Darul Ta’zim FC in 2019 for 16k
Alex Grant > Became a Blackburn Rovers player after leaving on a free in 2019, recently transferred to Vitesse in 2023 for 1.1 million.

Sydney FC

It’s been a roller coaster ride for Sydney FC, who have finished as high as 2nd and as low as 9th, amongst other mid placed finishes. They’ve only gone through Joe Haywood (current Central Coast U21 Manager) after sacking Steve Corica in 2023.

Notable Transfers
Alex Cisak > Have been playing for Sunderland since his 100k move in 2019
Josh Brillante > Moved to Palermo in 2019 for 180k
Milos Ninkovic > After his retirement in 2021, Ninkovic was hired as the Serbia U21 Manager
Paulo Retre > Played for Kawasaki Frontale, FC Tokyo, and Sanfrecce Hiroshima with transfer fees adding up to more than 1.7 million
Adam Le Fondre > Returned to England in 2021 to join Scunthorpe for 24k.

Wellington Phoenix

Phoenix experienced a turnaround of the highest order by Mark Rudan in his continued stay at the club since 2019. Two fourth place finishes and two first place finishes in the regular season was capped off by a brilliant 2022/23 season, when he lead the Nix to the treble. He was sacked halfway throughout the 2024 season, and Tony Popovic was unable to save the club from finishing last.

Notable Transfers

Tom Doyle > Left Wellington in 2019 for the shores of Japan, and played for Kawasaki Frontale, Yokohama F Mariners, and FC Tokyo, with transfer fees adding up to 800k
Justin Gulley > Moved to Liaoning Hongyun in 2023 after signing for Melbourne City in 2019
Steven Taylor > Returned back to England in 2019 to Birmingham for 40k
Mandi > Signed for Tenerife in 2023 for 95k, at the age of 34
Nathan Burns > Snapped up by FC Tokyo for 775k in 2019

Western Sydney Wanderers

Finished in commanding regular season spots early on, winning the championship in 2021, but have experienced some poor seasons of late. Cycled through Marco Kurz, John Anastasiadis (current Bentleigh Greens manager) and Juan Ramón López Caro but success mainly came at the hands of the current Wanderers manager Markus Babbel.

Notable Transfers

Brendan Hamill > Transferred to Geongnam FC in 2021 on a free, before returning to the A-League in 2022, this time to Newcastle Jets, for 60k
Alexander Baumjohann > Returned to his native country to play for Darmstadt 98 in 2019 for 450k
Roly Bonevacia > Signed for Team Wellington in 2023 for a fee of 275k
Bruce Kamau > Moved to Kawasaki Frontale in 2020 for 800k. A year later, he joined Nagoya Grampus for 300k. Now playing at Matsumoto Yamaga.
Kwame Yeboah > Transferred to Eintracht Braunschweig for 43k in 2019, then returned to Adelaide United for 27k just two years later. About to return to Braunschweig in the 2024 season.

Here’s a bonus one: the five Australians with the highest player value in 2024

 

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Journalism undergrad at Monash University, Kai is a multimedia journalist covering Melbourne Victory. Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund. Once "stole" Shinji Kagawa's plane ticket.