Western United season 2020/21 preview

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Western United started last year as an ambitious new club desperate to be competitive in their first season.

A solid start to A-League life saw them qualify and compete in the finals and they will be looking to build on that start and begin to compete for top spot.

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Last season…
A-League: 5th
Finals: Semi-finals

They’ll win the league because…

Simply put, they’re on the way up. We can expect plenty of improvement from the new squad going into their second year as relationships get stronger and more trust is established. After only being one game away from a Grand Final appearance last year, any progress from last year will have them right in the hunt again. Their front three in Besart Berisha, Alessandro Dimanti and Max Burgess have established themselves as a dominant attacking line up, and they look the key to United’s premiership hopes.

They’ll be cellar dwellers because…

Rome wasn’t built in a day. Even after a strong debut season, this club is still finding its identity as part of the A-League and a poor start to the season could expose a lack of camaraderie amongst a new squad. A drop back down the ladder could only be a season or two away unless manager Mark Rudan can get United to take the next step in building trust and relationships between team-mates and show the league last season was no flash in the pan.

Talk around the water cooler… look smart in front of your colleagues with this valuable piece of information

Although it was their first season in the league last year, Western United actually didn’t have the poorest average home game attendance, as could be expected. That unfortunate mantle sits with the Central Coast Mariners, with just an average attendance of 4,496 at their home games. What makes this more interesting is that United aren’t based near their home ground in Geelong, instead training 46 kilometres away in Tarneit, highlighting their already strong supporter base.

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The off season brought…

A high-prized signing in experienced midfielder Victor Sanchez. Sanchez only recently completed hotel quarantine in Melbourne so it’s unknown if he’ll be fully fit for United’s first game on the 28th of December. What is known, however, is that Sanchez will bring a wealth of experience, as the 33-year-old has played over 300 games in La Liga. He was drawn to United after being impressed by Mark Rudan who expects Sanchez to play an important role this season.

Key player…

How can you go past striker Besart Berisha as United’s most important player? Berisha kicked twice the amount of goals of United’s next highest scorer, slamming 18 goals in the back of the net last season. The 35-year-old veteran is showing no signs of age as he continues deeper into his career and he will likely once again be the focal point of the United attack for season 2020/21. Berisha is the key player of this squad, and while it is hoped United will get plenty of time into young strikers Lachlan Wales and Ayom Majok this season, there is no doubt their attacking line will not fire without an up-and-about Berisha.

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One to watch…

Western United were keen to get Lachie Wales on board during the off-season and it’s no wonder why. The energetic striker signed a two year deal in October and has also made four appearances for the Olyroos. Rudan will be excited with Wales’ speed and energy on the pitch but will look to increase his ability to convert, with only three goals in 64 A-League games from Wales. If he’s able to improve this area of his game, opposition defenders will have nightmares about United’s final third.

Ins: Victor Sanchez, Lachlan Wales, Ayom Majok

Outs: Valentino Yuel, Thierry Iradukanda, Oskar Dillon, Patrick Antelmi, Jonathon Aspropotamitis, James Delianov,

Full Squad List:
Goalkeepers: Filip Kurto, Ryan Scott
Defenders: Aaron Calver, Adam Durante, Brendan Hamill, Tomoki Imai, Dylan Pieridas, Josh Risdon, Tomislav Uskok, Ivan Vujica
Midfielders: Victor Sanchez, Max Burgess, Joshua Cavallo, Alessandro Dimanti, Luke Duzel, Steven Lustica, Sebastian Pasquali, Jerry Skotadis, Lachlan Wales
Strikers: Besart Berisha, Nicolas Milanovic, Connor Pain, Apostalos Stamatelopoulos, Ayom Majok

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Seb Mottram
Sports nut studying Media comms and Marketing at Monash.