Where are they now: Macarthur FC’s inaugural starting XI

-

For most clubs, a deep-dive into the current whereabouts of their side from only 16 months ago would be repetitive and uninteresting. Not for Macarthur.

“There was a much greater turnover than we would have liked,” said head coach Ante Milicic in his most recent post-match press conference.

Despite entering the sixth month of this A-League Men’s season, Milicic was still speaking in reference to the 14 first-team players that left the club in the off-season.

Embed from Getty Images

From the sudden and curious to the exciting and the humorous, here is the starting 11 from Macarthur’s inaugural ALM fixture, and where they find themselves now.

Adam Federici

The former Reading and Bournemouth keeper was a perfect early signing for the newest club in Sydney. An ‘I know him’ with over 30 Premier League appearances and 16 Socceroos caps. Experience and professionalism in the last line of defence for Milicic’s new project. He made the perfect start, keeping Western Sydney Wanderers at bay in a 1-0 victory.

He would finish the season with a respectable seven clean sheets and a save percentage of 72.7%, the fourth-highest in the division.

Federici announced his shock retirement via the club’s website just days after accepting the captaincy at Macarthur. His reason for doing so described exclusively and vaguely as being ‘due to injury’. He has since praised his time at Macarthur for the opportunity it gave him to rediscover the feeling of being a first-choice goalkeeper. He can be followed enjoying his quiet retirement on Instagram.

James Meredith

Meredith is one of only five players in this line-up to still be playing football at Macarthur. His role, however, has changed. Last season, Meredith started 17 games for the Bulls and even bagged two goals. This season, with just five games to play, the defender has started only eight times.

Milicic’s large favouring of a back three has somewhat placed the former Bradford City man out of favour in Campbelltown. With the signing of Adrian Mariappa and a plethora of more attacking talent capable of locking down the wing-back positions, Meredith has been used largely as a late sub.

Mark Milligan

Milligan stood out among the squad list for Macarthur’s first season in the ALM. A household name of Australian football given his whopping 80 caps for the national side and a domestic career stretching back to his 2005 debut with Sydney FC.

He wore the captain’s armband in each of his 27 starts during his time at Campbelltown Stadium, a mainstay as well as a metronome in Macarthur’s midfield three.

Milligan announced his retirement at the end of last season and was publicly handed an assistant coaching role with the club. However, just days before the departure of Federici, Milligan quit, despite the rumours suggesting that he was destined to take over from Milicic in the seasons to come. He even released an instructional video on Sydney FC’s club website on how to defeat the Bulls with a derby fixture between the two on the horizon.

Since then he has signed on as a pundit for Channel 10 and Paramount+ coverage and was appointed head coach of St. George FC in NSW League One. They currently sit in 11th with four points from five games.

Aleksandar Jovanović

Jovanovic is one half of the central defensive pair that has stuck with the Bulls since their opening fixture. Despite his selection for Macarthur’s first line-up, Jovanović would finish the campaign with only 13 appearances to his name.

This season, he has surpassed that with 16, 12 of those being starts. His +/- statistic for this season, calculated by taking the goals scored with him on the pitch and subtracting the goals conceded, totals 0. At a glance this sounds confusing and unremarkable, but it begins to shine when compared to the other central defenders in the squad.

Mariappa scores -2 in this area; Aleksandar Šušnjar and Tomislav Uskok score -3. This statistic alone suggests his presence in Milicic’s back three adds a solidity to the team greater than what can be said of his other defensive personnel.

Jovanović has now strung together six consecutive starts in the ALM.

Aleksandar Šušnjar

The other half of Milicic’s loyal defensive duo, whilst unfavourably spotlighted by the +/- statistic, has featured in roughly 500 more minutes of football than Jovanović this season. Starting in 16 of his 17 appearances for the Bulls, Šušnjar has been on the pitch for 76.7% of Macarthur’s ALM campaign. This is more than any other defender in Milicic’s squad.

He has, however, endured a mixed season. He has the most yellow cards at the club this campaign (seven), and has scored two own goals. The second, which came in a 2-2 draw with the Sky Blues, came half an hour after he stylishly volleyed into the correct net.

Ivan Franjic

Franjic was another inaugural squad member for the Bulls who boasted Socceroos experience. With 20 caps for his country and over 220 ALM appearances made the then 33 year-old an invaluable source of football understanding in a brand new squad.

Since his mutual release from the club he has played in the State League One in Victoria with George Cross FC, before reuniting with his younger brother, Joseph at Heidelberg United in the National Premier League Victoria.

Denis Genreau

This Parisian-born Australian has made perhaps the most exciting movements of all since his departure from the Bulls. A fee in the region of $780,000 lured him to Ligue 2 side Toulouse in August 2021 after impressing in his 23 games for Macarthur.

Embed from Getty Images

The 22 year-old midfielder has played 29 games for Touolouse this season as they charge towards both the title and the promotion to Ligue 1 that it ensures. They are currently eight points clear of second placed, Ajaccio.

His debut for the Socceroos came just prior to his move abroad in a World Cup qualifier against Chinese Taipei. Meaning he is at least for the time being, an Australian footballer. And one to keep a very keen eye on.

Loïc Puyo

Puyo is another French-born player who secured a move to France following the close of last season, although in a very different context. The experienced midfielder had played the vast majority of his football career throughout the upper tiers of domestic football in his home country. After he was released by Macarthur having played a noteworthy 21 times, third-tier club Chambly signed him until the end of this season.

The 33-year-old has played eight games for the club fighting to avoid relegation to the fourth-tier of French football.

Lachlan Rose

Across a season of watching Macarthur play there is a name you will hear chanted more often than any other. The energetic dash of a young terrier-gone-footballer relentlessly hits  the right notes for the Campbelltown crowd. “Go Lachie,” is punched out with a hope and excitement that sharply cuts through any level of nippy, Saturday night chill. Indistinguishable from a coffee-clutching dad cheering on his son in the cold of the morning prior.

The younger of two Roses at Macarthur featured 25 times last season, coming off the bench on 15 occasions. A credit to his energy and contagious lift more than anything else.

Embed from Getty Images

Rose has grown as a footballer in his second season. Thrown into the deep end as a lone number nine just weeks before being deployed on the wing, then at wing-back. Rose has played 21 games so far, coming off the bench only five times. Where he is now is precisely where Macarthur fans hope he will remain, dashing around under the lights in Sydney’s South-West.

Moudi Najjar

Another who has spent a large amount of their Macarthur career as a reliable covering player is Najjar. A player seemingly well-fitted for Milicic’s wing-back system has been in and out of the Bulls’ lineup this season. His 15 appearances just surpassing last season’s 14, with one more start.

In a season where injuries and COVID have plagued Macarthur, the solidity of Najjar has been a blessing for Milicic. Remember that +/- statistic? Najjar sits handsomely at the top of the entire squad with +4. A quiet achiever keeping the engine running in Macarthur’s charge for the finals.

Matt Derbyshire

In a lengthy list of departures, this one must have hurt the most.

A player cannot be more crucial to their club than Derbyshire was to the Bulls in their first season. With 14 goals and five assists in 27 matches; top of the class in the two biggest subjects of all. The Englishman accounted for 42% of Macarthur’s goals as they finished sixth and qualified for finals football. Alas, Macarthur have performed more than admirably in his absence.

Embed from Getty Images

Derbyshire departed for AEK Larnaca in Cyprus prior to the start of the 2021/22 ALM season, despite the contract that initially had him penned in for two years. The 36-year-old has scored five goals across 21 league games so far this season for his new club.

Statistics sourced from Ultimate A-League and FBref

Feature Image Credit: Macarthur FC

Enjoy this content? Support The Football Sack

Due in part to COVID and lack of current sponsorship we are at risk of not having the funds to continue running The Football Sack. If you enjoy our content and support our work in training talented young writers, please support us with a donation. If every reader contributed just $3, our funding would be covered for over ten years.

DONATE

Learn with us

Tom Macraehttp://medium.com/@macraetomr23
Communications undergrad at Western Sydney University covering Macarthur FC in the 2021/22 season. Newcastle United. Jack Grealish fangirl.

Latest Articles

Love your football?
Subscribe to our weekly football wrap. During the season we'll send you all the week's football action straight to your inbox.
* indicates required