Western United 2022/2023 Season Preview

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One of the A-League Men’s newest teams took out the championship last season, and with a great deal of strength added to their squad over the break, could they make it two in a row?

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Last season…

A-League Men: 3rd

Finals: Champions

They’ll win the league because…

The champions of 2021/2022 began last season with consecutive wins in their first five games of the campaign. A superb start to their third year in the Australian top-flight which eventually led them on to winning their first ever championship.

Head coach John Aloisi has added greater attacking members to the squad over the break in order to ensure the side is contending for silverware again this season. James Troisi as well as young talents from the sides Under 21’s Nicolas Milanovic and Jake Najdovski have all joined the squad to provide greater improvements to their already impressive attacking ability.

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Even more important for the reigning champions is the majority of its key players have remained at the club following last season’s success. Ben Garuccio, Aleksandar Prijovic and Alessandro Diamanti are just a few of the important squad members who have stayed to chase the premiership title again this season.

Diamanti and Risdon’s recent commitment to remain as captain and co-captain respectively, highlights their loyalty and motivation to bring the club even greater success in the season to come. Hopefully the dedication shown by the squad’s leaders sets the rest of the team up to head into the season with a confident and strong winning mentality.

They’ll be cellar dwellers because…

While it might seem as though Western United had a successful season last time around, it may not be the case again this year.

In their last fixture of the Australia Cup, the side were without their top goal scorer Aleksandar Prijovic and lost to NPL New South Wales side Sydney United 58 4-3 on penalties. The squad will be aiming to avoid relying on him alone for the ball to consistently be reaching the back of the net in the new season.

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Signings over the break also indicate Aloisi is determined to play a more offensive style of football this year, however, young inexperienced players such as Milanovic and Najdovski may not be able to keep up with former Serie A player James Troisi. It will be interesting to see whether the high risk of younger signings meets a high reward.

Most importantly, no team has ever won back-to-back championships in the A-League Men, a serious challenge for Aloisi to overcome given last season was his first ever trophy in a managerial position.

On top of this, despite beating second-place rivals Melbourne Victory in the third week of finals football, the side struggled to beat them in the previous three fixtures suffering two losses and a draw. Similar results also occurred against a sixth-place Wellington Phoenix with two losses in the regular season.

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

Last season was Aloisi’s first season as manager of Western United, the club’s first ever A-League Men championship win and Aloisi’s first trophy as a manager.

The off-season brought

Strength.

Aloisi has looked to add some extra muscle and vigour to the side in the defensive and midfield areas of the pitch with the addition of ALM veteran Troisi to the squad’s attacking midfield. New young guns from Western United’s under 21’s have also risen to join him with the likes of 20-year-old Milanovic and 17-year-old Najdovski both taking up positions in the middle of the park. Milanovic recently scored himself a hat-trick and an assist in a 5-1 win against Oakleigh Cannons in a pre-season friendly.

The side has also welcomed 33-year-old defensive midfielder Tongo Doumbia as well as 6’2 former Adelaide United defender Jacob Tratt to provide support in the right-back position. These five signings look to deliver a greater attacking style of play for the reigning champions as defensive midfielder Rhene Krhin departs the club alongside Jerry Skotadis and Ivan Vujica, who both head to Macarthur FC on a free transfer.

Key player

Aleksandar Prijovic.

The former Serbian international netted 13 goals for the club last season making him the side’s top scorer and third highest in the league. This included one in the 30th minute of the grand final to give Western United a 2-0 win against rivals Melbourne City. For his performance, he also received the Joe Marston medal, marking him the player of the match. The 32-year-old is the oldest of the side’s forwards and will be looking to maintain his superiority in the forward half of the pitch throughout the new season.

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One to watch

Lachlan Wales.

The 24-year-old finished last season with seven assists, the most of any player at the club. He then made the EA Sports FIFA 22 team of the week for his hat-trick against Perth Glory in round 24, playing his part in a 6-0 drubbing of the Western Australian side.

It’s no wonder Aloisi started the young Australian for 29 out of 30 of last season’s matches, giving the young talent the greatest number of minutes on the pitch he’s had in an ALM season.

The young Australian clearly made his mark on the squad during throughout last year so it will be interesting to see if he can score more goals as well as provide more assists during the 2022/2023 campaign.

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Ins: James Troisi (Western Sydney Wanderers), Jacob Tratt (Adelaide United), Nicolas Milanovic (Western United U21), Tongo Hamed Doumbia, Jake Najdovski (Western United U21)

Outs: Ivan Vujica, Jerry Skotadis, Rene Khrin

Full squad list

Goalkeepers: Jamie Young, Ryan Scott

Defenders: Ajak Deu, Benjamin Garuccio, Benjamin Collins, Dalibor Markovic, Dylan Pierias, Jacob Tratt, Jalil Regague, Joshua Risdon, Léo Lacroix, Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Tomoki Imai

Midfielders: Adisu Bayew, Alessandro Diamanti, Jake Najdovski, James Troisi, Jordan Lauton, Luke Duzel, Neil Kilkenny, Noah Holmes, Rhys Bozinovski, Sebastian Pasquali, Steven Luštica, Tongo Hamed Doumbia

Forwards: Aleksandar Prijovic, Christian Theoharous, Connor Pain, Dylan Wenzel-Halls, Lachlan Andrew Wales, Nicolas Milanovic, Noah Vinko Botić

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Alex Govan
Alex Govanhttps://alexgovan1.wixsite.com/alexgovan
Aspiring sports journalist and passionate follower of the A-League and Premier League. Young, motivated and keen to be a part of TFS team.

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