DON'T YOU FORGET ABOUT ME

Seven months.....SEVEN BLOODY MONTHS FFS!!!

Ah Simple Minds, a classic band from a classic era. With the powers that be announcing that the Australian domestic season will not commence until the second week of October, the average A-League fan now has plenty of time to delve into the depths of their music collection to enjoy the likes of the aforementioned group.

The headline for this particular piece doesn’t just refer to a fantastic song; it also serves as an apt motto for the A-League presently. The Grand Final took place on 13 March, and while Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory have been involved in the Asian Champions League, it still leaves a whopping seven month break in domestic action.

So what can A-League fans do to fill their time in between? 

The Socceroos have announced two friendlies where they will take on New Zealand (June 5) and Serbia (June 7) in Adelaide and Melbourne respectively. With the games taking place so close together, we are sure to see a large number of players given a chance to impress. Football Federation Australia (FFA) chief executive Ben Buckley alluded to a number of ‘next generation’ players being given a go with coach Holger Osieck reluctant to ask the European based stars to commit to two games having just finished long club seasons.

“This is a great opportunity to see the future of the Socceroos as they prepare for the next World Cup qualification process, which kicks off in September," he said.

“I think we're going to see the best of the golden generation of players as well as the wonderful next generation of Socceroos. We saw the emergence of new talent in Doha and we saw the emergence of new talent when we played (the friendly) in Germany.”

Following the two games in June, the Socceroos kick off their World Cup 2014 qualifying campaign in September.

Also on the international stage, the Matildas are in Women’s World cup action in Germany with their first game against Brazil on 29 June.

As usual there is sure to be an influx of big clubs touring Oz as part of their own preseason. Last July the Sydney Festival of Football featured Sydney FC, Blackburn Rovers and AEK Athens, while Everton played three games against Sydney FC, Melbourne Heart and Brisbane Roar.

Also last year, Perth Glory supporters were treated to a visit from both Wolverhampton Wanderers and Fulham, and the club has been linked with a similar friendly against Celtic, though nothing has been confirmed at this stage.

There is plenty of local action as the State League seasons run opposite to that of the A-League (roughly between April and September). The semi-pro clubs in these leagues serve as feeders for the professional outfits and have produced plenty of quality in recent years.

The important thing for the FFA right now is to keep supporters interested, and having big Premier League clubs in the country will certainly help with that. This offseason is probably the most critical the league has had since it returned in its current format, especially as it is coming off the back of such the wonderful spectacle that was the Grand Final.

The move to push back the start of the season was very much necessary to avoid clashing with the finals of both the AFL and NRL but it does leave plenty of time to be filled.

We’re currently two months into the break, and while some clubs are beginning their preseason, the rest of us are patiently waiting for the A-League to return “Alive and Kicking”.

For more from Neil, visit Back Page Football and follow him on Twitter @neilsherwin.

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