Western United will be extremely disappointed with their 2020-21 season.
Almost all their wins have been unconvincing and if it weren’t for last-gasp heroics in victories against Melbourne Victory and Perth Glory, United’s situation would look even more dire.
An aging squad built to win trophies in the immediate-term has, after a promising first season, been underwhelming this campaign.
Squad depth was needed in the transfer market, but coach Mark Rudan opted to add letters over numbers, with major signing Iker Guarrotxena showing some sparks but proving largely disappointing.
Current position: 10th
Manager: Mark Rudan
Captain: Alessandro Diamanti
Despite not hitting the back of the net this season until a recent penalty against Melbourne Victory, Diamanti remains a key cog in United’s attack.
The evergreen Italian tops the league in assists, having registered eight so far – an achievement made even more remarkable considering Western United has scored the second-fewest goals league-wide with 29 at time of writing.
Defying his age, he still has that spark which United look lost without.
However, there’s one simple stat that sums up the importance of Diamanti to the team.
Diamanti has missed two games this season. Western United lost both of them.
Besart Berisha: the man who haunts the dreams of hundreds of A-League defenders throughout the country.
He might be slowing down, but he remains a nightmare for opponents and fourth officials alike.
And look at this! Berisha is both United’s leading scorer and only trails superstar Alessandro Diamanti when it comes to assists.
We’ve witnessed continued output from players older than the Kosovan (see above) so, as long as he keeps up his relatively injury-free record, Berisha still has a good number of A-League goals left in him yet.
Sanchez certainly wasn’t brought in to lower the team’s age average, but the former La Liga stalwart has proved a savvy signing by Mark Rudan.
Almost every passage of United play goes through the Spaniard, but, perhaps more importantly, Sanchez is the man Rudan counts on to break up opposition attacks.
He’s had more than triple the combined clearances of his midfield counterparts Steven Lustica and Luke Duzel and is a tough prospect to battle in the centre of the pitch for opponents.
Sanchez has also ventured forward to score some important goals, netting in the one-goal wins against Perth Glory and, famously, Melbourne Victory.
What they need to do
Find a fresh finisher
While Besart Berisha has remained a reliable poacher and Dylan Pierias has shone out wide, United need another dependable goalscorer. The lack of depth at centre forward has hindered Rudan’s ability to rest and rotate Berisha out of the side, and the need for attacking potency is evident when the A-League’s all-time leading scorer is not on the pitch.
Image supplied – Getty