The Western United squad will look to carry their brilliant finals form into the new season, and retain the A-League Men title in 2022/23.
Third (13 wins, six draws, seven losses)
The 2021/22 season saw a fairytale ending for John Aloisi’s men. Some poor results to end the regular season saw them miss out on the premiership, finishing third behind Melbourne Victory, and the eventual first place getters Melbourne City.
However, this didn’t matter in the end, as Western United found their feet in finals. United started by defeating Wellington Phoenix 1-0 in an elimination final, before flying past Melbourne Victory, with a scoreline of 4-2 across two legs in the semi-final.
This led to a Grand Final against the reigning champions Melbourne City, where an early own-goal and an Aleksandar Prijović strike saw Western United clinch their first ever A-League Men title.
With plenty of A-League Men experience under his belt, James Troisi will add great depth to the Western United midfield in the 2022-23 season.
Troisi has played 153 A-League Men games with Melbourne Victory, Adelaide United, and the Western Sydney Wanderers. He isn’t a stranger to a goal either, converting 35 times across those games, however his output has dwindled in recent years.
Regardless of this, he has plenty of experience in Australia at club and international level, along with his time spent abroad. He’s played four seasons in Turkey’s Süper Lig, and two seasons in Italy for Juventus and Atalanta, with stints in Belgium, Saudi Arabia, and China.
Troisi has the ability to play an advanced role in attack and regardless of how often Aloisi chooses to start him, he will surely provide a lot for United this season as a squad rotation player, and especially when it comes to their youngsters.
Western United have done a good job at keeping the majority of its title winning squad in one piece. However, you could definitely say that the loss of young midfielder Jerry Skotadis isn’t ideal for the club.
Making the move to Macarthur, the 22-year-old has developed very well recently, and has all the assets to become a solid defensive midfielder in the future.
The experience of coming off the bench in United’s Grand Final win, as well as a start in both semi-final legs against Melbourne Victory, would have been hugely beneficial to his growth too.
With Neil Kilkenny turning 37 this year, and new signing Tongo Doumbia recently turning 33, Western United could have benefitted from keeping the young defensive midfielder in the squad.
However, he has taken on a new challenge under Dwight Yorke at the Bulls, and hopefully it isn’t a decision that United will come to regret.
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What to expect:
Given the fact that they have retained the majority of their title winning squad, there is absolutely no reason that Western United can’t challenge for the A-League Men throne once again.
Despite the third placed finish, there was a period towards the back end of last season where United were looking very close to finishing top of the league, and claiming the premiership.
Some late results didn’t go their way, including losses to Central Coast and Adelaide United, and the premiership wasn’t meant to be. However United showed their true skill in finals, claiming their maiden title instead.
They will definitely make it their mission to walk away with both this season, and there is no reason why they can’t do so.
The return of Prijovic, who was rumoured to leave the club, will be a huge boost given how crucial he was last season. If players like Lachlan Wales, Dylan Wenzel-Halls, Steven Lustica, and Connor Pain are all fit and firing behind him, Western United will have impressive attacking power once again this season.
Not to mention, United’s defensive line was one of the key reasons they walked away with the title, and they are all looking to make an impact again this season as well. Ben Garuccio, in particular, was a revelation last season in his first year at Western United, and he will be crucial once again in his full back post.
Alongside him, Joshua Risdon, Léo Lacroix, and Tomoki Imai were all brilliant last season, and will be hugely influential again in 2022/23.
Overall, the Western United squad has a great balance of youth and experience. United have all the tools to have another go at becoming champions this season, and will take great momentum out of their history making win in May. Expect them to fight for the title once more.
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