A-League coaches and players have found tipping the winner of the competition as hard as fans
Photo Source: AAP
Melbourne Victory is the favourite to win the A-League championship this season according to coaches and marquee players.
A confidential poll of 20 respondents - the 10 coaches and a senior player from each club - has Kevin Muscat's group as the most likely winner of the league, but with plenty of competition.
Reflecting the evenness of the league, which begins on on Friday night when Brisbane Roar host Victory, eight clubs were nominated by key players as potential winners.
With five votes, three-time champions Victory finished on top of the pile.
Their cross-town rivals Melbourne City garnered three votes, with Sydney FC, Western Sydney and defending champions Adelaide supported by two figures.
Brisbane, Perth and Wellington also had one backer, leaving only Newcastle and Central Coast as unloved clubs before the season kicks off.
Coaches and players were asked which club they saw as the best in the league, excluding their own, on the condition of anonymity. A small minority declined to answer.
Some suggested more than one club, in which case their votes were weighted accordingly.
Reflecting on the competition as a whole, Roar manager John Aloisi surmised the mood among coaches when he said it was a difficult guessing game.
"Melbourne Victory are definitely in with a shot. They've got a good squad and we all know what Carl Valeri is like. They're going to be tough," he told AAP.
"But it's hard to say, it's too early. I think the Sydney and Melbourne sides are going to be strong."
Perth boss Kenny Lowe said he expected Victory, City, Western Sydney and Sydney FC to be among the finalists.
"The two Melbourne clubs and Sydney clubs are at the forefront. They're in front of everybody with resources and recruitment," he said.
"They're driving the level of the league and the market place and everyone has got to keep up with that."
First-year Central Coast coach Paul Okon said many clubs had improved their squads from last season.
"If I look at Wellington's recruitment, it's very good. If I look at Sydney's recruitment, also very good. Brett Holman coming on board at the Roar is going to give them something extra," he said.
"This year is going to be an even more even battle."
THE A-LEAGUE CHAMPION AS PREDICTED BY THE COACHES AND PLAYERS:
* 5 votes - Melbourne Victory
* 3 - Melbourne City
* 2 - Adelaide United, Sydney FC, Western Sydney Wanderers
* 1 - Brisbane Roar, Perth Glory, Wellington Phoenix
* 0 - Central Coast Mariners, Newcastle Jets