Why Sydney FC dropped out of the ALM final is great for the league

After a long season of suspension due to epidemics and floods, the A-League men’s final series will begin this weekend.

Melbourne City have claimed the Premier Plate for the second year in a row, with all three Victorian teams occupying the top three. The Central Coast and Wellington Phoenix held on to the top six, preventing a last-minute push from fourth-ranked Adelaide United Mariners.

The biggest push in this year’s final series has been the elimination of Sydney FC. The Sky Blues are out of the top six for the first time in six seasons, in eighth place on the stairs and 9 points behind Phoenix.

It is undoubtedly a shame for Sydney fans, who have seen their team win the championship three times in five years in a football final and have featured in all but one grand final. However, Sydney’s death ultimately benefits the A-League men.

Celebrating Adam Le Fundre.
(Photo by Mark Evans / Getty Images)

Sydney FC has dominated the competition for the past five years. It was almost given that they would find themselves in the final series, and almost certainly in the grand final.

Their defeat in Melbourne City last year was a welcome one for neutral fans, sick of the Sky Blues’ dominance and overwhelmed to see the other team (although they wear sky blue) win the Premiership Trophy.

Their 2016/17 season was a masterclass in football, ending the year 17 points ahead of second-placed Victory. In the last five seasons, the league has been a bit annoying due to the lack of good words from the men.

The top six were almost always on top of the rest of the world and the top two were far above the rest of the finalists.

But this year, the 2021/22 season, was incredible to watch. The top six teams were decided with only one game left, and even then they moved into those places. Melbourne City snatched the plate from Melbourne Victory by just one point in their last match to win the small Premier League crown.

Western United also had an outside chance of reaching the final round. No matter who you support, it makes every game worth watching at the end of the season. We haven’t seen such close competition, across the stairs (except for poor Perth Glory) year after year.

And now looking at the Premiership contenders, the fact that May 28 is on the pitch is virtually no one can be blown away. Melbourne City and cross-town rivals Victory, the top two, are clearly at the top of the winning list.

Western United were looking for a Premier Plate, but the end of the season was disappointing for them. But their form was consistent throughout the campaign.

Adelaide United showed poor form at the end of the season, with the Central Coast Mariners (their opponents on Sunday) recovering from their last five matches. Wellington was a welcome surprise, with many predicting a top three finish for the Knicks after a strong start to the season.

Sydney FC only dropped out of the final, but the gap proved to be so close. The fall of Sydney FC, and the inevitable rise again, has only been good for the league. If they go back to the finals next year, great.

But it is highly unlikely that we will see such endless dominance again for long.

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