Roar desire is crucial as A-League battle hots up

IT'S about the halfway mark of the A-League season, a perfect time to take a look at how the teams are going.

Melbourne Heart: The Heart is going nowhere at the moment and another pitiful defeat at the hands of Perth Glory on Friday did nothing to change that.

Interim coach John van't Schip must get his team winning soon, not just for the sake of the club but for the competition.

Wellington Phoenix: Coach Ernie Merrick finally seems to have the Phoenix playing the way he wants.

Before yesterday's clash with Central Coast the New Zealand side had won three games on the trot.

Start winning at home and Merrick might yet get his team into the top six.

Adelaide United: The Reds have been an enigma this season: the shock win over Brisbane Roar a case in point. Josep Gombau can get his side playing some great, attacking football but the results must be there if the Reds are to be a finals threat.

Sydney FC: Frank Farina's team has looked like the best in the competition at times, and at others the worst. The side still relies too much on Alessandro Del Piero, whose influence is not what it was last year.

Sydney has to start winning or the campaign will drift away.

Newcastle Jets: As they proved with the recent win over Brisbane Roar, the Jets can match it with the best but consistency is the key for coach Gary van Egmond.

Newcastle sits sixth and has the potential to play finals but has to start realising that potential.

Perth Glory: After all the upheaval at Perth this year, new coach Kenny Lowe appears to have got his team together.

Keeping striker Shane Smeltz fit is a must, as is getting marquee man William Gallas back to fitness.

Central Coast Mariners: Phil Moss' team is flying under the radar and despite not playing well is in fourth.

If strikers such as Bernie Ibini, Daniel McBreen and Matt Simon can find their range, the Mariners are a big chance to defend their A-League crown but consistency is needed.

Melbourne Victory: Coach Kevin Muscat was on a hiding to nothing after taking over when Ange Postecoglou took the Socceroos job early in the season.

James Troisi's goals have been a bonus but what will concern Muscat is his team draws too many games when dominating.

Western Sydney: It would have been hard for coach Tony Popovic to repeat the performances of last season but so far he has managed to do that and the Wanderers sit second.

Whether they can go one better than last season remains the question.

Shinji Ono is the key: if he performs at his best he can be the catalyst to a first title.

Brisbane Roar: The league leaders have been fantastic to watch at times this season and have to be the title favourites as they sit four points clear at the halfway point.

But coach Mike Mulvey must know that his team cannot afford to lose games it should be winning.

He wants his team to be ruthless, anything less could cost the Roar the title.

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