Angel Berlanga and Albert Riera are coaching at West Coast Rangers, so have gone. Would presume Mario Bilen has also gone, as he's typically played elsewhere the last few seasons. Maro Bonsu-Maro too.
They've picked up Adam Thurston, though whether he's fit is another matter – not sure if they've got anyone else coming in.
Talented teen Addison Stewart will come into the mix, having not been in City's ISPS Handa Men's Premiership squad.
That would leave them looking something like this before any other departures (one of the senior forwards should probably be on the move, maybe two, otherwise they'll be doing a lot of bench-warming, depending how much minute management there is).
R.E. Berlanga, was a little thrown off by the ACFC news article, which gives no indication that he's leaving the club in a playing capacity: https://www.aucklandcityfc.com/news/1353/12/Berlanga-sets-comeback-target-/
Would it be too much of a stretch to say that they'd play for Auckland City and coach for WCR? I know instances of players playing for one club and coaching for another have happened before across the NRFL.
Great news about Thurston though. Would imagine that Vollenhoven would have one of the U20 starting spots locked down - relatively sure he hasn't got his citizenship yet though, having only come to the country 5-6 years ago, so would take a precious foreign spot.
I was thrown by that Berlanga article too, but he and Riera were both announced as first team assistant coaches at West Coast Rangers, so would be a bit tricky for them to be in two places at once every Saturday, unless their role there has changed.
ACFC vs Auckland United will be a freakin' tasty derby with National League slots on the line. I play for an AU-affiliated club but live nearest to Western Springs, who might also be a dark horse. I was a big skeptic of trashing the franchise model but the idea of following a club all the way to National League is growing on me. It all depends on whose active support is most fun, lol
Having seen the squads Auckland City, Auckland Utd and Birkenhead have some scary lineups, and turns out I was told wrong about Yousif and Andrew Blake going to Shore as they’re still at City.
Few names back in New Zealand be interested to see how they do, like Moses Dyer (assume that was the big Manukau signing hinted in the old thread), Connor Probert at Birko, den Heijer, Oscar Ramsey at Shore. Shore also picked up couple ex-Nix/NZ u17s in Joe Lee and Kris Naicker, but surprisingly not Max Drake (West Coast Rangers) despite his family being heavily involved there I think.
WCR, Melville and Manukau look a bit meh, but perhaps I just don’t recognise the quality players there. I am a bit worried about Northern Rovers, maybe I underrate them as the players are a known quantity vs the unknowns of those 3, but if Rovers do badly maybe my brother will play more, so either way.
Also, as an aside, the NZF release has Angus Kilkolly registered for both Auckland City and Springs, but it wouldn’t be an NZF release without something like that.
I'm a bit torn by the new League. Central United & Three Kings were my clubs growing up then I moved to Waitemata later. Now ACFC's my Team, but I'm playing for Auckland United. The moral dilemma is real.
I just received confirmation of the official version of why this happened. NZF will be putting out a statement soon as they are behind this.
Basically they promised ACFC (not sure who else) a week off between the ISPS Handa Final and the first week of the Northern League - and due to the delay of the ISPS Handa Final due to the Auckland Lockdown this is how they solved it.
I have my own feelings about if this should have been done but surely a statement before the weekend would have been the best way to deal with it.
Yeah for me the trying to hide it is the really bad part - but also for a club who has so much talent available just play some of the younger guys in the first game - I mean this is no different to the years where AC and Central's leagues overlapped and they made it work, despite their assurances they were two different clubs. There are so many players at so many clubs who are in the same boat as ACFC so allowing this for me effects the integrity of the competition.
A number of players have departed to other teams (over hearing some conversations on the weekend but a number of whom were "fed up" with ES) and the ones coming through look remarkably average (well this weekend they did at least). Game vs Western Springs had Stephen Hoyle starting at centre back.
It genuinely wouldn't surprise me if they relegated this year.
Otherwise I also caught first half of City vs Manukau. City looked a class above in general work rate and intensity. Had two good (I'd have given them) penalties shouts turned down and hit the post twice. Think they'll cruise the league.
And caught the second half of United vs Bay Olympic. Featuring the grubbiest mullet for Bay (and some extremely poor language). Bay looked relatively strong at the back but also very lucky at times.
I was expecting Suburbs to run over Springs who had some of their senior players missing and started a very young side, but the youngsters did very well and played as a team. Was surprised given the big names in Suburbs that they were beaten, but missing Adam Thomas too on the day who is in my view their best player.