Tue, Jan 3, 4:48pm by Senior Writer
The A-League has been left somewhat stunned by the sudden departure of Melbourne City coach John van ‘t Schip at the very time the club is enduring their leanest spell of the season.
City have failed to win a game since lifting the FFA Cup late in November and they have drifted markedly in betting for both the A-League championship and premiers plate.
City are now $5 with Sportsbet to win the Grand Final, while having fallen 13 points behind runaway leaders Sydney FC, they are $12 to win the Premiers Plate as the top team at the end of the regular season.
Van t Schip’s departure is another blow for City, who could only manage 3-3 and 2-2 draws in their matches between Christmas and New Year’s against Perth and Central Coast respectively.
The Dutchman has departed the club for family reasons, with his father currently in palliative care in Holland, and Michael Valkanis will step up from assistant coaching to lead the team in the short term.
As part of the global City group, City will leave no stone unturned in a bid to replace Van ‘t Schip, but it may be too late to rescue this campaign, which has gone skewwhiff over the past month.
Sydney are seven points clear of Melbourne Victory, but Victory do have a game in hand are considered the only major threat to the Sky Blues winning the Premiers’ Plate.
Having put together four consecutive wins, Victory have some significant momentum and are now also second favourite for the A-League championship.
Sydney are $3.60 favourites but Victory are well-supported at $3.75, with City, as mentioned, at $5 and Brisbane Roar, who suffered their first defeat in ten matches against Sydney last weekend, on $8.50.
The battle for the top six looks set to provide plenty of interest over the second half of the season. Just two points separate fifth-placed Perth Glory from eighth-placed Wellington Phoenix.
The Glory are $1.67 to make the finals, while Western Sydney, who are also on 14 points, are $1.53. Newcastle, who are on 13 points, are $2.70 to make the cut, while Wellington, at $2.50, are on 12 points.
Adelaide United are three points adrift on the bottom of the table, but there is still some confidence in a late season’s Reds’ revival and they are $2.88, shorter than the Mariners, who are on 10 points and are $4.50.
A-League Championship Winner (Sportsbet)
Sydney FC $3.60
Melbourne Victory $3.75
Melbourne City $5
Brisbane Roar $8.50
Western Sydney Wanderers $10
Perth Glory $15
Wellington Phoenix $34
Adelaide United $34
Newcastle Jets $36
Central Coast Mariners $76
A-League Premiers Plate:
Sydney FC $1.62
Melbourne Victory $2.80
Brisbane Roar $12
Melbourne City $12
Western Sydney Wanderers $26
Perth Glory $36
Wellington Phoenix $51
Newcastle Jets $61
Adelaide United $101
Central Coast Mariners $151
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