AFTER relishing what many declare as the best A-League season yet, augmented with a plethora of superstar marquee players and the emergence of a long-awaited team from western Sydney, one can only get excited about the looming prospect of a new season.
With the outstanding success of some of the superstars on and off the field — noticeably Alessandro Del Piero (Sydney FC), Emile Heskey (Newcastle Jets) and Shinji Ono (Western Sydney Wanderers) — the game took another exceptional leap forward in standard and profile.
Alessandro, Emile and Shinji, through past and recent performances, are the magnets that all of us football tragics are drawn to.
In particular, Alessandro, whose exquisite skills have adorned the playing surfaces of top stadiums across the world.
Western Sydney Wanderers' first sortie into the cauldron of competition was nothing short of sensational.
Not at all fazed by the challenge they never bothered to test the water by dipping the toe in but plunged full-length into the fray.
Staunch rugby league columnists from mainstream newspapers got dragged in by the euphoria and success of the Wanderers' juggernaut and this, along with the superstars' lustre, merely added to the spectacle that was the Hyundai A-League version 2012-13.
So what does the 2013-14 season hold to whet the appetite?
And who will be setting the pace as WS Wanderers attempt back-to-back premierships?
Sydney FC appear to be staggering towards yet another average season at this stage, even after a raft of new signings.
I expect the guns this year to be Central Coast Mariners and Adelaide United, along with first season sensations the Western Sydney Wanderers.
As mentioned earlier Perth Glory appear primed for a stellar season with Melbourne Victory and hopefully Sydney FC causing some upsets.
My anticipated cellar-dwellers are Wellington Phoenix, Newcastle Jets, Melbourne Heart and the Brisbane Roar.
Have a great season and — whoever you support — get there in numbers for the Hyundai A-League in 2013-14.
* Ray Richards is a member of the 1974 Socceroos.
■ To read an extended version of his column, go to our website, liverpoolchampion.com.