Josep Gombau’s Reds revolution continued to progress, going from sixth to third and an FFA Cup triumph last term. However, the enigmatic Spaniard announced in July he was leaving, replaced by compatriot Guillermo Amor.
Amor’s playing career is decorated, with more than 300 appearances for Barcelona and having represented Spain at a FIFA World Cup. The 47-year-old’s coaching CV, though, is bare, creating a major unknown for the Reds.
Damien Lewandowski, long-time Adelaide fan & FTSAL blogger (www.fromthestandsal.com)
What are the expectations for the upcoming season?
As an Adelaide United fan, we are expecting to always finish top two or three, but a championship is long overdue in South Australia.
Would anything less than a top four finish be a failure?
Yes finishing out of the top four would be disappointing with the talented squad we have and the quality coaching staff at the club. We finished third last season after the home and away season, so to be outside the top is a failure.
Who is a potential bolter in the squad?
The bolter would have to be the amazing rise of Tarek Elrich and his now Socceroos career. He has blossomed since coming to Adelaide and is easily a fan favourite. I’m excited to see our new number nine too in Eli Babalj and I’m hoping to see him bang in 15 goals this season.
Where can the Reds improve?
We can and will improve with our new number nine. We have missed a striker who can score goals for a few seasons now. Mate Dugandzic, as well, will be a quality winger for us who will complement our big new striker and Marcelo Carrusca, the best number 10 in the A-League.
Do you think Guillermo Amor can continue Josep Gombau’s good work?
I was a little nervous when Gombau left. He was a great coach who put his players first and was adored by the Adelaide fans, so massive shoes for an unproven and untried coach in Amor. There’s a bit of ‘watch this space’ on this one. Does a great player make a great coach? The jury is out.
Why they’ll do well
Adelaide’s line-up is tactically versatile and quick to adapt to certain circumstances, able to play their possession-based style or employ a direct approach. Despite the change of coach, that versatility shouldn’t change.
The Reds boast one of the best foreign legions in the competition, led by Argentine midfielder Carrusca. Gombau labelled him “one of the best players in the league” after an outstanding opening month last term, while he’s supported by Isaias, Pablo Sanchez and Sergio Cirio, with Italian Iacopo La Rocca joining in the off-season too.
The Reds will always be strong when they have Eugene Galekovic in goal. The 34-year-old Socceroo has long been rock solid and is arguably the league’s most consistent shot-stopper.
Why they’ll do badly
Adelaide lack that out-and-out striker who can bang in 12-15 goals per season. There were even contributions of goals last term, with Sanchez (eight), Cirio and Carrusca (both seven) and Bruce Djite (six) chipping in. Two-time Socceroo Babalj has been recruited to fill that void after a couple of difficult years in Europe.
The Reds dropped some matches they never should have last term, with defeats away to Newcastle and Central Coast ultimately costing them a top two berth. Whether it’s an inability to take their chances or break down a resolute opponent, it’s something Amor needs to ensure doesn’t repeat this term. The question marks around Amor will be significant too. This is his first senior coaching job.
The big questions
Can Amor continue Gombau’s work?
This is the most pressing questions at Coopers Stadium and the proof will be in the pudding. Expectations aren’t instantly high for Amor, given the club’s evolution over the past two years as part of Gombau’s project. Amor has been appointed coach having been technical director last term, so there is an expectation of continuity in style too.
Can they match it with the big spenders?
Adelaide were linked with a shock marquee move for Italian striker Luca Toni early in the off-season. Never ever eventuated and few actually expected the deal to ever happen. It’s a sign of Adelaide’s pull and resources, which are inferior to the Sydney and Melbourne clubs. Can they punch above their weight?
Is Babalj capable of bagging a dozen?
The 194-centimetre hitman has had a couple of challenging years in Europe after showing plenty of promise at Melbourne Heart as a teenager. Djite has played a similar role for Adelaide, but hasn’t been able to score the goals hoped for. He will get service, so if Babalj delivers, that’ll go a long way to Adelaide’s success.
Key player: Marcelo Carrusca
The classy 32-year-old attacking midfielder is integral to Adelaide’s style of play, with his creativity and control. While the Reds need to find a regular goal scorer, Carrusca’s role is to continue to provide the service.
What they'll be saying come April
Amor is a major unknown, so it’s hard to predict, but given the expectations this will be a tough job for the new coach.
Tough one, but with this squad they should make the finals.
Iacopo La Rocca (Western Sydney Wanderers)
George Mells (Southampton)
Eli Babalj (AZ Alkmaar)
Mate Dugandzic (Melbourne City)
Nigel Boogaard (Newcastle Jets)
Cameron Watson (released)
Miguel Palanca (released)
Paul Izzo (Central Coast Mariners)
Awer Mabil (FC Midtjylland)comments