Defend: [dih-fend] (verb) to ward off attack from; guard against assault or injury (usually followed by from or against): The sentry defended the gate against sudden attack.
That dictionary definition sums up exactly what went wrong with Adelaide United in their humiliating capitulation to Western United last Saturday.
We’ve spoken about it before but Adelaide must defend better. Defending in any capacity would be nice. It’s really important.
It was just too easy for Western United on the weekend. Far. Too. Easy.
There is no point scoring a glut of goals if you’re going to concede more.
I remember hosting the Football SA Grand Final breakfast in 2018. I asked Damian Mori how his Adelaide City team was going to beat Campbelltown the next day.
He looked at me and said: “Score more goals”.
That’s the type of response an emcee dreads, but at least the people in the audience laughed… at me.
Truth is: he was spot on.
United has now conceded 12 goals in their last three matches (two batches of five and the double last week against Victory).
No-one expects a clean sheet every week but the least we can expect is some form of defending.
What happened on Saturday was not a case of an outrageously better team taking advantage of a lesser opponent.
Adelaide was woeful and it’s not okay to dish up that type of performance at home, away or on the moon.
That result equalled the Red’s second-largest losing margin at home – only bettered by the 5-0 hammering they got from Perth a few years back.
It was also the equal most goals conceded at home.
Unbelievably, fans are still lamenting a lack of a striker. Really?
Scoring goals isn’t the issue, folks. It is stopping them.
Adelaide has the fourth-best attack in the league but the second-worst defence.
That’s what needs fixing – and quick smart.
We’ve lamented a lack of defenders all year and now, the ones we have are out of form and there aren’t many options available.
But the options that exist need to be taken – Marrone and Kitto must start this week for Maria and Elsey, who gets dropped solely because Michael Jakobsen is our captain (otherwise he’d be a candidate too).
(On a side note: Michael Maria has had a bad few weeks. He knows it. We know it. But being jeered by his own fans as he was substituted on the weekend was despicable. Shame on you! He wears our shirt, he’s our player and you just don’t do that.)
There’s a compelling argument to have young Yared Abetew re-instated but the right-back position is covered.
I’ve already expressed the need to give D’Arrigo a rest and if Mirko Boland doesn’t fit in Verbeek’s plans, then move Mauk central.
But it’s not just the players who need to improve.
Verbeek also needs to re-think things.
His decision to drop Kristian Opseth was mind-boggling.
After getting on the scoreboard against Victory, it seemed time to persist with the Norwegian and allow him to get more confidence.
Instead he was dropped.
Verbeek’s half time re-shape was also peculiar. It was the reason Adelaide conceded immediately after the break.
I can’t even tell you what formation they were playing in the second half – I think it was a 3-5-2, but I’m not sure.
Some players are obviously bereft of confidence and that needs to be addressed.
Rumours are circulating that players are frustrated with the tactics and the current trajectory of the team.
Verbeek, Sibon, Veart, Galekovic: take heed of the above.
Despite this, I’m not willing to give up on the season just yet.
The only thing more infuriating then the result on Saturday has been some of the reactions of some ‘fans’ in forums and social media.
“Sack the coach.”
“Sack the players.”
“The club is in disarray.”
“Verbeek is only there because the owners speak Dutch (even though Van der Pol speaks fluent English).”
Peak pissant town stuff.
Yes the Reds are struggling but it’s not time to hit the eject button.
In fact, it’s time to get behind the team and show them what they mean to us.
It’s not over and if Adelaide has proved anything this season, it’s that they know how to win a cup competition – which is what the A-League finals series is.
Make finals and anything can happen.
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