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Verbeek exit cue for SA Reds' coach

Manton St Tales

Gertjan Verbeek’s premature departure as Adelaide United coach gives an opportunity for a South Australian to step up, writes Spiro Karanikos-Mimis.

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That’s one word I have to describe the news that Gerjtan Verbeek will not be returning to Adelaide United.

But really, was there ever any other possible outcome after he headed back home?

The Dutchman was very unhappy with the way he and others were stood down whilst the club dealt with the fallout of coronavirus.

Considering everything that has been going on, not just at Adelaide United but also across multiple clubs and workplaces around Australia, maybe Verbeek reacted harshly.

Reds owner Piet van der Pol is a shrewd operator, there’s no doubt about it. He wouldn’t be where he is if he wasn’t.

But his actions were probably more akin to someone getting bad advice on how to handle a very new and difficult situation.

Nevertheless, it hurt Verbeek enough to sour the relationship.

Verbeek was handpicked by van der Pol to take over the reins at United.

The aim was making them successful on the park, as well as a club where young talent can be nurtured and developed into stars.

And to some degree he achieved both in his short tenure.

Adelaide’s 2019 FFA cup win seems like a distant memory, especially in the current circumstances, but the Dutchman did successfully guide the Reds to their third cup triumph.

It was in that competition that most of us were formally introduced to a young, raw but very talented individual named Al Hassan Toure.

Verbeek had the courage to give him a shot, and his bravery was rewarded. Louis D’Arrigo is another. Mohammed Toure another.

The successful return of Riley McGree is an example of how Verbeek nurtured young players.

But it’s not just the youngsters he had an impact on. Ben Halloran is arguably having his best year as a professional. And there are more.

So there is a lot to be thankful for in his short time in Adelaide.

But, towards the end, things had obviously deteriorated.

There were moments when Verbeek’s tactics and player selections were rightfully questioned.

He insisted on playing a certain style that, when working well, was nearly unbeatable. But when it was bad it was very bad. And he refused to change things.

He appeared too stubborn to change his methods and continuously tried to fit square pegs in round holes.

His public humiliation of Ryan Kitto must surely have upset many at the club.

Another example was his declining relationship with Nikola Mileusnic.

The winger had a brilliant start to the year but his form waned and, I would argue, so did his relationship with his Dutch mentor.

Mileusnic was substituted in six consecutive fixtures before the shutdown and almost every time he did not make eye contact with Verbeek or shake his hand. It suggested trouble.

And to be brutally honest Adelaide’s form was woeful, utterly woeful, before the league stopped.

Hindsight is, of course, magical.

It is annoying to have this happen again. But it’s probably not the most shocking news even to casual observers of the Reds.

So it begs the question: what next?

We assume that Carl Veart and Eugene Galekovic will remain on the coaching panel. After all, they returned to the club with much fanfare.

If the A-League does recommence it is likely that Veart will be the man in charge.

Is he ready for the gig full time? Only he and those at United know the answer to that.

Adelaide has now had four consecutive European manages – Gombau, Amor, Kurz and of course Verbeek.

It is time to give an Australian coach a go.

In fact, I’ll take that one step further – it is time for a South Australian.

Because the one thing that has definitely worked for this new ownership group is the emphasis on local, and now it might be time for a local manager.


There are the obvious ones: John Aloisi and Damian Mori spring instantly to mind.

But personally, I would love the club to give Joe Mullen a go.

His time with Campbelltown City was littered with trophies and he knows the talent available at the local level better than most.

And, truth be told, he can bloody coach.

But whoever it is will face a very different football landscape and they will need to be more than just a manager and adjust to the new world very quickly.

There will be no shortage of people wanting the gig because, in the end, there are limited professional coaching jobs in Australian football.

And whoever is in charge come season 20/21, they will everyone’s support to make the Reds a formidable force in the A-League again.

Spiro Karanikos-Mimis is InDaily’s soccer columnist.

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