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Why the Reds are way ahead of the game

Manton St Tales

The A-League landscape will be transformed next season and Adelaide United is in an unparalleled position to take advantage, argues Spiro Karanikos-Mimis.

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Adelaide United is miles ahead of any team in the A-League right now. You’re probably wondering what the heck I’m on about (and probably not for the first time).

Last week’s win over Perth, and the draw and win in the two preceding fixtures, has once again showcased the wealth of young talent on Adelaide’s roster.

Gomulka, Brook and Niyongabire all played their part in a comprehensive win against the Glory.

Add those names to the list of players we’ve seen come through already this season, and the Reds are well-placed both on and off the park.

The Australian soccer landscape will be different in season 2020/21.

Expect a massive cut to the A-League salary cap and the likelihood that foreigners will either a) be unable to travel to Australia, b) have existing contracts terminated because of the need to take a pay cut (for example, see the cases of Panagiotis Kone and Markel Susaeta) or c) refuse to come to Australia at all with wages being slashed.

This will force clubs to play more youngsters.

And with the Reds blooding so many players this season, they’ve got the upper hand on most (if not all) teams for next season.

There is another example of this happening in SA – it’s the Adelaide Crows. They’ve decided to re-build and they’ve thrust a multitude of young players into the coalface. They’re suffering now but get 20 games into them, and they will begin to adapt to the needs of AFL football.

It’s no different in the A-League. The jump from the NPL to the A-League soccer is a big one – and one that many have not survived.

It’s for that reason that many teams in the league’s history have decided against playing youngsters.

It was Graham Arnold who said, while coach of Sydney FC, that the A-League wasn’t a development league. Then, as coach of the Socceroos, Arnold lamented the lack of opportunities for Australian players in the A-League.

Adelaide made a conscious choice to give chances to youngsters at the start of this season.

And while this season isn’t done, and the Reds can still play finals, when all is said and done, the powerbrokers at Hindmarsh should reflect on this season as a success.

Off the park, Adelaide’s promotion of youth has made them a destination club for young players wanting a chance – something local clubs, coaches, players and parents have been wanting for a long time.

And as the next generation break through and their transfer value increases, United will benefit financially when they take the next step in their careers.

With Carl Veart seeming like a lock for the coaching role, arguably Adelaide’s biggest conundrum for next season is what to do about its current foreign legion.

Michael Jakobsen is 34 and will turn 35 in January next year. He’s barely missed a beat since he arrived at Adelaide so it’s a tough call. I would offer him one more year but more cover in the position would be required.

Kristian Opseth should be offered another contract – he’s shown what he can do since the re-start and now has four goals in his last five games.

The Yongbin Chen experiment has been a disaster for Adelaide – he only played 35 minutes in three youth league games. But there is merit in the overall idea of bringing over a young Asian player on a smaller wage and helping them develop. So it may be that Piet van der Pol wants to try this plan again.

And another thing…

A concerning scenario played in a recent State League Two match between Eastern United and Pirates FC.

An Eastern player was sent off for spitting on an opponent.

In the wake of COVID-19, any type of spitting is being taken very seriously by governing bodies: referees are constantly reminding players that it will not be tolerated.

Football South Australia has handed the Eastern United player handed a huge suspension, which started last weekend.

“Football SA received reports from the Match Officials, the player reported and the opposing player,” a spokesperson for Football SA told InDaily.

“The Football SA Competition Disciplinary Committee (CDC) met and reviewed the reports.

“It was determined that a R3 offence had occurred and a sanction was imposed on the player being a suspension from participating in any sanctioned Football SA game, event or activity for 2020.

“In addition, a 12 match suspended period was imposed for the duration of the 2021 season.”

Well done to Football SA for taking such a strong stand on this issue, especially under the current circumstances.

And one more thing…

This one speaks for itself.

Spiro Karanikos-Mimis is InDaily’s soccer columnist.

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