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Reds must invest for success

Manton St Tales

Adelaide United’s season was a mixed bag which ended in disappointment. But money could be an issue as the club prepares for its next campaign, writes Spiro Karanikos-Mimis.

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How do you summarise Adelaide United’s season?

In parts, the Reds looked unstoppable. In other parts, they were horrid.

Adelaide finished an underwhelming fifth in the regular season, but then pushed Sydney all the way in their semi-final (after defeating Brisbane the week before), and could have played in a Grand Final.

It really was a season of mixed outcomes.

But overall, was the season a success or a disappointment? The truth is somewhere in between.

The emergence of some players was pleasing but tempered with others underperforming.

 Flying high at one point, the Reds should have consolidated themselves as serious contenders.

Some singings were good: Delianov, Gauci, Lopez, Juande and Goodwin for example. Others were serviceable: Juric, Caletti and Dukuly.

There was only really one that didn’t work out, and that was Dom Costanzo. He was signed with much fanfare in pre-season but never got on the park and was released before the season had even finished.

Those who are positive about last season would argue that the right foundations have been set and the recent re-signing of players like Goodwin exemplify that United is on the right path.

Others would argue that this squad should have claimed silverware and the loss of players like Strain and Elsey make the Reds undeniably weaker.

Both positions have merit.

For what it’s worth, my firm belief is that Adelaide missed a golden chance to win something.

Flying high at one point, the Reds should have consolidated themselves as serious contenders.

In the end, the Reds had to do it the hard way and it was always a tough mission.

And so, with the season done and dusted, clubs are already focussing on next season (which may not be that far away).

With that in mind, United has already made playing personnel changes.

Four defenders are gone and there’s no word about Michael Marrone extending his stay.

The decision to release Noah Smith has baffled many. Smith was the number one left back for the first third of the season, and performed well. He was then suddenly dropped and we never saw him again.

Adelaide’s NPL coach (and Carl Veart’s assistant) Ayrton Andrioli is a huge fan of Smith, which makes his exit even more peculiar.

If the argument is that Adelaide have the left back role covered, it’s a hard one to win.

It was one of the Reds’ weak spots last season. Four players rolled through that position – Smith, Kitto, Cavallo and Lopez. Lopez was the best of them but it’s not a forgone conclusion that he will play there next year now that Ryan Strain has departed.

 But fans will hope that with some good signings, United will again be in and around the mark.

There’s no doubt United need to re-stock the defence. Hypothetically, if Adelaide didn’t sign a solitary defender this off-season, their defensive stock would be Lopez, Timotheou, Jakobsen, Cavallo, Kitto and youngster Alexander Popovic – so work needs to be done in that area.

The other position that requires sorting is the playmaker role (more commonly referred to as the number 10).

Captain Stefan Mauk was very good playing in that position this year despite it not being his preferred role. But he tapered out as the year progressed, which was understandable considering he played most of the season with a fracture in his leg.

Now, I’m not suggesting Mauk needs to be replaced – he would simply fall into a deeper role if Veart got the number 10 he craves.

The way Adelaide plays really requires someone who has the vision and ability to distribute defence splitting passes to its wingers and striker, as well as chipping in for the odd goal – a Marcelo Carrusca type.

And finally, United must re-sign Tomi Juric.

To do all this of course, Adelaide needs to invest money in its footballing department.

Unfortunately, InDaily understands that the owner’s wallet is well and truly slammed shut – much to the chagrin of those at the club.

Despite promises of financial stability and security, it has slowly but surely stopped and it would appear the well is dry.

The evidence we have that not all is right at United is the surprising exit of Bruce Djite to become CEO of the Committee for Adelaide.

It’s not on the public record as it was edited from the video that was made available by the club, but at the first member’s forum in 2019, Djite explained he joined Adelaide because it was on the up. He had rejected other jobs because those organisations were “sinking ships” – organisations he named.

No doubt it was a faux pas by Djite and it was right to remove the comments from the public video. It would have just thrown those organisations and United under the bus.

But it gave an insight into how Djite’s brain works. He’s geared for success.

Many would say Djite’s move is a logical step towards politics. Indeed, Djite’s connection with the Liberal Party is well known and InDaily has reported several times he was being sounded about running in state election next March.

But, I would argue that he was well respected in the football community and this is a sideways move for him – one that does not increase the inevitability of him entering politics.

Van der Pol must inject money into the club. Not just to stop the talk but to end the dismay and disillusionment again engulfing those that work there.

The errors of owners past cannot be repeated; mistakes that saw the United become a circus off the park.

Van der Pol made promises and it’s vital they are kept, otherwise staff, players and most importantly fans will not tolerate another trip on the merry-go-round.

Adelaide United Squad Status

 Contracted: Delianov, Gauci, Cox (scholarship), Timotheou, Lopez, Caletti, Cavallo, D’Arrigo, Halloran, Kitto, Mauk, Juande, Dukuly (scholarship), AH Toure, M Toure (scholarship), Yengi, Yull (scholarship), Popovic (scholarship), Bernardo (scholarship), Goodwin (loan extension), Jakobsen (one year extension).

Out of Contract: Juric, Marrone, Konstandopoulos.

Out: Strain (Maccabi Haifa), Abetew (Newcastle Olympic), Elsey (released), Niyongabire (released), Smith (released), Ochsenham (released), Costanzo (Croydon Kings).

Spiro Karanikos-Mimis is InDaily’s soccer columnist 

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