Adelaide United Season Review

The Mastermind
Josep Gombau arrived at Adelaide as an unknown quantity, promising to entertain and implement a strong football philosophy in the City of Churches. Whilst there were some bumps along the road for Gombau, including a run in with a somewhat well-known Adelaide Journalist, the Spanish mentor has put his stamp on this league. United struggled early on, but once Gombau’s style clicked with the players, they put in some of the season’s finest performances.

Adelaide and Gombau promised to entertain the fans, and provide a relevant, modern type of football. The Reds did not disappoint. In the words of Adelaide United General Manager of Football Operations, Michael Petrillo “It’s vital that the club has a longer term view of its football strategy and that it accepts the need to implement a club centred football philosophy which will allow it to have a definitive, recognisable playing style which can produce on field success in the first instance and then bring off field success in the future.”

It’s fair to say that Gombau and Adelaide have gone a long way this season to achieving the goals they set themselves, despite finishing 6th on the ladder. Gombau’s flamboyant side, both on and off the field, has been rewarded this season with Josep voted by the fans to manage the A-League All Stars in an upcoming friendly with Italian giants Juventus.

Gombau has gone a long way to turning Coopers Stadium into a fortress, losing only 2 games at home whilst banging in 29 goals in 13 games. Their away record was less than flattering, losing 8 of a possible 15 fixtures. This is an area in which United will look to improve on next season.

It’s fair to say Adelaide are in decent hands with Gombau as they look to build towards the future and build a dynasty in the south of Australia.

Best Performers
Osama Malik – Osama had a season to remember, starting 25 out of a possible 28 matches and filling in wherever required. Although the big Adelaidean has been involved in the Adelaide furniture for a few seasons now, this year was a real coming of age. Osama spent most of the season swapping between midfield and fullback, in which he performed to the same high standard in both roles. Malik finished the season with 2 goals to his name, including a powerful header to remember in a 1-1 draw with Perth. Malik capped off his season by receiving the ‘Best Team Man’ award at Adelaide United’s awards night.

Marcelo Carrusca – If Carrusca plays well, Adelaide play well. Whilst he is not the only quality foreigner in red from this season, he is definitely the club’s talisman. Carrusca fits Gombau’s style to a tee, and along with the likes of Fabio Ferreira, Isaias, Cirio and Neumann, Marcelo caused opposition sides all kinds of problems through the entirety of the campaign. Carrusca finished the season with 6 goals, almost all of these being classy finishes. The Argentine wrapped up a fine year by claiming both the ‘Fans Player of the Year’ and ‘Player’s Player of the year’ awards.

Best and worst performance
Best – Undoubtedly the 5-1 home win against Wellington Phoenix in round 21. This demolition put a huge dent in the top six chances of the Phoenix, and all but killed off Wellington’s mid-season revival. This display also labelled United as genuine title chances, putting 5 goals past Glenn Moss without Marcelo Carrusca.

Notable mention – the 4-0 home annihilation of Central Coast Mariners, including a patch of play in which Adelaide strung 36 consecutive passes together.

Worst – The 3-0 home loss to Melbourne Victory. Adelaide were completely outplayed and out enthused by Melbourne in this encounter, despite Victory only having 10 men for the final 45 minutes. The defeat raised legitimate doubts about Gombau’s future as United’s manager, compounded by the aforementioned Gombau blow up at a local journalist.

Key departures
Steven Lustica’s mid-season departure shocked the club and left a massive hole, Cameron Watson was able to step up and fill the void but there are questions over his long term suitability. Michael Zullo is yet to confirm if he will stay on from his loan spell, Zullo will be a huge loss if he departs.

What next?
Josep Gombau has laid a solid platform this year, and promises to run out a 3-4-3 formation next year to truly test his footballing philosophy. Adelaide managed to secure key man Marcelo Carrusca for a further season, however it is unknown whether or not Michael Zullo will stay. Jon McKain is also off contract and is yet to re-sign, along with Adelaide legend Cassio. Adelaide will be looking to sure up their backline and perhaps add another midfielder after the loss of Lustica.

Final verdict
Despite dropping down 2 positions on the ladder this season, Adelaide have made vast improvements in footballing terms which will leave them in good stead for future endeavours. This season could be considered a success due to this, with the side struggling early on to play how Gombau desired, improving rapidly as the weeks rolled by. Adelaide had potential to push on in the finals but were bundled out in the first round by the Central Coast, but I have no doubt that Gombau’s men will be back bigger and better next season.

At a glance
Results: 10 Wins, 10 Losses, 8 Draws.
Top goal scorer: 9Fabio Ferreira and Jeronimo Neumann.
Most appearances: 28 – Eugene Galekovic
Most bookings: 10 – Isaias