Ade­laide United

LAST SEA­SON LEAGUE: 5TH FFA CUP: RUN­NERS UP

Inside Sport - - Contents -

Ade­laide coach Marco Kurz heads into his sec­ond sea­son in charge with in­creased ex­pec­ta­tions aer last term’s fih-place fin­ish and fol­low­ing a pos­i­tive off-sea­son of re­cruit­ment.

The Reds have bol­stered their ranks with fringe Soc­ceroos Craig Good­win and Ben Hal­lo­ran, as well as im­ports Mirko Boland, Michael Jakob­sen and Ken Ilso. They have lost some tal­ent the other way, with the de­par­tures of cen­tral de­fender Er­san Gu­lum, mid­fielder Daniel Ad­lung, winger Jo­han Ab­sa­lon­sen and le -back Ben Garuc­cio leav­ing some big shoes to fill.

Ade­laide United was cursed by in­juries last sea­son, and Jan­uary’s AFC Un­der-23s Cham­pi­onships hardly helped, leav­ing the side de­pleted at times, fur­ther en­sur­ing they were one of the more in­con­sis­tent per­form­ers in 2017-18. Kurz will look to steady the ship this term and progress his men into the top-four.

Game Plan

Kurz will adopt a 4-3-3 formation, with Baba Di­awara the tar­get man up front, while re­turn­ing fan favourite Good­win re­places Ab­sa­lon­sen to offer width on the le flank, along with the speedy Ben Hal­lo­ran, Ryan Kio or Nikola Mileusnic on the right. The ever-im­pres­sive Isa­ias Sanchez will run the show in mid­field sup­ported by Vince Lia and Boland, with Jakob­sen to lead the back­line.

Strengths

Span­ish mid­fielder Isa­ias is one of the most un­der-rated play­ers in the A-League and his com­po­sure and con­trol is piv­otal to United’s suc­cess. Re­cruit­ing cen­tral de­fender Jakob­sen from City adds to an ex­pe­ri­enced spine, too.

The ad­di­tion of Good­win, who won the club’s Player of the Year in their A-League dou­ble-win­ning sea­son be­fore head­ing to Europe, is a ma­jor boost. Good­win isaack­minded and a threat from set pieces.

Weak­nesses

De­spite fin­ish­ing in the top half, the Reds con­ceded more goals than they scored last cam­paign. The side’s top scor­ers fin­ished with only six each (Ryan Kio and Ab­sa­lon­sen), so find­ing a more re­li­able source of goals is crit­i­cal. Baba Di­awara is in­jury-prone, while Ge­orge Black­wood is still de­vel­op­ing. One needs to step up.

Lessons from last sea­son

Kurz’s bru­tal pre-sea­son was well doc­u­mented and it wasn’t mere myth, with United scor­ing more than half of its goals last sea­son in the fi­nal half hour of matches, show­ing Ade­laide had the fit­ness to go all the way.

Fi­nal verdict

Ade­laide’s changes make them slightly un­pre­dictable, but Kurz has cut some in­jury-prone play­ers and brought in proven qual­ity, led by Good­win and Jakob­sen. Goals may still be an is­sue, but United can be top-two con­tenders.

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