LAST SEASON LEAGUE: 5TH FFA CUP: RUNNERS UP
Adelaide coach Marco Kurz heads into his second season in charge with increased expectations aer last term’s fih-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.
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 Kio 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.
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 isaackminded and a threat from set pieces.
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 Kio 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.
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.