The Advertiser



THAT’S football.

Josep Gombau loved those words when asked to explain situations like why he made a certain substituti­on or why Adelaide lost matches when it was in the box seat to win.

He was loved by Adelaide’s fans, mocked by some media who used his face and accent for parody and was not a favourite of most fellow ALeague coaches.

Players who publicly expressed their love for him were rewarded on the pitch while others who didn’t agree with him like Steven Lustica and club legend Cassio were banished. But since Gombau won the Adelaide United gig he talked the talk.

He was quoted saying Adelaide was a long-term project not long after he was given a three-year contract extension last year. Adelaide’s transforma­tion turned into a story all about Gombau.

He super-charged the career of Nigel Boogaard, turning him into a better player.

He made Awer Mabil a fan favourite with public celebrator­y hugs at every opportunit­y.

Gombau vowed to deliver the Barcelona philosophy and the A-League championsh­ip trophy within two years of taking the gig in May 2013.

A 200-game Barcelona player was even promised to Adelaide during one of his first interviews when the littleknow­n man from Hong Kong club Kitchee was announced as the new mentor.

After a poor start where his game plan was easily foiled by opposition clubs a bust up with the media potentiall­y saved his career at Adelaide in December 2013.

The Gombau siege mentality was then in full swing.

Outspoken Bruce Djite stuck the boots into the media criticism which grew into a groundswel­l of fan support.

Adelaide did change its game plan, it moved the ball quickly, played the possession­based game, used long balls and won the A-League over with its swashbuckl­ing style before Gombau’s first campaign ended in a whimper in Gosford. But winning the ALeague All-Stars coaching gig against Juventus in 2014 and being the focal point for his club in goal celebratio­ns kept him well and truly in the spotlight he adored.

During the second season that A-League title he promised turned into “making the top six.”

The FFA Cup win was always the trophy he referred to when asked if his second season was successful.

But leaving the job midterm doesn’t fit the message he preached. He turned his back on his “family” – that’s how he referred to the club.

Good families don’t do that.

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