At the start of his reign, Adelaide United coach Josep Gombau begged for patience as he implemented his Barcelona-inspired, tiki-taka playing style at the club – and patience was duly granted to him by the board.
The faith shown in the Spanish manager already bore some fruit last season, as the side improved dramatically throughout the campaign. They began playing some of the most attractive football in the A-League and recorded a few highly impressive wins along the way. It was enough to get the South Australians into the top six by season’s end, though they were unable to get past the Mariners in the first round of the finals.
The time for development is over, however, and the time to start producing consistently good results on the pitch is soon at hand. A haphazard season is unlikely to be good enough for Gombau, who needs to have his side competing with the big guns in 2014-15.
Last Season: 6th
Jimmy Jeggo (From Melbourne Victory)
Dylan McGowan (From Heart of Midlothian)
Pablo Sanchez Alberto (From Lugo)
Jake Barker-Daish (Released)
Daniel Bowles (Released)
Jon McKain (Released)
Jacob Melling (Signed with Melbourne City)
Jeronimo Neumann (Released)
Michael Zullo (Loan Expiry)
Star man: The Reds play a team-oriented game so it is difficult to single out any individuals who are of greater importance than others in the starting line-up, though Isaias is very much the quintessential Gombau player. A product of the Barcelona youth system himself, the Spaniard is not always spectacular, but he keeps the side humming from the centre of midfield.
What’s to like
This team should be better than last season. It does take time for everyone to get on board with the kind of program Gombau has introduced, and now that he has had a second pre-season to work with his players, there should be a much better understanding of what’s required. All the elements are in place for a successful season; Adelaide has a great keeper in Eugene Galekovic, talent and experience in their backline, a tiki-taka midfield and forwards who can finish the job.
What’s not to like
Even when the whole squad clicked in the second part of 2013-14, the team was still incapable of consistently stringing results together week after week. Such a high-tempo brand of football, with the whole side pressing all over the park, can mean Adelaide is always vulnerable to opponents who are on their game and clinical in front of goal. They are also susceptible to late-season slumps as energy levels dip. Expect the Reds to get off to a flying start but lose some of their momentum before the season is out.
Predicted finish: 6th