2014/15 Adelaide United season preview

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Adelaide United came under scrutiny last year for the tiki-taka style of football implemented by first-year and ex-Barcelona youth coach Josep Gombau, mostly because it was just really funny to watch the side constantly struggle with the concept.

With a season of experience under Gombau’s system and a swag of new players joining the club, it’s hard to know what to make of the Reds.

Last season
A-League: 6th
Finals: 1-0 Elimination Final loss to Central Coast Mariners

They’ll win the league because…
They’ll win it this year because of some very good moves in the transfer market. Coach Josep Gombau has resisted the urge to pick up older players not retained by other clubs in the league, and has signed Craig Goodwin (Newcastle Jets) and Jimmy Jeggo (Melbourne Victory), as well as Dylan McGowan (Hearts, Scotland) to add some young pace to his side. Most significantly, though, he attracted Pablo Sanchez from the Spanish Second Division, who will, as Gombau himself noted, go up front or stay back, depending on what the team needs.

They’ll be cellar dwellers because…
They haven’t got any players that can tear a game open. Captain and goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic will probably be the best gloveman in the league, but in front of him the Reds are a solid, if not outstanding, side.

Furthermore, the absence of any marquee players is a worrying sign for a side which lacks spark, and without a specific playmaker or target man, the Reds could find themselves being overrun.

Losing Jerónimo Neumann to Newcastle Jets will not alleviate this problem in the slightest.

Talk around the water cooler… look smart in front of your colleagues with this valuable piece of information.
Estados ganará la liga este año , no te preocupes . La influencia de España será suficiente

Oh, sorry, I thought we were speaking Spanish. Gombau has made it painfully clear he wants to bring the football of his homeland to leafy old Adelaide, and the Catalan influences in his team will increase in 2014/15.

In addition to Cirio and Isaias Sanchez turning out for the Reds, his side will enjoy the services of the aforementioned Pablo Sanchez. But the influence does not stop there; the most significant addition being Guillermo Amor to the role of technical director.

The Spanish international spent most of his career playing for Barcelona, and his inclusion is one of the most coveted in the decade-long history of A-League football.

The off-season brought…
The aforementioned singings as well as a genuine belief that Adelaide United could do more than simply qualify for the finals by not being one of the worst four teams.

Within recent weeks the Reds have come up with an important win over Brisbane in the FFA Cup, and despite the Roar’s boss Mike Muvley’s assertion that it wasn’t a must-win tie for his team, the way Adelaide were able to dominate the reigning champions was a pleasing sign for those at Coopers Stadium.

This was preceded by wins against other A-League outfits Wellington Phoenix and Perth Glory, so the form against the top division sides has been good, with the only major blips on the radar being a 5-1 drubbing at the hands of Malaga – a game they were expected to lose – and a 1-0 loss to Melbourne Victory in a closed practice match.

Furthermore, youngsters Awer Mabil, Paul Izzo, Ben Warland and Mark Ochieng ensured their development progressed during the winter, and as a result, will find themselves on the plane to Myanmar to take on the AFC Under 19 Championship with the Young Socceroos.

Finally, it has been confirmed that Adelaide will play its first home game – against Melbourne Victory no less – at the newly-renovated Adelaide Oval. The stadium is now South Australia’s most iconic landmark, and has been given a superb reception by attendees during the recently completed AFL season, where crowd numbers soared for both local teams.

Some predictions have cast as many as 50,000 supporters turning up on Friday 17 October for the derby, and while these numbers are ambitious to say the least, unless the sky falls in, there will be more than what Coopers Stadium can hold, which is 17,000. If the home side can knock over their rivals on a warm evening at one of the country’s greatest sporting venues, expect local interest in this club to boom this season.

Key player
Fabio Ferreira, the enigmatic winger-come-striker, proved to be a fabulous assistant to Jerónimo Neumann up front last season, and some fine end-of-year form helped him bag nine goals for the season, equal with his aforementioned comrade at the club.

But Jerónimo is gone, and although Pablo Sanchez and Bruce Djite will essentially replace him, half of the pace is no longer there. With this, Ferreira’s running and control of the ball, as well as his marksmanship, will become integral to Adelaide United’s chances of success this year. Without him firing, Grand Final celebrations may elude its players once more.

One to watch
Awer Mabil, the 19-year-old Kenyan born Australian, is one of the most promising young players turning out in the A-League,  and the shows he has put on at Coopers Stadium have endeared to him to important people in the national set up. As a result, he has five underage national caps to his name, and is set to increase that during the AFC Under-19 Championship later this year.

Fans that caught the FFA Cup tie between Adelaide and Brisbane in September would have enjoyed Mabil’s numerous runs down the wing, and his assist in the Red’s opening goal capped a wonderful performance in an important preseason date.

Pacey, strong, and with skills on both sides of the pitch, this young man may not be a household name just yet, but when this season comes to its distant conclusion he very well could be.

Full squad list
1 Eugene Galekovic (c), 2. Michael Morrone, 3. Nigel Boogaard, 4. Dylan McGowan, 5. Osama Malik, 6. Cassio (vc), 7. Pablo Sanchez, 8. Isaias Sanchez, 9. Cirio, 10. Marcelo Carrusca, 11. Bruce Djite, 12. Mark Ochieng, 13. Dylan Smith, 14. Cameron Watson, 15. Ben Warland, 16. Craig Goodwin, 17. Awer Mabil, 18. James Jeggo, 20. Paul Izzo, 21. Tarek Elrich, 22. Fabio Ferreira, 23. Jordan Elsey, 24. Bruce Kamau, 30. John Hall, 32. Nathan Konstandopoulos

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