Adelaide United 2019/20 season preview

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A new manager brings a more attacking style to a side that had already won silverware last season and were a spot kick away from a grand final.

Can Gertjan Verbeek get the best out of his young squad in his first season?

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Last Season…

A-League 4th
Finals: Semi-final
FFA Cup: Winners

They’ll win the league because…

The taste of FFA Cup silverware still lingers and so does the motivation from a semi-final penalty shootout exit. Adelaide United were a hard to beat team during the 2018/19 season but lacked attacking quality. Marco Kurz’s defensive outlook is now gone and so is his perceived lack of youth development. In steps Verbeek, Riley McGree and an international striker who looks like he can fill the void. There is optimism again around Coopers Stadium.

United still has a core group of players who know what it means to play for the club and have tasted success in the past. Couple this with Verbeek’s youth development record and the future looks promising.

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He has already shown faith in the explosive youngster, Al Hassan Toure who has scored four goals in his first three appearances for the club. It’s going to be an interesting season but if the Reds can shore up their midfield, they are in with a shot.

They’ll be cellar dwellers because…

Isaias is gone and no one has replaced him (yet). He was the heart and soul of Adelaide’s midfield from the moment he arrived at the club, starting 157 of his 158 league appearances in Red and was integral to the club’s premiership and championship double in 2015/16. A massive loss, for not only United but the A-League.

Isaias aside, the squad needs signings. New Director of Football, Bruce Djite, has stressed throughout the pre-season that the club are looking to make more signings but time is running out. Seven players have departed and four have arrived to replace them. Craig Goodwin is one of those departed. Another big loss considering he was the club’s top scorer last season. The squad lacks serious depth as the season edges closer – especially in midfield.

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Talk around the water cooler… look smart in front of your colleagues with this valuable piece of information

Verbeek is more than just a Mick Jagger look alike. He’s a former semi-professional boxer, judo sensei, a poet and a carpenter who built his own house. He is also a former 90’s Eredivisie defender who, at one stage in his career, scored a goal every three games.

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The off-season brought

Turmoil amongst the fans. The decision to sack Kurz was a baffling one and left a lot of people around the club very unhappy. To make things worse he went and signed with the club’s bitter arch-rivals in Melbourne Victory. Isaias and Craig Goodwin departing also left a sour taste but the arrival of some intelligent signings has regained the trust amongst supporters. Familiar faces like Eugene Galekovic, Carl Veart and Bruce Djite returning also helps the cause.

Key player

McGree. The South Australian born prospect returns home and his time to shine is now. The club has placed a lot of trust in the youngster as it is the first time Adelaide has paid a transfer fee for a player.

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He joins the Reds from Belgian powerhouse, Club Brugge where he impressed on loan at Newcastle Jets and Melbourne City.

At just 20 years of age, the task at hand is rather large for McGree. He must be the creative link in the midfield that the club has lacked in previous seasons. Being picked up by a European club like Brugge at 18 says a lot about him as a footballer and we know what he is capable of in front of goal: no-one can forget that scorpion kick, it even got him a seat at the table with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo at The Best FIFA Football Awards. For Adelaide to challenge for the title, McGree will have to be at his consistent best all season.

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One to watch…

Kristian Opseth. Could the 29-year-old Norwegian striker signed from Turkish side Erzurumspor be the prolific goal scorer Adelaide United have been searching for? The 189cm aerial threat possesses a thunderbolt left peg and a consistent goal scoring record across two European leagues. He’s one to watch this season and it will be interesting to see how he fares in a position where so many have failed before him.

INS: Michaël Maria (Charlotte Independence, USA), Riley McGree (Club Brugge KV, Belgium), Kristian Opseth (BB Erzurumspor, Turkey) and Al Hassan Toure (promoted).

OUTS: Isaias (released), Scott Galloway (Melbourne City), Baba Diawara (released), Craig Goodwin (Al-Wehda), Ken Ilso Larsen (released)

Full squad list

Goalkeepers: Paul Izzo, Daniel Margush, Isaac Richards

Defenders: Jordan Elsey, Michael Jakobsen (C), Michaël Maria, Michael Marrone

Midfielders: Mirko Boland, Lachlan Brook, Louis D’Arrigo, Ben Halloran, Ryan Kitto, Nathan Konstandopoulos, Vince Lia, Riley McGree, Ryan Strain

Forwards: Carlo Armiento, George Blackwood, Kristin Konstandopoulos, Nikola Mileusnić, Pacifique Niyongabire, Kristian Opseth, Al Hassan Toure, Kusini Yengi

Feature image credit: Phil Radoslovich

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Euan James
Euan James
Lover of all things football. Covering Adelaide United in 2019/20 for TFS!

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