End of 2020/21 season report card: Adelaide United

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Believe it or not, the 2020/21 premiership season is done and dusted.

Here at The Football Sack, we like to investigate every squad’s performance throughout the season so, let us take a look at how the Reds performed this year.

Season summary

The introduction of many local stars helped Adelaide United return to the A-League finals after narrowly missing out last season. 

With proud South Australians, captain Stefan Mauk and head coach Carl Veart, leading the way, Adelaide enjoyed some excellent form during the campaign. 

An inconsistent start had many fans wondering whether the Reds were a genuine finals contender.

United overcame their early season blues by earning a dramatic win over the Central Coast Mariners at home and going on a six-game winning streak.

Once their winning run came to an end on round 15, the Reds displayed their resilience by bouncing back and claiming three consecutive victories. 

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Even though they were vying for a top-two spot in the final stages of the season, Adelaide finished fifth on the A-League ladder after succumbing to another phase of inconsistency. 

Considering the Reds had never won an away final, several people thought United were heading for a first-round exit when they secured a place in the elimination final against Brisbane Roar.

Against all odds, Adelaide earned the right to play Sydney FC in the semi-finals when Tomi Juric scored a quick brace and the Reds held on to secure a 2-0 victory.

Unfortunately for United, they were unable to overcome Sydney’s classy line-up and their season finished with a 2-1 defeat.

Area of excellence

Their record at home. Throughout the campaign, many teams dreaded playing Adelaide on their home turf.

Spurred on by their faithful supports, the Reds collected 25 points at Coopers Stadium, the equal second-best home record in the league.

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By the end of the season, the only sides United had lost to at home were Perth Glory and Sydney.

Along with developing the local stars they have, maintaining an elite home record will be instrumental for Adelaide’s success heading into the 2021/22 campaign.

Area of improvement.

Discipline. One of United’s trademarks this season was relentlessly pressing against their opponents to force a turnover.

Many times this was an effective tactic, but the Reds also let their aggression get the best of them on some occasions.

Statistically, Adelaide was the most penalised side in the A-League this season, receiving the equal most red cards (4) and third most yellow cards in the competition (59).

Also, United conceded 392 fouls during the 2020/21 season. Melbourne City committed the second-most fouls but were still a substantial 44 fouls behind the Reds.

If United introduced more discipline into their defensive approach, it could help them avoid unnecessary fouls, suspensions and elevate their game to another level next season.

Top student

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Craig Goodwin. Although he returned to Adelaide as a mid-season signing, Goodwin immediately boosted his side’s final hopes.

Shortly after arriving from Saudi Arabian club Al-Wehda on loan, the energetic winger got off to an excellent start when he scored on his first game back at United.

Across his 18 appearances this season, Goodwin hit the back of the net eight times and led the team with five assists.

Goodwin’s impact was so influential that in seven of the eight games he scored, Adelaide went on to win.

Rising star of the season

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Goalkeeper James Delianov.

Adelaide had many young prospects rise through their ranks throughout the 2020/21 season, but James Delianov stood out the most. 

Early in the campaign, the young keeper cemented his spot as the Reds new number one by picking up two consecutive RAA Travel Adelaide United Members Player of the Month awards in January and February. 

Despite suffering an injury setback during the middle of the season, Delianov reclaimed his spot in the side and returned to form after saving a penalty and keeping a clean sheet against the Roar.

Among all goalkeepers, Delianov ranked ninth for saves (60) and eight in clean sheets (five), an excellent achievement considering the 10 games he missed through injury. 

Grade: B+

Outlook

One win away from an A-League grand final this year, Adelaide has begun trending in the right direction.

Prioritising local players and staff has helped United create a welcoming club culture and strengthened its bond with the South Australian community.

Boasting a great mixture of young talent and reliable veterans, the Reds could be a few key signings away from emerging into legitimate title contenders next season. 

Feature image credit: Jordan Trombetta

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Amir Daou
Bachelor of Sport, Health and Physical Activity and Bachelor of Media and Communications student at Flinders University. Writing intern covering the latest in Adelaide United news and matches. Sport is my passion and I'm excited to learn more about the industry during my time with The Football Sack.
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