Adelaide’s youth philosophy sets an example for Melbourne City

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As Adelaide United secured an impressive win over Melbourne City, Carl Veart’s approach to youth integration stood out as the decisive factor in the match.

Mohamed Toure, still just 17-years-old, stole the headlines by scoring the late winner which sent Adelaide to third on the A-League Men’s table.

Just a few days ago, against Wellington Phoenix, it was fellow 17-year-old Bernardo Oliveira who scored late for Adelaide to snatch a point. Whilst not long before that 16-year-old Nestory Irankunda scored a crucial late goal in Adelaide’s win over the Newcastle Jets.

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Veart has been allowing his young players to shine at the most important stages of matches, giving them the opportunity to make a name for themselves and build confidence.

When asked post-match about Toure’s winner, Veart was clearly thrilled for his young striker.

“I’m so pleased for Mo [Toure] getting his first goal of the season,” he said.

“He has been putting pressure on himself because he has not been scoring goals so for him to get the winner tonight, I am very happy for him.”

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When quizzed on his philosophy to getting the best out of his young players, Veart was refreshing with his transparency

“We have a good group of young players, and it is about giving them opportunities,” he said.

“We do not give them too much information. We just let them go out and play.

“We want to let them play on their own instinct which will hopefully build their confidence as players.”

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The prioritising of youth development will likely continue in Adelaide’s coming matches during a congested period of the season.

“Some of the older boys will be very sore after tonight. I imagine we will be rotating those players,” Veart said.

The Adelaide coach’s approach of flexibility and freedom for his young players is in distinct contrast with Melbourne City head coach Patrick Kisnorbo.

Whilst City clearly have plenty of quality in their squad, the lack of regular playing time for younger squad members, and reliance on more experienced individuals, appears to be hindering the team’s development.

The likes of Marco Tilio, Stefan Colakovski, Jordan Bos and Kerrin Stokes have arguably not been given the consistent playing time necessary for them to settle into City’s playing style this season, or to grow as players.

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Whilst Tilio started against Adelaide, he unfortunately had to be withdrawn before half-time due to injury, making way for Colakovski to play the entire second half.

The North Macedonian international showed glimpses of his 2020/21 form during the second half, but the performance acted as a reminder of what City fans are not seeing regularly enough this season.

City’s young players are not missing out on selection for failing to perform when given the chance, as most have performed very well during their brief cameos.

Nonetheless, the existing hierarchy of players has remained untroubled.

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The foundation of veteran players, however, has appeared somewhat shaken in recent weeks.

Curtis Good, Nuno Reis, Rostyn Griffiths and Scott Jamieson have all faced either injury or COVID-related problems in 2022, creating instability in City’s defence.

In the game against Adelaide, Reis was still not fit to start but had to come on earlier than planned in the second half after Jamieson picked up a minor injury.

Whilst arguably this instability has led to City’s leaky defence over the last couple of months, with no clean sheets in eight league matches, Kisnorbo is remaining focused on individual errors.

“We are just making the wrong decision sometimes,” he said.

“I do not think we have a defensive problem.”

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When pressed as to what he can do to eradicate the individual errors in his team, Kisnorbo was blunt in his response.

“We will learn. We want to get better,” he said.

Against Adelaide, it was a Carl Jenkinson error which led to the winning goal.

The deliberate philosophy of youth promotion at Adelaide is being rewarded at this stage of the season, with fresh legs regularly enabling the Reds to change games late in the contest.

Meanwhile, City’s stubbornness in sticking with more established players is seemingly creating problems when it comes to managing workloads and freshness within the squad.

The instability within Melbourne’s squad has been a product of an unwillingness to adequately incorporate enough younger players into the regular squad rotation.

Ultimately, this divergence in philosophies was the reason Adelaide came away with the three points on Tuesday night.

Feature Image Credit: Jordan Trombetta

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Oscar Rutherford
Oscar Rutherford
Sports tragic studying Law/Arts at Monash University. Second-best paid Oscar working in football who has been to China.

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