2012 Off-Season

01 July 2012 Leave a comment

In recent weeks, the news coming through from Adelaide United has been very thin on content, but thanks to the launch of the Adelaide Reds website which is run independently by the club as opposed to the FFA sanctioned “official” websites, we have had relatively transparent communication between the club and its supporters. Here’s my take on the topics which have made the biggest splash lately.

Marcos Flores

Marcos Flores has arguably been one of Adelaide United’s best players, and showed everyone why when he became the club’s first Johnny Warren medalist in 2011 after being proclaimed the A-League’s best player of the 2010/11 season. Flores then transferred to Henan Jianye in the 2011 off-season for what is believed to have been a healthy sum.

Flores - Henan Jianye

Marcos Flores with Henan Jianye.

Fast forward a year, and the A-League is once again abuzz with the news that Flores has been released from his Chinese contract and is currently a free agent. Understandably there has been a lot of speculation of his imminent return to Hindmarsh, but in a recent statement made by the club, there appears to be very little chance of the playmaker donning the red shirt again, unless there are suddenly overseas offers for currently contracted players. In football, all squad lists are subject to change right up until the first kick-off of the season, and even then there may be player movements.

With interest from US Major League Soccer clubs, other Chinese Super League clubs, as well as other A-League clubs, Flores’ future is entirely up in the air. At this moment in time, I just can’t see any players on the current Adelaide United roster making way for Flores’ return. There have been rumours floating around that Sergio van Dijk may be sold off, but as recently as two weeks ago, there has been no offers tabled for one of the A-League’s most prolific strikers.

I’ll be as interested as any Flores-idoliser to see where our former trequartista ends up plying his trade, but I won’t be holding my breath for his return to the Reds.

Kit supplier

Photo from Getty Images.

After last season’s experiment with Erreà the club has decided to drop the Italian company as the official kit supplier of Adelaide United. The kits themselves were actually of decent quality, but the service and problems associated with supply were the ultimate factors which forced the club’s hand in deciding to move on.

I was unable to purchase the correct sized shirt because the sizing was two sizes smaller than Australian standards. Apart from the shirt, there was hardly any other apparel for purchase. Those who did manage to pre-order the playing shirt were forced to wait months due to an inadequate supply from the manufacturer, only to find out the sizing problems first hand upon receipt of the goods. Throughout the season, I don’t think my sized shirt (XXL) was available anywhere.

Adelaide v Gamba Osaka - AFC Asian Champions

Photo from Getty Images.

Once the season finished, and our position in the AFC Champions League was decided, the club was approached by Legeato provide the kits for the continental competition. Such was the short time frame in which the deal was signed, and the club’s first game in the ACL, that the kit itself was a simple template taken from the football catalog.

No Legea ACL shirts were available to purchase, and thus most surmised that this would be a short term arrangement until a proper A-League supplier could be contracted.

Rumours began circulating soon afterwards that the club was in talks with world renown football and sports apparel supplier Kappa for the exclusive supply of the playing kits as well as off-field apparel for the Reds. This was later confirmed at the AUFC Members Inc. meeting held in mid-June. At present, the club and Kappa are awaiting final signatures before the official announcement will be made in the coming weeks.

With the CEO Glenn Elliot saying that the playing outfit will return to the club and state’s proud tri-colours, this is what I am hoping to see:

Templates by Kappa. Design by me.

Sponsorships

Following the last two seasons with Coopers Brewery being our front of shirt sponsor, a recent initiative by the Australian Federal Government and sporting bodies has been launched to combat alcohol sponsorships in sport, threatening to tear away our major sponsor. In this new agreement, Adelaide United will lose Coopers as a major sponsor, but there are assurances that the club will be compensated for this loss.

I understand where the government and FFA stand with this, but I also think it’s an absolute shame that government handouts are favoured over hard-fought sponsorship dollars. To add salt to the wound, Coopers is a symbol of South Australian pride to our patriarchal supporters. This is what davidbloop, a member of the FourFourTwo Australia forums had to say about it:

Way to alienate not only Adelaide United the club, but also South Australian fans that not only like having a sponsor, but are proud to have a true South Australian icon on our shirts. It doesn’t matter the amount of compo we’d get when you’re removing a part of our state from our state’s team.

Hopefully the club can secure another major sponsor before the new season kicks off, but as we’ve seen with the ACL so far, it hasn’t been easy to lure sponsorship dollars, with the front of shirt still completely blank even with the extensive coverage the continental competition has brought to the club.

Glenn Elliot acknowledged that there are now a couple of investors looking into sponsorship of the Reds, but only time will tell who and what they can bring.

Adelaide United Members Inc. Meeting – 18 June 2012

18 June 2012 1 comment

Glenn Elliot (CEO), Michael Valkanis (NYL Head Coach/First Team Assistant Coach) and Matt Rossi (Memberships and Ticketing manager) were present to talk to the members about the recent past, present and future of the club.

Key points from the meeting:

  1. Focus in the last few games of the last A-League season was on the defense, and that carried over into the ACL campaign as preparation for the new A-League season. This has naturally progressed into forward transition and attacking intent. Expect to see more improvement in the attacking department come October as that is Kossie’s natural style of play.
  2. Recruiting for the club will be overseen by a “List Manager” – new position at the club in the footballing department. They will personally observe all potential players playing in person before offering trials. Glenn was adamant that this had not happened with some previous players who came into the team on “high profiles” but with no understanding of the club or the city.
  3. All players contracted with the club have been personally interviewed by the board and the coach, to discuss what they can bring to the club. Some were apparently very frank and open, but showed the club how much they would give to the club.
  4. A lot of emphasis of pushing players through the system and elevating them to the first team squad at a younger age. A lot of praise was given to young NYL defender Jordan Elsey, and his resilience in the Weifang Cup last year. Lots of the boys who played in the Weifang Cup were subsequently offered NYL contracts because they had shown they could step it up at a higher level. Of those in the NYL, many have gone on to train with the first team, to again challenge them to step it up to a more professional, higher intensity training regime. A lot of promising local kids coming through the ranks at the moment.
  5. Barker-Daish was talked up as one of very few players who have developed as natural No.10′s in this country. Both he and Bowles are now available for selection in the next stages of the ACL, and have been nothing but professionals, coming over to the club early and training with the squad from the get-go. Wanted to come over earlier, but Kossie told them to have a break!
  6. Winning games is a priority. Winning will encourage crowds to return. More crowds = more revenue. More revenue = more profits. The football club is a business. It must make money to survive.
  7. The club is financially in the black by about $15-16k from the ACL campaign so far. Glenn did make a point that the FFA will take some cut of the winnings, but only if we make it to the final.
  8. Adelaide United will remain at Hindmarsh Stadium. Possibility of NYL and W-League games used as curtain-raisers for a few games this season, but restricted due to the travel requirements and lodging of visiting teams.
  9. All beverage (and possibly a lot of other) sponsorships will lapse next March. Fresh slate for clubs and FFA to work with.
  10. Kappa has been confirmed as our kit supplier. Awaiting final signatures before the announcement. Kit will return to SA tri-colours. Legea stepped in for the ACL, and the club will discuss with them if they are still to be required for the remaining knock-out stage games.
  11. Major sponsorships have been hard to come by. Coopers will continue their sponsorship with the club in the A-League. After the cry-out in the paper recently, two companies have approached the club interested in sponsoring the Reds for the rest of the ACL. No names were mentioned. Caltex are interested in a bigger involvement in football, but not AUFC specifically. BHP were mentioned to be interested in investing in the grassroots development of the game.
  12. An annual AUFC v MVFC ‘Legends’ game is on the cards. Off the pitch, our clubs are quite close and plans are in the works for each city to alternately host the game annually. Personally I think it’s overkill as an annual event, and it’s still rather soon to be calling past players legends. Some are still playing elsewhere so that would make it difficult.
  13. The regional game is to be held at Hindmarsh Stadium. The club will provide subsidised travel and accommodation to regional centres around SA and the stadium bays will be sectioned up and labelled with the region along the sponsor boards.
Categories: News

Concise 2011/12 Season Preview

02 October 2011 Leave a comment

Adelaide United players (L to R): Cassio, Jon McKain, Evgeniy Levchenko, Sergio van Dijk, Andy Slory (Picture by Dylan Coker - Adelaide Now)

Adelaide United will head into 2011/12 with brand new faces, a brand new mentality, and a brand new footballing culture. For a club that prides itself on success, the upcoming season will show if the Reds really have what it takes to win some silverware with a squad that is hardly recognisable from a year ago.

Ins and Outs

The club has lost a host of first team players from the previous season with most now plying their trade in clubs far and wide. Long serving players Travis Dodd, Lucas Pantelis and Robert Cornthwaite have departed the City of Churches for clubs in all directions of the compass. The speed of Mathew Leckie has been lost to the German 1.Bundesliga, whilst creative playmaker Marcos Flores now earns his keep in the Chinese Super League. Midfield pair Paul Reid and Adam Hughes are also big losses from the cleanout.

To fill the void left by the above players, Rini Coolen has brought in dynamic midfielder Zenon Caravella and former Adelaide United favourite Bruce Djite from Gold Coast United. Osama Malik also returns to the club from his stint for the now defunct North Queensland Fury. Former Brisbane Roar players, Spase Dilevski, Milan Susak and Dario Vidosic have been added to shore up the defence and midfield, with the latter being named Adelaide United’s Australian marquee player. Socceroo Jon McKain joins the club after his time in Saudi Arabia since his departure from Wellington Phoenix, and has taken over Travis Dodd’s captain’s armband for the season. Former Ukraine international, Evgeniy Levchenko joins the club from the Eredivisie and fills the final visa spot. Rounding off the squad are former Sydney FC defender Antony Golec and Portugal-born Australian Ricardo da Silva from Adelaide City in the South Australian Super League.

Last season

After hitting rock bottom in 2009/10, Rini Coolen was appointed head coach mere weeks before the start of the 2010/11 season and managed to lead his squad to an undefeated run of 11 games at the start of the season. However, injury and poor-form in the latter half of the season led to the Reds losing more than half of their remaining games. The blistering start to the season ensured Adelaide United a Finals place, finishing 3rd at the end of the season, behind Brisbane Roar and Central Coast Mariners. After a 1-0 win over Wellington Phoenix in the first week of the Finals, Adelaide bowed out against Gold Coast United in a heated 2-3 loss at Hindmarsh Stadium.

This season

With the big names brought in to replace the big names that have left, many have tipped Adelaide to top the ladder come the end of the season and feature prominently in the Finals series. Rini Coolen’s men have already showed that they are not afraid to score goals with 33 goals scored in the 10 pre-season matches leading up to the kick-off of the 2011/12 season. Most notably, however, is that they have only let through 5 goals in all 10 of those fixtures. Both forwards and defenders seem to have hit their straps, and with a plethora of options all over the park to choose from, Coolen now has the unenviable task of team selections ahead of him. What it may come down to is how quickly the newer signings will gel with the established players recruited early on in the off-season. The loss of Flores as a creative spark in midfield may not be replaced this season, as potential replacements in Vidosic, Caravella, and even Djite, do not fit the traditional trequartista mould of the departed Argentine. The Reds will aim to do better than last season and a top two finish seems very plausible if form in the pre-season is anything to go by.

Key players

Sergio van Dijk was the A-League’s leading goalscorer and Golden Boot winner last season with a record of 1 goal every 2 games. He will once again lead the line for Adelaide, this time with a partner in crime in Bruce Djite. Van Dijk’s success will depend highly on the supply he gets from all areas of the pitch. If both van Dijk and Djite ‘click’, they could possibly be the most dangerous and prolific forward combination in the league this season.

2011/12 prediction

1st + Grand-Finalists

As reported on The Southern Terrace

Categories: 2011/12, Season Preview

United signs Ricardo da Silva from City

24 September 2011 Leave a comment

Ricardo da Silva training with Adelaide United. Photo by Adelaide United.

After months of waiting on the sidelines whilst Adelaide City continued their charge through the local FFSA Super League, finals series and subsequent grand final defeat; Adelaide United have finally snapped up Portuguese-born Ricardo da Silva.

Born in Torres Vedras, a small city 50 kilometres north of Portugal’s capital of Lisbon, Ricardo arrived in Adelaide as an international student in his early years, where he studied for 2 years before heading back to Europe to trial for clubs in Italy and to ultimately sign for Sport Clube União Torreense in the Portuguese Second Division, which was based in his home town.

In 2007, Ricardo returned to Adelaide due to family reasons and signed for local Super League clubs including Adelaide Blue Eagles, and most recently, Adelaide City, where he scored a hattrick and a 5-goal haul in two separate matches against Modbury Jets in the 2011 season; Ricardo finished the season with 17 goals in 21 appearances. His performances in the top tier of South Australian football caught the eye of Adelaide United manager, Rini Coolen, who offered the midfielder an invitation to trial with the Adelaide United squad in the 2011 A-League off-season. Ricardo featured in a trial match for United against former club Adelaide Galaxy where he scored the winning goal of the match.

Adelaide United were initially unable to sign Ricardo with his commitment to Adelaide City coming first and foremost, but it is understood an agreement had been reached between the two clubs for the transfer to occur at the end of the local league season. Unfortunately for United, that meant waiting until after City had completed its pursuit of glory in the FFSA finals series, which culminated in a loss in the grand final by penalty shoot-out.

With Super League commitments over and done with, Ricardo joins Adelaide United as their 21st player on the roster for the 2011/12 A-League season. When asked if he had ever thought about signing for a professional club, Ricardo emphasised his determination from the start of his career to strive to reach a higher level to his game.

“It’s something I worked very hard and long for, it has always been a goal of mine so it’s something I’m looking forward to,” Da Silva said.

“I believe in myself so I thought when you play local football and you want to become professional, you always believe someone is going to sign you because you’re good enough to get there, so I definitely thought I was a chance, and the kind of football Rini said he wanted to try and play, he told me he thought I’d fit in with that.”

“I try and not focus too much on my expectations. It’s easy for me to motivate myself and I want to be champions this year with this team,” Da Silva said.

“The rest is just to try and work hard because it would be great in my first year to become champions with Adelaide United, which is the overall goal of the whole club, and that’s what I want.”

As he is an Australian citizen, Ricardo does not fill a foreign player quota position. Ricardo’s prowess in attack is highlighted by his ability to play on either wing or behind the striker, and his goal scoring ability has been proven at state league level.

Adelaide United unveils 2011/12 Erreà kits

10 September 2011 3 comments

Levchenko, McKain, van Dijk, Galekovic and Djite model the new kits. (Photo by Sarah Reed, AdelaideNow)

When the A-League first came into existence, a single kit-maker was tasked with producing the playing apparel for the entire league; that was Reebok. Times have changed, the year is 2011 and the contract with Reebok has elapsed. All clubs were now able to negotiate their own kit-suppliers for the coming season.

Marcos Flores training in the red training kit.

Adelaide United were initially rumoured to have been courting the services of international sportswear producer Umbro, but diverged from public speculation by announcing Erreà had signed on for three years as the official on-field and off-field apparel supplier.

The training gear was released soon afterwards, coming in two flavours – red with black trim, and navy with red trim – both clearly colour-swapped template shirts.

This kit went on and became the temporary playing shirt for the club in pre-season friendly games against the state league clubs at Hindmarsh Stadium. Stratco even cast Sergio van Dijk and Cassio in leading roles in their “Toy Shed” commercial wearing the training gear, to much acclaim.

Whilst the players were getting used to donning their newly supplied strip, the playing kit went through many months of rigorous designing and redesigning by Erreà in consultation with the club, resulting in a lengthy delay on its official release.

Finally, in early September, Adelaide United marquee player Dario Vidosic tweeted the following:

New 11/12 jersey will be unveiled on Wed. Hope everyone comes along this Fri to Hindmarsh for our game v GCU #Adelaide #adelaideunited

Front of shirt sponsor Coopers was announced to have renewed their contract with the Reds at the club’s season launch dinner, and provided the backdrop of the kit presentation at the Regency Park brewery.

“We are delighted to be the technical kit supplier of Adelaide United,” Erreà Australasia Managing Director George Aliferis said.

“Having worked closely with Adelaide United over the past few months, with the entire clothing range being designed together, we are very pleased to launch the 2011/12 on field playing kits. With Nano technology and the highest quality jerseys produced in Europe, we are very pleased with the end result.

“Once the fans see the newly created Italia range we are sure they will be delighted not only with the styling and quality, but also with the fact that the clothing is produced in the EU and carries the unique Oeko-Tex non-toxic textiles guarantee.”

Back of shirt sponsor Stratco were also on hand to provide photos of the event, and promptly posted the following (and more) photos up on their Facebook page:

All players on hand modelling the kit were impressed by the quality and feel of the new strip, with Bruce Djite commenting on the continuation of the trend set by Reebok in the previous iteration of the club colours.

“I think it’s great. We’ve got fantastic sponsors on the shirt and we are the Reds, the home strip is all red and I think the black alternate strips are something a bit different,” Djite said.

“It’s a fantastic strip, it feels good, it’s the first time I’ve worn it and I look forward to getting out onto Hindmarsh and wearing the colours.”

The newest addition to the sponsorship of the club was announced as Hot Property Group and were welcomed as the shirt sleeve sponsor for the upcoming season.

Sources: AdelaideNow, Adelaide United FC, Stratco

When is a membership, not a membership?

05 September 2011 16 comments

mem·ber·ship noun /ˈmɛmbərˌʃɪp/

1. the state of being a member,  as of a society or club.

2. the status of a member.

3. the total number of members  belonging to an organization [sic], society, etc.

- From Dictionary.com “membership

Recently there has been a lot of talk amongst the supporters of Adelaide United as to what exactly their current status at the club is. You see, when the season ticket packages were released to renewing AUFC “members” in early July, there was something peculiar in fine print:

A new "membership" option!

This got a lot of people scratching their heads in confusion. Weren’t paying supporters of the club from the previous six seasons of A-League football classified as “members” anymore? Why the change? Was it a ploy to make more money? What do we do with all our 20xx/yy AUFC Member lapel pins and bumper stickers from seasons past? So many questions!

So what does being a “member” of an A-League club, specifically Adelaide United, really mean anyway? In the past, what you’d get in an AUFC member’s pack would be the season ticket, a lanyard, bumper sticker, lapel pin and that’s pretty much it. I do remember in earlier years, backpacks, scarves and other club paraphernalia were included as well, but as I wasn’t a paying member back then I can’t really comment on the exact contents. As well as the physical merchandise, members had always had priority access to Finals and AFC Champions League tickets (should the club make it to either competition), and discounting at the club store.

Being of the franchise model that the A-League is based on, naturally all the above would be expected as part of a financial agreement between yourself and the club in question, and therein lies the confusion on what the terminology of “membership” means.

When a person is asked about what it means to be a member of a football club, a lot of people will proclaim “passion” as one of the fundamental characteristics, and in some ways it is an expectation that members are passionate about their club. Others will try to be more specific in what they expect a membership should look like and point towards the FC Barcelona way of running a club, whereby the members are essentially the stakeholders of the club, and a board runs the club on behalf of its financial members.

If passion is the go-ahead for us to be classified as being a member of a club, what is classified as passion? Attending every game without fail? Chanting and singing on the terraces? Is it buying merchandise to fully deck out your house in club colours? Or perhaps it’s purchasing a new playing shirt each year to “keep up with the times”? Maybe, just maybe, it is the ability to voice opinions about the club, and have a sense of satisfaction that critique is taken aboard by the club, positive or negative.

Adelaide United have done just that with the release of their new membership packages; not to be confused with the season ticket, which still stands separate and alone to the membership. The following is a list of benefits that the club has promoted as members-only:

  • Member’s keyring
  • Member’s sticker
  • Free entry into AUFC pre-season games at Hindmarsh Stadium
  • Invitation to Members only information night with Chairman & Head Coach
  • Invitation to Members Only Annual General Meeting and voting rights (over 18 years only)
  • Exclusive Members Only online access to AUFC information and video streams during the 2011/12 Hyundai A-League season
  • Access to Exclusive Members merchandise (purchased on AUFC online store, available from October)

The following are shared benefits with season ticket holders:

  • 10% discount on AUFC merchandise when purchased at AUFC club store, AUFC home games or AUFC online store (excludes Exclusive Members merchandise)
  • Priority access to tickets for the 2011/12 HAL finals series
  • E-Newsletter subscription
  • Membership of the Football Federation Australia Football Family

When these packages were released a couple of weeks ago, the backlash on the online community was enormous. There were comments suggesting this was a marketing ploy to get an extra penny from already paying supporters. Others had been confused as to why they weren’t classified as “members” any more after six to seven years of supporting the club financially. Then there were those interstate and overseas supporters who thought this was a great idea where they could contribute to the club without actually having a season ticket bundled into the pricing of the package.

What needs to be emphasised here is that the purchase of a membership is a choice. It is available to those who are willing and financial enough to go the extra distance for their club. The season ticket has not changed in content significantly since previous seasons, and will still be the yardstick that football pundits should be assessing as the club’s drawing power of supporters. The new membership is an optional package which is designed to allow members a voice, but to also provide some sort of exclusivity amongst the supporters.

Simply put, if you’re ONLY intending to attend match days, don’t bother with a membership. You’re still contributing towards the club, and in the end, your status as a season ticket holder already demonstrates your commitment to the club. You’ll still get discounts off your purchases at the club store AND you’ll still get priority access to Finals tickets, should the club make it. Otherwise, if the prospect of exclusive members’ events and online content excites you, then feel free to spend the extra cash. No one is forcing you to buy it if you don’t want it!

This bold move by the club to involve members in official proceedings is the first of its kind in the A-League. Currently, the incentives for being a member look to be very meagre but expect that to expand in the seasons to come. Whether the idea of splitting a membership from the traditional season ticket is a good move or not remains to be seen, but as a newly signed up member, I expect to be fully informed of the direction of the club at the AGM in the months to come.

So when is a member not a member? Does it really matter? Don’t let the labels of “member” or “season ticket holder” get you down! Whether you’re a season ticket holder or a member, it doesn’t really matter; in the end you’re still supporting the same Adelaide United.

Adelaide United – Season 2011/12 Preview

29 August 2011 6 comments
Vidosic + Levchenko

Vidosic and Levchenko with their AUFC shirts

The topic of the last two weeks (and three months) has been the transfer of certain Socceroos to certain big clubs in the A-League. While Melbourne Victory have finally snared their elusive Mr Kewell, and Sydney have secured the autograph of one Mr Emerton, the rest of the A-League clubs sit back and plan their own moves for the upcoming season.

Kewell and Emerton coming back to the A-League will be a real boost to the league, there’s no doubt about it. But in the end, they are single players in their new respective clubs striving to fight for the silverware this season. We should all remember that football is a team sport so what I want to look at is how Adelaide United has assembled their squad for the 2011/12 A-League season ahead, without the need (or financial means) to bring back a player with the profile of a Kewell or Emerton.

Build them up. Sell them off.

Leckie + Flores

Two influential players who have departed the club - Leckie and Flores.

What has Adelaide done differently? For starters, we have sold the reigning Johnny Warren Medallist Marcos Flores to an obscure, lowly ranked Chinese Super League side by the name of Henan Jianye for a rumoured healthy sum. We’ve also sold off Iain Fyfe and Robert Cornthwaite, two of the club’s most solid defenders last season, to Korean K-League sides Busan I’Park and Chunnam Dragons, respectively. All those healthy sums must surely be adding up…

It’s not a new concept to pluck a player out of obscurity, get them playing good football, and then sell them off to the highest bidder. As other blogs have mentioned previously, we shouldn’t be turning our noses up at the prospect of our league becoming a feeder league for other leagues around the world, whilst still remaining competitive domestically and on the continental front. Hey, if Porto can do it, there’s no reason why we can’t (at least aspire to) do it too!

Along with the loss of players through transfers which involved some financial gain for the club in the off-season, we also saw the departure of a rather large number of other players. Big losses include Travis Dodd, Lucas Pantelis and Adam Hughes – all of whom have now found a home at opposition A-League camps. Oh and Paul Reid has buggered off to who-knows-where…

(Let’s just forget about the Mathew Leckie situation for now. That story, and the frustration associated with it, shall come at a later date.)

Recruit, recruit, recruit!

So how does a club go about replacing eleven players; seven of whom would have been considered for starting berths? The answer is to obviously recruit players to fill the holes, but to also have them augment the current squad.

What better way to start that process than by signing a dynamic midfielder in Zenon Caravella and by bringing back the prodigal son, Bruce Djite. A few youth players have also been signed on, including local AIS and Joeys duo Jacob Melling and Paul Izzo; whilst newly promoted Brad Norton and returning Adelaide boy Osama Malik make up the remaining numbers in the youth department. Add to that list a more mature Spase Dilevski from his spell in Romania, who will provide cover in both midfield and the right side of defence.

Arguably Adelaide’s biggest off-season signing was Socceroo midfielder Dario Vidosic, who has plied his trade in the top flight in the German Bundesliga with FC Nurnberg for the last three years. Dario has returned to the A-League at the peak of his career. He is joined by fellow Socceroo defender Jon McKain, who also returns from overseas club Al Nassr in the Saudi Premier League.

The club’s latest acquisition may have seemed an odd choice to many fans and pundits alike, when it was announced in July that 33 year-old Ukrainian midfielder-come-defender Evgeniy Levchenko had signed on a one-year contract. His staunch defensive abilities had apparently caught the eye of head coach Rini Coolen.

How’s that for a list of replacements?

Adapt and accommodate.

With the arsenal of players that Rini has assembled, one can begin to see the tactical nous of the Dutchman and how he plans to utilise the players at his disposal.

The pre-season training regime consisted of three distinct phases of preparation:

  1. Fitness and conditioning (8 week block)
  2. Formation and shape (6 week block – trial matches played against FFSA Super League sides on a weekly basis)
  3. Tactical and fitness finetuning (6 week block – friendly matches to be played against A-League opposition)

If you have a look at the squad that the club now consists of, one thing stands out – the players who have been recruited are all very versatile on the pitch. This allows a greater tactical control of games as currently there is a limiting factor of three outfield substitutes on the bench. Here’s what I mean by the versatility of the players.

  • Zenon Caravella: Generally classified as a central midfielder. He has shown in the past that he is a decent creative player in the middle of the park, but can also push back in front of defence as well.
  • Spase Dilevski: Known mainly as a defensive midfielder, he has also played as a right full back.
  • Dario Vidosic: An attacking midfielder. Can also be deployed along the wings, and has technique and pace to burn. Not quite a trequartista like Marcos Flores, but he can slot in there without too much trouble.
  • Bruce Djite: Classically, a striker is his main role, but has shown in his games on loan for Jiangsu Shuntian that he plays very well as a second striker or as a false number ten, who sits just behind the main target man up front.
  • Osama Malik: Originally a central midfielder, but has developed into a capable central defender during his time at the now defunct North Queensland Fury.
  • Evgeniy Levchenko: Also a midfielder by trade, but is a capable left-footed central defender too.
  • Fabian Barbiero and Cameron Watson: Again, central midfielders who have demonstrated abilities at right full back.
  • Andy Slory and Iain Ramsay: Interchangeable wingers – left to right, right to left.
  • Daniel Mullen: Central defender and right back and has expressed his desire to become a right wing back in the mould of Sergio Ramos.
  • Pancho Usucar: Defensive midfielder, left full back, attacking midfielder – he can play all those positions.
  • Nigel Boogaard and Jon McKain: Maybe not so versatile with these two, but they will form a formidable central defence pair.
  • Sergio van Dijk:Centre forward, striker, target man and even trequartista.
  • Cassio and Bradley Norton: Master and apprentice at left full back.

With so many options for the coach to choose from, competition for starting berths will be at an all time high. Depending on the situations and the opponents, Rini now has the option to change things up instantaneously without dipping into his substitute bench.

And with that, I really don’t dare make any predictions on what the starting line-up will be, come the beginning of the season, but I’m sure we supporters will get a general idea of what it will look like at the scheduled friendlies against Gold Coast United, Brisbane Roar and Melbourne Victory in the next few weeks.

Where to now?

At last count, there are currently 39 days until the start of the new season. The club has already played out five trial matches against Super League opponents as mentioned above. Suffice to say, Adelaide United dispensed of all of them rather comfortably. The real test of the off-season preparations will be evident when the team takes on the A-League opposition in friendlies in the coming weeks.

Off the pitch, the club have launched the season ticket packages, and the newly envisaged ‘membership’ packages which were designed to involve the supporter more with the club. Still no sign of the Errea kits, but rumblings online suggest they should be released in the next week. The captain of the team has been announced as Jon McKain, with Eugene Galekovic and Cassio named as vice-captains. Coopers has signed on as front of shirt sponsors, whilst Stratco continues to sponsor the back of shirt.

In conclusion…

Anticipation for the new season is at an all-time high, and with the staggered official club releases trickling through, the football fans of Australia are once again stirring. Harry Kewell and Brett Emerton may be arriving on our sunburnt shores momentarily, but the buzz here in Adelaide is that of the team; the one club in South Australia that unites us all… Adelaide United FC.

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