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  • Writer's pictureChristian Marchetti

Season Preview: Can youthful Reds upset the apple cart?

With the new A-League season right around the corner, Front Page Football will be breaking down each club's chances and what we can expect from them in 2020-21.

To kick things off, we take a look at Adelaide United.

How did they fare last season?

United started last season quite well, although a dramatic dip in form meant they missed out on a finals spot for the first time since 2016-17.

They were third after ten rounds, although Gertjan Verbeek's possession-based and high octane style did not last.

Growing discontent amongst the squad and embarrassing home defeats to Newcastle and Western United effectively ended the Dutchman's reign.

He did not return post-lockdown, and the Reds tasked assistant coach Carl Veart with trying to steer them to a finals spot.

He couldn't, just falling short, although much improved performances gave United fans more optimism about the future.

What is expected of them this season?

It is not a necessity, although finals football should be the target this season.

Adelaide is not often put in the same bracket of Sydney FC or Melbourne Victory when we talk about the league's big clubs.

Therefore, there is never that absolute shock when they miss out on finals.

However, Reds fans usually expect to see their team in the top six at the end of the season.

Veart needs to get the Red Army on side early by starting well; otherwise, the pressure will be on already.

Players to watch?

As experienced players, the impetus will be on them to come in straight away and make an impact.

Lopez is a good friend of former Adelaide favourite Isaias.

If he has even half the Spanish midfielder's impact, he will become an instant fan favourite.

The Spaniard's versatility could be critical, as he can play centre-back, right-back or even in midfield.

Juric is well-known to Australian football fans after his successful stint with the Western Sydney Wanderers, and featuring many times for the Socceroos.

Adelaide has never been blessed with having a striker that can consistently hit double digits each season.

Tomi Juric has represented the Socceroos 41 times. (AAP)

Juric can provide that with his poacher's instinct and aerial presence.

However, it may also depend on the type of service he receives from his teammates.

Any youngsters coming through?

Yes, yes, and yes.

There are a plethora of exciting young players coming through at the club.

Youngsters Mohamed and Al Hassan Toure, Pacifique Niyongabire, and Louis D'Arrigo all featured last season.

They will hope to press on with their development in 2020-21.

Al Hassan Toure starred throughout Adelaide's 2019 FFA Cup triumph. (AAP)

Meanwhile, the Reds have brought in new prospects such as NPL SA talent Domenic Costanzo, ex-Sydney FC youngster George Timotheou, and promising goalkeeper James Delianov.

Noah Smith and Kusini Yengi are also highly rated having come through the club's youth system.

And how's the manager?

As previously mentioned, United tasked Carl Veart with turning around their fortunes post-lockdown and making finals.

He failed in that regard, but there were many positives to take out from United's performances that suggest Veart is not just some rookie.

He brought a possession-based and attacking style to the team, which the fans will associate with as it is apart of the club's identity.

Another aspect of Veart's management which will appease the Reds faithful is his willingness to hand opportunities to young players.

Taras Gomulka was thrown into the deep end after the break, whilst United opted to recruit young goalkeepers Delianov and Joe Gauci, instead of more experienced heads.

Only time will tell whether Veart's style will come unstuck as it did under Verbeek and whether his unbridled faith in young players is naive, or a masterstroke.


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