They might have lost 4-0 at the weekend, but Adelaide United still appear to be heading in the right direction. Neil Sherwin reports.
The two best sides in the Hyundai A-League faced off in a blockbuster Friday night game, and it was the Brisbane Roar who emerged victorious after a vintage performance, defeating Adelaide United 4-0.
The Roar’s win was even more impressive when you consider that they played the last thirty-six minutes with ten men after Reinaldo, who had opened the scoring, was dismissed for a second bookable offence. Kiwi striker Kosta Barbarouses bagged a brace, and Matt Smith also found the net. Manager Ange Postecoglou was understandably delighted with his team’s resolve, with three of their goals coming while shorthanded.
“It was a fantastic response, we’ve said all along that we want to be a positive side and that we never want to take a backward step to anyone,” he said.
“It was almost as though we had lifted another gear, at the end of the week that we’ve had, down to ten men and I thought we were untouchable for about 10 or 15 minutes. It was a fantastic response and I guess it just goes to show that with the good football and everything else we do, there is some real character and determination in this squad.”
For Adelaide, the manner of the defeat was disappointing even if they were without some of their key players.
"They (Brisbane) were too good for us today. They play a really high level, they're definitely the best team we've played against and the best team in the league," said boss Rini Coolen after the game. "They're getting better and better. I've said it before, the way they play, it's a really high level."
The win stretches Brisbane’s lead over Adelaide at the top of the table to four points, though both sides have been equally impressive after 13 rounds of action. It’s hard to look past either for the title, especially considering that some of the other preseason contenders, including last year’s champions Sydney FC, continue to struggle. The Central Coast Mariners currently occupy third spot, four points adrift of United, but they have got two games in hand on the South Australians.
Despite the heavy defeat, the season has seen a remarkable turnaround for Adelaide who finished bottom of the table last season. The acquisition of striker Sergio Van Dijk, signed coincidentally from the Roar, and midfielder Marcos Flores has strengthened the side significantly, while the emergence of youngster Matthew Leckie has been another plus point. Sadly for United, Leckie sustained medial knee ligament damage in a recent game and will be out for up to ten weeks.
There was some good news for United this week with it was announced that they have been bought by a local consortium made up of wealthy South Australian businessman Robert Gerard, Dr Richard Noble, Bruno Marveggio and high profile lawyer Greg Griffin, who will become the club’s chairman.
"This move will see Adelaide United go from strength-to-strength and be transformed into a true community Club owned by local Adelaide business people," said Ben Buckley, CEO of the Football Federation of Australia (FFA), following the announcement.
"By putting the Club in the hands of a highly-respected, passionate and wholly local consortium we've ensured the success and the future of Adelaide United Football Club."
The takeover marks the beginning of a new for Adelaide United who appear to be getting things right both on and off the field.
Neil is the co-editor of the wonderful BackPageFootball.com, and you can follow him on Twitter @neilsherwin