After selling stars Goodwin and Isaias, Adelaide United needed to find – among other things – a quality defensive midfielder. A midfield general, if you like.
As Adelaide United completed a critical victory against Alen Stajcic’s well drilled Central Coast Mariners side, outgoing head coach Marco Kurz must surely have taken a moment to wonder what more the club’s bosses could want from his side.
The tense win which was earned through a fine first-half volley from Isaías all but secures their spot within the A-League’s top six, which in combination with the 2018 FFA Cup title, surely makes for an impressive sophomore season for the coach.
The performance on Sunday was attritional, with Central Coast’s profligacy costing them the chance of building on the previous week’s impressive victory over the Newcastle Jets.
There are whispers that this style of play, in combination with an apparent lack of interest in playing young players, has played a part in the decision remove the coach.
However these arguments, if true, ring hollow.
Kurz has achieved great success with a middling squad, which apart from winger Craig Goodwin and club legend Isaías, lacks established top-tier talent.
In addition, injuries have robbed him of the services of well credentialed import Baba Diawara and returning Socceroo Ben Halloran.
Under these conditions, Kurz’s achievements have been phenomenal.
Perhaps due to these injuries, Kurz has provided substantial playing time to the likes of George Blackwood and Ryan Strain, with striker Apostolos Stamatelopoulos the only young player with legitimate claims to increased first-team minutes.
More likely is that the club’s owners – of whom chairman Piet van der Pol is the public face – wish to install a coach of their choosing, a decision which is well within their rights but one which should not escape scrutiny.
It should, for instance, not be forgotten that when Kurz took charge of the club they had found themselves languishing in ninth place in the previous season.
Kurz himself will surely land on his feet, and with potential openings in the A-League in addition to his overseas contacts, it is unlikely that he will find himself out of a job for long.
Therefore, it feels that the fans – the vast majority of whom have an affinity for the outgoing Kurz – are the real losers in this scenario and must surely be asking themselves whether the destabilising influence of a new manager will really lead to improved on-field success.
Such a scenario can go one of two ways.
The owners may support their new manager with significant financial investment, enabling the club to join the upper echelon of A-League clubs, a situation which may leave the door open for a potential title run.
If this is what plays out, then fans will of course soon change their tune and the decision to remove Kurz will be justified.
If, however, the new manager struggles – or if he does not receive financial support – the Adelaide United faithful will be well within their rights to look back fondly on days like today and wonder why their dugout is no longer filled by the talented German.