Like many A-League fans, my observations of Warren Joyce’s Melbourne City reign were formed from some distance.
After selling stars Goodwin and Isaias, Adelaide United needed to find – among other things – a quality defensive midfielder. A midfield general, if you like.
Well ahead of the kick-off of the 2019-20 A-League campaign, they had the money from these sales and from releasing Baba, but as per usual, Adelaide were very sluggish in the transfer market.
There were some very good Aussie A-League players available but the club’s insistence on predominantly bargain-basement signings and low wages means they go into the season short of defensive quality under new manager Gertjan Verbeek.
Mirko Boland and Vince Lia are too slow to cut it in this position and Riley McGree – albeit a good signing – is more of an attacking midfielder.
United have also failed to replace Taylor Regan, so when injury strikes, watch out.
Championship teams are built on defence as Tony Popovic demonstrated last season, despite the fact his Perth Glory team failed to win the A-League’s ultimate prize against Sydney FC on grand final day.
Craig Goodwin has also not been replaced and when the eastern states are spending up big, Adelaide is well behind.
Each year they try to get away with the bare minimum, but this year, Adelaide’s lack of recruiting is going to hurt.
Of course they could fix the problem even now, but after hearing excuse after excuse from the club’s new director of football Bruce Djite, can we really expect some deadline quality signings?
So with an inferior squad than last year and a new coach with new ideas, United will struggle to make the finals and it should be no surprise.
I hope, of course, that I am wrong but realistically I don’t think I will be.
In fact, I expect that it will be Marco Kurz and Melbourne Victory that will have the last laugh.