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What’s wrong at Adelaide United?

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Roar Guru
10th January, 2020

Adelaide United have fallen into a rough patch in recent weeks.

They’ve been an on-and-off team this season, losing the first two games – although they were both against the current top two – before winning five games on the trot, including the FFA Cup final against Melbourne City.

They then lost narrowly to Wellington Phoenix before beating Newcastle Jets at home, but they subsequently lost their next three games, which brings us to the present. They have lost four out of their last five games, including two defeats against two of the bottom four sides.

So what’s going wrong at Adelaide United?

For one, they consistently try to rush passes in the final third. I was critical of Ryan Kitto when he was playing at left-back about how every time he got the ball he would cross it even if there were only one or sometimes no teammates in the box. He’s been removed, with Michael Maria now taking over the spot, but it remains an issue.

Adelaide have the worst passing accuracy in the league, with a measly 76.20 per cent. Although this is the whole team’s fault, I am going to make an example out of one player: James Troisi.


Troisi has been deployed as a deep playmaker since arriving at Adelaide. I have a deep respect for Troisi and think he’s a wonderful attacking midfielder, but I just don’t think this is the position for him.

As an attacking midfielder or playmaker, you’re the man who changes the game. You take on your marker and you always want to pass forward and change the game for your team.

If you give the ball away, it’s okay because more often than not you will have at least four players behind you who can clean up.

James Troisi

(AAP Image/Jeremy Ng)

Troisi is playing as an attacking midfielder in a deep playmaker position. Off the ball, he is taking up all the positions of a deep playmaker, but on the ball is playing like a traditional no.10.

He’s taking on opponents from inside his defensive half, playing long balls over the top and consistently giving possession away.

His passing accuracy is 73.8 per cent. In the opposition’s half, it’s 64.4. His position is quite like Luke Brattan’s at Sydney FC, so I compared the players’ statistics.

Luke Brattan has a passing accuracy of 85.7 per cent, falling to 76.9 per cent in the opposition’s half.


Next I compared him to two players who play an attacking midfield role: Dimitri Petratos and Alessandro Diamanti.

Player Luke Brattan James Troisi Dimitri Petratos Alessandro Diamanti
Position Deep playmaker Deep playmaker Attacking midfielder Attacking midfielder
Passing accuracy 85.7% 73.8% 81.3% 75.5%
Passing accuracy in opponents’ half 76.9% 64.4% 71.1% 63.1%
Completed passes 639 361 343 407

This further shows how Troisi is playing too deep for his style. Luke Brattan’s stats stand out completely compared to those of the other three, which makes it hard to believe he and Troisi play the same position. Troisi, Petratos and Diamanti have extremely similar passing stats, which further shows how Troisi is playing as an attacking midfielder but too deep in the field.

Adelaide United need to find a way to fix this, because the heartbeat of the team is not playing in the right position.

As I stated earlier, Troisi is an extremely good player – he just needs to be put further up the field.

Gertjan Verbeek needs to find a way to incorporate two no.10s into his system, otherwise Adelaide may end up with similar problems and an inability to keep possession in the middle of the park.