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The Roar



Adelaide United’s balance of youth and experience an example for rest of the A-League to follow

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1st April, 2023

After Adelaide United’s maiden Grand Final victory in 2016, they failed to again reach those heights. They lost their identity along the way, mostly finishing mid-table for the following few seasons.

Involved with the club for one year as an assistant coach, Carl Veart was handed the responsibility in 2020 of carrying over a project which would be sustainable for long-term success.

Behind only the Central Coast Mariners, the Reds contain the second-youngest squad in the competition with an average age of 24.5.

Despite this, it doesn’t discourage Veart from relying upon his experienced veterans to complete the job, putting his full faith in them to perform each week. 

Club hero Isaías (36) and Spanish compatriot Javi López (37) are a couple of prime examples that although they might not have the legs, experience and football IQ are extremely important, especially in Isaías’ case where he is still able to dominate the midfield.

Friday night’s entertaining 3-2 win over Western Sydney Wanderers featured a starting line-up of mostly experienced players, with an average age five years above their overall squad.

Promising prospects Joe Gauci (22) and Louis D’Arrigo (21) were starters and are viewed as regulars by Veart, but the youthful bench caught the eye.


James Delianov (23), Panashe Madanha (18), Bernardo Oliveira (19), Luka Jovanovic (17), Jonny Yull (18), Ethan Alagich (19), and Nestory Irankunda (17) were the only seven substitutes available, with the latter four making a second-half appearance.

Veart’s ability to trust his youth while at the same time easing them into the side and often using them as impact subs speak volumes to the manager’s maturity. The hype around Irankunda and his rise to stardom hasn’t fazed Veart one bit in keeping the young lad grounded.

“A lot of people called that he (Irankunda) needs to start games. He’s a long way off from starting games,” Veart said.

With four goals and two assists already to his name, Irankunda and the other young talented teenagers present a bright future for the club who are already making an impact this season and are contributing to Adelaide’s impressive run of form. They are excitingly well and truly part of the project.

Joe Gauci and Nestory Irankunda celebrate an A-League Men victory for Adelaide United

(Photo by Ashley Feder/Getty Images)

League leaders Melbourne City have been known for playing some scintillating attacking football ever since the arrival of Erick Mombaerts, with this season no different as they have accumulated 47 goals in 20 games. Adelaide has matched this by scoring 47 of their own, highlighting their attacking identity which has caused City problems, as the Reds remain undefeated against them in three meetings this campaign.

If you watch Adelaide closely, Veart’s imprint on their game style is clear through overloading the midfield and on most occasions leaving behind a back three to allow either fullback to push up the flanks and overlap into dangerous areas.


Right balance in the middle of the park is also evident, as D’Arrigo provides the dynamism and flexibility required for Isaías to float around in front of the backline and dictate play with his admirable range of passing and creativity.

Averaging 14.36 shots per game this season, Adelaide are proving to be a menace for opposing defences to contain them creating clear opportunities up front.

Set-pieces have been a real strength and an avenue that has been exploited, but that shouldn’t undermine the great football that Veart has implemented throughout his tenure.

As mentioned, a lot of the attacking build-up play is caused by overlapping as well as spreading out the play into wide spaces out to the wingers to make something happen.

It wouldn’t be right to talk about Adelaide’s rise without mentioning their captain and talisman Craig Goodwin. The 31-year-old has had an inspired campaign off the back of a standout World Cup performance with the Socceroos.

Australia's midfielder #23 Craig Goodwin (C) celebrates with teammates after he scored the opening goal during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group D football match between France and Australia at the Al-Janoub Stadium in Al-Wakrah, south of Doha on November 22, 2022. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP) (Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images)

(Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images)

He’s been the catalyst for the team through his skill, creativity, and leadership which shouldn’t go unnoticed.


Sitting second just one point behind City, Veart’s men have every right to believe that they can create something special and add to their trophy cabinet. The confidence is there which is for all to see on the pitch.

With many A-League clubs lacking a true identity, maybe Adelaide’s philosophy could be a good idea to follow up on and replicate for their own respective futures. 

Carl Veart has found the appropriate balance between mixing youth with experience, but will it prove to be enough for Adelaide United to go all the way?