Carl Veart will be looking to build on a relatively successful 2020/21 campaign, with the return of Isaias a welcome addition, but there is no hiding from some key departures.
Fifth (11 wins, six draws, nine losses).
The prodigal son returns as former club captain, title winner, cup winner and fan favourite Isaias put pen to paper on a two year deal, all but confirming he will finish his career in Adelaide.
The Spaniard was instrumental in United’s title winning season in 2016 and captained the club to FFA Cup success in 2018.
Known for his tenacity, Isaias played as a holding midfielder for United in his previous six year stint, something he is likely to do again in 2021/22, allowing Stefan Mauk to play a more attacking role.
Fans are no doubt ecstatic to have the talismanic midfielder back and his inclusion, alongside the return of Craig Goodwin, helps to continue to realise Carl Veart’s vision of having a team that connects with the fanbase.
The loss of Tomi Juric is a difficult one for the Reds, but thanks to the emergence of Kusini Yengi and Mo Toure in recent years, they have two strong options ready to replace him up front.
A hole that Veart may struggle to fill is the one left by defensive stalwart Jordan Elsey. Last year’s vice-captain, Elsey and the club failed to reach a contractual agreement which resulted in a move away to Newcastle.
The Jets’ gain is Adelaide’s loss as Elsey, who certainly struggled for fitness and consistency in his early years, has grown into a vital part of Adelaide’s back line.
Nick Ansell and Jacob Tratt have come in while Michael Jakobsen has signed on for another year, but the Reds lack quality in the centre of defence. George Timotheou and Tratt have been preferred in early FFA Cup games but Adelaide’s best back four is far from certain with Elsey’s departure.
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What to expect:
Adelaide United was a whisker away from the top two last year but, such is the nature of the A-League, a couple of poor performances saw them slip down towards the bottom of the top six.
A win over Brisbane in the elimination final helped ease the disappointment of fans, but all in all the Reds overachieved with a very young, fresh squad.
The challenge for 2021/22 for Veart is to build on that and to do so, he will once again be looking to the young brigade of Kusini Yengi, Josh Cavallo, Mo Toure and goalkeeper James Delianov, all of which are set to play a massive part in the campaign.
Veart shifted between a 4-3-3 and a 4-4-2 at times during games but with the departure of Juric, the 4-3-3 seems most likely with experienced wingers Craig Goodwin and Ben Halloran looking to hit the scoresheet as much as possible.
The Reds lack the star power of some of the Eastern clubs, but what they do have and what served them so well last year is a togetherness in the squad. Most of the players have some kind of connection to the city and bringing Isaias home will only galvanise the squad even more.
Top two should be out of reach for the Reds but there is enough quality in the squad for Veart’s side to make a strong push for finals football and beyond.
Injury aside, this is our prediction for Adelaide United’s strongest XI for season 2021/22.
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