29/05/2024

Adelaide United enters season 2022/23 with high hopes, albeit with questions still to answer. (Image: Adelaide United; Design: Will Cuckson)

Carl Veart enters his third full season as Adelaide United's full time coach and after two seasons of falling a game of short of a Grand Final appearance, the Reds enter Season 2022/23 aiming to take the next step.

Winning through to the semi-final before bowing out to Melbourne City, last season was one of highs and dramatic finishes for Adelaide United.

Last season:

Fourth (12 wins, seven draws, seven losses)

Season 2021/22 did not start according to plan for Adelaide United. The Reds only won one of their first ten matches and lost star Ben Halloran and captain Stefan Mauk to outgoing transfers to South Korea and Japan respectively.

Where many sides would have been discouraged and accepted their circumstances while surrendering to a sub-standard season, the Reds saw a challenge and responded to it.

Hiroshi Ibusuki was an influential inclusion in the January transfer window, giving the Reds a newfound focal point. Carl Veart’s side was characterised by its never say die attitude, picking up the majority of its points late in games, often from positions of disadvantage.

Adelaide United ended the regular season with five wins in a row, before defeating the Central Coast Mariners in its first final.

Despite a scoreless draw in the first leg of the Semi-Final against Melbourne City, the Reds were undone by Jamie Maclaren in extra time at AAMI Park to end a resilient season on a sour note, agonisingly close to a Grand Final appearance.

Biggest in:

It was quality over quantity for the Reds in the offseason. With the core of its squad remaining intact, a rarity in the A-League Men competition, Adelaide United added quality to a squad that has reached the Semi-Final stage in the last two season.

After exiting in the early stages of last season, Halloran returned after an underwhelming spell at FC Seoul, adding to the Reds’ firepower. After four years at Sydney FC, centre-back Ben Warland also returned to his former club to shore up its backline.

Technically the biggest ‘in’ has to be captain Craig Goodwin. After returning to his Saudi Arabian club on paper, Goodwin was released from his contract at his request and after a nervy few weeks.

The Socceroo confirmed that he would be returning home to Adelaide to represent the club, where his considerable reputation has been built on a three-year contract.

On the bench, Mark Milligan joined Adelaide United as Ross Aloisi’s replacement as assistant coach, while Damian Mori returned to the club after his interim role last year, this time as a part-time assistant to Carl Veart.

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Biggest out:

Adelaide United experienced its best squad retention since its Championship-winning season, maintaining its core with only a couple of notable losses.

Kusini Yengi is definitely a player that Carl Veart would have wanted to maintain. The young striker accepted a much better offer from the Western Sydney Wanderers, one that the Reds refused to match, presumably because of the young forward’s injury record.

The Reds have Hiroshi Ibusuki to lead their line, and young forwards Asad Kasumovic and Luka Jovanovic to back him up. George Blackwood is also available to lead the line when not featuring in the midfield.

Former skipper Michael Jakobsen was also not offered a new contract. Despite the experience Jakobsen offers, his injury record and the emergence of Lachlan Barr and Alex Popovic along with the return of Warland and Nick Ansell from injury saw the former Danish international squeezed out.

Lachlan Brook opted to return to the United Kingdom, where he was loaned out from parent club Brentford to Crewe Alexandra. Despite being a notable absentee, his exit allows promising prospects Bernardo and Nestory Irankunda a greater opportunity to impress

What to expect:

Consistency in an inconsistent league is an invaluable quantity. With many squads around the league receiving serious upheavals for a multitude of reasons, Adelaide United’s newfound consistency in its playing group can be a point of difference.

The Reds will spend their first few weeks of season 2022/23 on the road in anticipation of the re-opening of the Coopers Stadium Eastern Grandstand. If Carl Veart’s men can have a positive start to the season, they may find themselves coming home with a wet sail.

In the past couple of seasons, Adelaide United has shown it can go on both winning and winless runs with ease. To climb up the ladder, the Reds must learn how to bridge the gap between their best and worst performances; it is once again up to Veart to get the mix between youth and experience right.

Solid at the back half and explosive in the final third, Adelaide United’s midfield will go a long way towards deciding its fate in season 2022/23. Veart has often been conservative in selection, opting for the double pivot of Isaias and Juande.

While the Spaniards are two of the better players to grace this league, they find themselves in the swansong of their careers and are extremely similar in style. Zach Clough finding his feet in the league may be a bonus in the attacking midfielder position, but will it be enough?

One thing to look out for is if Veart persists with the Spanish double-pivot or if he gives the opportunity to a different profile of a player to displace one of the two.

The replacement may be a player who may not be as experienced as Juande or Isaias, but may fit the team’s needs better such as Jonny Yull, Ethan Alagich, or Josh Cavallo.

Starting XI

There is plenty of debate about Adelaide United’s midfield and centre-back partnership, but Veart is more than likely to begin the season with the midfield and backline compositions that he entrusted last season.

Adelaide United’s projected starting XI to start Season 2022/23. (Images: Adelaide United; Design: Will Cuckson)

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