After Adelaide United Youth’s 2021 NPLSA season concluded over the weekend, Head of Youth Football Airton Andrioli provided his analysis on the campaign as a whole.
The Young Reds finished in ninth spot with 25 points after seven wins and four draws in 22 matches.
It was certainly an up and down season but one that is expected with young players. The highs included scalps over Campbelltown City, Adelaide City and MetroStars, while the lows involved defeats against the same opponents in the reverse fixtures, as well as a shock loss to Adelaide Blue Eagles.
Indeed, a 4-0 setback to Cumberland United to end the season also left a bitter taste with Andrioli admitting conceding goals in quick succession was a trend his side struggled to rectify.
He said that theme manifested itself against the Foxes perhaps more so than any other game this year.
“I think it’s a pattern,” Andrioli claimed.
“We’re normally able to control the game but then it seems to be that as soon as we concede a goal either from a mistake or whatever it might be, we lose a little bit of confidence.
“So that was a bit of a pattern this year and something that I really hope those players will be able to improve after having this experience.
“It was disappointing to finish the season like that, especially when Cumberland wanted to play deep and play for a draw because they needed a point not to get relegated.
“We were doing well for 35 minutes before the first goal. It looked very good as it often does but then we conceded a goal from the penalty and then in a short period of time concede another couple of goals which is a bit disappointing.
“It was something that happened quite often this year and we’re hoping this is going to be something that we will be able to improve next year with the experience the boys went through.”
However, Andrioli has been able to take stock of the season in its entirety and stated he is proud of the team’s efforts, given it is the youngest United Youth outfit that has competed in the top flight.
“We’re really proud of what we’ve done,” he said.
“As I’ve said this before, this is probably one of the youngest Adelaide United Youth teams to have ever played in the NPL consecutively throughout the season.
“It was a big task. When you go into a competition before the season started, you’re sort of thinking how is this going to go.
“But to be quite honest, from the point of view of putting the players in a position where they can learn, and improve and develop – I think we’ve done really well.
“The only thing lacking here now is a bit more experience, and the players had the exposure to that this year, playing like 20 odd games or more at this level and then hopefully they’ll be able to improve and continue progressing next year.”
Andrioli said patience is the key to ensuring the players continue to develop in an upward trajectory.
He stressed it was important not to rush players into the A-League squad just for the sake of it.
“I think we have to remind ourselves that it’s not an overnight solution,” he explained.
“I truly believe that players need more time and if you look at the age of the players that we have in the squad, if those players stay another couple of years in the NPL I don’t think it will be detrimental to them.
“If anything, it will consolidate their development and understanding and all the areas they need to improve.
“So we have to be careful. If you look at the A-League squad now at the moment we’ve got quite a few young players already training with them.
“Yes, we had some of the (United Youth) players this year already have the experience of training and being with them which all adds to that package of improving the players and developing.
“But we have a young squad that could play for next year and even the year after for some players because sometimes there’s a tendency of pushing players up too soon, and they’re not ready and they still have lots of areas to be improved.
“We need to be patient because they also develop at different stages.
“Individually everyone is different and as I’ve said we’ve got such a young group that if they stay together for another couple of years – hopefully we can refine all the areas that need to be refined – the players then when they get the opportunity to go up (to the A-League side) they’ll be better prepared for it as well.”