Carl’s Corner: the Whyalla Wonder and the Run-In

Carl Veart is at the top of his coaching game, and the same applies for the bulk of an Adelaide United squad defying the odds.

Carl Veart is at the top of his coaching game, and the same applies for the bulk of an Adelaide United squad defying the odds.

There’re many reasons why.

For one, Whyalla-born Veart has always defied the odds.

As a young kid growing up in the country, he’s always had to work for it, and was told through his junior ranks that he wasn’t tall enough to make it as a professional player.

He persevered and it only made him more determined, but when he first arrived in Adelaide he broke his leg within the first six months and spent a long time on the road to recovery.

It moulded Veart the young man into the professional that he is, winning two league titles and two cups with Adelaide City before ‘the goal machine’ departed to England to play for Sheffield United in 1994, followed by Crystal Palace and Millwall.

Most famously, Veart’s diving header for Sheffield knocked Arsenal out of the 1995/96 FA Cup third round replay in an astonishing 1-0 upset.

Quite ironic for a player who was ‘too short’ to make it.

Veart returned to SA after four years abroad and played for Adelaide City Force in the final days of the NSL before they branched off and he became a member of United’s inaugural 2003 squad.

Of course, he was there to volley home the Reds’ first-ever goal in an historic 1-0 victory against Brisbane Strikers at a sold-out Hindmarsh.

Fast forward 20 years and with his Reds flying, Veart has been able to instil all he has learnt in football into an energetic and fast-paced outfit that take the field without fear, much like he played.

His coaching staff has been carefully constructed too, with former City team-mate, Damian Mori, added this season, and Head of Youth Football, Airton Andrioli, whom he worked with for seven years at Football South Australia.

Complement this with the likes of former Socceroos captain, Mark Milligan, and Reds icon, Eugene Galekovic, and you have a playing and coaching staff with exceptional pedigree in the game.

Veart has worked wonders in the last two years at the Club, so the potential in the next three are limitless.

“It’s great to keep going at the Club as it’s been such an enjoyable time so far and I’m looking forward to working more with everyone here over the next few seasons,” Veart said.

“I’ve been very fortunate to have been involved in football for such a long time and here at the Club through stages of its history for a long time as well.

“It means a lot to have played and now coached at United, and I can’t wait for the next few years.”

Most pleasing for Carl is that this team, one that hasn’t lost in 12 games, is his team.

“It’s fairly clear that we want to go down the path of providing opportunities for young players that have come through the local SA club system,” he said.

“I’ve always been passionate about it and I believe in this State, and it’s really important we continue to provide that pathway.

“When we look at our Youth NPL side, the unfortunate part is that not all of them can go ahead and make it, but it does tell us the competition is right up there and I’m really excited for what we can achieve.”

Veart’s passion can be seen weekly from the sidelines, and his willingness to attack as a player is prevalent in the way he celebrates a pulsating United move that is capped by a goal.

He has long-embraced the ‘underdog’ status that surrounds SA sporting circles, and again reared its head at the beginning of the season when pundits labelled United as rank outsiders to make a dent at the business end.

And now, well Veart’s spirited Reds are simply irresistible.

The run-in:
United plays a second consecutive home game on Sunday against Western United following a 1-1 draw with Sydney FC, their 12th game without a loss.

Reds fans will not be able to help but sense that this side in its current run of form is reminiscent of their maiden Championship campaign in 2015/16.

Veart knows anything can happen in football, but if you stick to what works, you’ll give yourself the best possible chance at success.

“It’s important that we don’t change what we’ve been doing to get to where we are,” he said.

“We’ve made it here because of the style of football that we’ve been playing, and it’s important to keep that belief and that strategy.

“And of course not switching off, especially in finals because that’s when the mistakes hurt the most.”

A tough away trip to Perth Glory then ensues, followed by an enthralling finish to the regular season against Central Coast Mariners at Coopers Stadium.

United currently sits in second position and seven points behind Melbourne City ahead of these final three games of the regular season.

The Reds will do everything in their power to catch last year’s Premiers, while just a singular City win will see them wrap up top spot.

However, a second-place finish for Adelaide would still mean the guarantee of at least one home Semi Final in a two-legged affair, the benefit of skipping an Elimination Final, and extra days’ rest.

Finals X-factor:
Veart named Zach Clough as United’s X-Factor at the start of the season and on cue, the Englishman has duly delivered in recent weeks.

The crafty forward has long-put an early-season injury behind him to regain his greatest patch of form in a United shirt to date, including a Player of the Match performance last Friday night.

There has also been talk this week of Captain, Craig Goodwin’s, sore groin and workload which included a pair of Socceroos friendlies against Ecuador, but Veart optimistically brushed this aside.

“Craig has been a little bit sore, but we’re in a nine-day break between Sydney FC and Sunday’s game so we’re confident he’ll have time to freshen up and be just about 100 per cent,” he explained.

“Zach has also been a key player in these 12 games unbeaten and his performances are getting stronger and stronger each week.

“It’s important too that we are tight at the back and Joe (Gauci) makes those saves when we need him to to keep us in games.

“We’ll need all our brilliant fans to get behind us as they have done in recent times because they really do help us get over the line.”

Any of United’s current crop can be an ‘X-factor’, including his goal-scoring central defenders Ben Warland and Lachlan Barr, who have popped up when the team has needed them.

The only thing missing from a ‘perfect’ United game is the addition of a clean sheet, and ‘keeper Gauci and his teammates will be boosted by the security of his long-term contract also.

It always takes a squad to win a Championship, and this one is currently firing on all cylinders under the reign of Whyalla Wonder, Carl Veart.

Only at Coopers – Adelaide United memberships on-sale now.