Goal Australia editor Iain Strachan caught up with the Reds’ stylish No.10, Goal’s Player of the Month for October, to talk all things Adelaide United.
Ask any player in a winning team about the importance of their coach, and you’re likely to hear nothing but glowing praise.
When rumours linking the man in charge with a move away are circulating, the testimony will become still more impassioned.
Yet even with those two powerfully emotive factors at play, not to mention sharing a common language in a foreign country, the affection with which Adelaide United’s Marcelo Carrusca speaks of Josep Gombau is striking.
“Josep is very important for us, for every player,” he told Goal Australia
“He knows exactly what we have to do and he shows us many options. He’s very important for the group also outside of the pitch and the game days, he’s very friendly with us. I think we have a very good group.”
Some players and coaches – drilled to within an inch of their life by media managers and public relations types – will barely acknowledge the opposition as a factor in their preparations. ‘We’ll focus on what we have to do,’ is a phrase you’ll hear bandied around at pre-match press conference and on training fields.
Not so at Adelaide, where Carrusca freely admits the intense scrutiny Gombau applies to the A-League’s other nine clubs has been a major factor in their unbeaten start to 2014-15.
“He studies the opposing team very well, so when we go on the pitch, we know exactly what we have to do,” Carrusca said.
“It’s a tool that we have and we had to take advantage of this. And we are doing that.
“First step we’re thinking us, we’re thinking what we’re going to do and after, we study the opposition. Well, no, the coach does and we see their weaknesses, so we can take advantage.”
Playmaker Carrusca is one of the jewels in the Reds’ attacking crown, but the man himself knows the forwards owe much of their success to a defence that has proved to be a ball-playing revelation under Gombau’s careful tutelage.
Centre-back Nigel Boogaard leads the team for touches and passes attempted after seven rounds, while Adelaide have conceded just four goals in the league to date.
“Our style is to build from the back,” Carrusca said.
“Even the goalkeeper maybe has more passes than me, I don’t know.
“It’s very important. Our football starts with them. With Boogaard, with Ossie (Osama Malik). For us it’s very important they start well and we can continue well in the middle and finish well also.”
In a squad boasting Spanish, Portuguese and Argentine talents, communication might have become an obstacle. Fortunately, the Latin American contingent are not only comfortable switching dialects, they’ve also been recruited as tutors.
“With the Spanish boys we speak Spanish in and outside the pitch,” Carrusca said.
“With the Australian boys we speak English, (but) some want to learn Spanish, so we’ve tried to teach them.”
And with a well-travelled, multi-lingual centre-forward among the ranks, there are no prizes for guessing who’s top of the class: “Bruce, Bruce Djite speaks like five languages. He speaks very well. Maybe after, Dylan (McGowan).”
Djite may be top of the class in the language school, but it’s Awer Mabil who has been Adelaide’s star pupil on the field this season, with the flying forward set to trial at Ajax in January.
“He has to be successful in Adelaide to go overseas,” Carrusca said, echoing his coach’s cautious tone regarding the youngster’s future.
“I hope and I wish he has the opportunity to go. I think he will be a big, big player. I hope in the future, in one or two years, he will be a big star.”
Gombau, having insisted Mabil must prove himself in the A-League before seeking a permanent move away, could yet leave Adelaide before the Young Socceroo.
The Catalan, linked with Yokohama F Marinos, has insisted he will not walk away mid-season, but Carrusca knows the time will come when an offer proves too good for the coach to turn down.
“I think he will finish his contract,” he said.
“After that, of course … his team is playing well, his performance is very good. He was in (charge of) the All Star team last year, he’s an amazing coach. He’s one of the best coaches in Australia.
“He will have the opportunity to go overseas. But it’s not the moment to think about that. It’s the moment to be focused and concentrated on the season.”
As for Carrusca, the future is equally uncertain for Goal Australia’s October Player of the Month, with the former Galatasaray man expressing his preference to remain in South Australia beyond the expiry of his current deal.
“This is my plan, but in football you never know,” he said.
“My contract finishes in June, after that I don’t know. My agent has to speak with the club and after (that) decide. I’m very happy here. I don’t know what will happen but I want to stay.
“My old team, Estudiantes, I always think when I went overseas I’d come back and play my last year there. But at the moment I feel fantastic here. My family has a great life here and we are happy. Now, my family is first, I don’t think of myself.”
All that remains for Carrusca to complete his dream life Down Under is to add some silverware to the Coopers Stadium trophy cabinet.
With scores to settle in the Hyundai A-League finals and next month’s Westfield FFA Cup decider fast approaching, don’t be against him finishing the job.
Adelaide United face the also unbeaten Melbourne Victory in Harvery Norman Friday Night Football, coverage on SBS ONE and FOX SPORTS 505
Image courtesy: Luke Hemmer