Cornthwaite’s Corner: 2022/23 season’s end

Robbie Cornthwaite has given his view on the Reds’ season in the last edition of Cornthwaite’s Corner for 2022/23.

At their best, they were as good as any other team in the league, but they weren’t able to produce it when it mattered.

The second leg loss to Central Coast wasn’t a surprise to me. There wasn’t really anything in the previous meetings that gave me a sense that Adelaide would be able to turn it around. While I fully believed they could get a win – after all, one goal isn’t a lot in football – the odds suggested it was going to be a struggle.

Once the starting side was announced, I did feel like the likelihood of an Adelaide win got even slimmer. Not that I don’t think those players on the pitch are good enough, but there wasn’t anything new or different in the United line-up that would have made the Mariners nervous.

Knowing the team needed goals, I was crying out for Nestory Irankunda to start, and while I can live with the fact he didn’t, I was shocked he wasn’t introduced at the break. Adelaide weathered a storm in the first half, creating a couple of goal-scoring chances, but the home team were certainly the better side in the opening 45 minutes.

Early on in Carl Veart’s time as Adelaide coach, he would often make numerous subs at halftime or early on to take on the game. While he’s not done this as often lately, I thought it was the perfect time to put the Mariners on the back foot. Be the first to be brave and bold and show the home team you’re coming for them. Central Coast took the momentum they built in the first period into the second, and other than a flurry of late chances, Adelaide didn’t really look likely.

I thought the most obvious change would have been Luka Jovanović up front in place of Hiroshi Ibusuki. Again, Adelaide needed goals and I thought they could have been far braver with their starting line-up and subs, and ultimately they seemed more reactive than on the front foot.

Carl said it recently in an interview I did with him for Seven News Adelaide: they were far too reliant on the goals of Craig Goodwin, and the other attacking players didn’t score as many goals.

But, at the end of the day, I do think this team has had an incredible season. A fourth Semi Final loss in five seasons is hard to swallow, but it does show the incredible consistency and strong foundation the club has built.

Being there at the business end of the season with a limited budget while playing a lot of kids is never an easy thing to do. The club continues to lead the way in producing young talent, and while Carl is at the helm, I can’t see this changing anytime soon.

It does come with a word of warning from me, though. You’re not always going to be able to produce such talented youngsters year after year. Who knows when we might see the next Nestory, Mohamed Toure, or Riley McGree, or can Craig Goodwin continually raise the bar?

United needs to think really hard about their recruitment for next season and make sure they plug any gaps they deem necessary. The defence was a real issue this year and needs reinforcements. Josh Cavallo and Harry Van der Saag will add depth, but it’s hard to see where the improvement will come from with the current crop. Only Alexander Popović has a big upside for me. Ryan Kitto has left back locked down and will for some years to come, and Javi López isn’t getting any younger. Reinforcements are a must.

It’s always extremely disappointing when a season comes to an end without silverware, but there’s still a lot to celebrate. The fans are undoubtedly some of the best in the country, and nights at Hindmarsh this season were one of the best things the league had going for it this year. If you could replicate the Reds’ players, their attacking and exciting football, and the support in the stands right around the country, then we’d have a very successful Isuzu UTE A-League, so be proud, Red Army.

Anyway, it’s been an absolute pleasure writing for you all this season, and I hope you’ve enjoyed my thoughts and feelings throughout the year. It’s been a new experience for me and one I’ve thoroughly enjoyed.

I must say a massive thank you to the Club for allowing me the freedom to say what I want without them looking over my shoulder or having any real restrictions on what I can and can’t say, within reason, of course.

They are all football fans first and foremost.

Until next time…

Follow Robbie on Twitter and Instagram.