Cornthwaite’s Corner – Round 20

It’s pretty simple: Adelaide United has not reached their potential this season. That’s not to say there aren’t moments of quality, but in both penalty boxes, where it really matters, they are lacking.

The defence has been a real issue this season, and I’ll get to that in a minute, but on Saturday night against the Wanderers, Adelaide showed they’re just not clinical enough. They mustered 24 shots on goal and completely dominated the stats, including possession and corners, but to only manage four shots on target is just not good enough at this level.

Adelaide and Western Sydney have the worst shots on goal percentage of any team in the league, hence the poor run of form from both sides leading into this clash. Carl Veart will rightly point to the number of chances they are creating as a sign they can go on a winning run to make the finals, but it’s obvious either the players are not composed enough to find the back of the net or the quality of chances they are presented isn’t good enough. Hiroshi Ibusuki is the club’s leading goal-scorer with eight, but he has only managed 15 shots on target for the whole season.

Pressure is a factor, and there is a chance that the more chances that go by, the more players feel the weight of expectation and begin to overthink things. Ben Halloran had a great chance to shoot in the first half but opted to pass, much to the frustration of his boss. Luka Jovanovic looked great off the bench, and I still feel he’s the best striking option with the most presence of anyone in the current squad. I’d love to see him lead the line for the rest of the season.

Anyone who watched the game on TV on the weekend would have heard my commentary and how outraged I was with the defence on display. Firstly, is there any chance of getting some pressure on the ball and blocking a cross? You can’t allow a player to get the ball in so easily when they have that ability.

Secondly, is there any chance someone can block the attacker’s run?

You can’t let a player run unopposed, untouched goal-side for a free header. Javi Lopez is a brilliant player, and his career speaks for itself, but he wouldn’t want to see that first half back. Kikianis is a brilliant young talent, and I like him a lot, but he was also let off the hook on a few occasions when players got in behind and would have had a tap-in had the ball found them.

I can’t be any clearer: never be square on, drop when there’s time on the ball, and if the ball goes wide, don’t give your player a free run at goal.

Both ends of the pitch aren’t currently functioning well enough to be a finals threat, and an experienced foreign centre-back should be the number one transfer target in the offseason.

As for the Ben Halloran red card, it was clear to me that there was nothing in it. A yellow card would have been more than enough, even though it was accidental. We’re getting carried away with some of these situations, and I like a bit of niggle and aggro in football. There wasn’t anything that happened on Saturday night that I considered serious foul play. Dish out a few yellows, bin VAR, and move on.

Finals are still a possibility, but they look highly unlikely. Anyone who’s not going to be at the Club next season is running out of time to prove a point.

It’s almost time to start the rebuild.

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Disclaimer: The following views are those of Robbie Cornthwaite and may not necessarily reflect the views of Adelaide United. The Club respect his views and opinions.