Cornthwaite’s Corner: Round 10

It’s a rut. Two points out of nine from what, on paper, looked like three very winnable games. The World Cup break clearly hasn’t done Adelaide any favours.
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It’s a rut.

Two points out of nine from what, on paper, looked like three very winnable games. The World Cup break clearly hasn’t done Adelaide any favours.

They didn’t play poorly and were the better side, in my opinion, but as we are all too aware, they must create more when they find themselves in damaging positions.

Like earlier in the season, the Reds looked one-dimensional. Craig Goodwin is the obvious outlet, and, clearly, he’s unstoppable in full flight, but the option of going down the left was a little too predictable. Without the experience of Ben Halloran on the right, United are lopsided in terms of wide talent.

The inclusion of Zach Clough, after a layoff of more than two months, forced Ethan Alagich to the wide-right position during the game and out of the middle, where he’s grown into the role, once again exposing the lack of depth in the front third. Yes, injuries have played a part with Bernardo, Harry Van der Saag, and Clough all out for extended periods, but there’s a real lack of top-line talent once you lose one of your starters.

I called for it earlier in the season, but I’d love to see Nestory Irankunda given an opportunity from the get-go. His impact in the second half once again showed what a talent he is; he’s a difference maker, and although Carl sees him daily, I think he’s the type of player to rise to whatever is asked of him.

Clough is going to take time finding his feet again, and it remains to be seen if he’s the answer at number 10 for the remainder of the season.

Adelaide failed to create any clear-cut chances despite getting themselves into threatening positions. There were plenty of balls coming into the area, but as Carl said, there weren’t always enough bodies in the box. It must be said that Newcastle defended quite well and I was impressed with the performances of Mark Natta and former Red, Jordan Elsey. It was probably one of Elsey’s better showings in a Jets jersey and returning home seemed to bring the best out of him; maybe he should never have left.

Adelaide looked disjointed at times defensively, but if not for the heavily deflected goal, they probably wouldn’t have conceded. But when you are not quite at your best, or your sharpest, little moments like that seem to go against you.

It is a bit of a concern this far into the season, and after a few weeks to bed-down ideas and tactics, the players didn’t seem to be on the same page at times. With the heat and the stop-start nature of the match, it played a part in disrupting the rhythm.

The results haven’t been great this month, and it’s seen the side slip back into the pack and somewhat undo their good work to start the season. It’s not going to be easy from this point on, and I would normally feel very comfortable going into a home game against Perth Glory, but you just don’t feel like you can trust this Adelaide United side at the minute.

If you look at each player individually, you can count on one hand who has played to or above their level in the last three games. There are too many passengers at the moment, and with 2023 now upon us, it’s time to turn the page and get back up to speed.

The team has been in this position before, and, when I say that, I mean in round three this season. No wins in the opening two rounds and a home match against the Glory to kick start a run.

I’m calling on the same thing as I asked for back then. Their performance is irrelevant in this one. It’s about the three points and nothing more. Roll up the sleeves and give a full-blooded, committed performance. Nothing less than 100 per cent from every single individual will be acceptable.

Perth is a team that is still rooted to the foot of the table but has been showing some signs of improvement since the break. This game will be won by the team that wants it more.

At Hindmarsh, it must be Adelaide.

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