Reds’ slide baffles Caravella


An outstanding key to Adelaide United midfielder Zenon Caravella’s game is his versatility, but even by his own admission the 28-year-old was left short of answers in how to adjust to the Reds’ demise this season.

An outstanding key to Adelaide United midfielder Zenon Caravella’s game is his versatility, but even by his own admission the 28-year-old was left short of answers in how to adjust to the Reds’ demise this season.

Once a member of the now defunct New Zealand Knights in the inaugural 2005-06 Hyundai A-League campaign, Caravella then spent two seasons aboard with Dutch club FC Omniworld.

Caravella impressed the Eerste Divisie club to earn a contract extension before he eventually returned home in late 2008 to sign for Gold Coast United, where he was instrumental in the club’s first season missing just four games in total.

The Cairns native was again influential a season later by claiming a number of individual accolades as Gold Coast reached the 2010-11 preliminary final only to suffer a 1-0 defeat to eventual runners-up Central Coast Mariners.

“The most pivotal thing behind our success was that we had great balance of players … that showed on the field,” Caravella said speaking on his impressive time with Gold Coast.

“Miron Bleiberg (former Gold Coast coach) did a great job in finding the right characters for the team and that really impacted on how we played and how we got along as a group.”

But after two successful seasons on the glitter strip Caravella chose to part ways with Gold Coast as murmurs began to surface that the club may disband.

The creative spark signed a two-year deal with Adelaide in January 2011, keen to join coach at the time Rini Coolen’s building revolution.

“Gold Coast was disbanding at the time, players were leaving and the opportunity with Adelaide came up, so I took it,” Caravella recalled.

“I was attracted to the way they were playing football under Rini Coolen.”

“Adelaide is a great footballing city with great fans and it presented me with a new challenge.”

“Even before kicking a ball in the A-League, Adelaide were being touted as the favourites of the competition.”

“Everyone was talking about how good we would be and it was exciting to be a part of.”

However the high expectations on the dual 2006-07 and 2008-09 runners-up, who had signed a number of fresh and exciting faces including Qantas Socceroos Dario Vidosic and Bruce Djite, came at a price.

Coolen’s squad sported a total of 12 new players and it soon became evident they were missing former key components captain Travis Dodd, 2010-11 Johnny Warren medallist Marcos Flores and midfield dynamos Paul Reid and Adam Hughes, who were all shown the door in the off-season.

Pressure mounted on Coolen and the players were criticised for a lack of cohesiveness and confidence, as Adelaide slid into ninth with only two wins.

It was a testing time in Caravella’s otherwise sparkling career who as a pivotal signing was expected to rescue the club from its own demise.

He admitted it was an unfamiliar feeling to be a part of a side that was languishing at the foot of the table and in danger of missing the finals for only a third time in seven seasons.

“When I came from the Gold Coast there were obviously a lot of expectations, which is fine because that’s what playing in a professional and successful environment is all about,” Caravella said.

“But it became very hard throughout the season not being able to win games and to perform as a team.”

“You always want to do well as individual and assist the team but sometimes circumstances can make that difficult.”

“I didn’t play as well I’d like to have played and the results have obviously shown that.”

As the Reds continued their perpetual downfall, Coolen was eventually asked to step down in late December.

The Dutchman’s dismissal ended a turbulent phase in Adelaide’s season and a puzzling period in Caravella’s career.

“I always thought it was going to be a slow start because it was the beginning of a virtually new team, but for some reason it was like we could never get out of second gear,” Caravella said.

“Even though we recruited a high calibre of players in the off-season and we were being touted as being the best team in the competition, it just went the opposite way and it was hard to find answers to our season being so difficult.”

“I asked myself the question, ‘What do we need to do to change things around?’ a million times and I couldn-t for the life of me work it out.”

“We were lacking so much confidence as a team that we didn-t know what the solution was.”

“It’s basically been a season to forget.”

With John Kosmina now at the helm in his second stint as Reds coach, Adelaide have shown glimpses to suggest they may be ready to shoulder the burden and expectation of being a top six side next season.

“This is my first experience with Kossie as a coach but he has already brought back a lot of passion to the club which is something we were lacking,” Caravella said regarding Kosmina’s re-appointment.

“Passion brings back confidence.”

Although results have fallen away in the back end of the Hyundai A-League to bury Adelaide’s finals hopes this season, maximum points in the AFC Champions League so far has instilled a renewed sense of confidence in the team.

The ACL opportunity gives Adelaide United and Caravella a fresh start.

“The ACL is a new beginning for us and chance to continue to regain confidence – a fresh slate,” Caravella said.

“It’s great to be able to play against teams with different styles from different countries and to see how you compare against them.”

“It’s great for everyone involved at the club and good for us now to start building on to next season.”