Familiar faces confront Adelaide United

Ahead of tonight’s home clash with arch-foes Melbourne Victory, Spiro Karanikos-Mimis assesses the Reds’ season so far.

Nov 11, 2022, updated Nov 11, 2022
Victory's Jason Geria (rear left) and  United's Craig Goodwin (right) among a slew of others during the Adelaide-Melbourne clash earlier this year. Photo: AAP/Matt Turner

Victory's Jason Geria (rear left) and United's Craig Goodwin (right) among a slew of others during the Adelaide-Melbourne clash earlier this year. Photo: AAP/Matt Turner

A few weeks back I wrote about how the World Cup break would either kill momentum for teams or allow them to reassess their poor form.

For the Reds, it would appear to be the former.

Despite the unspectacular start, United have found their stride and now sit third on the ladder heading into tonight’s Original Rivalry against Melbourne Victory.

A win would provide some breathing space between them and the rest of the pack – noting that fourth placed Central Coast have played one less game. But we all know how these derby games go, right?

Even though Adelaide has form and the Victory are still finding it (last week’s annihilation aside), these games are as close to 50/50 as you can get. Statistically speaking, Victory are Adelaide’s biggest bogey team (if we take Macarthur out of the reckoning: the Reds have played them five times and lost three, but the sample size is small). United has lost 48.28 percent of its games against Melbourne. The next team with the highest winning percentage against Adelaide is Sydney FC (43 percent).

Friday will also see the potential return of no less than five former Reds in Victory colours – Izzo, Timotheou, Smith, Konstandopoulos and Juric.

While there have been players who have donned both the red of Adelaide and the blue of Melbourne, I cannot recall any time in the history of the competition where one team has had so many former players of their biggest rivals in their squad.

And then there is Nani. A superstar in the true sense of the world, he split last season between Orlando City in the MLS and Venezia in Serie A, so despite his age he’s still a very capable player.

But there is one player who in my humble opinion should not be allowed to play. That’s Bruno Fornaroli.

This isn’t sour grapes – I don’t want him at the Reds as we have our own quality spearhead in Ibusuki (in 25 A-League Men’s matches for Adelaide, Hiro has 12 score involvements, meaning he scores or assists once every two games).

Now I know the rules allow Fornaroli to play as an “injury replacement” but seriously, what an absolute joke of a scenario. If he was a free agent or was released by Perth before the transfer deadline, then I wouldn’t have a problem. But the fact that his contract was terminated post-deadline and that he had played for Perth twice this season makes a mockery of the system. He should be unavailable for selection until the transfer window reopens.

This would be like Adelaide tapping up Jason Geria, getting him to terminate his deal with the Victory by mutual consent, then signing him as an injury replacement for, say, Nick Ansell with the promise of more money and/or a longer deal when the window opens.

It’s laughable. And you just know he’s going to score a wonder goal, because, after all, it is Bruno Fornaroli. Also, I can’t help but wonder how much Craig Goodwin’s (much-deserved) Socceroo selection will affect him.

He laughed off questions from journalists on Wednesday when asked if he wanted to make himself unavailable for tonight’s game. But he will know that an injury could stop him from getting on the plane to Qatar and that will surely play a part in how he goes about his game Friday night. Heck, I know it would bother me.

While most everyone else on the park can go into the game knowing that any knock can be rested or rehabbed for a few weeks, Craig is in the opposite position. The winger is central to everything United do well and against their biggest rivals, it’s near impossible to take a step back.

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It’s just another thing which makes Friday night a tantalising fixture. I cannot wait for latest instalment of what, I truly believe, is the best rivalry in the league.

Finally, a quick word on the Socceroos squad for the World Cup.

Like nearly everyone, I admit my utter dismay at the management of Mitch Langerak. Dragged out of international retirement by Arnold a few months ago, his non-selection is a headscratcher. He’s arguably, on current form, Australia’s best goalkeeper so the fact that he doesn’t make the squad is shambolic.

Arnold deflected questions about Langerak when he announced the squad by suggesting the decision to select Ryan, Redmayne and Vuckovic was an analytical one conducted by his goalkeeper coach John Crawley.

Sure, but you’re the head coach Arnie – you can’t stare a gift horse in the mouth.

Is Vuckovic really the third-best Australian keeper right now? No chance. He’s not even the third-best in the A-League. And while it’s very unlikely that both Ryan and Redmayne get injured, meaning the third-choice keeper is needed: nothing is certain.

Ryan is out-of-favour at club level and carrying a knock. It would only take Redmayne getting injured and Ryan aggravating his injury for Vuckovic to get the nod. And with three games in seven days, is it as unlikely as people think?

And imagine needing a win or draw against Denmark in the final round to get through the group and playing Vuckovic, knowing that Langerak is in Japan cooling his heels.

The rest of the squad is pretty much on point but Arnold’s admission he had offered a spot to Cristian Volpato had me laughing out loud. First and foremost, there is little doubt that Volpato can play. But why are we so keen on getting him into the national set-up when it is so obvious he has no intention of representing Australia (until at least he knows he won’t play for Italy)? After the Socceroos lost to Japan in a World Cup qualifier, he made a point of posting his delight on social media.

Arnold, whether you love or hate him, bleeds for the Socceroos which is why his decision to offer the Roma player a spot in the squad smacked of desperation. I would rather a lesser player who wants to be putting on the green and gold than someone whose heart is elsewhere.
And for all the noise about the fact he’s playing for Roma, let’s take an honest look at this. He’s played five times this season – twice with the Roma under-19 squad and three with the senior team (one start) for a total of 280 minutes – that’s 56 minutes on average per game. His three games last season for the Roma senior team yielded 35 minutes in total.
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