Re-building the Reds
Adelaide went back to the future with the appointment of John Kosmina to the coaching position, but only will tell if the move is a success.
There can be no shying away from the fact that Adelaide has had a difficult season.
Without wanting to re-visit well trodden old ground, the Rini Coolen era was a disaster, and his departure midway through the season left them staring into the abyss.
Local icon, John Kosmina, was appointed for another stint at his old club, charged with the unenviable task of revitalising a demoralised and confused squad.
At this stage, it is worth considering exactly what effect it has on a playing group to be constantly referred to by the media as ‘struggling, ‘lacklustre- or ‘under-performing-.
If we look at Gold Coast United and Melbourne Victory (as well as Adelaide themselves), we can see the negative impact that managerial and/or administrative uncertainty and change can have on a team.
At Skilled Park, Miron Bleiberg was constantly trying to deflect attention from Clive Palmers- off-field dramas but ultimately couldn-t distract the playing group from the circus surrounding the club, and performance suffered.
Jim Magilton inherited perhaps the messiest situation of all at Melbourne Victory; a combination of the spectacularly mismanaged departure of Ernie Merrick, followed by the naïve and tentative appointments of Francis Awaritefe and Mehmet Durakovic in key roles which imploded massively.
Magilton has been widely criticised for his lack of impact since his arrival at AAMI Park eleven rounds ago, but re-building a team shot of confidence is not an overnight job.
Conversely, compare that with the positive seasons experienced so far by Central Coast Mariners, Brisbane Roar, Perth Glory, Wellington Phoenix and Melbourne Heart - all of whom have had continuity in their managerial positions for the last 2 seasons at least.
Graham Arnold and Ange Postecoglou continue to thrive at their respective clubs, working with hand-picked squads which they have shaped and nurtured.
Ian Ferguson has taken Perth Glory to a finals series in his second season, something of a novelty for West Australian fans in recent years.
Ricki Herbert-s stable influence at Wellington has seen them reach the finals again, and John van-t Schip has achieved the tricky task of guiding a relatively new club to the finals in his second year after successfully making his mark on the squad.
What is the relevance of all this to Adelaide?
It shows that if clubs should learn one lesson from the 2011/2012 season, it is that stability is required to achieve success. Of course, you have to pick the right coach to provide the stability. Giving the wrong man a lengthy contract without any failsafe mechanisms in place can be a costly exercise - Adelaide needs no reminding of that.
But if a decision is made to give a coach the job of taking a club forward, then the board need to back him unequivocally. They should give him a two-year deal to see his mission through, and only then can the fruits of this labour, successful or otherwise, truly be judged fairly.
In describing Adelaide-s season, it is easily to describe it as a season lost. The plus side may be a new focus in the Asian Champions League under a wily old campaigner in Kosmina.
Great results against Bunyodkur and Gamba Osaka suggest he has made positive inroads into the Reds- biggest weakness throughout their season, which has been their defensive structure.
Osama Malik, he has shown enough in recent weeks, particularly in Asia, that perhaps he can be the long-term solution to the screening role that has so fair been failed to be filled following the unfortunate departure of Paul Reid by Usucar, Caravella, Dilevski and Levchenko without success.
He may never been described in fashionable terms as an innovator, but he won-t care about that. Kossie will be aware of the need to increase the sides- fitness levels which have looked lacking at times this season.
He can confidently point to his past success with a club in a city he knows well that he took to a grand final in this very competition not too long ago. Kossie will make the tough calls if he is allowed and if he can-t turn the club around and get them into a finals berth next season, then it will not be for lack of understanding of the league or of his players.