Adelaide United interim coach Michael Valkanis believes their clash with Melbourne Victory could be the tonic to snapping the Reds out of their current funk.
Adelaide United interim coach Michael Valkanis believes Friday night's clash with bitter foes Melbourne Victory at Hindmarsh Stadium could be the tonic to snapping the Reds out of their current funk and reviving their derailed season.
United have suffered a turbulent few weeks on and off the pitch since celebrating the new year with a 3-0 victory over Sydney FC.
On the park, the Reds have won just once out of five fixtures in 2013 while beyond the turf, whispers of backstabbing and in-fighting at board and management level in the corridors of Hindmarsh Stadium forced former coach John Kosmina to resign last week.
Kosmina's shock resignation was followed by a crushing 4-2 loss to the Western Sydney Wanderers six days later to put the icing on the cake on one of the darkest weeks in Adelaide's history.
Despite slipping to fourth, Valkanis is adamant United can rebound and halt a three-game losing streak against their rivals and fellow finals aspirants Melbourne Victory.
The 38-year-old said a win would lift spirits within the camp.
"For our group, there's no better game to turn things around ... it's a great opportunity for the guys," Valkanis said.
"They've been through a downer ... and they were bitterly disappointed last week with the result, but you can't be more motivated to play Melbourne Victory.
"It's a big game and it's a great stage to turn things around, and I think the boys are really looking forward to it.
"They've been focused this week. It's been a short week which is a good thing as well.
"That's the beautiful thing about sport - you can sort things out quickly when a game comes around quickly.
"They've got an opportunity to do that and begin their preparation towards finals."
While Adelaide have dropped off the pace since the start of 2013, Melbourne have cruised.
The Victory have won four of their past six matches to leap into second on the A-League table and not lost since the 2-1 defeat on New Year's Day to the Wanderers.
United enjoyed a 4-2 win over Melbourne the last time the sides met in December in what was a match to forget for former Reds cult hero Marcos Flores.
Flores made his first appearance in Adelaide since leaving the club for the Chinese Super League in 2011, only to return to Australian shores a year later and join Ange Postecoglou's revolution at the Victory.
Valkanis said Adelaide must be wary of the Argentine maestro who will be eager to avenge that horrendous maiden appearance at Hindmarsh where the 27-year-old was venomously booed with every touch before eventually being subbed after 70 minutes.
"It would have been very hard for him the first time he came ... Marcos is all about the love. He loved the place and probably didn't like the way he was treated," Valkanis said.
"It affected his game and obviously a lot of our boys played pretty strong on him as well.
"It was one of those things where he had to get over that first game at Hindmarsh and now I think he'd be more prepared than ever to come here and have a good game."
Adelaide will make three changes to the team that was trounced by Western Sydney with striker Bruce Djite the main omission after the reoccurrence of a groin injury.
Djite will be replaced by Argentine import Jeronimo Neumann who returns from suspension while defender Nigel Boogaard will make way for midfielder Osama Malik, who has not featured since United's 3-2 win over Perth a month ago.
Exciting youngster Awer Mabil also finds a spot on the bench.