A-League season preview: Adelaide United

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The Reds will be keen to bounce back after a disastrous A-League title defence under the now-departed Guillermo Amor

Former champions Adelaide United couldn't have gone much worse in their quest to retain their title, as the club struggled cope with the departure of several key players and crashed to a ninth-place finish.

Title-winning coach Guillermo Amor has departed as the Reds begin a German revolution under new manager Marco Kurz - with intriguing foreign signings and young talent to burn.

2016-17 finishing position: 9th

Coach: Marco Kurz


INS AND OUTS


Ins: Paul Izzo, George Blackwood, Ersan Gülüm, Johan Absalonsen, Vince Lia, Karim Matmour.

Outs: Dylan McGowan, George Mells, Sergio Cirio, John Hall, Jesse Makarounas, John Hall, Eugene Galekovic, Riley McGree, Kim Jae-sung, Iacopo La Rocca, Marcelo Carrusca, Eli Babalj.


STAR PLAYER - Ersan Gulum


Turkish centre-half Ersan Gulum has slipped under the radar among the new signings made by Kurz, as the German coach aims to shore up a defence that conceded 46 goals in 27 games last season.

Gulum was born in Melbourne and came through Hume City's youth academy - which means despite being a Turkish international, he won't take up a visa spot in the squad.

The 30-year-old's pedigree is extremely impressive, having accrued seven caps for Turkey after choosing to play for the nationality of his parents instead of Australia.

He has spent most of his professional career in Turkey - including an eye-catching five-year stint at giants Besiktas where he won two Turkish Super Lig titles during his 126 appearances between 2010 and 2016.

Gulum is an imposing figure at 185cm and the club is likely to build their defence around his powerful frame.

Ersan Gulum Besiktas

"Gulum is an experienced player who’s established himself in Turkey, where he’s captained the club and is clearly a leader,” Kurz said.

"I knew of him from his time in Europe with Besiktas, and I have no doubt he will be an excellent signing.

"I spoke with a teammate of Ersan’s during his time at Besiktas, a German player, who praised him highly.

"This is the first signing we have completed and is just the beginning of what we are aiming to do. I am sure we will have more good news in the coming days."


BREAKOUT PLAYER - Jordan O'Doherty


A shining light in Adelaide's disastrous 2016-17 campaign was the development of young talent Jordan O'Doherty.

Able to play as a winger or in central midfield, the 19-year-old broke into the senior team - making 17 appearances in the A-League and five in the Asian Champions League.

Jordan O'Doherty Adelaide United

He scored a goal in each of the competitions he played in last season, intriguingly both from a deeper central midfield role than his usual wide attacking position.

Already this pre-season, the youngster has a scored a brilliant free-kick in a friendly against Melbourne City.


POSITIVES


The Reds looked to have signed well on the foreign front, with three visa acquisitions in addition to retaining the services of powerful centre-forward Baba Diawara.

Johan Absalonsen and Karim Matmour have put in impressive performances in the attacking third during the Reds' FFA Cup run, while Daniel Adlung looks to be a decent foreign purchase also.

The club also managed to snare promising Sydney FC striker George Blackwood, who showed some good signs when he managed to get on the pitch under Graham Arnold.

Club stalwart Isaias Sanchez has been rewarded for his loyal service with the club captaincy, and you can expect him to continue pulling the strings in midfield.


NEGATIVES


While the Reds appear to have signed strongly, it was needed after the loss of several veteran players including goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic, defender Ryan McGowan, class midfielder Marcelo Carrusca and forward Sergio Cirio.

The above players may have been waning in their powers but they have all been important parts of the club over a long period of time.

Riley McGree Adelaide United v Newcastle Jets A-League 17022017

The departure of talented playmaker Riley McGree to Club Brugge in Belgium was also disappointing, as the club would have hoped he would stick around to continue his development.

Aside from Gulum, central defence looks like a weak spot in the squad with Jordan Elsey or Taylor Regan expected to partner the Turkish defender.

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FINAL PREDICTION - 6TH


While the Reds have added well to the midfield stocks with the signings of Matmour, Absalonsen and Adlung, there appears to be a lack of goals in the team.

Diawara impressed at times after joining in February but question marks remain on whether he can fire the Reds in the top four.

The worry up forward and the lack of experienced defensive options mean Adelaide will have to be content for a position in the lower reaches of the six.

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