A-League Rev-Up: Adelaide United's season at risk of collapse

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After a controversy-filled week, the Reds face the A-League leaders as they battle to secure a finals spot

Adelaide United coach Marco Kurz may not know about his team's goals this season, but they still face A-League pacesetters Perth Glory with their finals spot far from safe.

Alen Stajcic makes his senior men's coaching debut in the F3 derby as his Central Coast Mariners visit Newcastle Jets, while Western Sydney Wanderers aim to keep their season alive in Wellington.

Stuttering Melbourne Victory will be keen to right the ship against struggling Brisbane Roar and Sydney FC can strengthen their grip on second spot with a win against Melbourne City.

Get revved-up, a huge round of A-League awaits...


Will the Reds fall apart?


Marco Kurz

Only in the A-League can a club chairman completely blank a coach for three weeks, as told by Adelaide United manager Marco Kurz yesterday afternoon

That was until Reds chairman Piet van der Pol released a statement through the club denying he had ignored Kurz's questions about his coaching future.

What a mess - one that will surely end with the German coach leaving at the end of the season.

But in the meantime, there are more pressing matters with Adelaide's finals hopes at stake as they welcome league leaders Perth Glory to Coopers Stadium on Friday night.

The Reds are in fifth position but only five points clear of seventh-placed Newcastle Jets, who are making a late charge to sneak into the top six.

With the off-field drama surrounding the club, Adelaide needs to batten down the hatches and fight their way through the remaining six games.

An unfavourable result against Glory will really put the pressure on as Newcastle should win a home game versus the Mariners to further close the gap in the standings.


Stajcic thrown in the deep end


Alen Stajcic Matildas

In the second 'only in the A-League' moments of this column, a coach who has never been in charge of a professional men's team will lead arguably the worst side in the competition's history into their local derby,

This is not to say Alen Stajic won't do well as Central Coast Mariners coach, but it's certainly an unusual situation that you could regard as 'peak A-League'.

According to the FFA, Stajcic was relieved of his position at the Matildas because of a 'toxic culture' within the team.

Now he has been installed as a manager at a club whose captain called a referee 'a f***ing dog', and with a decent player who appears to rather drink beers at the races than have a professional football career.

It is a little bit ironic but a good way for Stajcic to answer any lingering doubts about his ability to galvanise a squad.

On the field, Stajcic won't be given a 'free pass' so to say but expectations around results will be tempered, with the Mariners having only picked up seven points from 21 games.

A good target for the new manager will be steering Central Coast clear of the worst season in A-League history.

While they have accrued one more point than the six New Zealand Knights gathered in 2005-6, the Kiwis got to the total in 21 games, averaging 0.28 points a game.

If the Mariners don't get another point for the rest of the campaign, they will have averaged 0.25 points a game and can be comfortably named as the worst side in A-League history.

Over to you. Alen.


Don't say the 'F' word in Wanderland


Markus Babbel Western Sydney Wanderers

There has been a quiet sense of optimism and positivity building around Markus Babbel's Western Sydney Wanderers - having won three of their past four games and not having lost since the beginning of February.

Babbel deserves significant credit as his management style was starting to come under heavy scrutiny as the Red and Black went through a period of 10 games without a win - with plenty of chokes as well.

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But with their magnificent new BankWest Stadium ready for next season, and a swag of talented attackers to build around, including Kwame Yeboah, Mitchell Duke, Abraham Majok, Keanu Baccus and Jordan O'Doherty, things are certainly looking up for the Wanderers.

They are even making an improbable late charge at finals football - not that Babbel, the players or fans would entertain the prospect - but the fact it's even being mentioned at all is a positive for a club that looked shot a little over a month ago.

The prospect of a jam-packed stadium full of Wanderers fans providing atmosphere is a salivating prospect even for A-League neutrals.

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