Adelaide - from pissant town to premiers to champions?

Are the politics former coach Aurelio Vidmar suggested Adelaide United were once riddled with, that were holding the club back all gone? Is Adelaide no longer a "pissant town", as Vidmar also said it was? Are the Reds about to finally win an A-League championship?

Vidmar Kosmina

Source: Getty Images

In the first of a two-part series on the two clubs who will do battle in Sunday's grand final at Adelaide Oval, The World Game looks back at some of the most memorable - and dramatic - moments in Adelaide's history.


Kosmina and Muscat go toe-to-toe

Adelaide were playing Melbourne Victory in Melbourne early in the 2006-2007 season when the ball ran off the pitch and Victory defender Kevin Muscat went after it.

The ball was rolling under John Kosmina's seat when the Adelaide coach grabbed it, at the same time as Muscat arrived and bumped into him. Kosmina went flying, but got up and grabbed Muscat around the throat as players, coaches and referee Matthew Breeze intervened.

Breeze booked Muscat and sent Kosmina into the grandstand.

"He (Muscat) is not supposed to come into our technical area," Kosmina said afterwards. Asked if he was concerned about possibly facing disciplinary action over the incident, Kosmina replied: "If there is any fallout, you live with it, don't you.

"I don't like being assaulted. I just went to pick the ball up, it was on the ground in front of me. What am I going to do?"

Muscat tried to play the incident down, saying: "It's nothing. I was trying to get the ball back, we were 1-0 down and I think I actually slipped. There was nothing there at all. Kossie is all right, we had a good laugh about it afterwards, no problem."

Kosmina was subsequently banned from the technical area for four games. He and Muscat have long since made their peace. Adelaide and Victory now play for the Kosmina-Muscat Cup, which is decided on overall regular-season results.

Grand final flogging

The 2006-2007 grand final was a horror show for Adelaide. They were thrashed 6-0 by Victory in Melbourne, with Archie Thompson incredibly scoring the first five goals and Kristian Sarkies getting the sixth.

A-League Grand Final - Victory v United

It was already 2-0 when Adelaide captain Ross Aloisi was red-carded in the 34th minute and it obviously went further downhill from there.

Kosmina subsequently criticised referee Mark Shield's handling of the match and several days later, at the end of a season that was both tumultuous and successful for the club, the coach was sacked.

AFC Champions League final

Six years before Western Sydney Wanderers became the first Australian club to win the Asian Champions League, Adelaide was the first club to make the final.

It was a two-legged final then and Adelaide was in a big hole after losing the first leg 3-0 away to Japanese team Gamba Osaka. Playing at home didn't help United in the second leg, which Gamba won 2-0 for a big aggregate victory.

But it was still a major breakthrough for the A-League and the forerunner to the success of the Wanderers, because it gave Australian clubs reason to believe.

Interestingly, the Adelaide team for the final included a young Scott Jamieson in the defence. Jamieson will be part of the Wanderers team on Sunday.

Vidmar's world-class rant

Adelaide had lost the second leg of the 2008-2009 major semi-final 4-0 to Victory, and gone down 6-0 on aggregate, when Vidmar delivered his stunning assessment of what he believed were the club's problems at the post-match media conference.

"It's a disgrace," Vidmar said of the result. "We owe the world an apology, a performance like that was a disgrace. Politics, that's what I put it down to. There's too many people in this club with hidden agendas. That's the problem.

"That 4-0 result tonight was politics, nothing else. Whether you're involved directly or indirectly you have an effect. It has an effect on everyone. Because of a pissant town this club will never win anything, until you get rid of that crap."

It didn't end there. Vidmar said United, as a club, had been going downhill internally for several weeks.

"Things change very quickly," he said. "Someone's not happy with something, they'll do anything they can to fracture it. Jealously, whatever it is, whether it's ego, it smacks of all that at our club at this time. It's the underlying things around the club. I'm not going to name names."

Vidmar went on to say he didn't care about his coaching future when factors out of his control were weighing against him.

"I couldn't give a damn," he said. "I want to be the coach, yes, to work in a happy environment. You can't tell me that they've forgotten to play football overnight. There's a lot of shit in your mind. You can't play football, you can't do anything."

Adelaide went on to win the preliminary final, 1-0 over Queensland Roar, but lost 1-0 to Victory in the grand final. After the Reds finished last in the 2009-2010 season, the club and Vidmar parted ways.

The Spanish invasion

The signal for a complete overhaul of Adelaide's approach to football came with the appointment of Josep Gombau as coach ahead of the 2013-2014 season.

The Spaniard added fellow countrymen Isaias and Sergio Cirio to the playing list and the Reds began learning a possession-based game that was attractive to watch but didn't immediately bring results as they needed time to get it right.

Eventually, the wins started coming, fortunately soon enough for Adelaide to still make the finals, although in sixth place. They were eliminated in the first week of the playoffs.

Last season, after the further addition of Spanish player Pablo Sanchez and former Barcelona great Guillermo Amor as technical director, the Reds finished third and made it to the semi-final stage.

Following Gombau's sudden departure ahead of this season, Amor was installed as head coach and while the team adjusted to the way he wanted them to play they failed to win in the first eight rounds.

But the turnaround since then has been stunning, with just one loss in 19 regular-season games and a semi-final.

The Premier's Plate is already in Adelaide's possession and on Sunday they will try to complete the double by winning the championship.

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6 min read
Published 27 April 2016 at 7:03pm
By Greg Prichard