Amor: A Spaniard spared scrutiny
It's a warm January night in Adelaide.
Melbourne Victory is in town to take on Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium.
The Victory took the lead in the 22nd minute through a wonderful finish by Adelaide boy James Troisi.
The Reds have shown glimpses that they might be a better side than their one win in 13 games suggests.
But the longer the second half goes on, the less likely they look to score.
The Victory appears to have all the momentum as the game ticks toward the hour mark.
It's around the 60th minute of most matches that substitutions start being made and so I think "It'll be ok, the coach Guillermo Amor will make a change any minute now to interrupt the play, slow it down and inject some enthusiasm."
"Henrique has been ineffective," I think to myself, "so he'll probably be the first off the park and I'd stick Kitto on in his place."
Yet no substitution is made.
In fact, there's little to no movement on the bench at all, with Amor and all of those around him looking decidedly dejected.
The game ticks past 65 minutes with the Victory continuing to press.
"Make the change!" I start to yell out. It's the biggest rivalry Adelaide has, and a game the Reds don't ever want to lose.
But, still no change.
In the 68th minute, Besart Berisha finds the back of the net after being most desperate to get his head on a dangerous cross.
"Surely," I think, "the sub will be made now. I mean 2-nil down with 20 minutes to go, at home with just one win in half a season, what is there to lose?"
Yet Amor waits until the 80th minute, until the life has been sucked out of the game by the Victory and then makes his first substitution.
Adelaide lost the match 2-nil.
And it's just one example of some interesting coaching by Amor and friends.
The coaching panel, made up of Barcelona legend Guillermo Amor, and fellow Spaniards Pau Marti and Jacobo Ramallo, has not been criticised by a sympathetic football public.
After all, Amor is a gentleman who rarely shows emotion.
Plus his playing career was amazing.
And don't forget, he won Adelaide its first title and second Premiership.
But, with his side struggling for goals all season, Amor has left his most promising young striker either out of the squad or on the bench.
Mark Marino scored two goals in nine senior appearances with Melbourne City before returning to his home city for the 2016-17 A-League season.
After building his fitness, the 20 year-old started banging in goals in the National Youth League, including a hat-trick against the Victory Youth in November and a brace against Melbourne City Youth in December.
But when the Reds hosted Central Coast in the A-League and lost 2-1, I was almost certain that Marino would get a few minutes to reward him for his performances.
Down 2-1 in the 57th minute at home, I just expected Marino to be brought on.
Two substitutions were made with Marcelo Carrusca and Mark Ochieng brought on for George Mells and Jesse Makarounas, yet, despite chasing a goal to avoid another home loss, Marino was left on the pine.
Amor had made just two of his allowed three substitutions and his side had lost a chance to at least steal a point.
Until his 54 minutes against Wellington last week, Marino had seen just 18 minutes of game time in his two games.
All 18 minutes came against Wellington in a 2-nil win - and he came on when the side already had that lead.
Against the league leader Sydney FC on November 26th, teenager Riley McGree was given eleven minutes.
He didn't play again for the senior side until he was brought straight into the starting line-up to face the Sky Blues a month later.
McGree played a full game in the 4-nil loss in what was a disappointing performance by the entire team.
In fairness Amor's midfield options were limited because James Holland had left the club, Jesse Makarounas hadn't played for a long time either and George Mells had been ill.
Nevertheless, it was a strange selection by Amor and his team to start the lad ahead of Jordan O'Doherty after O'Doherty had shown glimpses that he could perform in that role (although McGree was brilliant a week later against Wellington)
Another strange decision by Amor has been the weekly decision to start Henrique and play him for the majority of each game.
While he is joint top-scorer this season for the club with three goals (along with Spaniard Sergi Guardiola), Henrique has too often gone missing in games and proven ineffective when he is present.
The fact that both Henrique and Guardiola have both left during the January Transfer Window is another blight on the season.
But, Amor and his team had clearly not seen that Ryan Kitto was creating more opportunities, showing more enthusiasm and energy, and, despite his often lack of polish with his final pass or shot, would offer more than Henrique had been.
Amor had probably also missed the fact that most of Henrique's 39 goals during his 136 games at Brisbane Roar came off the subs bench.
At 31, the "slippery fish" just isn't as slippery any more.
Yes Adelaide United's off-season signings were underwhelming, yes they came too late when there was little talent available, and yes none of that is Amor's fault.
But selections, substitutions and positive team tactics are in the Spaniard's control.
Amor has escaped criticism for his side's results for too long.
He can no longer fly under the radar.
If he were Graham Arnold, Kevin Muscat or Kenny Lowe he would be in the firing line.
Management is about results and, with the memory of last year's historic Premiership and Championship double slowly fading in the dark shadow of this season's performances, Amor's aren't stacking up.