Adelaide coach should be an Aussie
Adelaide United's most successful coach has just left, and while he was a foreigner, Loukas Founten argues it’s time to go local again as the search for his replacement intensifies.
Guillermo Amor was the first Reds coach to win the Premiership and Championship double in a remarkable 2015-16 A-League season where his side went from winless wooden spoon favourites to barnstorming unbeatable champs.
He arrived in Adelaide in 2014 to work alongside fellow Spaniard Josep Gombau, and was involved in the inaugural FFA Cup success that year.
The Spanish experiment undoubtedly paid dividends in the form of international contacts and player recruitment.
Having Amor at the helm also drew unprecedented global attention to Adelaide, to an extent not seen since the ill-fated four-game guest stint of Brazilian legend Romario.
Because of Gombau and Amor, the terraces at Hindmarsh were thrilled by the relentless defensive pressure and poise on the ball of midfield metronome Isaias Sanchez, the class and skill of Sergio Cirio, and the important goals and charming off-field character of Pablo Sanchez.
And there's no doubt the lure of playing under a Barcelona legend with nearly 40 caps for Spain would have been hard to refuse for many players considering whether to come to the club.
Hell I'd wash Guillermo Amor's dishes if he asked, simply out of respect for his playing and coaching achievements and because he's just such a likeable guy.
A true gentleman, he often avoided tough questions at press conferences because of either his niceness or perceived language difficulties.
"But while this is all well and good, and Amor's stint will be remembered fondly by the Adelaide faithful, the time is right to appoint and Australian coach again."
Consider the top-six from the most recent A-League season: if we include Kenny Lowe as a local, all had Australian coaches.
The grand finalists, Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory have had local coaches in place for some time.
Managers don’t expect to be in a job for 10 years. It’s the nature of the game where loyalty counts for little when results rule.
But, with all due respect to Rini Coolen, Josep Gombau and Gui Amor, foreign coaches will always want to go home even if they have the results on their side.
Particularly when these coaches come all the way from Europe where there are more jobs, more money and where they have established support bases including family and friends.
They can establish a playing style, pick some players that suit and achieve some success in the short-term.
This is great IN THE SHORT-TERM, but as a supporter, I want my team to be challenging for the title each and every year. I don’t want to make the six every two or three years and maybe make a grand final here or there.
Established coaches establish success. They establish a plan, a team and most importantly a culture.
Melbourne Victory is Australia’s best-run A-League club and that off-field strength has led to on-field stability and overall success.
Throughout the club’s existence – and it pains me to say it, let alone think it – the Victory has been the A-League’s most successful club.
I look back at the club’s coaches and all but one has been Australian. Granted Mehmet Durakovic didn’t fill the trophy cabinet, but the only time a coach hasn’t been successful at the Victory is when Northern Irishman Jim Magilton took over in 2012.
While Ange Postecoglou didn’t win a title with the club, it could be argued that his stint set-up the club for its later achievements under Kevin Muscat.
At Sydney FC, Graham Arnold got the team he wanted on and off the pitch after three years at the helm.
I can’t see him leaving any time soon unless results take a massive downturn or he gets a better offer.
"There are enough Australian managers out there who are looking for an opportunity to prove themselves at the highest level that Adelaide should not be looking to untried foreigners like Gabriel Batistuta and others who have been mentioned in recent reports."
As an example, some of the best players to make a name for themselves in the NSL/A-League came through the ranks of local club Adelaide City and they all had an outstanding coach in Zoran Matic.
Aurelio and Tony Vidmar, Ross and John Aloisi, Joe Mullen, Damien Mori, Michael Valkanis… I could go on and on. Any one of these players could and should be considered for the Reds head coaching job. (remove John Aloisi who just signed a three-year extension at Brisbane)
Matic was a foreign coach who had a lot of success and his players took some valuable lessons from their time under him.
Enough Australian players have had enough experience in Australia and overseas under coaches from across the globe that they can now impart that experience and the knowledge gained to the next generation.
By all means, Adelaide should be doing everything it can to keep a relationship with Gui Amor. He should be a huge asset in terms of acting as a European consultant, recommending players it should sign and being an advocate for the club by telling prospective players about the positives of Adelaide, the A-League and Australia.
The Spanish experiment was totally worth it but the time has come for Adelaide United to get stable.
Build a club and an environment that players want to play in and supporters want to be a part of and success will come.
Sponsors will follow.
A lack of stability and a lack of a plan is just one of the things holding back the game in this country. Clubs need to take it upon themselves to do what they can for their own success.
Picking the right coach is key.