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Who's to blame for the Rudderless Reds?

by Sebastian Hassett on Dec 08, 2011

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What is going on at Adelaide United? The players don't seem to know. The board can't be happy about it, and the fans must be most disappointed about it. A season that promised so much is rapidly turning into a disaster.

And whilst I am never keen to point the finger at just one man, one has to wonder what on earth is going on inside Rini Coolen's head.

He's clearly not a bad coach. You don't coach at the top level in the Netherlands unless you've got some understanding of what the difference is between a 4-3-3 and a 4-2-3-1. But is he the right coach for Adelaide United? That's the question. The answer, right now, is no.

There's no question the Reds have been dogged by injuries this season and it's clearly had a huge impact on their campaign. But when you look at Adelaide in detail, you see they are making fundamental mistakes. Not just here or there but everywhere.

I can't recall an Adelaide team that has looked so forlorn in all aspects of the pitch. Even in season three of the competition, when they finished last, they had more to offer than this. It's almost pointless in trying say where they are falling down: the fish rots from the head down, and right through to the tail.

Seen Adelaide's goal difference lately? They're at -10. They've scored just seven goals in nine matches - the worst in the league - and have conceded 17. Only Gold Coast United, who've let 18 through, are worse. That differential is the fault of the attack, midfield and defence. There's no connection between the lines. How is this possible?

Of course, a win this week could see them pole vault into equal sixth. String a few wins together and they could be third. But don't be deceived. The fact that the Reds can get so close to the podium is not a reflection of how well they're going. It's because the teams above them, except for the top two, haven't clicked.

My biggest concern with Coolen is that he seems not to posses a connection with the dressing room. He's already fallen out with almost half the squad from last season, including Mr Adelaide United, Travis Dodd. Remind me, how was Dodd's fate sealed so far out from the end of last season? He was unfit to start the year but once he got himself right, he showed he could play. It was symptomatic of the deeper problems.

The Dutch are often unfairly lampooned for their people skills but you have to wonder why he has angered so many players in such a short space of time. Paul Reid revealed on Adelaide radio this week that he was offered the captaincy by Coolen behind Dodd's back. That's a disgrace. Is it a clue as to how he does his business?

At the end of last season, Coolen tried to do an Ange Postecoglou and rebuild the squad as he saw fit. To his credit, Adelaide now have a fine squad on paper. Any team with Vidosic (whose injury is a huge blow), Djite, van Dijk, McKain and Caravella, with Galekovic in goals, should be pushing for top two honours. So why can't they play together? The manager has to take some responsibility for that. Actually, a whole lot of responsibility for that.

This weekend's match against Melbourne Victory is really make or break for Coolen. It goes without saying that Victory boss Mehmet Durakovic is in an equally precarious situation. If either is on the end of a serious loss, it could be curtains.

Owing to his inexperience, Durakovic may have a little more string to play with. But for Adelaide, they need to start winning or Coolen might get walking.

Right now, it will be a small miracle to see him last the season.