This week we feature Dylan McGowan in our match day programme, ADLUNITE. To read the full piece, make sure you get a copy at #ADLvMCY!
As a centre-half, you need a variety of specific qualities to your football to make yourself valuable. Some might argue, however, you can get by without having an abundance of them, an aware head on your shoulders and a decent ability to make a tackle can typically do the job.
And once upon a time you could find all types of them. Some had a good footballing brain and read the game well; others were simply built solidly and just ran through anyone. Some were tall and good in the air; others were smaller and great with their feet. And, depending on the men alongside them, they could sometimes get away with certain deficiencies to their game: distribution, as a blatant example.
But as football has developed and become more complex, it’s found that you can’t hide those inadequacies anymore, especially at the heart of a back three, or four. Few, if any, football club’s still play a sweeper and stopper style of defence that relies on smacking the ball up field with one swift swing of a boot. Technical ability is required right across the field, ‘keepers even need to have a sumptuous first touch and a reasonable ability to take a man on if caught in possession.
Some centre-halves try and get away with it, but forwards are as tenacious as ever and will catch you out.
Then you take a footballer like Dylan McGowan, with attributes branching across numerous disciplines. He’s currently third in completed passes in the entire competition, clearly commanding the ground, whilst his stature and determination ensures he governs the air.
Epitomising leadership despite only being 24-years-old, McGowan’s also one of the most vocal in a Red shirt and reads the game with genuine ease, completing every one of his attempted tackles in 2015/16.
But he’s his harshest critic, refusing anything but perfection, or as close to it as you can get.
“The start of my season has been okay, but with the goals we’ve conceded in the last couple of games, it’s not been good enough,” McGowan explained.
“Most of them have come when we have switched to playing with three at the back attempting to come back from a goal down and have left ourselves open.
“But that’s not an excuse, we need clean sheets.”
He’s not naïve. He knows his job is part of a collective effort, crediting his defensive colleague, Osama Malik, with helping to graph a diverse partnership. But still, McGowan isn’t satisfied with mediocrity, pushing for endless improvement, desiring further silverware this campaign.
“Last year, Oz and I didn’t play too many games together as a pair, so this season our partnership has had to grow quickly,” he said.
“The understanding between us will keep getting better as the season goes on and I think we showed in the first two games that we’re completely different players, but it works for the team."
The full version of this feature is available exclusively in the ADLUNITE match day programme available at the game between Adelaide United FC and Melbourne City FC.
Adelaide United will face Melbourne City in Round 5 of the Hyundai A-League 2015/16 season at Coopers Stadium on Thursday, 5 November 2015. Kick-off is at 7.30 pm.