In depth Q&A: Former Reds stars preview Adelaide’s Hyundai A-League 2019/20 season


Adelaide United chatted to some former Reds stars to get their feelings about the team's chances ahead of the impending Hyundai A-League 2019/20 season.

With Adelaide beginning the new campaign against Sydney FC at Coopers Stadium on Friday night, we asked Lucas Pantelis, Robbie Cornthwaite, Fabian Barbiero, Richie Alagich, and Travis Dodd to give their predictions.

Lucas Pantelis

What are your thoughts for the upcoming season?

I’m quite excited actually. I think with Gertjan (Verbeek) coming in, the excitement of Riley McGree, James Troisi recently and I think now with the guys who have stayed at the club and been there for a few seasons, I think it could potentially be a really good fit this year.

What have you made of the new signings?

I haven’t seen much of Kristian (Opseth) but he’s come with great credentials. We all know what Riley can do, we know what James Troisi can do. I guess the revelation of (Al Hassan) Toure coming through and obviously Kusini (Yengi) as well. It’s good to see that not only are they Adelaide boys, but they’ve got great potential so I think it’s been a pretty solid recruitment. I think if they all gel I think it can be a really promising year.

Key player?

That’s a tough one. Obviously before Troisi came you’d put your money on Riley. But now with Troisi coming in (could change that), but I still think Riley is very important and he’s definitely got the credentials to be a really great goal-scoring midfielder who could bag you eight to 10 goals a year which is what you need. But in saying that everyone has got to perform. I think Nikola Mileusnić is going to have a massive year, I think this is his time to shine on the wing. George Blackwood the same.

So I think these type of guys, George Blackwood, Nikola Mileusnić, Ryan Kitto, Nathan Konstandopoulos – these young Adelaide boys apart from George – they’ve been in the system now for two or three seasons and now it’s really time for them to shine. And I do think this could be their year to really shine.

Breakout season?

Obviously Toure, he’s proven himself in the FFA Cup, so probably Toure and Pacifique (Niyongabire). I think these two guys will be given the opportunity and it’s up to them if they want to grab it. But it’s great to see Gertjan has showed faith in a young Louis D’Arrigo, Isaac Richards and how he started them both in an FFA Cup semi-final. So it’s good to see Gertjan is giving everyone an opportunity.

Predicted finish?

Definitely I feel top six but I think they should be pushing for top four.

Lucas Pantelis
Lucas Pantelis netted 15 goals in 124 games in his career with the Reds between 2005 and 2011.

Robbie Cornthwaite

What are your thoughts for the upcoming season?

I think Adelaide has got a good squad and they’re definitely going to be competitive. If they over achieve I think they can be champions but that sort of third to fourth position on the table is probably where they’re looking at. And hopefully in the finals they can kick on from there.

What have you made of the new signings?

I think the players that they’ve signed are no doubt very, very good quality players. I think they’re going to add a lot to the squad certainly in that midfield now with James Troisi and Riley McGree. They’ve got goals and a real threat going forward. I think they’re solid at the back as well and a couple of finds I suppose with the young guys in Al Hassan Toure bursting onto the scene, he’s going to be one to watch as well.

Key player?

I think Jordan Elsey is primed for a big, big season. I know there’s probably other people that have come to the club in the last few months that people are talking about. But I think he’s at the right age now to really step up and take control and I think he’s a player that could possibly go onto to bigger and better things if he has one or two good seasons for Adelaide.

Breakout season?

I think Toure is obviously one that people are talking about. I think Ben Halloran he obviously has got a lot more to give. I think last year he was sort of finding his feet – playing in a few different roles under Kurz. But I think this season if he spends most of his time out on the right-hand side, I think we can really see the best of him this year. And hopefully he can have a really, really big season for the club.

Predicted finish?

I think probably fourth.

Cornthwaite
Robbie Cornthwaite played 125 matches in all competitions for the Reds between 2005 and 2011, scoring eight goals.

Fabian Barbiero

What are your thoughts for the upcoming season?

Obviously excited again that another season is kicking off. I guess looking forward to another good season of the A-League and it’ll be interesting to see how Adelaide go. And hopefully we (as a league) can really promote the game here in Australia with local talent and internationals.

What have you made of the new signings?

I think the latest one was Troisi, so I think that’s a great addition to the squad obviously being an Adelaide boy I think it draws more people to the game and I think that’s the culture of the team here. It’s promoting youth and obviously Adelaide players as well so I think the crowd loves that kind of stuff and the fans get amongst it.

Key player?

I think Riley McGree, I think he’s got a season in him and I think he’s going to do quite well this season. I think he looks fit and he’s settled in and hopefully he’s going to be a big player I think this year for Adelaide.

Breakout season?

I think Toure has definitely come on board and shown his worth being a young kid. I think he’ll grow I guess the more he trains and the more he’s involved in the main squad and the more opportunities he gets. I think he’ll be a very handy player for Adelaide. Obviously Troisi you know what you’re going to get as well.

Predicted finish?

I think we’ll be in the top three.

Fabian Barbiero Adelaide United
Fabian Barbiero scored nine goals in 114 matches for the Reds between 2007 and 2013.

Richie Alagich

What are your thoughts for the upcoming season?

To be honest I’m very curious to see how the squad goes. Some of the other sides have strengthened considerably so it’ll be a challenge. But going on FFA Cup form everything seems to be heading in the right direction.

What have you made of the new signings?

I’ve seen two FFA Cup games so it’s difficult to make predictions. But Al Hassan in terms of a young signing has done well. The easy thing is doing it over a couple of games. The hard thing is doing that for a whole season, for two seasons, for three seasons. So that’ll be the test and the depth I think will be tested.

Key player?

I think James Troisi depending on how he’s able to adjust and fit in, he could be the big key signing of being that creative midfield player. Which obviously losing Isaías is a massive loss and always going to be very, very difficult to fill that void. Of course, they’re different players but having that prominent midfielder will go a long way to helping that. You talk about key signings as well and if you’re bringing in a striker and they’re scoring goals or not scoring goals that has a big impact.

Breakout season?

I guess it’ll be Al Hassan but I’m also hoping Louis D’Arrigo gets some minutes. But there’s some good players in the midfield so he might just have to bide his time. He played against Central Coast but the one at the moment would be Al Hassan. However, with any luck Louis D’Arrigo is able to get some good minutes and what he does from there that’s up to him but I’m looking forward to seeing how he progresses.

Predicted finish?

I think they can make the top six and then from there as we have seen the last couple of years, all of you have to do is just make the six and then you’re half a chance. I think that’s where they’ll be certainly looking to finish in the top six and whether that’s first or second that can be irrelevant in a one-off game. So just making the top six and going from there.

Richie Alagich Adelaide
Richie Alagich played 107 matches for the Reds between 2003 and 2008.

Travis Dodd

What are your thoughts for the upcoming season?

I think recruitment has gone pretty well which is always the starting point for when a new coach comes in for him to be able to build a base on what he wants and how he wants to play. So especially with the last-minute signing of James Troisi I think that’s going to be a great addition to the squad. The squad is coming together really well, pre-season has clearly been good to them making the final of the FFA Cup, and I think that’s a great confidence booster going into the start of the season which is really important to start well.

What have you made of the new signings?

Riley, whilst he’s young in age he’s a pretty experienced campaigner now – he’s been around for a while now. I think the experience that he’s had overseas now will certainly put him in good stead and certainly expect him to be a vital part to the midfield cog for Adelaide United this season.

To be honest I haven’t seen a lot of the new guys, I saw Kristian Opseth in the game against Mariners in the semi-final. Look I think it’s going to take a bit more time for the foreigners to come in and I guess understand the players that’s the biggest thing for any new player regardless if you’re a local or a foreigner, is to come in an understand your teammates and get a feel for how the team plays.

Key player?

I think to be honest Riley. I think Riley will be an important part of the puzzle for Adelaide United and I know the coach was pretty vocal recently about losing players to international duty and whether that be the Olyroos or Socceroos or Young Socceroos. So to be potentially be gone for those games (in January at the AFC U-23 Championship) at a pretty important time of the season as well it’s going to be an important job for the coach to be able to mould someone and have somebody that can slip into that role straight away.

Breakout season?

It’s great to see these younger kids that were only playing NPL not long ago, I was coaching against them at MetroStars and to see how quickly they’ve been able to take that step up is quite amazing. Toure had a dream run to the cup final and the coach has certainly shown faith in the younger players by continuing to give him starts, so hopefully he can get game time during the season. He’s going to have a lot of competition with Kristian up top, but he’s certainly got the attributes and he’s already shown the fans what he’s capable of.

And probably the thing Adelaide United has been lacking in the last few years is that out-and-out goal scorer and whilst you don’t want to put too much pressure on him to be banging in the goals week in week out; hopefully he’s one that can develop over the next couple of years to be that regular goal scorer for Adelaide United.

Predicted finish?

I think the difficulty is with a new coach and with new players coming in I would probably err on the side of caution and say that a top-four finish would be ideal. But in saying that if the cup is anything to go by and the results they’ve been able to get – albeit there’s only been two A-Leagues – it’s obvious you’re aiming for top spot or a top two, but top four at this stage early on would be my prediction.

Travis Dodd vs Perth Glory
Travis Dodd bagged 39 goals in 166 games for the Reds between 2005 and 2011.

Adelaide United host Sydney FC in Round 1 of the Hyundai A-League 2019/20 season on Friday, 11 October at Coopers Stadium. Kick-off is at 7.00pm ACDT. Live and Exclusive on Fox Sports, Kayo Sports and the My Football Live App.