From champions to the laughing stock of the competition in 14 months, where to from here?
It seems like a lifetime ago, almost 14 months to the day that Adelaide United broke their 11-year drought in Australian soccer's premier competition and were crowned champions in front of 50,000 fans at Adelaide Oval. With high hopes for a successful defense of their title in 2016/17, United fans had every reason to feel excited for the future of soccer here in Adelaide, however what has transpired over the last 14 months has been beyond a joke.
After having had significant changes to their squad, they proceeded to put together one of the worst title defences the A league has seen since its inception, their coach has since left to return overseas and the way in which they treated Eugene Galekovic (arguably their most influential and important player of the last decade) before his return to Melbourne was disrespectful to say the least.
Greg Griffin is the man responsible for the majority of the issues in the last 12 months (at least in the eyes of supporters and members) and is and has been the scapegoat with a large proportion of fans calling for his resignation as chairman. His latest comments regarding his player selection in the upcoming Under-23 AFC Championship qualifiers later this month have drawn anger and ridicule over social media, with Griffin reportedly sending a letter to the FFA claiming the club has "no obligation to release its players and requested and will not do so", as reported by The Advertiser's Val Migliaccio.
The players selected by former Adelaide United and current Under-23 boss Josep Gombau have been revealed as George Blackwood, Riley McGree, Ben Warland, Paul Izzo and Jordan O'Doherty, However none, except for McGree, who is set to sign for Belgium's Club Brugge will fly to Myanmar to compete against Brunei, Singapore and the host nation for a place in the championships in China next year.
General manager of football Ante Kovacevic has slammed the tournament in recent days, referring to it as a "mickey mouse" tournament, and in a recent interview with The Advertiser, stated “we always try to get our young players to get pushed into the national team and then we get punished for, let’s be honest, a joke of a tournament."
“I don’t see the benefit to anybody, you see Germany are playing their younger players like we saw at the recent Confederations Cup and they won. So why are we playing our older players? They could have taken an under-20 team to play these nations (in Asia). This is about results.”
Above: Bruce Djite celebrating United's inaugural title in 2016 has hit out at Greg Griffin Credit: The Australian
Former United striker Bruce Djite, an integral part of the premiership and championship team from 14 months ago, has slammed Griffin's decision to withdraw his players from the competition and deny them the opportunity to play for their country, tweeting "I cannot comprehend that my beloved @AdelaideUnited would deny such quality young players the chance to represent their country @FFA #Scary".
Numerous fans have taken to Twitter, calling at an embarrassment and a disgrace, and who can blame them?