Friday, March 2, 2007

Kosmina jumps, Vidmar in at deep end

Managerial casualties following a 6-0 final mauling hardly come as a bolt from the blue. But Adelaide United's change at the top after being categorically thrashed by Melbourne in the A-League's showpiece decider did have an element of surprise. Marc Fox reports.

Six months ago John Kosmina's position was the safest in the country. He had six months before that led Adelaide to the inaugural premiership and was now celebrating winning the 2006 Pre-Season Cup with high expectations of lifting the championship in the league's second season.

Although a figure loved by Adelaide followers as much as he was loathed by rivals, Kosmina was without doubt the most successful coach in the A-League's brief history prior to walking away with a year of his contract still remaining. And even then he jumped before he was pushed.

Kosmina's bitter divorce from the Reds in the wake of the humiliating defeat by Melbourne serves as an example of the league's rapid strides as much as the defeat itself and his and his players' inability to keep their emotions in check.

The nature of Adelaide's capitulation amid indiscipline at the Telstra Dome would have hardly helped his cause with chairman Dario Fontanarosa. But moreso the former Socceroos legend and football stalwart was suddenly a little unbecoming for the new regime.

He was old school, for sure, but some of his antagonistic and unprofessional behaviour was over time beginning to conflict with the game's improving code of conduct.

There, of course, had been plenty of signs during his three years in charge but it was perhaps only when the evidence was gathered together that a glaring picture emerged.

Kosmina's headline-grabbing touchline spat with former Queensland coach Miron Bleiberg last season went unpunished and was written off in some quarters as a decent PR exercise for new football.

But a repeat with Kevin Muscat this season - when Kosmina grabbed the Victory captain around the throat after being knocked from his chair - saw him handed a four-match sideline ban by the FFA and he was back in the stands for the grand final after giving referee Matthew Breeze a mouthful the week before.

Kosmina then received criticism for laughing in the post-match press conference when veteran striker Carl Veart suggested 'three blind mice' could have made a better job of refereeing the grand final.

For all that, less 96 hours after the loss, Kosmina had tendered his resignation claiming it was in the best interests of his family and departed without taking questions, leaving just this cryptic farewell.

"I was born and bred in Adelaide and after a long, long time away I threw a pebble in the pond by coming back," he said. "The final wave of those ripples are just hitting the shores now and my journey here has come to an end."

The hot seat temporarily belongs to Kosmina's former assistant Aurelio Vidmar, another legendary Socceroos striker and Oceania player of the year winner but a man who has never even coached a domestic fixture before.

Vidmar's first task is to whip an under-strength team into shape for next week's maiden Asian Champions League encounter, the visit of Chinese Super League champions and favourites to retain their title, Shandong Luneng.

He has already thrown his hat into the ring for the coaching position in the long-term but in the meantime there will have been easier 12-week trials.

Not only are Adelaide low in morale and bodies after a gruelling finals series, the caretaker coach summed up the ignorance of many Australians by suggesting that nobody in the land had ever seen a Champions League match before.

"There's no illusion how difficult this ACL is," said Vidmar. "I don’t think anyone is aware of how difficult the quality of teams that we're playing. No-one's ever probably seen an Asian Champions League game before.

"We've seen quite a number of tapes of games over the last few years but we still don't know what to expect when we go to Vietnam, China and Korea.

"All we know is they are very good footballing sides and we've got a massive task ahead of us."

Adelaide ACL squad:
Richie Alagich, Ross Aloisi, Robert Bajic, Daniel Beltrame, Nathan Burns, Robert Cornthwaite, Angelo Costanzo, Diego, Bruce Djite, Travis Dodd, Fernando, Dez Giraldi, Aaron Goulding, Matthew Kemp, Lucas Pantelis, Bobby Petta, Kristian Rees, Jason Spagnuolo, Michael Valkanis, Adam Van Dommele, Carl Veart

Copyright © Marc Fox and Soccerphile.com

Australian Soccer News

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