You wouldn't have thought Adelaide United would be one of our most exciting teams to watch in W-League 2019/20 season. But there's a lot to look forward to here...
Coming in luke-warm of another missed finals campaign, you could be forgiven for lowering your Adelaide expectations this season.
But we'll skip straight to the good bits: the Reds have locked-in some of the hottest young talent in the league this season and coach Ivan Karlovic has reason to be excited, he's got the prodigy "everybody wanted" in his team and she's going to put bums on seats this season if nothing else.
Entering their 12th season without a finals appearance to show for their efforts, Adelaide are still undergoing a renaissance of sorts under Karlovic, now in his fifth season with the club.
He took them from wooden spooners the year before to an unbeaten finals contender by the start of December but that January collapse all-but-ended those big hopes at the key stage of the season.
Now reeling from another sixth-place and with more pressure on the coach than ever before, you'd expect things to be getting a little tight in the City of Churches. But there's a degree of confidence around the club that can't be ignored.
Adelaide are one of our ones-to-watch this season. Here's why...
WHAT DID WE LEARN FROM LAST SEASON?
Adelaide's blistering form at the beginning of last season hinged on strong away performances, such as a nail-biting win up in Brisbane in round three, that set the tone for improved showings across all areas of the pitch.
They found a way of grinding out results and nicking important goals against the big clubs, backed up by a strong defence that featured the now-absent likes of Emma Checker and a lethal one-woman strikeforce named Veronica Latsko. Also gone.
So why are we tipping the Reds to remain in the hunt, you ask?
Overall they finished up with largely stalemate records both home and away, a solid outing for a club that weren't considered competitive at the beginning of the season and ended up being exactly that.
Most enticing are the re-arrivals of key up-and-comers, now with extensive experience under their belts. Emily Condon, Georgia Campagnale, Emily Hodgson, Isabel Hodgson, Chelsie Dawber...all these names are increasingly significant in Adelaide and Karlovic has proven adept at ensuring continued progression from his young talent.
The other big change in the Adelaide setup are the clubs new owners, who Karlovic says have clearly valued the W-league side.
"Obviously we said about trying to improve the performances," Karlovic said.
"But I think fundamentally, a lot of that comes from putting a lot of hard work in the background, getting the program to where it needs to be, which which we have.
"The new owners are just providing that greater resources to the coaching staff, which is then able to be reflected on to the players."