Michael Marrone has re-joined Adelaide United as a free agent, after having his contract with Chinese Super League club Shanghai Shenxin terminated. The deal with the Reds, which expires at the end of the 2014/15 season sees Marrone return to the club where his made his A-League breakthrough, appearing 26 times for United between 2008 and 2010. The versatile fullback then moved to Melbourne Heart before heading to China.
A broken shin, along with numerous coaching changes curtailed his playing time and compromised his future in China, culminating in his release last week. Whilst he may appear to be a direct replacement for the departing Steven Lustica, coach Josep Gombau may have other plans for Marrone.
Gombau was asked where he saw his new recruit fitting into the side and although he welcomed Marrone’s versatility, he stated that he was signed primarily to play at fullback.
“I think that he can bring to us a lot of possibilities…He is a player that can play in different positions and these kind of players are always welcome.
“The last games we have a problem in the right back (position) because Bowles was injured, also Zullo was injured. Elrich we move to left back and was playing Malik (at right back), that is not his normal position.
“Of course when we sign we (were) thinking in the future, thinking of a right back.”
Marrone’s ability to slot into a possession orientated style of play also contributed to the move, with the player adding: “I think when I was playing my best football, probably the first two years at Melbourne Heart when we were playing a possession based game”.
With one roster spot remaining for the Reds with Anthony Golec leaving on a permanent deal, Gombau has the ability to bring in another player. The Spaniard indicated that he would be willing to do so, but only to add quality. “I am satisfied with the players I have, but of course if there is a good opportunity, we can listen and we can discuss.”
After the messy Lustica situation, Gombau had this to say: “I don’t want any player, any person that is not happy in the club…Of course I was unhappy with his decision, but in the end now he is in another club and we have a player who can bring to us more things than Lustica.”
On Tuesday United trained at a new facility for the first time, utilising a synthetic pitch at the Adelaide Shores complex. Gombau was happy with the facility, stating: “With one facility like this you can train (for) hours and hours and hours, and it doesn’t matter if it’s raining or not.” The players however found the surface to be a little hard, leading Gombau to say “We need to discuss exactly how many days we will use this pitch, and how many days we use natural grass.”
Adelaide’s defeat to Wellington on Saturday leaves the reds with a run of crucial games before the conclusion of the regular season, and Gombau echoed the importance of the upcoming fixtures by stating that the remaining games are “like ten finals”.