New Adelaide United coach Josep Gombau has vowed to bring the Barcelona style of football to Australia but it appears that only a short drive from the A-League club’s home ground there is a young coach already having great success implementing the renowned system.
A former MetroStars player himself, Ivan Karlovic has coached the team he represented over 200 times to the inaugural South Australian National Premier League title.
The competition still has three rounds to play but the MetroStars have an unassailable eleven point lead at the top of the table ensuring them of the title and a slice of South Australian football history.
“We have re-written the record books this year,” said club president Tony Taormina.
“We have now won seven league titles in our first 15 years at the top level which breaks a record that was set back in the twenties or thirties.”
A former defender himself, Karlovic has focused on ensuring that his side are giving themselves the best chance at winning by being stingy at the back.
“The secret to the team’s success has been keeping a strong defensive core with most of the guys at the back having played together in the side for years,” Taormina continued.
“They have all been extremely consistent over the years. The likes of Dan Godley in goals and captain Lee Robertson, who has played in Scotland, are extremely committed as are the rest of the boys.”
With only 14 goals conceded in 23 matches the stats point to a side that garners it’s success from the back, but the Metrostars also know how to get the ball in the back of the net despite not playing with a conventional central striker.
“(Perry) Mitris and (Scott) Turnbridge have both scored ten goals for us which has been great especially as they don’t exclusively play up the front.
"Mitris plays out on the left wing and Turnbridge plays more an in and out role in the midfield so it shows how the Barcelona style of play that we have is working.”
Behind all the magic on the field is the coach who Taormina believes has what it takes to have an exceptional career as a football manager.
“He was a superstar as a player and he is a superstar as a coach. He is a fantastic communicator and demands a hell of a lot from his players.
“It is a no brainer that he would go on to coach at a higher level even though it would be sad for us to see him go.”
The club is now looking to win the finals series to have the chance to play in the NPL Champions League.
“We are definitely hoping to make it but feel like we should have already confirmed our place in the tournament as we won the league.”
“It will definitely be a good opportunity for the players to showcase themselves on the national stage.”
With league titles becoming common practice for the club many will ask what is the key to building such success.
“I’ve been here from day one, as have a few others, and from the start we wanted to ensure we would give ourselves the best chance at success.
“We recruited the best possible people that shared our belief in not just making up the numbers and got to work.
“It was a difficult process but we did not have any political hangups so we made sure we did what was best for the sport.
“Since we came into the top level 15 years ago we have seen a number of growth spurts which has helped build our club into what it is today.
Not resting on their laurels the club is looking onwards and upwards into the future.
“This year we have been identifying the criteria of what is needed for the club going forward.
“We spoke to former and current members and came up with a plan for the next five to ten years that would help us to secure our facilities as well as stronger junior development.”
The Metrostars now have a date with Adelaide United at Santos Park on Tuesday 6 August with kick-off at 8pm before looking to take out the finals series.