The epitome of Jekyll and Hyde for much of the 2017-18 season, Adelaide United have consistently proved one of the competition’s great unknowns.
Bursts of good form have very often and very suddenly been undone by one or more poor results, leaving the Reds competing in the mid-table ruck.
Adelaide have picked up six points of a possible six since their 5-0 drubbing at the hands of Melbourne City, quite clearly their worst day of the campaign.
That has taken their total tally to 28 points with eight wins to their name, pitting them in fourth on the table with eight games to play.
United are two points ahead of Melbourne Victory with a game in hand and within striking distance of City at a deficit of five.
The Reds are one of a number of teams to have been affected by injury and other disruption this season, including the AFC Under-23 Championship, of which young striker George Blackwood was a part.
Including Blackwood, 10 of Adelaide’s recognised senior squad is under 22, leaving something of an experience void, particularly with the likes of Johan Absalonsen and Baba Diawara, elder statesmen in their own right, sidelined for much of the campaign.
Those youngsters have had to step up and do so quickly to cover those losses.
Now well positioned to solidify a place in the top six and be involved at the pointy end of the season, Blackwood believes the league will see the best of Adelaide on the home straight.
“I think first and foremost, the consistency with young players, we’ve got a lot of young players out on the pitch,” he told Tuesday’s Daily Football Show.
“Some games, it’s just not going to work out and that’s going to happen.
“But as the season goes on, we’ve just got to get better and better and that’s what has happened since the Melbourne City game.
“We’ve played some really good football the last couple of games.
“With young players, it’s just about getting minutes in your legs and then they will improve from that.
“The longer the season goes on, the better we’ll get and I think we can work on a few things going forward.
“Maybe creating more chances in the final third and scoring more goals, but defensively as a team, I think we’re really good.
“Some boys work their asses off; Nikola (Mileusnic) and (Ryan) Kitto work up and down the wing defensively and then even the No.10s who are playing, we put in a lot of defensive work.
“When we play compact as a team defensively, we’re really hard to break down and that’s why I think we’re a really good chance going into finals time.”
Blackwood will be tested in those upcoming matches with the signing of Slovenian Dzengis Cavusevic, who is pushing to be ready for an Adelaide debut against Central Coast Mariners on Sunday.
Marco Kurz brought the 30-year-old in from Europe to add more experience and potency up front and ultimately close the gap left by Diawara.
Blackwood will be in direct competition for the No.9 role with the FC Zurich man, but the four-goal striker welcomed his signing, lauding his modesty.
“He (Cavusevic) is a good pickup, he’s a good player and he’s a good guy as well which I think really helps,” Blackwood added.
“If you’re in a competition for spots, you don’t want a big foreigner coming in who thinks he’s on top of the world.
“He’s a good guy and we’ve battled out hard and we’ll see what happens.
“Marco (Kurz) has said maybe I might play a little bit in some other positions or up front.
“I’m just keen to see where it goes, and it’s a good acquisition.”
Pending other results in the second half of Round 20, a split round, Adelaide could find themselves within two points of third place.