A-League All-Stars coach Josep Gombau says he hopes the one-off game against Italian giants Juventus can be a party for football fans.
Josep Gombau’s transformation from A-League outcast to coaching poster-boy has been completed by his naming as All Stars coach.
Catalonian-born and FC Barcelona-styled Gombau has been a revelation at Adelaide United this season.
With quick, possession based football United have become a fans’ favourite – making it no surprise Gombau would win the vote of more than 16,000 fans for the position.
Gombau polled 39.7 per cent of the vote ahead of premier Brisbane Roar’s Mike Mulvey (21.3 per cent) and Western Sydney coach Tony Popovic (17.3 per cent).
His reward is the chance to sit in the dug-out at ANZ Stadium in Sydney for the A-League’s marquee match against Juventus in August.
“It’s a special award – not just for me but the people that I work with in the club,” he said.
“The people voted because they like the kind of football that we play.”
There is more though to Gombau’s A-League story than his tiki-taka tactics.
His revitalisation of Adelaide is also a tale of a man defying the critics.
When a nasty altercation with a local journalist followed a 2-1 home loss to Brisbane Roar in December, Gombau’s tenure looked in the balance.
But a sensational 4-0 thrashing of the Mariners snapped their eight-game winless streak and United haven’t looked back.
They’ve been unbeaten at home since then and could finish as high as second depending on this weekend’s final A-League round.
Gombau said his contrasting fortunes at the helm might have surprised others but not him.
“That’s football,” he said.
“A lot of people just see the results, and when they don’t come people don’t understand what we want to do.”
“But we are playing good football and people support this.”
Gombau said he would bring his tactics to the one-off fixture against the Italian giants.
“I think the people chose the coach for his style,” he said.
“When we have the players we can we have some training and we’ll try to play this type of football.”
Alessandro Del Piero shapes as a lay-down misere to play against his long-time club, with Gombau saying he hoped for a party-style atmosphere.
“The game that we will play is a party. It’s a game that I want everybody to enjoy and where fans can see good football from both sides,” he said.
Football Federation Australia will hope the match can emulate last year’s All Stars match against Manchester United, which drew 83,127 fans to ANZ Stadium.