With a third of the season completed, South Adelaide Panthers Seniors sit in 10th place on the National Premier League SA ladder. With 2 wins from 7 matches, Senior Coach, Ben Dale, doesn’t shy away from the fact that the results are below his expectations.
“From my perspective, I thought that we would be doing better than we are,” he said.
“But, having said that, I think our performances, other than the Adelaide City game, we have been more than competitive – just not for the full 90 minutes, which is where we need to improve on.
“I said to the boys, the most games the Club has won in the NPL to date is 6 games in a season, so we are already a third of the way there. That is a realistic goal for us, I think 6 games will get survival for us – but winning 6 games isn’t really what we came in to the season for, we wanted to try and make the Top 6.”
Looking at the remainder of the season, Dale is aware that some adjustments within his squad may need to be made to improve results.
“It is that old cliché of taking every week as it comes,” he told.
“We are not where we want to be right now, but it could be worse.
“We’ve got depth in the squad in terms of numbers and some good young players coming through, but there is probably a gap in regards to experience and quality and that is probably the main issue for us. Realistically we need to look at adding something to the squad, and that is the frustrating thing right now.
Dale is in his first season at South Adelaide in the Head Coach position and notes that moving in to the top spot has been challenging.
“I took a step back for a couple of years because I had a young family and work commitments, and I enjoyed the assistant coach role,” said Dale.
“I enjoyed that it was less responsibility and pressure, but I did struggle at times that I didn’t get to be as involved as I would have liked. That isn’t a criticism of anyone, because that was just the role that it was and that was absolutely fine with me.
“It has taken me a little while to get used to not dwelling on the results and refocusing and being a leader for the rest of the group. If I come here all doom and gloom the players are going to lose confidence in me and in themselves so I need to try and stay positive all the time – which isn’t always easy.
“I think the pressure is definitely there and the weight is there on my shoulders to maintain the NPL status in particular because it is important to this club.”
South Adelaide is due to start development of a new synthetic pitch, which will mean the relocation of Panthers home games for the remainder of the 2018 season, another challenge for Dale.
“The pitch redevelopment is exciting but at the same time we are going to be without our own pitch which has probably been an asset to us over the years,” he said.
“It isn’t really ideal to play football on but at the same time you can develop a game plan to play football around and trying to get results on our pitch; most clubs don’t like coming to play here!”
Despite the challenges, Dale remains committed to having his side ready and competitive each week.
“There is professionalism within the club, professional, ambitious and good people within the club, that allows me to focus on the football side of things which is great.
“There is a number of different things that can be a distraction, but for me it is important to stay focused each week, identifying football problems and how we can do better each week.
“Even when we win, we still need to improve on what we have done the previous week. My job is to maintain positivity and focus on continual improvement.”