Adelaide United coach Josep Gombau has called for football stadiums around the nation to erect proper benches for coaches and be placed further from the field of play after he became entangled in a second-half melee in Wednesday’s 3-1 New Year’s Eve loss to Wellington Phoenix at Coopers Stadium.
A physical clash between Manny Muscat and Pablo Sanchez sparked a brief but fiery fracas, during which Gombau left his chair and ventured to the Phoenix bench where stern words were exchanged.
Gombau said relationships were fine post-game after he congratulated the victorious visitors, but insisted the incident would have been less likely with safer sideline facilities.
“In the end what happened is part of football,” Gombau said of the ugly incident which elicited memories of the famous 2006 physical clash between his predecessor at Adelaide, John Kosmina, and current Melbourne Victory coach, the unrelated Kevin Muscat.
“At that moment I felt maybe Pablo could be injured.
“When we finished the game the first thing I did is to say congratulations to them, to all the players, Muscat also.
“The problem is we don’t use a proper bench – we just put the seats there.
“These seats are very close to the field and it’s not safe.
“You need to put a proper bench in every single stadium, far away from the pitch and do what is most safe for the players.
“One day a player will have a big injury.”
While the altercation had no direct impact on the scoreboard, it appeared Wellington regrouped and refocused more successfully, scoring twice afterwards through young substitute Tyler Boyd.
Boyd’s second goal came after Gombau, with United trailing by a goal and earning a 92nd-minute corner, threw inexperienced goal-keeper Paul Izzo into attack.
The death-or-glory ploy backfired as the Phoenix gained possession and duly scored on the counter.
Gombau defended the unorthodox tactic, which he said was his decision.
“We tried to get something from the last corner,” said Gombau, who expects import playmakers Marcelo Carrusca and Fabio Ferreira to return from injury for next Monday’s blockbuster against Perth Glory, while defenders Nigel Boogaard and Tarek Elrich will return from suspension.
“That was my decision. I felt it was the last corner (and we wanted) one extra man (Izzo) there.
“To lose 1-2 is the same as to lose 1-3.”
Despite the margin blowing out, Gombau was pleased with the effort his undermanned charges put in.
“I am satisfied with the way we played,” he said.
“We made mistakes that brought to them their chances to score.
“Especially the second goal was a mistake that we did.
“Happy with the way we played, the football we bring and the chances we created but unhappy with the result.”