If you believed the Australian media Sydney is the Football Capital of Australia. The reporting is so Sydney-centric is it any wonder that fans around the country love nothing more than to see Sydney FC lose.
The facts are of course always very different from what is reported. In the past 20 years of NSL and Hyundai A League football in Australia, Sydney teams have only won four titles, Marconi in 92/93, Sydney Olympic in 01/02 and Sydney FC in 05/06 and 09/10. Even Brisbane have only claimed one less title with three, while Melbourne has claimed six in that period.
Sydney FC’s defeat to the Newcastle Jets should in fact send concerns to the fans of the sky blues, despite their rousing last ten minutes.
It became abundantly clear that new Coach Ian Crook is having to re-arrange his squad to accommodate Marquee signing, Italian superstar Alessandro del Piero, and that could spell trouble. Del Piero is slow, of that there is no doubt and he does little defensive work, yet his passing was exquisite and his free kick sublime; Although Ben Kennedy’s attempt at a save was far from convincing!
Opposition teams will know that they must not concede free kicks in striking range from now on and close him down quickly when he receives the ball in their own half. Do that and your chances of conceding will be greatly reduced as attacking wise Sydney look short of firepower.
Croatian Krunoslav Lovrek must be wondering why he signed for Sydney following the signing of del Piero, as his role behind the front two has now been taken by the Italian maestro, and he looked a little lost playing as an out and out attacker.
One thing that is clear is that Ian Crook has to abandon his experiment of playing Brett Emerton at right full back. Emerton has never been the greatest defensive player and you do not benefit from his excellent attacking skills leaving him so deep. When he pushed forward late in the second half Sydney came to life and del Piero had an outlet on the same wavelength as him.
Sydney’s defence must be one of the main concerns for the Sky Blues fans, if Adam Griffiths and Trent McLenahan are to be the central pairing then it is going to have to be a case of scoring more than they concede as teams with a potent strike partnership will be licking their lips at the prospect of taking on these two. Emerton and Fabio were also far from convincing. They desperately need Pascal Bosschaart in their back four to give it some spine, but the fiery Dutchman may well soon get frustrated and the red mist could descend and they could well find him leaving for an early bath.
Apart from the defence being weak, the inclusion of del Piero would appear to have weakened Sydney’s normally strong midfield. That may sound a ridiculous statement when you have one of the World’s greats in your side, but with the Italian doing very little defensively the box to box work of Terry McFlynn was lost as he had to play a more defensive role to cover for the Marquee player. McFlynn who has served the club so well was booed when substituted which was sad to see, but even if he is replaced by the 33 year old Paul Reid he too will have to play a similar role.
One has to feel slightly for coach Ian Crook, he has a weight of expectation on his shoulders but the late signing of the superstar del Piero may well have undone a lot of the preparation he had done assembling a squad to challenge for the A League title this year. Then again del Piero’s magic could well end up winning them the odd game they don’t deserve to. However his first priority is to find some defenders, who can defend or Sydney fans could find a season that was so full of expectation dissolves into disappointment