Sunday, January 21, 2007


Sydney FC – The Balance Sheet, Part 1

Now that my nerves have subsided and I can look forward to at least one more trip to Aussie Stadium this season, it’s perhaps a good time to make some comparisons between Sydney FC’s 2005/06 performance and the current team’s efforts, over the 21 games of the regular season.


Major personnel differences:

Yorke, Packer in 2005/06 but not 2006/07
Brosque, Topor-Stanley in 2006/07 but not 2005/06

There are some other in-and-out discrepancies one could mention (involving Zadkovich, Brockie, Bingley, Timpano, the unlamented Alex Salazar and the short-term specials Kazu and Carbone), but the major changes were as above.

There is no doubt that Yorke was a great loss, and not just in a marketing sense. Although he certainly slacked off in the immediate aftermath of his country’s World Cup qualification, for much of the season he was the most assured Sydney FC player.

Even in his sole appearance under Terry Butcher, we could see why he was so valuable. No-one in the league was as good at holding the ball up despite the close attention of a number of defenders, and in the second half on August 28, he gave a commanding display in midfield.

Andrew Packer tended to escape notice in Sydney FC’s opening season, but he was one of Littbarski’s most consistent, reliable performers, and in the grand final his contribution was outstanding – he was easily Sydney’s best on field.

Alex Brosque, after an uncertain start, has ultimately added a very useful option up front for the club; it’s worth remembering that all of the strikers at Littbarski’s disposal were on the “elderly” side, and not blessed with much pace. After deploying him in an unsuitable lone striker role for so many games, Butcher seems to have finally found a niche for Brosque, who has shown a steady improvement through the season.

Nikolai Topor-Stanley attracted plenty of praise for his early performances, but it quickly became clear that his passing was, at times, desperately poor. Last night, in his first appearance in sky blue for some time, the old problem resurfaced.

As, however, did his unquestionable strength in the air, which he used to good effect many times, particularly against Reinaldo.

2005/06 Goals For: 35, Goals Against: 28
2006/07 Goals For: 29, Goals Against: 19

The simple conclusion – already commented on by many – is that Sydney are stronger defensively this season, but weaker in attack.

The truth is slightly more complicated than that, however.

In the early part of this season, Sydney were conceding a fair few; in the first nine games, Clint Bolton was beaten thirteen times. The golden period for Sydney FC defensively was its nine-game unbeaten run towards the end; in one particular sequence of eight games, from rounds 13 to 20, Butcher’s men conceded only three goals.

Why have I chosen this sequence, in particular?

Because, significantly, it coincided with Mark Milligan’s run in central defence. My opinion on Milligan’s optimal use has not changed.

More comparisons, odious or otherwise, in Part 2...

Evidence and insight. Good work.

Dare you to dissect Melbourne next.
Apparently Packer has been in the last 4 finals and he was also in the squad (he first major season?) when Frank Farina won the grand final in 1997. A few of the Sydney players were there too playing for Sydney Olympic. And Mark Shields was the 4th official.

While on Saturday, did you see Shields missed a Sydney penalty box hand ball in the 60th (Talay)? Could have been all so

Brosque has then potential to be the best striker in the A-League but he was wasted by Butcher. As was Sasho.
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