Saturday, February 10, 2007
Sydney FC - The Report Card, Part 6
A grafter, and another of Terry Butcher’s favourites, McFlynn had a fairly similar season to his first in Sydney’s colours.
That is, he had the odd good game, thriving particularly when he had a specific man-marking job to do, but several mediocre ones. And he rarely did anything to suggest he possessed the creative qualities that Ian Crook ascribed to him.
McFlynn certainly likes playing against Nick Carle. His dogged marking was the cornerstone of Sydney’s success at Energy Australia Stadium on New Year’s Day, and of their first-half dominance in the semi-final first leg. Whatever his detractors (and there are plenty of them) might say, the turning-point of the tie was McFlynn’s injury shortly before half-time that night.
He’s likeable, honest and diligent. But he is, essentially, a limited player. 6/10.
16. Mark Milligan
Arguably Sydney’s player of the season, despite his occasional fits of hot-headedness and his heart-stopping “cultured defender” moments, when he seemed determined to gift possession to an opposing striker (this is commonly known as the Foxe syndrome).
He started his season in central midfield, where he was influential and energetic but often somewhat reckless (and his passing, incidentally, was far less precise than some seemed to believe after his promising Socceroo outing in August).
Once he moved to central defence – where he had already showed his quality against Melbourne in Round 2 – he looked very much the part. Complementing Mark Rudan’s aerial prowess with good control and sound positional judgement, he was one of the major contributors to Sydney’s impressive unbeaten run.
Restored to midfield for the semi-final tie, he did not have the best of times. He was run ragged by Carle in the first leg, and failed to take command in the second.
Yet there’s no doubting his promise, or his pleasing adaptability. 8/10.
17. Jacob Timpano
Had his season wrecked by injury, and was only able to manage a single half of football against New Zealand, in which he was a long way from full fitness. It would be unfair to give him a rating.
21. Nikolai Topor-Stanley
He can head the ball. Oh yes.
He can man-mark. Oh yes.
He can’t do much else. Oh no.
Having said that, he is young, seems to have a good temperament, and there may be plenty of improvement to come.
22. Matthew Bingley
An Aunt Sally for plenty of Sydney FC fans early in the season, he didn’t, in fact, do all that badly according to his lights. Central defence is not his ideal position, and yet he was forced to operate there almost exclusively.
The highlight of his brief stay was the match against Adelaide at Hindmarsh, in which he made a number of crucial interceptions and clearances. Sadly, two weeks later against the Central Coast, he had a true horror game.
The last we saw of “the Pirate” was the Round 11 game against Newcastle, in which he was harshly sent off. It was a pity that some fans lambasted him for this, when he had, in fact, done quite well again, on the whole.
Much better than he was given credit for. 6/10.
23. Benito Carbone
Seen as a messiah after his brilliant debut against Adelaide, he was rarely sighted in the following couple of games, that free-kick against the Mariners aside. But this had far more to do with the lack of service from his team-mates, and the obtuse tactics of his coach, than any lack of effort or quality on his part.
A fine player of whom we saw regrettably little. 7.5/10.
Just on the new coaching situation, I for one would be delighted to see Branko Culina at Sydney FC, having often watched his bright, entertaining Olympic side during the final days of the NSL. Although he has a reputation for being "difficult" at times, I think it's fair to say that the players will at least be happy to have a manager who knows many of them well, and does not need the sort of adaptation to the Australian ethos that bedevilled both Littbarski and Butcher.
As for Gianfranco Zola, he was one of my all-time favourite players, and he is a true gentleman of the game. But would he struggle to adapt, as his two predecessors did?
Jaza, let's face it, he ain't that good just yet. Had a good spell early in the season where he was called upon to do exactly what he does best, and since then he's been ordinary or worse.
The lord still smiles upon you, if only because of this blog.