Sunday, January 04, 2009
Last night's performance was, in many ways, typical of the team's efforts in the past few weeks: a lack of real direction in attack, a few bright moments from individual players (notably Alex Brosque and Brendan Gan) but no sustained, cohesive pressure against the opposition goal. And, of course, a painfully uncoordinated and vulnerable defence, with the first goal a comedy of errors and the second bespeaking a lack of both organisation and pace.
Whatever John Kosmina's smug truculence towards media and fans, he does deserve sympathy (like Branko Culina and Terry Butcher before him) for the mounting injury list that has plagued Sydney's season. The team would surely have fared far better in recent weeks had Terry McFlynn, Simon Colosimo et al. been available. The mid-season retirement of Tony Popovic, too, was a nail in the knee at such a difficult juncture.
But that's the past. Let's look at the future.
Some of the players who have underperformed this season, notably Stuart Musialik, Mark Bridge and (of course) John Aloisi, have proved elsewhere that they have plenty to offer when motivated and in the right frame of mind. So there's room for hope there; where the side needs a complete overhaul, however, is at the back.
The first urgent need for Sydney FC, which has been blithely ignored for nearly three years, is the acquisition of not one but two proper, genuine fullbacks. Sydney FC fans like yours truly have been tearing their hair out for too long watching converted midfielders or central defenders getting embarrassed by opposition wingers, not providing proper width on the overlap, positioning themselves incorrectly, and so on.
Rhyan Grant has looked promising of late, but he is still, like Nick Tsattalios, very young; it would surely be prudent to sign a player of more experience for the role(s). One name that springs to mind immediately is Ben Griffin, out of contract with Queensland at the end of the season (as far as I know), who showed himself a quite capable and versatile performer with the Roar last season. He fits the bill, and he would not be prohibitively expensive.
And, of course, there are some good options at state league level as well. The club broke pleasing new ground this season by actually dipping into the local competition for talent, unearthing two good prospects in Shannon Cole and Brendan Gan (and, it must be admitted, a complete dud in Beau Busch). Emmanuel Zunino of Sydney Olympic and Michael Katz of Sutherland, for instance, are two excellent fullbacks who could make the step up to the A-League with little trouble, in my view.
With the departure of Popovic, there is also an acute need for a real leader in central defence as well. Poor Iain Fyfe has tried to fulfil this role of late, but he is not quite up to it. Although Simon Colosimo could step into the breach when available again, it would be ideal to retain the option of using him in midfield, where he can also be effective.
I'd like to suggest a possibility that may have been forgotten of late, given his limited appearances. He has his deficiencies as a player, but he has the experience and the nous (in my view) required to make him a decent option. What about Paul O'Grady? Under-used at the Mariners, but still perhaps capable of recovering the form of his Parramatta days. And again, he would hardly break the bank.
The other lacuna for next season is in the playmaking role, where Steve Corica finally appears to have lost the battle with Father Time. Here is where a shrewdly-chosed South or Central American import might be the best option; I remember suggesting Ariel Ortega as a possibility a couple of years back, but it might be too late by now (he is only a year younger than Corica, after all). But if not, how about Felipe, who made such an excellent impression with Wellington and is apparently keen for a return to the A-League?
If fear that speculation here on the talent that SFC should be looking at, will only lead to further frustration as they are overlooked for players that are selected on other criteria (eg partnerships/arrangements with clubs such as Manly).
I am a fan of a young kid at Manly, Roberto Hammand (?). Played left back. He may be on the young side (21ish?) but def thought he could make the cut if given a chance.
Sydney's squad really needs the following:
* Attacking mid (corica replacement)
* Experience centre half (to lead squad and guide players like Golec and Jurman who i assume will be partnering him)
* Left/ right back
* And if Aloisi gets the flick, a target man
Add in a winger who can get to the byline (aka someone other than Brosque), a replacement keeper for Bolton, and i think we might have a decent squad for next season...