Thursday, May 21, 2009
The (Latest) New Beginning
In all seriousness, Vitezslav Lavicka's record and experience suggest that he has plenty to offer the club. On the minus side, the squad still looks thin on the ground in a number of areas, especially defence.
To the point then: the A-League's very own answer to Manchester City played their second pre-season game last night, against state league stayers Bankstown City at a rainy but well-patronised Jensen Park. 2-0 to Sydney was the result, and although Bankstown frankly outplayed Lavicka's men in the first half (as they did the last time the sides met, incidentally), there were one or two good signs from a Sydney perspective.
Terry McFlynn was perhaps the man of the match, operating a little further forward than usual, and getting involved in some excellent interplay with the forwards at times. McFlynn has been a loyal, hardworking servant of the club since its inception, but subtlety and technical prowess have not traditionally been among his trademarks. As a fellow fan remarked to me last night though, he has improved with every season at Sydney FC, and could yet be a key man this season.
Last night he "made" one goal with a shot which was fumbled into the path of Alex Brosque, and twice played team-mates through on goal in the first half cleverly. With Steve Corica so plainly on the wane and Lavicka apparently looking to reinforce the defence rather than the midfield, Sydney might need McFlynn's modest creative qualities to blossom.
Not least because his central midfield colleague Stuart Musialik looked a tad out of sorts. Plenty of Sydney FC fans expressed approbation for his first season in the club's colours, but I felt that he offered only about a half of what he is capable. Against Bankstown he patrolled the engine room on his own (not a congenial role for him, I feel), and was largely overrun by the energetic Bankstown midfield in the first period.
Karol Kisel looks a good get. Intelligent and supportive in his movement off the ball, he was involved in much of Sydney's better attacking play in the first half. His passing was a little off-beam, but the heavy conditions may have had something to do with that. It was refreshing to see a nominal wide player prepared to move inside and even switch wings at times; by contrast, on the other flank, an out-of-position Brendan Gan was only an intermittent contributor.
Up front, young Chris Payne looks a much matured player. Very raw when he joined the club at the beginning of last season, his goals in the youth league have clearly emboldened him, and he now holds the ball up quite adeptly at times. One would assume that he will be used sparingly once John Aloisi (who, along with Corica, was absent last night) is back in action, but he is a handy reserve option.
It is in defence where the concerns clearly lie. Much will depend on whether Sebastian Ryall is able to return; the youngsters who filled the breaches in defence towards the end of last season - Anthony Golec, Matthew Jurman, Zach Cairncross - all have their deficiencies. Cairncross was in action last night alongside Simon Colosimo, and although he had a solid enough game, he doesn't really inspire confidence on the ball. Shannon Cole was again used at left-back, and the game provided another example of why he would be better employed upfield. It should be added, however, that the highly promising Rhyan Grant was unavailable.
An interesting addition to the Bankstown team was Greg Owens, released from the Mariners after a frustrating couple of years, and no doubt looking for A-League employment elsewhere. He looked understandably rusty, once missing an easy chance after some brilliant lead-up work on the right by-line by Suad Ameti. But once or twice, the Owens of old showed through.
While Sydney were slugging it out at Jensen, the Newcastle Jets were booking their place in Asia's final 16 in Ulsan. Congratulations to Gary van Egmond and his men, who have done well to rediscover some form and confidence after their dismal 2008/09 A-League season.
Another Adelaide-style run in the knockout stage? I wouldn't bet on it, but then few would have bet on Aurelio Vidmar's men making the final either...
sfc had some good moments last year ...
if the new gaff can get things ticking ... could be a very good year.