Monday, July 20, 2009


In Sydney's Defence

"Time for changing things has finished," said Sydney FC's new coach Vitezslav Lavicka after his side's distinctly unimpressive 1-0 win over Sydney Olympic last night. "It was the worst performance of the whole pre-season."

An honest assessment, and the remark about changing things is pertinent. Three weeks from Sydney's opening game against North Queensland, we are no closer to knowing Lavicka's preferred first eleven, given the changing line-ups throughout the pre-season.

Last night, apart from a brief period of dominance which produced Kofi Danning's goal, things didn't click. Stuart Musialik and Mitchell Prentice were static and ineffective in midfield, John Aloisi was less than impressive up front, and Brendan Gan seems to have lost confidence in himself. But the major worry hanging over Sydney FC in the wake of A-League Season 5 is their still unsettled defence.

In Simon Colosimo they possess a leader at the back, but the former Socceroo is no stranger to injury, and the odds on him acquainting himself with the treatment table at some stage this season must be short (thanks once again, Andy Cole). Colosimo aside, it is the same mix of callow youngsters and converted midfielders that Sydney fans have come to know so well.

Matthew Jurman occupied one of the centre-half positions against his old club Olympic, but although he is quite composed on the ball, his play remains too impetuous. Three times in the course of the game he strolled confidently into midfield, only to hesitate and give the ball away cheaply there. Doing this against more threatening opposition is not to be recommended. In Colosimo's absence the other central defensive slot was filled by a triallist, Thomas Skora, who had a poor game.

Shannon Cole is now a fixture at right-back, but a defender he isn't. It's a pity, in fact, that one of the most promising young attacking players in the A-League may now be forced, as it were, to settle into a defensive role for which he isn't suited. If Sebastian Ryall can emerge unscathed from his legal ordeal, maybe Cole will have the opportunity to push into midfield.

Lavicka appears to have earmarked Byun Sung-Hwan, a new arrival in the A-League, for the other fullback slot. He has won over some of the fans, but I must confess to being unconvinced by the experienced Korean thus far. His positioning looks a little suspect, and his touch can be surprisingly unreliable. Perhaps it's just pre-season nerves.

The word is that Lavicka is still desperately keen to sign another dependable central defender prior to the start of the season. I would argue that this is the least the club needs, if they are to challenge for the top two places in 2009/10.

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