How soon is too soon for Sydney FC to panic?

Mike Tuckerman Columnist

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    Sydney FC huddle - can their season be turned around after being ripped apart by the Central Coast? (Image: Peter McAlpine)

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    It is hard not to feel sorry for Sydney FC coach Ian Crook. With the eyes of the A-League on his team, they go and turn in one of the worst defensive performances ever seen in the competition.

    Crook was suitably apologetic following his side’s 7-2 shellacking at the hands of the Central Coast Mariners.

    “Firstly, I need to make an apology to our supporters who have been great all year and come up here in numbers again today,” Crook said in the post-match press conference.

    “To see us get beat 7-2, which is hard to say, we need to say sorry to them.”

    One wonders what Alessandro Del Piero made of the performance, with the Italian maestro one of several frontline Sydney players to miss the match through injury.

    Del Piero was obviously brought in to bolster the attack but right now it’s Sydney’s defence causing Crook and his coaching staff all kinds of headaches.

    After conceding an early lead, Central Coast’s equaliser just about summed up Sydney’s night.

    Despite four Sydney defenders facing three Mariners attackers, the Sky Blues twice failed to clear a ball into the box, ultimately allowing the precociously talented Tom Rogic to sidefoot home a classy finish.

    While Rogic’s decisive touch was a portent of things to come, there was no way his skidding drive should have been spilled by goalkeeper Ivan Necesvki for the Mariners’ second.

    Nor was there any need for defender Trent McClenahan to barge over Michael McGlinchey inside the box and concede a penalty shortly before half-time.

    McClenahan endured a nightmare evening and after Ali Abbas had pulled a goal back with a wonderful volley, the one-time West Ham man soon allowed the impressive McGlinchey to dance past him and lash home a superb fourth.

    And given that Crook had already switched to three at the back at half-time, there was simply no way for the Sydney defenders to keep pace with the Mariners’ fleet-footed attack.

    Even so, Rogic’s mesmerising feet in scoring Central Coast’s fifth deserve further scrutiny.

    Not only does the youngster possess the one trait which sets genuine playmakers apart – a seemingly infinite amount of time on the ball – he’s also a composed decision-maker who makes the right decision more often than not.

    Forget the fact he’s only 19, if Socceroos coach Holger Osieck is genuine about his desire to revitalise the national team, he should select the former Futsalroos star for the friendly against South Korea next week.

    And as poor as Sydney’s defending was against the Mariners, it was the pace and penetration of Rogic and McGlinchey which undid them time and time again.

    Crook said after the match he didn’t believe the lopsided scoreline came down to a lack of effort, however Fox Sports analyst Mark Bosnich was scathing in his assessment of the performance.

    “That was an utter disgrace. For those people to travel up that motorway and witness that score against one of their main rivals… I’m sorry, that just ain’t good enough,” a fired-up Bozza said on Fox after the match.

    “People pay good money to go and watch a football game, not to get slaughtered.”

    That may be true, but it’s hard to see what Crook could have done differently in the face of such an attacking onslaught.

    Had the Sky Blues simply sat back in the second half and attempted damage limitation, the Englishman would have been accused of throwing in the towel.

    What Sydney desperately needs is the return of some key players, not least tough as teak central defenders Pascal Bosschaart and Adam Griffiths.

    And while five games into the season is no time to be calling an end to a team’s chances of playing finals football, surely the alarm bells are ringing at Allianz Stadium on the back of one Sydney FC’s worst-ever displays.

    Mike Tuckerman
    Mike Tuckerman

    Mike Tuckerman is a Sydney-born journalist and lifelong football fan. After lengthy stints watching the beautiful game in Germany and Japan, he settled in Brisbane, and has been a leading Roar football columnist from December 2008.

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    The Crowd Says (50)

    • Roar Guru

      November 5th 2012 @ 7:08am
      Cappuccino said | November 5th 2012 @ 7:08am | ! Report

      If we can’t put in a solid performance in the Big Blue on Saturday then it’s time to start really worrying. This defensive shambles has to stop, and then we can actually start playing some football- our front third has shown promising signs (Yau/Chianese/Del Piero/Abbas).

    • November 5th 2012 @ 8:12am
      Christo the Daddyo said | November 5th 2012 @ 8:12am | ! Report

      Yeah, I’d wait until all the injured players start to come back and get some decent match experience before panicking. What that match did highlight was the lack of depth in the SFC squad. And the fact that the Mariners are very good.

    • November 5th 2012 @ 8:15am
      Johnny Bravo said | November 5th 2012 @ 8:15am | ! Report

      7-2 is highly embaressing. Historically a champion team such as AC Milan or Man U NEVER loose by 5 goals. However it does happen. Let’s hope this is Sydney FC’s one major blight. Sadly I fear the bias shown in soccer selection in Australia will lead to our league regulalrly seeing these type of scorelines. I’m so glad Del Piero was out for this one, i can just imagine the headlines if he actually played. Nothing Del Piero can do.. it is a team sport not a one man show. Sydney FC clearly doesn’t have the right players in its team.

      • November 5th 2012 @ 9:31am
        Kasey said | November 5th 2012 @ 9:31am | ! Report

        You’re kidding aren’t you JB? Just last year Arsenal were beaten 8-2 by ManYoo in the Premiership at Old Trafford. That same week Man Citeh thrashed Tottenham 5-1 in Nth London at WHL

        These events, lead to a famous headline from the Manchester Evening News: Manchester 13 – London 3.

        Arsenal’s defeat left them perilously placed just one position above the relegation zone. Luckily these events happened in August giving the Gunners plenty of time to turn things around.

        SFC have gotten off to a terrible start, probably due to their useless pre-season. In the place of a pre-season will probably be the first 6-7 games of the A-League season. Relax, the Sky Blues aren’t about to get relegated. Its all to easy to buy a striker and expect him to just slot in and start banging in the goals(Heskey-style).
        No pre-season is always going to hurt the defensive side of things more, the defenders have to work and move as a solid unit to keep clean sheets. You can see the benefit of a great pre-season by the performance thus far of Adelaide United.
        A decent Champions League campaign allowed the players in the back third to get to know each other’s movements all the better and the Reds sit on top with 5 games for 3 clean sheets and only 3 goals conceded.
        SFC just needs a couple more weeks to gel as a defensive unit.

        Were I a Sky Blues fan, I’d be annoyed, but I wouldn’t hit the panic button until Rd8-9 Leading into the 2nd Sydney Derby at the SFS in Rd11.

        PS:btw lose is the word you’re looking for. Unless you were describing the defensive effort of SFC, then Loose was correct.

        • November 5th 2012 @ 10:22am
          Matt F said | November 5th 2012 @ 10:22am | ! Report

          The only other time SFC lost a game by 5 goals we ended up winning the GF so you’re right that it’s too early to hit the panic button. We’ve got some key players still to come back (though given their long-term injuries we may be placing too much reliance on Culina and Bosschart when they return) and it’s still very early in the season.

          There are clearly a lot of problems, particularly defensively, but we have time to work on them. As you say, if things haven’t improved enough by the derby in round 11 then decisions will have to be made but there are many games to come between now and then. A win over the Victory next week would be the perfect tonic 🙂

      • Roar Guru

        November 5th 2012 @ 11:02am
        Fussball ist unser leben said | November 5th 2012 @ 11:02am | ! Report

        “Historically a champion team such as AC Milan or Man U NEVER loose by 5 goals.”

        Nonsense.

        Only last year Man United lost 1-6 … at HOME … to their most bitter rival, Manchester City.

        In November 2010, Real Madrid lost 5-0 to their most bitter rival in Spain, Barcelona

        In August 2009, AC Milan lost 0-4 to their most bitter rival, Inter Milan.

    • November 5th 2012 @ 8:16am
      Titus said | November 5th 2012 @ 8:16am | ! Report

      I wonder sometimes if they aren’t placing to much emphasis on marketing and top end schmoozing. It was straight up stupidity not to have a meaningful pre-season and I would rather they rolled up their sleeves and put a lot more time in on the training pitch getting to know each other, their structures and working on their touch.

      Aside from that, just show us signs of a comprehensive junior talent identification and development system…….k. ta.

    • November 5th 2012 @ 8:42am
      George said | November 5th 2012 @ 8:42am | ! Report

      Our defensive line is the worst i have ever seen in a Sydney FC team. Central defenders and fullbacks look confused with no cohesion!

      Sort that out and Sydney FC will fire. But the longer Pascal and Adam are out, i dread what will happen.

    • November 5th 2012 @ 8:48am
      Mr Celery said | November 5th 2012 @ 8:48am | ! Report

      Thanks, Finally an article that gives equal attention to the quality of the Mariners, not just the lack of it from Sydney FC. The mainstream media seems to be 100% about what Sydney did wrong, and 0% on the impressive clinical display by the Central Coast side.

      For all the trouble Crook is in, at least he forewarned everyone about the strength of CCM before the match.

      • November 5th 2012 @ 9:24am
        George said | November 5th 2012 @ 9:24am | ! Report

        “For all the trouble Crook is in, at least he forewarned everyone about the strength of CCM before the match.”

        Did he do that because he is realising quickly the team he has assembled isnt up to scratch? The defence isnt up to scratch, attacking wise is ok and they will score goals but the defence is gonna keep leaking goals. Trent and Ryall need a break from the 1st team BIG time!

        And as a sports fan supporting my team in general i couldnt care less how good the opposition team is. im more concerned about fixing our own problems. not pre warning us that the opposition is great so when we lose we can all wax lyrical about how good CCM were and our coach can feel vindicated that he all told us they were good!

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