Could Frank Farina do the unthinkable?

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    Former Sydney FC coach Frank Farina. AAP Image/Dave Hunt

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    Incumbent Socceroos skipper Lucas Neill may not command a place in Sydney FC’s starting line-up if he overcomes the calf injury that kept him out of the Sky Blues’ 2-0 win over the Central Coast Mariners.

    A preposterous thought, surely? How many national captains – of any code – would get overlooked for one of the biggest games of the season – in Sydney’s case the Big Blue against Melbourne Victory this Saturday?

    However, on Fox Sport’s Shootout program, Mark Bosnich was adamant that is exactly what should happen.

    “You don’t change a winning team,” was his simple philosophy, one he probably wishes Alex Ferguson had adhered to back in 2000.

    Sydney’s back four were a solid-looking unit against the Mariners, this in a season where the Sky Blues have leaked goals like a Labor backbencher during a leadership spill.

    But leaving out the Socceroos’ captain?

    No doubt, any one of Sebastian Ryall,Tiago Calvano, Adam Griffiths and Rhyan Grant would be unlucky to make way for the returning Neill. However, clean sheets are not built on the back four alone, just as Sydney’s constant shipping of goals cannot be attributed solely to the designated defenders.

    There was a work ethic and willingness to get behind the ball against the Mariners that hasn’t been in evidence for much of this season.

    Terry McFlynn remains an unfairly maligned figure but his screening of the central defence on the weekend nullified the attacking threat posed by Michael McGlinchy and recently deposed league top scorer Daniel McBreen.

    When asked to remain central and play the spoiler, McFlynn is an asset the Sky Blues have been without for large parts of the season.

    Similarly, the ascension of Peter Triantes has added energy to a midfield that often seemed bereft of ideas beyond “Get the ball to Alessandro Del Pierro and let him do his stuff.”

    Too often, the ball was coming back at the back four before they had time to draw breath.

    The Sky Blues defence also benefitted from not having Fabio near it. Harsh as it may seem, he has caused more heartache than joy. As well as his terrible disciplinary record, Fabio dives into tackles like a seagull going after a stray chip and has left the defence exposed far too often.

    Back to Lucas Neill, though. There is no doubt he is approaching the twilight of his career, but there have been few greater contributors to the Socceroos’ cause. He has bags of experience to compensate for a drop in pace, and one of the coolest heads in the game.

    In what is likely to be a heady atmosphere in front of a big crowd against the Victory, those are attributes Sydney FC will need.

    Farina does not choose his team on reputation, just ask Jason Culina. In this case though, a fully fit Neill’s reputation does precede him.

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    The Crowd Says (14)

    • March 12th 2013 @ 8:10am
      Dave said | March 12th 2013 @ 8:10am | ! Report

      Good article. I for one think the back four should remain unchanged. Neill can come off the bench if needed. Fabio shouldn’t get anywhere near the squad for the rest of the season. He is a red card waiting to happen game in game out.

      I qualify this by admitting I missed seeing Neill’s two games so far as I was overseas, however the score lines from those games don’t do him any favours. But if Farina is trying to create a meritocracy, then its very hard to drop any of the back four from the game just gone.

      • March 12th 2013 @ 1:58pm
        Melange said | March 12th 2013 @ 1:58pm | ! Report

        If it’s an evidence based decision then you drop Tiago. Neill was one of Sydney’s best in the 2 games he played. Tiago is next in line as the A-Leagues most likely to be red carded in a game.

      • March 12th 2013 @ 6:26pm
        Qantas supports Australian Football said | March 12th 2013 @ 6:26pm | ! Report

        Good comment Dave, I’m with you on this one—leave Neil on the bench to see what transpires until half time.. Whatever happens with team selections it’s imperative that SFC score first in the first half.. I’m hoping we can go in at half time 1-0 up, then play on the counter finishing strongly towards the Paddington end, with the Cove in full voice driving the guys on…

    • March 12th 2013 @ 9:31am
      tk said | March 12th 2013 @ 9:31am | ! Report

      I thought the unthinkabkle was seeing him crack a smile.

    • Roar Guru

      March 12th 2013 @ 10:46am
      apaway said | March 12th 2013 @ 10:46am | ! Report

      tk

      If they beat the Victory, I bet you’ll see a Farina grin.

    • March 12th 2013 @ 11:23am
      Christo the Daddyo said | March 12th 2013 @ 11:23am | ! Report

      If he’s coming back from injury then sticking him on the bench might be the right thing to do anyway…

    • March 12th 2013 @ 11:38am
      Bondy said | March 12th 2013 @ 11:38am | ! Report

      It would be very interesting to see the national team captain , captain he’s nation only to go back to club football to sit on the bench.

    • March 12th 2013 @ 11:59am
      Johnno said | March 12th 2013 @ 11:59am | ! Report

      C’mon Frankie do it, drop the socceroo’s captain , you know you want too.
      Wayne Bennett cut Wally Lewis in 1990.

      • March 12th 2013 @ 2:35pm
        Punter said | March 12th 2013 @ 2:35pm | ! Report

        But then Wally Lewis was not Socceroo captain was he!!!

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