Del Piero masterclass shows his true value

Mike Tuckerman Columnist

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    Alessandro Del Piero brought with him plenty of excitement to the A-League. AAP Image/Joosep Martinson

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    Alessandro Del Piero will remain in the A-League for another season and Sydney FC are all the better for it. His masterclass against the Phoenix proved he is one of the A-League’s most influential stars.

    At Allianz Stadium on Saturday afternoon, Del Piero silenced a range of critics with a stunning 81-minute performance.

    At various times this season the 2006 World Cup winner has been labelled too old, too slow and overpaid by a club which has struggled to make the most of the Italian’s undoubted talents.

    And while the former Juventus talisman has shown glimpses of his best, he was increasingly being spoken about in negative tones as Sydney’s season wore on.

    How foolish we were to doubt him.

    While it won’t necessarily save Sydney’s season – and allowing for the fact that Wellington were truly dreadful – Del Piero showed just why he’s the highest-paid player in any football code in Australia.

    Perhaps his most telling contribution was not his four goals but the assist he laid on for Joel Griffiths after just 10 minutes.

    The deftness of his touch to play in Griffiths with a perfectly weighted lob over the Phoenix defence was truly something to behold.

    But what will have pleased Sydney coach Frank Farina all the more is that it took Del Piero so little time to strike up a relationship with Sydney’s new striker Griffiths.

    If the former Newcastle Jets star can continue scoring goals and fellow newcomer Tiago Calvano can help shore up a leaky defence, Sydney are suddenly looking far stronger than they were before the January transfer window opened.

    And on Saturday they looked a substantially better side than the team which laboured to an undeserved 2-1 win over Melbourne Heart a week prior.

    Such is the difference an early goal can make and therein lies the reason Del Piero is worth every cent he’s paid to influence proceedings on the pitch.

    While the Phoenix can feel hard done by for Del Piero’s second goal –there’s no way Andrew Durante should have been penalised for his collision with Jason Culina inside the penalty area – there was nothing their defence could do to keep a rampant Del Piero at bay.

    One of the criticisms aimed at him this season has been that he’s too slow, yet rarely have those critics acknowledged that the Italian is the best in the league at evading tackles.

    And on Saturday, Del Piero showed just how crucial a skill that can be, as he first dropped the shoulder to evade Ben Sigmund and curl home with his left foot, before bamboozling makeshift defender Leo Bertos to smash home with his right soon after.

    Just for good measure Del Piero then embarrassed Phoenix skipper Durante in the second half, turning him inside and out before drilling home an unstoppable strike off the underside of the crossbar.

    Who says he needs pace? The Phoenix defence looked more like Easter Island statues as a 38-year-old many have claimed is past it continually dribbled his way towards goal with devastating precision.

    And suddenly Sydney FC looked a team transformed.

    It wasn’t just Del Piero’s display but the calm defending of Tiago, the hustle and bustle of Griffiths up front and the continuing renaissance of Jason Culina in midfield which suggests they could still have a say this season.

    Farina played his part too, fittingly substituting Del Piero late on to allow the four-goal hero to receive a standing ovation from fans, and the Sky Blues look a hungrier side under the former Socceroos coach than they did his predecessor Ian Crook.

    And what of these critics who have continually claimed Del Piero isn’t worth the money?

    They’ll have to skip replays of the match unless they want to see a marquee man at the top of his game who is clearly worth every cent he’s being paid.

    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 (251)

    • January 21st 2013 @ 6:56am
      Dave said | January 21st 2013 @ 6:56am | ! Report

      Agreed. ADP in a team with some decent coaching is always going to be extremely dangerous, pace or no. With our continuing injuries in defense and our awesome looking attack its gonna be a rollercoaster ride watching SFC the rest of the season!

      • January 21st 2013 @ 8:19am
        Kasey said | January 21st 2013 @ 8:19am | ! Report

        Was a lot of fun to watch for this Neutral, but this performance will have repercussions beyond just this game and I’m not just talking Ricki Herbert’s job.

        How’s this for a ‘Road to Damascus paragraph from Phil Rothfield of the once anti-Sockah Daily Telegraph: ”My sporting highlight of a January weekend would normally be an Australian Open match, some batsman getting 100 or a fast bowler ripping through the opposition. This weekend it was Del Piero and his four goals in Sydney FC’s 7-1 victory over Wellington. The game (soccer, football whatever you want to call it) has come a long way and cricket no longer owns the months outside the NRL and AFL…”
        [source] ‘the A-League’s reverse Swing’

        • January 21st 2013 @ 8:43am
          JAJI said | January 21st 2013 @ 8:43am | ! Report

          This is what you call the David Gallop effect. The cricket gets tedious and inevitably local attention falls away from the Australian Open by the first Saturday

          Imagine if its a Sydney FC Western Sydney Grand Final

          • Roar Guru

            January 21st 2013 @ 4:29pm
            Mantis said | January 21st 2013 @ 4:29pm | ! Report

            As hard as I try i just cant imagine it

          • Roar Guru

            January 22nd 2013 @ 10:38am
            apaway said | January 22nd 2013 @ 10:38am | ! Report

            I’m not sure that will happen, JAJI, but what about this? WSW qualify first for the Grand Final. It’s a certainty they’ll move it to the Olympic Stadium. What chance we see the biggest ever crowd for a club game in Australia?

        • January 21st 2013 @ 9:19am
          MV Dave said | January 21st 2013 @ 9:19am | ! Report

          Wow that’s an interesting bit of info from the article about the 18-34 yo age bracket…Football matches Cricket for the number of ‘avid’ fans…those that the advertisers chase. Brilliant news for our game. Who would ever have thought Cricket having to move over and share Summer with Football?

        • January 21st 2013 @ 11:23am
          AGO74 said | January 21st 2013 @ 11:23am | ! Report

          To be fair to Phil, he’s never been a soccer-hater. He has put the boot in at times on the A-League. At times its been uncalled for but at other times the game has deserved it. However, there is no doubt that he has taken his appreciation of the A-League to another level this season.

          • January 21st 2013 @ 11:58am
            striker said | January 21st 2013 @ 11:58am | ! Report

            AG074 i gotta say as for entertainment value the A-League is a great to watch on TV and even better live and would challenge the NRL and AFL for great live TV sport, why wouldn’t the other codes like our game its becoming a fantastic product and some games have been fantastic viewing.

            where is Rebecca Wilson these days is she still a journalist or is the success of the A-League keeping her quiet hahahahaahahahahahhahahah.

            • January 21st 2013 @ 12:03pm
              Titus said | January 21st 2013 @ 12:03pm | ! Report

              Noticed Adam Goodes was at the game on the weekend, though he did start off playing Football.

              • January 21st 2013 @ 12:50pm
                AGO74 said | January 21st 2013 @ 12:50pm | ! Report

                Anthony Minichiello has been there a few times this season. Surprised Joel Reddy hasn’t been following Sydney FC this season like he was last season 😉

            • January 21st 2013 @ 12:49pm
              AGO74 said | January 21st 2013 @ 12:49pm | ! Report

              I’ve never understood how Rebecca Wilson is employed. I have never heard anyone regardless of which sport the prefer say a positive thing about her.

              • January 21st 2013 @ 12:54pm
                Kasey said | January 21st 2013 @ 12:54pm | ! Report

                It’s quite simple really…her job is to generate page hits and web traffic by writing inflammatory Opinion Pieces. I’m pretty sure she sees it as ‘starting conversations’ but we all see it in the modern age for what it really is: ‘professional Trolling’ hence the new-age terminology…Trollumnist.

        • January 21st 2013 @ 12:25pm
          Matt F said | January 21st 2013 @ 12:25pm | ! Report

          He’s actually been very positive about the league all season. He’s written a number of positive articles this season which is a change from previous years

    • January 21st 2013 @ 7:32am
      Qantas supports Australian Football said | January 21st 2013 @ 7:32am | ! Report

      By all reckoning this SFC team on last Saturday’s performance should get even better.. I hope it does, but let’s not get carried away on that one great SFC performance. Remember, the Nix missed no fewer than four good chance, which a good team on song could have put away. We still have some issues in defending our penalty area—Melbourne Victory are on fire, and they too are hitting a purple patch. Next week’s game in Melbourne is going to be a real test for Farina. Farina needs to come up with a solid fit defence for this game against the MBV. I would like to know how he plans to get our guys at the back to work together to stop Thompson, Rojas and their clever play-maker Flores.. I can’t wait for this one—a sellout crowd in Melbourne and the pressure is on SFC to win, to get into the sixth place spot on the ladder.

      • January 21st 2013 @ 8:20am
        Qantas supports Australian Football said | January 21st 2013 @ 8:20am | ! Report

        Just have to add—ADP has responded magnificently under Farina.. I can’t imagine any other coach in the HAL who could get the best out of him—not even Ange Postecoglou.. It maybe because of the Italian connection?

        • January 21st 2013 @ 8:26am
          vinnie said | January 21st 2013 @ 8:26am | ! Report

          Hey Mr Qantas, as hard as it is for me to say that was a very nice win, but lets not get too far ahead if there was no ADP hen SFC probably would have drawn or won by a slight margin.
          ADP at 38 is making the a-league look like Mickey Mouse.

          • January 21st 2013 @ 8:42am
            Dave said | January 21st 2013 @ 8:42am | ! Report

            Vinnie, sorry to criticise, but this comment is just as silly as the ones who say ADP can’t cut it in the HAL because of his lack of pace. He clearly can still cut it, and is clearly a level above the league in technique, but he has hardly made the league look ‘mickey mouse’ this year.

            • January 21st 2013 @ 8:45am
              Kasey said | January 21st 2013 @ 8:45am | ! Report

              A truly terrible Wellington team is the only outfit that looks Mickey Mouse. How long can Ricki Herbert hang on? He has already had the dreaded Vote of Confidence from the Wellnix board.

          • January 21st 2013 @ 8:43am
            Qantas supports Australian Football said | January 21st 2013 @ 8:43am | ! Report

            Vinnie—-I’m delighted you finally came across an Aussie dictionary, which spells your name correctly, as there is no vaccine to safe guard against stupidity. Still you are not out of the woods yet, with the FFA now putting you guys on notice… We all know that SFC is the Bling Football club of Sydney and WSW being the Barnacle Club of Sydney riding on the backside of the FFA (btw there are no second prizes using my descriptors). 😀

            SFC = Bling and WSW = Barnacle

            • January 21st 2013 @ 9:34am
              Wanderer Chris said | January 21st 2013 @ 9:34am | ! Report

              Is there any let up in your denigration of WSW and their fans? Do you even sleep at night or do you stay awake, dreading a bunch of WSW fans are going to let a flare off under your blankets and light up the hole in your head?

              • January 21st 2013 @ 9:38am
                MV Dave said | January 21st 2013 @ 9:38am | ! Report

                What makes it even worse is that he supports Chelski in the EPL!!

              • January 21st 2013 @ 9:46am
                Kasey said | January 21st 2013 @ 9:46am | ! Report

                QSAF: How are WSW a barnacle? Barnacles are parasites which is obviously what you think of them, but if anything, for a small outlay (certainly compared to expansion teams in other sports) WSW have brought a great deal to the HAL this season…If you think they have diminished the domestic game by their existence then you must have them confused with Gold Coast United who brought little else but pain and negative headlines to our game. I think in the annals of history the birth of WSW will be seen as a pivotal moment for football in this country.

              • January 21st 2013 @ 10:11am
                Qantas supports Australian Football said | January 21st 2013 @ 10:11am | ! Report

                Well put your hand up and take on the responsibility of ownership of this franchise… Then they will no longer be the barnacle I have tagged them to be… Some one out in West Sydney please come to the table and take on the ownership of this barnacle—so the FFA can redirect treasury funds where they were meant to go—at grassroots. Btw with the current behavioural problems of the club—how long do you expect the NRMA to stick to their commitment as the clubs major sponsor??

              • January 21st 2013 @ 10:16am
                Wanderer Chris said | January 21st 2013 @ 10:16am | ! Report

                The only correlation between WSW and a barnacle seems to be that the clubs very existence has manifested itself as a gigantic one on your shoulder.

              • January 21st 2013 @ 10:42am
                vinnie said | January 21st 2013 @ 10:42am | ! Report

                Mr Qantas lives in the Gold Coast and is still holding a grudge about the Gold Coast getting shafted for the Baracle club WSW. feel free to tell me if im incorrect Mr. Qantas?

                The FFA shafted Gold Coast’s 300 fans for the capital of australian football – no brainer

                forgive me for any disrespect here but the on field success of WSW after only 6 months existence has made a mockery of the 8 year a-league, if the standard has improved so much im not sure how a team made out of other teams rejects can just come in and beat everyone.

                WSW has already surpassed SFC true crowd figures.

              • January 21st 2013 @ 10:57am
                Qantas supports Australian Football said | January 21st 2013 @ 10:57am | ! Report

                Kassy—-you do realise I follow SFC now don’t you (as an eastern board expat Sydney person)? And as MVDave jealousy reiterates from time to time, a Chelsea supporter, because of where I once lived in London, ie nearby Stamford Bridge for a short time, who enjoyed the good life of what Chelsea precinct culture had to offer in the 70s—in direct contrast to the industrial filled smog air of Manchester 🙂

                Your constant reference of the now defunct GCU is boring—I have moved on if you haven’t noticed, even if you still want to remain in the annals of ancient history. The good banter between Vinnie (WSW) and QsFA (SFC) that we enjoy is born out of the hatred of the East vs the West of Sydney-siders.. Stay out of things you don’t have any understanding of, or knowledge..

              • January 21st 2013 @ 11:03am
                Qantas supports Australian Football said | January 21st 2013 @ 11:03am | ! Report

                Vinnie—–read my response to Kasey… Even people with a low IQ will understand it…

              • January 21st 2013 @ 11:12am
                Qantas supports Australian Football said | January 21st 2013 @ 11:12am | ! Report

                Chris—-so WSW are free to write disparaging remarks about SFC and SFC supporters are to remain silent when it comes to WSW…? Yes Chris, please don’t light a flare anywhere near by me… Take ownership of your problem and find a solution for it..

              • January 21st 2013 @ 11:47am
                Wanderer Chris said | January 21st 2013 @ 11:47am | ! Report

                As a casual observer of this website, I don’t think I’ve come across many of your posts that don’t contain some snide barnacle comment. Being inflammatory all the time doesn’t strike me as particularly clever, neither does griping back and forth, that stands for anyone, not just yourself.

                My point is, can’t we all just have discussions in a level-headed manner? The constant name calling is tiresome and doesn’t exactly lead anywhere. Just enjoy the game, respect where respect is due, what’s the point of being so negative all the time?

            • January 21st 2013 @ 12:09pm
              Qantas supports Australian Football said | January 21st 2013 @ 12:09pm | ! Report

              Chris—-go back to the beginning of this thread I started, and see what my first post contained before Vinnie made a reply to it… Do you honestly expect me to not respond in the manner I have—ie not to defend the club I now support..? Vinnie, is a serial “Hater of SFC” and never lets an opportunity go by letting me know it.. I respond accordingly as a “Hater of WSW”. As he once wrote on another thread it is supposed to be good banter… So be it… (btw the word Hate in Football is meaningless—well to me it is. And it doesn’t help when tools like Kasey want to add fuel to the fire with a defunct GCU ref.)..

              • January 21st 2013 @ 5:20pm
                Kasey said | January 21st 2013 @ 5:20pm | ! Report

                You call me a tool. I’m not the one who was blindly supporting everything Clive Palmer did. I could see 8 months ago that a straight WSW for GCU swap had the potential to be huge, but you continued to talk down the HAL and the FFA and I’m somehow the tool. Nice delusions buddy. Good to have you still interested in the local game though just watch the name calling eh?

              • January 21st 2013 @ 5:52pm
                Qantas supports Australian Football said | January 21st 2013 @ 5:52pm | ! Report

                Kasey—-if you want to continue with ancient history then so be it. I have every right to say how it stands at present in the league—if you don’t like what I write, no need for you to read it, or respond to what I write with what occurred in the past with the club I once followed. This Sydney banter here has only to do with the rivalry between SFC and WSW, ie who will be the premier club in Sydney—nothing else. So keep your assumptions to yourself and we will be fine.

              • January 21st 2013 @ 5:52pm
                Bondy said | January 21st 2013 @ 5:52pm | ! Report


                I’m actually suprised by WSW, I didnt think they’d be as succsesful on and off the pitch as they have been.Great for the A League.

    • January 21st 2013 @ 7:34am
      Midfielder said | January 21st 2013 @ 7:34am | ! Report


      The ADP another year is that confirmed or just wishful thinking….

      The side SFC have could be anything with a good coach…

      • Columnist

        January 21st 2013 @ 8:56am
        Mike Tuckerman said | January 21st 2013 @ 8:56am | ! Report

        Mid – will be confirmed today, as far as I’m aware.

        • January 21st 2013 @ 10:16am
          pete4 said | January 21st 2013 @ 10:16am | ! Report

          Good news I read on Twitter the other day FC Tokyo was looking to sign ADP for the next J-League season

          • January 21st 2013 @ 10:38am
            Bondy said | January 21st 2013 @ 10:38am | ! Report


            Whats good about that?, we want him here not in Japan.

            • Columnist

              January 21st 2013 @ 11:38am
              Mike Tuckerman said | January 21st 2013 @ 11:38am | ! Report

              I think there’s a missing full stop there, Bondy. Every year FC Tokyo chase a big name in January. I see this year they’ve been linked with Raul. In the end all they ever end up doing is steal defenders from Shimizu S-Pulse.

              • January 21st 2013 @ 11:54am
                Nathan of Perth said | January 21st 2013 @ 11:54am | ! Report


            • January 21st 2013 @ 11:42am
              pete4 said | January 21st 2013 @ 11:42am | ! Report

              Bondy – oops sorry mate I meant it’s good news SFC are about to lock him in

              • January 21st 2013 @ 12:05pm
                Bondy said | January 21st 2013 @ 12:05pm | ! Report


                Sorry mate jumped the gun. Cheers.

        • January 21st 2013 @ 5:24pm
          Kasey said | January 21st 2013 @ 5:24pm | ! Report

          Has the confirmation occurred yet Mike?
          I hope ADP sticks around for a second season, imagine how big the del Piero effect could be if SFC retain a real manager and recruit some more talented supporting players!

      • January 21st 2013 @ 10:38pm
        MV Dave said | January 21st 2013 @ 10:38pm | ! Report

    • January 21st 2013 @ 7:57am
      nickoldschool said | January 21st 2013 @ 7:57am | ! Report

      I think AdP is deceptively slow on camera but is actually not that bad. He isnt going to win a 50m race, but once he has the ball, it stuck to his feet like a magnet and he has just too much quality for most a-league defenders.

      I think its foolish to say that pace isnt important in the modern game (the 2 best players in the world are among the fastest) and its clear that AdP doesnt have it anymore (never had it if you ask me). But he is still the best in the a-league with the ball at his feet.

      • January 21st 2013 @ 1:52pm
        AGO74 said | January 21st 2013 @ 1:52pm | ! Report


      • January 21st 2013 @ 7:49pm
        Brick Tamlin of the Pants Party said | January 21st 2013 @ 7:49pm | ! Report

        When you look at that last goal,look how much space he created with that dip of the shoulder,who needs pace when you can do that!

        • January 21st 2013 @ 10:01pm
          Malo said | January 21st 2013 @ 10:01pm | ! Report

          Not fast but all class and playing in the right spirit. He must be seeing this as the ideal holiday though it shows the aleague has a long way to go if a retiree is the best in the comp. He has great first touch and direction and can still read the game whereby the majority of Aleague players don’t just hope for the best. Like watching him same with Heskey and Fowler when he played. If only he had a great contributer giving him great service. ADP is great for the game though.

          • Roar Guru

            January 21st 2013 @ 11:21pm
            Fussball ist unser leben said | January 21st 2013 @ 11:21pm | ! Report

            “though it shows the aleague has a long way to go if a retiree is the best in the comp”

            You’re kidding if you think ADP is “the best in the comp”. What he does, he does with class, but he’d be lucky to have more than 1 game where he was considered in the best 3 on the ground.

            ADP will be no where near the top of the voting for the Johnny Warren Medal.

            Rather, the best-performing players in the A-League would, include: Rogic, Vidosic, Mooy, Rojas, McBreen, Galekovic, Ryan, Traore, etc. etc.

            • January 22nd 2013 @ 8:11am
              Kasey said | January 22nd 2013 @ 8:11am | ! Report

              +1 Fuss…there is no way ADP is the best player in the comp, merely the most globally famous. If he wins the Johnny Warren Medal, I’ll buy a GWS membership! There is no standout prospect for the JW this year. Marco$ Flore$ has been fairly ordinary for MBV, perhaps Marco Rojas will be the smokey? I don’t think Shinji Ono or Dario Vidosic have been consistent enough and these awards typically go to more showy positions like Midfielders and Strikers than goalkeepers or defenders. Rogic might be another smokey, but without finishing off the season he will leave himself short I think. Aaron Mooy has been great for WSW and his return from Europe should be used as a shining example for players toiling away for their chance in an unforgiving lower tier European circuit…come home, play in Summer near friends and family and it puts you right under the eye of the National team coach if you’re good enough. FFA should send a delegation to Europe to push this message now!

    • January 21st 2013 @ 8:20am
      Christo the Daddyo said | January 21st 2013 @ 8:20am | ! Report

      I don’t think anyone should be getting too carried away with that win – Wellington were diabolical.

      But the other thing it proved to me was that you can’t just buy any old marquee and throw them into a team without any thought. The problem for ADP (and SFC) so far this season has been that he hasn’t had the structure or players around him to enable him to do what he does so well. Up until know he’s had to try and do everything himself – and as great as he is, he isn’t up to that herculean task.

      It’s only now that the structure is in place. Hopefully it won’t have come too late for this season’s hopes of finals action…

      • January 21st 2013 @ 9:31am
        Alex said | January 21st 2013 @ 9:31am | ! Report

        It’s not a matter of being too late. We’re one point off the six with 10 matches remaining, there are no excuses for not making it.

      • January 21st 2013 @ 11:26am
        AGO74 said | January 21st 2013 @ 11:26am | ! Report

        Absolutely right. We saw it last year with H as well. Sydney’s problems this year have been even more pronounced.

    • January 21st 2013 @ 9:03am
      jamesb said | January 21st 2013 @ 9:03am | ! Report

      I’m a huge cricket fan, but for me this summer, the cricket has been flat. Too much talk over ‘rotation policy’, plus Australia isn’t as strong as it was in the past. Hopefully they come back in the future.

      Speaking of comebacks, the A-League has done exactly that in season 2012/13. The HAL needed someone like ADP to come into the comp, along with the intro to WSW.

      But with ADP, it was great to watch. I’ve never thought I’d say this about an Italian footballer, but ADP is playing the way football should be played.

      Culina in partnership with ADP, who in turn is starting to form a combo with Griffths does make Sydney FC a dangerous side. However FC are shaky in defence. They should had conceded three. Franky needs to fix that up.

      But at the end of the day, people are talking about the A-League which is a good thing.

      Does anyway remember Clive?

      • January 21st 2013 @ 9:46am
        striker said | January 21st 2013 @ 9:46am | ! Report

        How on earth Sydney FC havent sign him ADP for a second season as yet is a disgrace on them but then again its not surprising as they let Dwight Yorke go after season 1, i still think they have problems in defence and i think Melbourne Victory will win this week, still good to see them doing good which is so important for the league especially in Sydney.

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