The cursed brilliance of Alessandro Del Piero

Andrew Nash Roar Rookie

By Andrew Nash, Andrew Nash is a Roar Rookie

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    Alessandro Del Piero and the A-League All Stars put up a strong showing against Juventus. (AFP PHOTO / Greg WOOD)

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    For much of the second half of the 2013-14 A-League season, the talk around Alessandro Del Piero has been of the ‘will they, won’t they’ kind, specifically if a contract extension would be offered to the Italian great.

    While few can argue that Del Piero is the best player Sydney have and has dragged the Sky Blues kicking and screaming to a finals berth, argument has persisted on whether he is in fact holding the club back: would Sydney be better off parting ways with Alessandro?

    This weekend’s 4-1 win over Wellington provides a perfect example of the heavy reliance team have on Del Piero. After all, it was his build up play that led to his successful penalty, and to his wondrous free kick for his brace (should I be capitalising his?) He also had a hand in the third goal with a finessed play-on to Sebastian Ryall for his goal.

    It would not surprise me if Ali Abbas came out this week to admit he had lent his shirt to Del Piero when that fourth goal was powered into the far top corner from outside the area.

    Hyperbole aside, ADP remains the lifeblood of the Sydney FC squad. His 10 goals this year are double that of the next highest Sydney FC goal scorer, Richie Garcia, as the Italian maestro follows on from his incredible 2012-13 season as Sydney’s highest scorer with 14 (the next highest Sky Blue player was Yairo Yau, with 6).

    Sydney’s run into the finals this year would not have been possible without him, so why even consider letting him leave? Because Sydney FC are victims of Del Piero’s successes.

    Much like the latter years of Thierry Henry at Arsenal, or more recently Barcelona with Lionel Messi, having a player that good in a team – a player relied upon on a weekly to get results – changes the way a team plays.

    Too often other players in the team will play the wrong option to try and get the ball to a superstar player when he should not be receiving it. They will slacken off in support play on expectation that the player will make it all happen by themselves. Worst of all, the team will have little idea how they play when a player like that does not play.

    This is without even the additional financial burdens of the A-League.

    What has been evident in Sydney FC’s season this year is that they are short of quality players in many areas of their squad, and this is at least in part due to the diversion of funds to pay Del Piero his reported $4 million per year salary.

    Despite his exception to the wage cap as a marquee player, any club director places restrictions on the collective wage they offer a team each season, and the reality is that by making this sort of payment, Sydney FC has been limited in the money they can spend elsewhere. Without that kind of investment, the reliance continues to build, and the team’s habit of relying on Del Piero to produce becomes increasingly two-dimensional.

    The third goal of Sydney’s on the weekend displayed the kind of football Sydney’s fans had been missing. Great one-touch football from Sydney FC along the right wing, followed by a cool finish by Sebastian Ryall – and yet all the television commentator could point out was the great final pass from ADP.

    It would be hard not to succumb to the aura of the man, but too often the team has had to fall back on the talent of Del Piero to find the back of the net, and as a fan, the football has become increasingly flatter to watch.

    As hard as it may be for the Sky Blue management and fans to accept, the possibility of dropping Del Piero may not only free up some expenditure on other areas of the team, but the tactics as well.

    Do you think Sydney FC should hold onto Del Piero for another season or not?

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    The Crowd Says (31)

    • Roar Guru

      April 8th 2014 @ 1:35am
      Steven McBain said | April 8th 2014 @ 1:35am | ! Report

      I don’t watch enough of Australian football to comment properly on whether he should play on and in that respect I’m not qualified to comment.

      What I would say however is this.

      I saw Del Piero as a youngster in the 90s’, at World Cups and through the 00’s. He is one of the finest players of his generation and also a player that you can’t pigeon hole or bracket. He was too good.

      There’s a wider issue about the direction that Aussie domestic football wants to take and it’s a hugely valid conversation.

      However, with regard to Del Piero, he’s a legend, enjoy every minute of you can even in his deep twilight. He’s sheer class and your lucky to be able to watch him.

    • April 8th 2014 @ 5:05am
      LET'S TALK said | April 8th 2014 @ 5:05am | ! Report

      He is the greatest italian player ever. Not only because of statistics, but his class and supremacy. In Italy they envy him a lot. That’s why he was fired from Juventus. He is too much for them. A world class gigant. Simply, the best.

    • April 8th 2014 @ 6:34am
      Christo the Daddyo said | April 8th 2014 @ 6:34am | ! Report

      Agree completely with this article.

      ADP is a legend of the game. Even at the tail end of his career he can still exhibit sublime skills. But SFC has not been able to construct a good enough team around ADP to warrant the continued expenditure of such large amounts of money for one player. Another season of ADP would be of little benefit to either party.

      • April 8th 2014 @ 8:51am
        JonJax said | April 8th 2014 @ 8:51am | ! Report

        CtD, “But SFC has not been able to construct a good enough team around ADP”…… they did on Sunday night.
        He earned a penalty, scored a cracker from a free kick, hit the post with another free kick,presented his team mates with at least three gilt edged scoring opportunities ( which they spurned) and laid off the killer ball for Ryall to score in what will prove to be SFC’s “team goal”, of the season.

        • April 8th 2014 @ 9:36am
          Christo the Daddyo said | April 8th 2014 @ 9:36am | ! Report

          Er, you’ve contradicted yourself by providing plenty of evidence to back my point up…

          • April 8th 2014 @ 2:18pm
            JonJax said | April 8th 2014 @ 2:18pm | ! Report

            ADP still brings much to our fledgling A-League. Anyhow, I haven’t seen him use the “index finger” yet.
            The dreaded “index finger” is the tell-tale sign a player is approaching their use-by date.
            Once the dreaded “index finger” comes out- pointing to space, showing the team mate where they should have been to receive the pass and when it the “index finger” gets more exertion than the footballers legs, you just know it’s time for the Acme Thunderer to blow three times.
            Not tracking back is not an issue for Robben or Sneijder and they still get picked for the Oranje.

        • April 8th 2014 @ 9:49am
          brian drian said | April 8th 2014 @ 9:49am | ! Report

          well if SFC had a competent coach who could construct his way out of a paper bag, it would be very feasible!

    • April 8th 2014 @ 7:15am
      clayts said | April 8th 2014 @ 7:15am | ! Report

      Thank Buddha there is a new photo of ADP being used for these articles. Not the one with a red tongue

    • April 8th 2014 @ 7:55am
      Andrew said | April 8th 2014 @ 7:55am | ! Report

      Cleary Sydney FC have flogged the ADP work horse into the ground, they should be playing him as a Sub in the second half, but due to the club having no talent and no other stars , a hopless game style, they keep having to roll out ADP for the full 90, not only for on field but to get the fans through the gate and watching the game. Should they sign him up..Of course until there is another Marquee of the same quality who is willing to play in the A leauge then you cant let him go. Just do the right thing and stop over working the vecchio.
      Can you imagine what he is teaching the Sky blues players off the pitch, they just need to stop recruiting these drop in dud players.

    • April 8th 2014 @ 8:03am
      j binnie said | April 8th 2014 @ 8:03am | ! Report

      This is an excellent discussion that actually creates more questions than it could possibly answer.
      (1) Would Sydney have beaten Wellington if ADP hadn’t been on the field.?
      (2) Would Wellington have performed better had their ageing veteran Paul Ifield been available.?
      (3) The refereeing decisions as to when and where is the “first’ foul committed when awarding a “2 foul ” penalty when a “dive” may be involved?
      (4) How do directors think,men who have laid out big money & their recipient is still scoring vital goals?

      Andrew has certainly provided his opinion on what he considers could &should be done but again it is a discussion point hugely dependent on opinion &very little fact for in reality ,provided ADP can preserve a certain level of fitness,it is doubtful if he &his immesnse vision &talent could not be included in most HAL teams for there are always Massimo Murdocca types,tireless workhorses,who are willing to not only do their own work but will willingly help do the work of others.
      This is where the ADP’s of the football world can be utilised to improve our game here in Australia. Last night a well known expert explained to his TV audience that he &his “team” had “just noticed” how Emile Heskey,by his movement off the ball,created space for other attackers ie Adam Taggart.!!!!!!!!! I would have expected nothing less of Heskey, who with his vast experience in top football, would automatically move away from his “covering” defenders as soon as the Jets gained possession That is simply good attacking play that Heskey &his like do almost by second nature.
      Do we learn from watching these people? Apparently it takes time,but even with the time delay in recognition it must still be worth it in the long term Good discussion point Andrew keep up the good work. jb

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