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Steve Corica: A battle he can't win or absolutely nothing to lose?

Steve Corica. (AAP Image/Brendan Esposito)
Expert
18th May, 2018
29

Stephen Christopher Corica just landed one of the most highly pressurised gigs in Australian football.

For the next few months, as the squad takes shape, players return to full training and the new blood starts to gel, life will be pretty easy for the 209-game NSL and A-League legend.

The mantra emanating from the new manager and the club itself will be about continuing the work done by impending Socceroos boss Graham Arnold and staying successful both on and off the pitch.

The language will emphasise the continued push for trophies but also a maintained professionalism and diligence; required if they are to continue their dream of one day conquering Asia.

After the rhetoric, somebody will light a blowtorch under Steve Corica’s backside. He will have his feathers well and truly ruffled at the first sign of anything less than the dominant brilliance of Sydney FC over the last two years.

Sydney FC A-League 2017 Grand Final

Sydney FC celebrate their 2017 championship. (AAP Image/David Moir)

According to the fans, Sydney suffered two foundation-shattering losses in the regular season just passed.

The first, a Round 6 defeat to the Mariners in Gosford, saw the fan-base start to question some of the cracks that had appeared. There were even more pronounced rumblings when the Newcastle Jets held on for a famous, ten-man victory at home in Round 22.

Throw in the opening match of the Asian Champions League, where Sydney were towelled up by Suwon Bluewings, and the fickle nature of the city’s market was clearly in focus.

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In typical Sydney style, as their team slumped to less than perfect, the fans wanted answers.

In reality, the team had been ‘up’ for a long time, sustaining an incredibly high level of performance and, despite Graham Arnold doing a solid job of maintaining that standard, it had to drop at some stage.

In Sydney FC’s case, they were simply beaten well on all three nights by teams that exposed weaknesses. The fans, promised A-League and Asian glory by the manager, barely knew where to turn.

As Corica will surely already know and soon discover even more intensely than ever, Sydney isn’t a nice place when it comes to patience, acceptance and perspective around their A-League franchise.

In fact, as 5 million people shove their way around, burdened by band-aid infrastructure and poor state services, the city lacks those qualities in general – not just when it comes to Sydney FC.

The Wanderers are living that reality as we speak; a vast distance from the early glory days under Tony Popovic, and Sydney FC have enjoyed the microscope being focused elsewhere.

Of course, when you are winning things are easy.

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An astute footballing mind with eight years in various coaching roles at the club, including a period as caretaker before Frank Farina was signed, Corica should be a snug fit.

In terms of adjustments and a cooling off period, as the players learn to work with the new mentor, Sydney have minimised that impact by appointing from within. Theoretically, it should be business as usual with a different voice shouting the instructions and a few tweaks to the gameplan.

Anyone expecting a vastly different approach next season will be disappointed. Corica himself has said, “My style will be much the same, entertaining and winning.”

However, is there an issue in appointing a manager with little experience and knowledge from elsewhere? All Corica knows is Sydney FC and its structures, and considering he is now in the cockpit of that very club, is that an issue?

Many in the fold felt an experienced European head was needed to take a club seeking to make a serious impact in Asian football to the next level.

Things will play out as they will and Corica will suffer the slings and arrows of a demanding and intimidating city that will expect things to roll on as they have done for the last two seasons.

Admittedly, the applecart was well and truly toppled in the semi-final, yet that loss might just open up a window of opportunity for Corica. Following Arnold’s juggernaut after back-to-back titles and a squad more than capable of winning another, might just have sent him on a doomed mission.

Alternatively, at 45, the relatively young Corica may use his new position as a stepping stone to greater things. For the continued development of our mangers and ex-players, we would all celebrate that.

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It will be a significant test and one, I am sure, for which Corica feels ready. Sadly, if the show does indeed go on and Sydney continue their roll, he probably won’t get the credit he deserves.

If they stumble? Steve… Duck!