Youthful players shone in the A-League after the resumption from the COVID-19 break.
The utility man can sometimes be the most important part of a football team.
There’s Leigh Broxham for Melbourne Victory, Matt Mackay for Brisbane Roar, and you could even say Scott Neville for Perth Glory. But can you go to the extent of saying Paulo Retre for Sydney FC?
Retre has played five positions for Sydney FC this season, and four of these positions he has started in.
He was originally a right-back before the season started, but because of Siem De Jong’s injury in the second round of the A-League season, he spent six games playing De Jong’s position of right-attacking midfielder, including the FFA cup final.
He had come to Sydney FC from Melbourne City as a right-back, yet he has ended up playing pretty much everywhere except right-back this season!
He had a few standout moments in his foreign attacking midfielder position, one of them being the lovely flick-on to score the first of three goals against his former side, Melbourne City.
It was from a well-worked play which had Le Fondre drop just behind the eighteen-yard box, before steering it out wide to Rhyan Grant, who took a great touch forward before driving the ball into the box, where Paulo Retre was waiting at the near post.
He made great contact, just enough to keep it on the group while keeping enough momentum for the ball to make it through the legs of goalkeeping custodian Eugene Galekovic.
He was on fire that game, providing the assist to Le Fondre’s devastating chip over Galekovic, who was rushing off his line and the angle looked impossible.
It was yet again Grant, Retre and Le Fondre involved, with Le Fondre running the ball down the line before squaring it to Grant, who brushed it past Luke Brattan. Grant continued his run, before yet again squaring it to Retre.
Bart Schenkeveld, who was focused on Le Fondre’s run in behind, pushed up when Retre received the ball, and after another blistering touch from Retre, was allowed to stroll onto Retre’s perfectly weighted pass, before finishing what was another strikingly well-worked goal.
He finally dropped out of the team after Sydney’s crushing defeat to Wellington Phoenix.
He was next in Sydney FC’s starting XI when Rhyan Grant was away with the Socceroos on international duty.
It was in a 3-1 loss against Perth Glory, when he was pushed back to his more familiar right-back position, but unfortunately he seemed to have forgotten how to play it, as he chalked up a less-than-satisfying performance and was dropped for their next game against Adelaide United, where Jacob Tratt was played ahead of him.
He then disappeared from the team, just coming on as a substitute late in games.
The next time he was in the team as a right-attacking midfielder for the next big-blue, where an under-manned Sydney put up a good fight but could not savour any points, and dealt with a 2-1 loss.
He played well but could not make any game-changing moves and was given next to no space, thanks to Corey Brown and Carl Valeri’s high press. In the next game against the other team from Melbourne, he had one standout moment which was hitting the post from another intelligent flick from Rhyan Grant’s cross.
Brandon O’Neill played a long ball which Rhyan Grant ran onto in spectacular style, before taking one touch and hitting it into the box. Retre, who was waiting at the near post, flicked it with his heal and was unlucky with his effort.
Retre was back in the team due to Joshua Brillante’s possible transfer to Pohang Steelers and was playing right defensive midfielder for three games, and unfortunately scored a disastrous own goal in a two-nil loss against his former team.
He was handed his last three starts at left-back due to Michael Zullo’s hamstring injury, and he played well but didn’t seem to produce anything special, but did string together some solid performances and didn’t have any major slip-ups.
Retre is an all-round specialist, and at twenty-six years old, still has plenty to offer in the A-League. He played a total of twenty-six games for Sydney FC this season, twenty-one in the A-League and five in the Asian Champions League.
He may not have started as many as Leigh Broxham or Matt Mackay, but surely twenty-six games in five different positions are enough to earn him the title that is Sydney FC’s utility man?