Sydney FC, the club traditionally known as the A-League’s big spenders, are set to have a much different look this season.
The side won’t resemble the ‘Silvertail’ image that it has gained over the years but if the recent 5-0 drubbing of would-be cross-town rivals Macarthur FC is anything to go by, that might not be a bad thing.
The off-season has brought a few surprises for both Sydney FC supporters and the league in general with club legend and head coach Steve Corica taking a more pragmatic approach in regards to recruitment.
This off-season has seen no high profile recruitment of experienced overseas talent, no returning journeyman Socceroos, no out of favour mid-table European players, in their place a raft of young blood with a decent amount of A-League experience, is this a sign of things to come for the Sky Blues?
With the big-spenders ball firmly in the court of Melbourne City it could be a great time to move to a more underrated approach and build a core of players who could potentially stay with the club for the next decade.
First cab off the rank is defender James Donachie, who at 28 I am stretching the definition of “Youth” for.
I digress, he has a wealth of experience not only in Australia but in India and the Asian football powerhouse that is Korea, he is likely to be the starting partner to the ageing Alex Wilkinson. Well-regarded at Brisbane Roar and Melbourne Victory he could be a potential club captain in years to come.
Next is the returning Max Burgess, former youth team player who actually made a senior appearance for Sydney way back in 2014, Burgess was a mainstay of new club Western United last season where he scored a hat-trick from midfield against the Central Coast Mariners.
With the likes of Luke Brattan, Anthony Caceres, Paulo Retre and even former youth team compatriot Chris Zuvela ahead in the pecking order he will have his work cut out for him to gain a starting place.
Connor O’Toole is a left-back who graduated from arguably the A-League’s best academy Adelaide United.
He arrives with a great amount of experience playing for both Brisbane Roar and Newcastle Jets. Corica has obviously recruited O’Toole to be a rival for Joel King who has been second-choice left-back behind A-League mainstay Michael Zullo, when Zullo hangs up his boots Corica will be left with two great choices for starting left-back.
Lastly the most exciting recruit of the off-season, Elvis Kasomba the Burundi international, comes straight from Melbourne Victory where he made 61 appearances.
Kasomba netted a goal in the previously mentioned pre-season friendly against Macarthur. A winger with a lot of pace, Kasomba was the recipient of the Mike Cockerill medal in 2018, the award for the best NPL-based player in the FFA Cup, adding to that last season for the Victory he scored five goals from the wing and will be looking to build on such a positive season.
There is already a heated debate amongst Sydney FC supporters on which Elvis Presley song to sing in his honour and headlines bearing the words “All Shook Up” and “Heartbreak hotel” are bound to follow.
These recruits join a fantastic amount of academy talent whom Corica is very familiar with from his time as the youth coach, the likes of Patrick Wood, Calem Nieuwenhof and Harry Van Der Saag have been instilling hope to the Sydney FC faithful.
Many have previously criticised the club for not promoting enough youth in their ranks, missing out on the likes of academy graduates such as Dimitri Petratos, George Blackwood and Joel Chianese who all came through the ranks of Sydney FC but have gone on to have impressive careers with other clubs.
All in all, as a Sydney FC supporter, this move away from big signings in favour of hard working home grown players doesn’t trouble me as much as some other supporters, Corica clearly has a vision with these signings and they could form a solid core to build a team around in the next decade, the days of marquee players like Dwight Yorke, Alessandro Del Piero, Bret Emerton and Matt Simon may be over – but it could turn out to be a blessing in disguise.