Saturday, 8 October 2011

Sydney FC 2011-12 Season Preview

How the mighty have fallen. Fresh from a debut season where he guided Sydney to an impressive Championship/Premiership Double, in 2010-11 Lavicka was unable to reproduce the disciplined performances which garnered so much success for the Sky Blues. Sydney's championship hangover can be directly retraced to poor recruitment and the depature of key players; Steve Corica retired, Aloisi, Colosimo and Bolton transferred to Heart while Kisel returned to Prague. These five players constituted the spine of Lavicka's Double winning team, and none were adequately replaced.

So have Sydney learned from their past mistakes? Beauchamp, Coyne and Bosschart, who has many years of experience in the Eredivisie, have been brought in to form the defensive bedrock. Karol Kisel has returned (why did they ever let him go?) from Prague, Sydney having learned from Brisbane the importance to seize the inititiave and control the ball in central midfield.

And then of course, there's Brett Emerton. Brett is currently Australia's 2nd most capped player, and has been a constant presence in the English Premier League for Blackburn Rovers; he is the first player to ever exchange the heady atmosphere of England for Australia. Set aside his off-pitch contribution to a Sydney club that a month ago was struggling to find a short-sponsor. It's not hyperbole to proclaim that Brett, along with Harry Kewell, are going to be the best players who ever grace the stadia of the A-League; no matter how many more young Tommy Oars or Mustafa Aminis are produced, these are two fully realised players who have competed and excelled for many years at the highest standard. Emerton should be, well untouchable on the right wing for the Sky Blues. Expect impeccable service and dangerous penetration.

Ally these new prized captures to seasoned campaigners McFlynn, Bridge, Cole, Jamieson and playmaker Carle; all of whom were fairly anonymous last campaign, and all of whom will need to recapture their vintage form in order for Sydney to be successful. With the predatory instincts of Cazarine, a target man who squeezed every last goal out of the miserly service he received last year, Makela, Pertratos and Antonis, Sydney have look of a formidable, balanced and above all, experienced squad indeed. Cazarine in particular could thrive from a regular diet of through-balls from Carle, crosses from Emerton and close support from Bridge cutting-in from the left.

But there is still a significant weakness in this squad, and in arguable the most important position; goal keeper. Most people have seemingly forgotten than neither Reddy nor Necevski covered themselves in glory last season; both performed so poorly that Lavicka was compelled to alternate between the two, which engendered instability in Sydney's defence. Lack of confidence in the goal keeper causes timidity in the team; Reddy and Necevski have the ability to make or break Sydney's title aspirations.

Of all the departures Sydney experienced in the off-season, the Harbour City will almost certainly come to keenly regret the losses of Kofi Danning and Matt Jurman, both to reigning champions Brisbane Roar.

Last season, Lavicka persevered with a 4-4-2 diamond formation. He will have to change to a 4-2-3-1, with Emerton on the right wing, Carle behind the striker, to get the best out of his two marquee players. Media reports indicate Lavicka has done so in pre-season.

Danger Men: If Nick Carle and Brett Emerton can resume their profitable partnership from their days together in the NSL, expect stellar service for Cazarine and Bridge. Beauchamp and Bosschart will have to develop an understanding in defence. Kisel will be handed the role of distributing the ball from midfield.

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