INCOMING Sydney FC coach Frank Farina has until the end of the season to turn the Sky Blues' season around but will need to lift the club into the finals if he wants to keep the job permanently.
Farina has been given a five-month contract to take charge of the struggling club, which has had a horrendous start to the season, losing six of their first eight games. In their past four matches alone - all defeats - the team has conceded 16 goals.
That's despite extensive re-working of the squad and the signing of the A-League's biggest-ever name, Alessandro Del Piero. Sydney spend considerably more on their squad than any other club but that investment has so far failed to produce results this season.
Sydney chief executive Tony Pignata said the club believed they had finally found the right man to replace Ian Crook, who quit after deciding the pressure was too much.
''It's been a tough process in the past few weeks but we think we've made the right decision, finally,'' Pignata said at the club's Macquarie University training ground on Wednesday night. ''We spoke to a multitude of candidates both locally and globally and we made our decision and [Farina] is the decision we're going with. He's determined to get back and coach in the A-League. This is an opportunity and he's looking forward to the challenge.''
While Farina won't arrive in Sydney until Friday night - the earliest he could leave his posting as coach of the Papua New Guinea national team - he will take charge of a training session on Saturday and will then take to the dugout for Sunday's match against Melbourne Heart at Allianz Stadium.
Though the appointment is only short-term, Farina has the opportunity to turn the deal into a permanent one.
''That'll be determined on results and I think Frank knows that as well. If things improve and change, he's in the driver's seat, isn't he? If he gets in the top six, that's a great result for us from where we are at the moment. That's the focus,'' Pignata said.
''It [the appointment] took a little bit longer but we had to go through the process.
''Results haven't been what we'd hoped but we were determined to make the best decision we could in the timeframe we had.''
While Farina was sacked from his last job at Brisbane Roar for drink-driving, Pignata said he believed the Socceroos' legend would arrive on a mission to right past wrongs.
''I think he's determined to come back and have another go,'' he said. ''We all know what happened a few years ago so he's quite keen to come and make amends, definitely.''
Farina won't get to select a new coaching staff - assistants Steve Corica and Zeljko Kalac will stay on - but new staff can be added.
Asked about why Farina stood out from the other candidates, including Miron Bleiberg, Ernie Merrick, Pierre Littbarski and Avram Grant, Pignata said Farina had strong credentials and understood the local game.
''Frank's coached at a high level. He coached the national team for seven years, he's coached high-profile players, he handles the media - these were all attributes that we liked in Frank,'' he said.
''He's also someone determined to get results and that's what we want.''
Pignata said the players all took the news well and were ''happy we'd finally made a decision'' and that they had to focus quickly on getting a result in Sunday's match.
Despite the club's optimism at the appointment, the backlash to Farina's appointment has been significant, especially on social media. Pignata described the reaction as ''mixed - as I expected''.