Master … Sydney FC's Alessandro Del Piero. Photo: Getty Images
ALESSANDRO DEL PIERO has given his vote of confidence to Sydney FC's decision to extend coach Frank Farina's stay with the club for a further two seasons.
The 38-year-old was heavily rumoured to have offered his services to the club as player-manager before Farina was brought in and admitted in an interview with Fairfax Media last week that he had become something of an on-field assistant manager in recent months.
Farina has largely structured his formation around Del Piero to give the Italian superstar a free role in front of the midfield and it's resulted in some brilliant individual displays.
Now Del Piero is hoping that a settled coach will bring better results for the rest of the season.
''It's good news for us. We now hope to put more energy for the games and for each player now the focus is to stay in top six,'' Del Piero said. ''That's why we just focus on this moment now, then next season [Farina] can work from the start and have time to improve the team.
"Now we play at home and we are better than one month or two months ago. We hope our form means we will play better."
Del Piero admitted the changing of coaches had made things more challenging than he originally hoped.
"It's very important [to have stability]. This season is completely strange because we start with one coach, then Frank comes in. We are in trouble all the time, which is why we have to focus in on this specific moment," he said. "When one coach leaves, change is difficult, for sure. That's why we have a big moment. A few weeks ago, we were in trouble. At the same time we were last on the table and now it's a lot better.''
On Saturday night Sydney are coming up against an Adelaide United side that snapped a three-game losing streak with a triumph against Melbourne Victory last week, achieved in spite of coach Michael Valkanis being sent off.
He'll be in the stands for this contest, leaving former Adelaide City icon Sergio Melta in charge of what happens in the dugout.
However, Sydney's issue is with the players, not the coach. Brett Emerton and Ali Abbas will miss this game with suspension, leaving a sizeable hole in midfield now that Jason Culina has quit. Farina is likely to play Yairo Yau on the left with Terry Antonis the most likely option to replace Emerton.
Del Piero's own future remains more clouded, even if he's confirmed that he wants to stay in Sydney, and the club has declared they want to retain him for next season.
His brother and manager Stefano Del Piero arrived from Italy on Friday morning to commence contract talks with the Sky Blues but there was little that Del Piero wanted to give away about how the discussions might unfold.
"I'm not talking about my future. I want to talk about tomorrow's game. Then on Sunday, we can talk about my future, yes," he said. "He [Stefano is here] for a week. I don't know [what will happen]."
Instead, Del Piero was keen to lay praise on Adelaide, saying they had won his respect for getting the better of Sydney both home and away earlier in the season.
''It's a big game tomorrow and that's what we have to concentrate on. Adelaide are always a big team,'' he said.
''They have beaten us two times and have been hard for us. They have good strikers, a good offensive line and that's why we have to be careful.''