Sydney FC coach ... Frank Farina. Photo: Getty Images
SYDNEY FC coach Frank Farina has warned that some of his players are running out of chances to prove they are worthy of selection following the 2-1 loss to the Newcastle Jets at Hunter Stadium on Saturday night.
In a blunt assessment of his last-placed team, who are now six points adrift of the top six, Farina said he was disappointed for the Sky Blues fans who travelled from Sydney for the match.
''They didn't deserve to see that. It wasn't through lack of trying but we just weren't good enough today,'' he said. ''As I said when I came to the club, I'm a fighter and I'll go down swinging, in terms of the fight to make it off the bottom and up the table. And I expect the players that will be with me will have that same attitude. If they don't, they won't play.''
Asked if some of those players would be nervous, Farina replied: ''Oh they will be, yeah. A lot of nervous players. A bit disappointed, yeah, but they won't like me when I get angry.''
The Jets had no such problems with motivation. A pre-match speech from Newcastle legend Craig Johnston provided the inspiration for them to get their season back on track. After three straight losses, and having gone 273 minutes since their most recent goal, the Jets were down on confidence but coach Gary van Egmond had a psychological ace up his sleeve.
Knowing Johnston was back in town after the recent death of his father, Colin, van Egmond asked Jets chairman Ray Baartz if he could arrange for the former Liverpool champion to address his modern-day counterparts.
Johnston, who played two guest stints for his home-town team Newcastle KB United almost three decades ago, was happy to oblige.
By all accounts, you could have heard a pin drop.
''We had Craig Johnston come in before the game and talk and inspire the boys,'' van Egmond said. ''He probably talked for about 15 minutes and no one moved. It was very inspiring.
''We talked about the things that he brought to the table with that conversation, and looking at this game as being your last game, how would you like to be remembered. The boys went out there and did themselves very proud.''
Van Egmond was hopeful Johnston's pep talk would be the catalyst to turn Newcastle's campaign around. It certainly prompted one of their best performances in months, and goals from Craig Goodwin and marquee striker Emile Heskey released weeks of frustration and pressure.
The vibe emanating from Sydney FC was in complete contrast after their second defeat at the hands of Newcastle this season.
Socceroos veteran Brett Emerton was replaced before half-time because of illness, and another Australian international, Jason Culina, missed the game after suffering further problems with the knee injury that cruelled two years of his career.