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Sydney FC's revolving door is holding the side back in the A-League

Changing faces: Fabio Alves on the run against the Wanderers last season.

Changing faces: Fabio Alves on the run against the Wanderers last season. Photo: Brendan Esposito

When Milos Dimitrijevic made his debut for Sydney FC as a substitute against Central Coast Mariners last week, many thought the experienced midfielder would add some much needed distribution to their play. He didn't and, if anything, the Sky Blues' passing got worse.

That's not an indictment on the player himself, rather the system he walked into when he became the 51st player used by the club over the last 70 competitive games.

Fluid football doesn't happen over night, it requires chemistry and collective understanding. It takes time to persist with the same squad, until they play the ball out of the back, and transitions into the final third rely on near instinctive knowledge of movement and position. It's telling that Sydney FC's poor displays coincide with the influx of more than 50 players in less than three seasons. They have played just one finals game.

Juho Makela in action in 2011.

Juho Makela in action in 2011. Photo: Anthony Johnson

Mariners coach Phil Moss may not have been talking about Sydney FC specifically, but he stressed how even a few changes can destabilise a team.

''I think it's as if we sailed into some stormy waters but we can see some calmer waters ahead and I think the performances have shown that, the players are more settled now and I've had time to settle in the role,'' Moss said.

''There was a big transition, a big upheaval but certainly we've tried to steady the ship as quick as we can and get back to the football that we're capable of.''

Dwight Yorke. Click for more photos

Sydney FC's marquee men: past, present and future?

Looking back over Sydney FC's marquee signings - and the ones they'd love to have on their books next year. Photo: Getty Images

The reigning champions have been arguably the most consistent performers in the history of the competition. They were the most tactically well-drilled team last year and are showing glimpses of returning to that level under their third coach in nine years. It also helps that they have used just 38 players since September 2011 despite having to also play A-League finals series and two Asian Champions League campaigns.

The other best performers over that period, Brisbane Roar, handed a debut to 18-year-old Devante Clut against Wellington Phoenix on Friday night but their tally is also 38 players over the past three seasons, which also includes two Asian Champions League campaigns.

To anyone who watched the Roar dismantle Melbourne Victory 3-0 a fortnight ago, it was evident how the continuity of playing staff was essential to their superb passing game.

By contrast, Sydney FC appear just as disjointed as they did years ago, perhaps more so. They've brought players in from all over the world but none have been part of a long-term plan. Finland's Juho Makela, Fabio from Brazil, Hirofumi Moriyasu from Japan, Panama's Yairo Yau, Pascal Bosschaart from Holland and Croatian forward Kruno Lovrek all came and went without leaving too great a footprint on the league. There have been plenty of local short-term solutions; Jamie Coyne, Michael Beauchamp, Trent McClenahan and Paul Reid, though none stayed for more than a season.

Youth has been tried, but for the most part rookies have been used as stop-gaps and not eased into the senior squad. Aaron Calver, Alec Urosevski, Mitch Mallia and Nathan Sherlock landed on team sheets from near-obscurity but faded back just as quickly.

Keys can now be heard jingling at home games, coinciding with calls from fans for a change. Another clean-out is expected to follow the end of this season with the bulk of the squad off contract, but it's not the change many are hoping for. Nearly three seasons of Band-Aid solutions have failed to repair the club's wounds. With no evident long-term vision in sight, they will struggle to stem the bleeding.

8 comments so far

  • Agreed. This is pretty much what we've all been syaing for a couple of seasons now. The amount of genuine talent we've had in the club over the past couple of seasons that's either been misused or sold off is pretty distressing. Sydney seem to have a knack of stumbling on talent but being unable to recognise it for what it is. Having Petratos knock in a hat-trick against us a couple of weeks ago said it all; for the life of me I'll never understand why they flogged him off and whatever happened to Kofi Danning who had us in raptures for a season and a bit and was never heard of again. We're close to losing patience and giving up so for God's sake Sydney stop playing with yourself and start building a club...........

    Commenter
    Magnus
    Location
    Abbotsford
    Date and time
    January 25, 2014, 9:20PM
    • Stability in a team leads to teamwork which is the cornerstone of sporting success. The prerequisite to stability is good overall recruitment and the day of winning a A League Premiership with marque players are long gone. SFC over the last two years appear to have have put their team in place just prior to the season opener. Unfortunately they probably have to go back to go forward with a long term plan and a roster for the future. Premierships just don't manifest.

      Commenter
      Rob
      Location
      Gymea Bay
      Date and time
      January 25, 2014, 9:25PM
      • Absolutely spot on! I've been writing on these blogs for months on this issue. And yet, there still remain so called supporters who will argue that sacking the coach just over 12 months into the job is the answer - despite the fact that most of the playing squad were signed before he arrived. For mind, the problem lies upstairs. The continuing focus on short term solutions rather than biting the bullet and mapping out a long term plan is evident in the results. Unlike WSW and CCM ( both clubs had Lyall Gorman to get them off the ground) SFC lacks a binding culture. Someone needs to sign a coach for three years and allow him to implement a three year plan. Hang on!! We did sign a coach for 3 years and now everybody wants to sack him. The number of 'experts' who log onto these blogs to say 'sack the coach' is breathtaking (#farinaout....what's that all about ) it is simply NOT a legitimate opinion.SFC youth team...11points clear. It's time to move some of the players going off contract out of the squad and build a real Sydney team ......a squad based around the talent in the youth squad with a handful of senior players. It may mean that we write off the rest of the season...but 51 players in a little over two seasons......Dominic ...you've said it and you've hit the nail on the head.

        Commenter
        Simon
        Location
        Sydney
        Date and time
        January 25, 2014, 10:27PM
        • Barlow out

          Commenter
          frank
          Date and time
          January 26, 2014, 6:22AM
      • This is what happens when you take your nickname "bling" seriously and try to buy you way to silverware. Patience my friends is what it required and a quality coaching team to start with and a willingness to accept that for a year or so things may not be perfect but. Anyway, why did young Petratos leave SFC? Seems a handy player. Maybe the answer to that question might reveal things that need fixing at SFC.

        Commenter
        football manager supremo
        Date and time
        January 26, 2014, 6:58AM
        • Agreed. But bringing in Alessandro Del Piero will be seen as the most high profile player ever brought into the A League, and it brought fantastic results to the League in Australia which is unprecedented and may never be matched in the future. That's probably the only great comment to make about Sydney since 2012. Pity that this opportunity could not be properly capitalised by the club.

          There's one exception to the rule - Wonderers started with a bang and won the minor premiership in spectacular style in their first season.

          Commenter
          Frank Bellissimo
          Location
          Sydney
          Date and time
          January 26, 2014, 10:20AM
          • I have been a supporter of Sydney FC from day one and have been totally frustrated by the inept recruitment of players. I think the marquee player adds value eg. Dwight Yorke and Del Pierro, but it is the recruitment of players to compliment them that has been deplorable. Whereas other A League teams have acquired players shrewdly we have had a very hap hazzard approach. Stop gap filler players, quick buys and some who would struggle to get a gig at othe A League clubs. Sacking the coach is not the answer (as I think Farina has done quite well with what he has got). A whole new approach to player selection is the answer. Maybe next season!!!!!

            Commenter
            Joe
            Location
            Sydney
            Date and time
            January 26, 2014, 10:55AM
            • I am only an observer and Roar supporter but don't believe that the revolving door of playing staff is to blame for Sydney's poor performances. Del Piero, Yairo Yau, Fabio, Makela etc were all justified drawcards for SFC and the A-League. They are experienced players working with a second grade coach. Something has to give when people management is so important, and it shouldn't be blamed on the players. If one has the financial resources to import these types of players then it becomes necessary to have a first class coach guiding them to success. I have witnessed the damage Farina did at the Roar, and as we all know Leopards don't change their spots. SFC, go scouting for a good coach and you will never regret the change!

              Commenter
              hansh2
              Location
              Brisbane
              Date and time
              January 26, 2014, 7:43PM

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