2011/12 Review: Sydney FC
(knocked out of the finals by Wellington 3-2)
Change in position from 2010/11: ↑ 4
Win-draw-loss record: 10-8-9
(37 goals scored, 42 goals conceded)
Highest goalscorer: Bruno Cazarine (8)
Average attendance: 11,861
After a disappointing 2010/11 season that saw Sydney FC finish outside a finals place, and was marked by average attendances plummeting to a new club low, the 2011/12 pre-season saw renewed vigour and optimism surround the club, with the appointment of new CEO Dirk Melton and the major off-season marquee signing of Socceroo Brett Emerton. Emerton was hailed as a coup not just for Sydney FC, but along with Melbourne Victory’s capture of Harry Kewell, for the A-League in general.
Experienced Dutch central defender Pascal Bosschaart was brought in to shore up Sydney FC’s previously shaky defence, and was partnered with another new recruit in Socceroo Michael Beauchamp in Sydney’s new look defensive line up. The season started well for the Sky Blues, with an opening round draw to fierce rivals Melbourne Victory followed by a second round away win to Adelaide United. Sydney FC was hailed early on for their team spirit and ability to fight for a result, often rallying to salvage points and win matches in the second half. A high point came for Vitezslav Lavicka’s side came on a rainy and windy day at Kogarah Oval, with Sydney FC producing a stellar performance to put an end to reigning champion Brisbane Roar’s 36 game undefeated run, with a two-nil victory.
Sydney FC’s season hit a rough patch after their trip to Sydney’s south-west, winning only 1 of their next 8 games and commencing a dramatic slide down the table and eventually out of the top six. A late season rally, helped by the introduction of youngster Joel Chianese coupled with an upturn in form by marquee Brett Emerton, saw Sydney FC sneak back into the top six with a dramatic last day victory over finals rival Newcastle Jets.
Most Valuable Player: Nick Carle. 25 appearances, 4 goals, 3 bookings.
Sydney’s marquee number ten had a less than stellar debut season for Sydney FC . Returning home from a stint in Europe to join the then reigning A-League champions, Nick Carle was hailed as the ideal long term replacement for club legend Steve Corica. However, a succession of injuries and an underperforming Sydney FC soon had many fans and pundits questioning whether the skilful midfielder from Sydney’s West was the right man for the job. The arrival of former Sydney Olympic and Socceroo team mate Brett Emerton in the lead up to the 2011/12 A-League season, and the emergence of young midfield star Terry Antonis, threatened to leave Carle playing second fiddle at the start of the 2011/12 season.
An injury free pre-season, however, rejuvenated Carle, and early season form had many commentators predicting Carle had the ability and form to take out the Johnny Warren Medal at season’s end. A positional change from his more traditional number ten role to the forward line saw Carle add regular goal scoring to his repertoire. His hard work ethic and team play, both attributes he was once roundly criticised for lacking, coupled with his dazzling footwork soon caught the eye of Socceroos coach Holger Osieck, earning Nick Carle a well-deserved recall to the National team. Carle has become a much more rounded midfielder than the one who left our shores at the end of the end of the 2006/07 season.
Rising Star: Joel Chianese. 9 appearances, 6 goals.
After stand out performances in Sydney’s National Youth League team over consecutive seasons, Joel Chianese was rewarded with a first team contract for the 2011/12 season. Initially nothing more than a young squad player, Chianese spent most of the season lighting up the youth league with fellow young gun Mitchell Mallia. Chianese was handed a chance late on in the season by coach Vitezslav Lavicka, a chance he took with both hands, scoring his first A-League goal in only his third game of the season, away to Adelaide United in week 20. Chianese’s knack for scoring helped Sydney FC’s late charge to the finals series, finishing the season remarkably as Sydney FC’s second highest goal scorer behind Brazilian Bruno Cazarine, bagging 4 goals from 8 regular season appearances and a further 2 goals in the elimination final against Wellington Phoenix. With a new coach arriving in the off season, and stiff competition from Mitchell Mallia, Chianese can’t afford to take the foot off the accelerator.
Most Underachieving Player: Mark Bridge. 18 appearances, 3 goals.
Mark Bride’s often laconic style has seen the forward draw much criticism from the Sydney FC faithful since his goal scoring heroics helped Sydney FC clinch their second Grand Final just two years ago. Often labelled as lazy, Bridge only managed to score 3 goals in 18 games, a rather measly return for the undoubtedly talented striker. Bridge has failed to hit the heights of 2009/10 when he teamed up with Alex Brosque to terrorise many A-League defenders and lead Sydney to the premiership and grand final double. 2011/12, however, saw Mark Bridge fail to cement himself a spot in Sydney’s forward line, and with the emergence of young talented duo Mitchell Mallia and Joel Chianese, Bridge’s task of working his way back into first team contention had been made all that much harder. Like many of his team mates, respite for Bridge may come with a clean slate that often comes with the appointment of a new coach in the off season.
Most Underrated Player: Sebastian Ryall. 15 appearances, 1 goal, 1 booking.
Many will no doubt think a player who started only 2 A-League games (15 appearances in total) is a strange choice for being nominated as Sydney FC’s most underrated player. Ryall, like many of his young counterparts across the A-League had the unenviable task throughout the season of trying to dislodge experienced centre backs Pascal Bosschaart and Socceroo Michael Beauchamp. The two time A-League winner showed, in his cameo appearances, that he is ready to assume a much more senior role in the side. Comfortable and composed in his preferred position of centre back, the 2011/12 season saw Ryall prove he is just as comfortable moving the ball forward into midfield and joining in the attack when required, even popping up to rescue a point for Sydney against his former club Melbourne Victory, scrambling the ball across the line in the 89th minute. These displays have even lead to some sections of Sydney’s support calling for Ryall to replace captain Terry McFlynn in midfield. The possible departure of Michael Beauchamp, who is yet to be offered a new contract, could be just the chance the 23 year old Ryall needs to finally cement himself a spot in first team.
What do you think? Did we get our selections right? Have your say on Sydney FC’s season below…