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Season Preview 2014/15: Sydney FC

Sydney FC will head into the new season with a fresh sense of optimism regarding the upcoming campaign. Having endured a difficult season under Frank Farina last year, the Sky Blues have revamped their playing roster and their backroom staff, as they look to steady the ship.

Ex-Socceroos and Central Coast Mariners coach Graham Arnold has taken the reigns, and has promised to make Sydney a more efficient and hardworking machine, similar to the one he created when he won both a premiership and an A-League championship with the Mariners during his stint as coach.

Another talking point this season will be how Sydney replace marquee star Alessandro Del Piero, who recently signed a deal to play in India. A huge success on and off the field, the former Juventus star was idolised by the Sky Blues’ faithful, and at times during his two year stay with the club, provided the sole highlights on what proved to be a dour time for the club in general.

The fans’ relationship with the board reached breaking point last season, as the loyal supporters grew tiresome of the direction the club was headed. To their credit, the board has begun taking steps to make amends for the last few seasons of mediocrity, and judging by the change of manager, the pre-season form and the signings made by the club, Sydney finally look like they are turning a corner, as they look to regain their place at the top of Australian club football.

Transfer market

As stated above, the club’s roster has had quite the workout, with a number of players coming in and out the revolving door. Fringe players Joel Chianese, Mitch Mallia, Blake Powell, Matt Thompson and Marc Warren were all released and have subsequently joined New South Wales NPL clubs. Foundation player and ex-captain Terry McFlynn retired, whilst veteran forwards Richard Garcia and Ranko Despotovic were also released and have signed with Perth Glory and Spanish side Alaves respectively.

Sydney have made a smart piece of business to bring back fan favourite Alex Brosque as their Australian Marquee, and he is expected to provide the attacking impetus and add pace to the forward line, along with fellow new signing and Arnold’s ex-protégé Bernie Ibini, who arrives on a one year loan from Shanghai East Asia. Expert goal poacher Shane Smeltz was also drafted in from Perth Glory, and will be expected to fulfil the role of able deputy for new marquee player Marc Janko. The tall Austrian international captain arrives with a big reputation for netting goals, and will be expected to lead the line at the Sky Blues this season.

Highly rated 17 year old left back Alex Gersbach has also been brought in from the AIS, and has shown good form during the pre-season.

Arnold has publicly said he wishes to sign a few more players, with the club still allowed to bring in two imports from overseas under A-League regulations.

Pre-season

The Sky Blues have enjoyed an extremely successful pre-season so far (barring a 4-0 capitulation to English Premier League side Newcastle United). They have won nine of their eleven games, including victories over West Ham, Brisbane Roar and the Newcastle Jets. Striker Corey Gameiro and midfielder Ali Abbas have, in particular, impressed thus far.

Sydney have also progressed into the last eight of the inaugural FFA Cup, with impressive wins away to Melbourne Heart and local rivals Sydney United. They are due to face Adelaide United at home in the quarter finals, in what looks to be a cracker of a match-up.

One To Watch

Chris Naumoff

The 19 year old actually debuted under Frank Farina last season, and impressed when called upon in his 10 appearances for the Sky Blues. An attacking midfielder, the youngster displayed excellent technical qualities and a nifty footballing brain, but looks to have bulked up a bit in the off-season as well.

Naumoff has also displayed his long-distance shooting prowess, coming of age in a ‘man of the match’ performance against Sydney United in the Round of 16 FFA Cup clash. The ex-Sutherland Sharks star scored two stunning goals to lead his side into the quarter finals, and cement his spot in the Sydney squad for the upcoming season.

Prediction

Arnold will be expected to improve on Sydney’s 5th place finish last term. As stipulated by the board, making the finals is the minimum requirement, with securing a top 4 berth the main aim. With the newly signed attacking stocks, look for the Sky Blues to take the game to the opposition more than they have in recent years. Attractive football may be substituted for pragmatism early on in the season, though, as Arnold will look to achieve substance over style.

Pre-Season Results

Macarthur Rams 1-5 Sydney FC — Duschesne, Gameiro x2, Carle, Antoniou

Newcastle United 4-0 Sydney FC

Sydney FC 3-1 West Ham United — Gameiro 4′ 65′, Brosque 26′

Bonnyrigg White Eagles 2-3 Sydney FC — Gameiro 59′ 65′, Burgess 74′

Sydney FC 3-1 Northern Fury — Petkovic 3′, Gameiro 67′ 76′

Newcastle Jets 2-4 Sydney FC — Abbas 34′ 66′, Brosque 40′, Gameiro 42′

Sydney FC 2-0 Brisbane Roar — Gameiro 25′, Janko 75′

Canberra FC 0-5 Sydney FC — Abbas, Ibini, Gameiro, Brosque, Carle

Sydney FC 0-0 Wellington Phoenix

Melbourne Victory 1-1 Sydney FC — Janko 20′

About the author

avatarMarco is an avid A-League fan, and a contributor to Ultimate A-League.

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