Supporting a football team should not be this hard. Yet with Sydney FC, another day passes and another reason to test your undying love for your football club ensues. No football, or sports fan for that matter, can happily boast that they have never said a word in spite about their team. It is part of being a supporter. Lapping up the good times and carping when skies are grey. But in the past 18 months, the Sky Blues have not had the best weather to cheer about.
So if you by any chance follow me on Twitter, you would have seen my capitulation, tearing shreds off both Sydney FC and Frank Farina. Sure it’s a bit hasty and I am still recovering from our abysmal 0-4 loss to Brisbane and our Sydney Derby loss on the weekend. But believe me when I say I was not the only one. All this passion and antagonism has been welling for close to 18 months.
Last season was absolutely shambolic. We went from such optimism at the start of the season, to crashing out into the bottom 4 with a team that included the likes of Alessandro Del Piero, Joel Griffiths and Lucas Neill. Ian Crook came and went with the blink of an eye and Farina was brought in to rectify the sticky mess we had gotten ourselves into. Was he the right man for the job? Probably not. Was he the only one brave enough to try and fix the issue? Sure. Why not.
Whilst his employment during the season last year was valid, and I’ll go as far as saying a breath of fresh air, the re-signing of his contract left me absolutely bewildered. Adelaide managed to sign former La Masia youth coach Josep Gombau to lead the club to success. Having watched Adelaide’s football in the past two rounds of the league, I like what I see. A lot. The Spanish flare is not only exciting to watch, it also gets you the results.
So while Adelaide have signed a class manager to direct the team, Sydney for whatever reason, signed Farina on an extension. At the time Farina was signed, I was more than accepting. He was the right man for the job on such a short term basis. What I (and I think all other fans) expected at the end of the 2012/13 season was Tony Pignata and David Traktovenko to pat Farina on the back, thank him for his services and cut his ties with our beloved Moore Park Club.
Instead, we pursued with Farina for another year, validating his contract extension with petty excuses such as: “not his team” and “give him a pre-season.” And so, the reign of terror continued.
Having sat through the most cringe worthy, pathetic and lifeless performance by a Sydney FC team vs Brisbane, questions seriously need to be asked. It was evident right from kick off that Farina only wanted one thing. One point. And how do you get a point? By playing for a draw. From the get-go Farina only wanted a draw. When you fail to prepare properly for a football game, you prepare to fail. And fail we did.
To top it off, Jade North managed to get in behind our defence and slot a 1-on-1 past Vedran from an angle. Yes, even Jade North made a mockery of Sydney FC.
As a Sydney supporter, I have come to accept these types of result. We have the worst away record in the country, something that I am sure does not surprise anyone. However, you should never become used to seeing your team playing ugly from the first second of the game. I sat at a Sydney FC Fan Forum last year, days before we signed Del Piero. Ian Crook posed a question to the group; “Would you rather win ugly, or lose beautifully?” “Lose beautifully!” the crowd bellowed. Apart from me. I quietly whispered “win ugly”. But Farina interpreted this question differently, and answered it “lose ugly.” And at Brisbane, he sure lost ugly.
One week flew past and the Sydney Derby became a chance for Farina to redeem himself. To be fair, the players given a chance to redeem themselves, as team spirit seems to have hit rock bottom. A home derby always sparks optimism within fans and players alike and positives were expected from Round 3’s biggest game. Instead I walked out from Allianz Stadium with the scoreboard reading 0-2 defeat to the Westies and the RBB laughing at the Harbour City club through their foray of chants. Not even a quarter of the way into the season and I’m already looking forward to next year.
Questions need to be asked and they all need to be directed at Farina and the Sydney FC Board. We have the biggest names in the A-League playing in a star studded team, yet our football fails to excite. Comparisons were made between our 0-4 humbling and Melbourne Victory’s 0-5 loss last season. The scoreline, in my opinion, is the only thing thatis the same there. Ange Postecoglou went to Melbourne Victory with a strategic, yet attractive, plan. His football had gone a whole season unbeaten and won national titles. At 0-5 down, Ange still enforced his system, to the fright of his players. Within weeks his system then clicked and Melbourne found themselves in the Top 6 in no time, playing a free, fluid type of football.
Farina, meanwhile, returned to the A-League last season after a 3 year hiatus (or holiday?) coaching Papua New Guinea. In those 3 years, the A-League advanced in leaps and bounds, and now Ange’s ‘sexy soccer’ is a norm. Adelaide under Gombau are playing a nice and an attractive brand and even Perth Glory are starting knock the ball about. Meanwhile, under Farina 0-4 down, we decide to kick the leather off the football, and get the ball as far away from our goal as possible.
This is not a one game issue. For the last 18 months, we have seen the club tumble down the A-League ladder and missing out in a finals series that more than half the teams in the league get into. We embarked on a pre-season training trip that was meant to come up with the goods. Instead we came back with injuries, fatigue, and still no system in place. A whole domestic pre-season without a single win against an A-League opponent exemplified a clear image of the past year. And here we are now, slowly dwindling down the A-League table. Surprise, surprise.
Farina, its been fun, but its time you dramatically pull your socks up or go back to your holiday in the Pacific. No ifs or buts. Sydney FC fans deserve better. After all, it’s 18 months overdue.
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