Sunday, April 5, 2009

April fools Sydney FC

There were some quite bizarre happenings at Sydney FC this week. Firstly an announcement of two new international signings ahead of the 2009/2010 A-league season on the Unofficial Sydney FC fan forum had fans excited.

The signings were 32 year old Slovakian left-side attacking midfielder Karol Kisel and South Korea and World Cup hero Ahn Jung-hwan, 33, whose goal in the 2002 finals knocked out Italy.

The announcement was made on April fool’s day and a few diehards fell for it.

Fans Reaction when they initially thought it was a joke:

*I fell for it hook, line and sinker
*Oh I knew it was a joke all along

Then a couple of days later a media release confirmed the signing of 32 year old Slovakian left-side attacking midfielder Karol Kisel as being the real deal.

So in the beginning the signing that was, turned out to be a joke, and in the end the joke was true
I can see the headlines for the upcoming season:

April fool’s Joke that wasn’t Kisel scores and Ex April fool’s Joke Kisel wins it for Sydney.

So will Karol Kisel have the nickname the Joker? Will the fans chant, “Why so serious?” In homage of that unforgettable Heath Ledger performance in the Dark Night.

Or perhaps the fans could use the line from Bee Gees song “I started a Joke that started the whole of Sydney laughing.........”

When speaking about the player Sydney FC CEO, Stefan Kamasz was positive the Slovak player would fit well into Sydney plans:

“He has a wealth of experience and can play on either the left or right and will no-doubt prove an invaluable asset to the team.”Kisel will arrive in Sydney on April 20, shortly after Vitezslav Lavicka and his assistant, Michal Zach and will begin preparations for the 2009/10 season when the new-look Sydney FC squad returns for the start of pre-season training on April 27.

Other news regarding the Sky Blues

In an off season that has been defined by Tumbleweed rolling in front of the Sydney FC offices, the club have become increasingly dismayed by the failure of Everton to supply an answer regarding a proposed friendly on July 11.

A recent report in the Sydney Morning Herald said:

“Negotiations have largely been finalised between the two clubs but Sydney are getting impatient at Everton's efforts to arrange a third match as part of an Australian tour and have begun talking to agents "about playing other EPL teams.
"We're really frustrated by their inability to respond as promised," Kamasz said

New Sydney FC boss Russian David Traktovenko

An interview in early March in the Sunday Telegraph gave an insight as to what ex Zenit St Petersburg owner David Traktovenko has planned for the upcoming A-League season with with his new club Sydney FC.
Regarding his role at the club the Russian stated:

“My role as a major shareholder at Sydney FC will be to participate in the determination of a clear strategic direction for the club and to have a say in major policies including financial, player transfer and club infrastructure

Where he expects Sydney FC to finish next season:

“A minimum acceptable target for next season is a top-four finish, but our sights must be set on Asian Champions League qualification.”

On expectations of new Czech coach and former Sparta Prague boss Vitezslav Lavicka: “Our search was for a European coach with experience and success in a country's premier league and preferably experience in the Champions League and UEFA Cup.

Lavicka won the Czech premiership with a provincial team that had no star players but had an effective style of play and was tactically very good.

“Lavicka is also experienced at developing young players which will be important given the large number of young players in our squad. Lavicka spent time as head coach of the Czech U21 National Team which is considered to be one of the strongest in Europe.

“Sydney FC will be Lavicka's first coaching role outside of the Czech Republic and I know he is very motivated to be successful in this role.

“I'm confident Lavicka is the right coach for Sydney FC as he can help create a united football team who can perform well in Australia and Asia and deliver an entertaining brand of football to our fans”

Crowds last season were largely disappointing for the Inaugural Champion of the A League and Traktavenko also known as the Tractor man to some fans, hopes the often promised but rarely delivered “beautiful football” will win the fans back to the Sydney Football Stadium.

He continued:

“What will attract supporters and fans back to Sydney FC games will be an entertaining, winning and beautiful brand of football.

“Our first major step toward this goal was the appointment of a new coach.

“The next step is to finalise next season's squad with the signing of three new players. In addition to that, our strategy incorporates actively working with fans and supporters.

“We want to make Sydney FC a club that is more open to its fans and supporters using European Football Club best practices.

"We want fans to feel part of the club and we want to make information about the club more accessible to them.”

Sydney has a smorgasbord of sports to chose from, with Rugby League entrenched in Sydney as much as the Harbour Bridge and Opera house are, and with the AFL sitting on mountains of cash due to their large television deal and a team in Western Sydney on the Horizon, not forgetting Rugby Union, the battle to win fickle sports fans in these tough economic times just got harder.

However the Russian has a five point plan:

“First and foremost we must win. Sydney people love to win and so do I.

“Second, the positioning of the Sydney FC brand is going to be very important. Sydney FC must become an aspirational brand so that every young football player in Sydney dreams of one day wearing the sky blue shirt.

“Third, we must make the game day experience the best it can be. Attending a Sydney FC match must be a unique and superior experience to any other code and I strongly believe the fantastic atmosphere created by The Cove is a key component of this.

“Fourth, football provides us with an international stage on which to compete that no other sport can match, and we must take advantage of the opportunities this provides.

“Fifth, the effectiveness of our engagement with Sydney's large and diverse football community, particularly junior associations, will continue to be a very important component.”

All of the above points have been promised in the past, and with only two more players left for the Russian to buy and the first one being in the middle of rather lame April fool’s joke; I suspect some fans will take a wait and see approach.

I believe engaging the community in a real way is the most important thing, the arrival of an experienced coach from Europe is a good start, lets see if the players respond especially John Aloisi; no doubt the pressure will be on as the players get close to starting pre season training on April 27.

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