Monday, July 27, 2009

Czech Discipline Exorcising Sydney FC’s Curse

While I was watching Sydney FC and Newcastle Jets play out a mildly entertaining 1-1 draw on Sunday at the SFS a strange calm descended over me.

The definite change I felt watching Sydney FC on a grey Sunday afternoon were the lack of cuss words that I would usually be hollering when Sydney FC had the ball in the front third.

Gone was hoofing the ball up the pitch Iain Fyfe and Robbie Middleby style. Gone was the where the hell am I gaze that Beau “look behind you” Busch gave every time the ball came into the defensive area.

Instead the hoofing was replaced by short quick passes, the gazing was replaced by anticipation and that lost feeling was replaced by composure.

Obviously Vitezslav Lavicka has had an impact on the team but so has the choice of players he has picked.

The Case for the Defence

The Korean left back 29 year old Byun Sung-Hwan old is two footed, is not afraid to get stuck in and I am happy to report was not the hoofing kind. With Shannon Cole playing at right back, Sydney FC now have balance, with both players being two footed, able to swing in a decent cross and good at the free kick (expect both players to fight over who will take them).

The Swiss defender Stephan Keller who Sydney FC signed straight after the game has one of those qualities I like in defenders and that is he didn’t look lost. He was not the quickest but his experience will help young defenders Mathew Jurman and Anthony Golec.

Simon Colisimo looked calm at the back. There was a great forward run he made from defence as he did a Lucas Neill at the last World Cup and ran for 30-40 metres before he was cruelly hacked down, deep inside the Jets territory.

With Simon Colisimo partnering Keller the Newcastle Jets struggled to break down Sydney FC.

All of a sudden the defence looks solid experienced and composed.

It’s Just Pre-season but………..

Of course the qualifier that must be added to all this back slapping, was that this was only just a trial game. The Newcastle Jets who were coached by ex Sydney FC boss Branko Culina were using the game to trial players and were only playing their third trial match of their pre-season while this was Sydney's 101st.

The game finished 1-1 and while Sydney controlled most of the ball Newcastle Jets were always in the game.

Mark Bridge looks a bit sharper than last season and he did well to set up Alex Brosque for his goal. Shooting down low and hard from outside the box, Brosque was able beat the keeper because he decided to shoot early, giving Newcastle Jets shot stopper Kennedy no chance to get down low and stop it.

The left footed attacker looks up for it more than any season I have seen him at Sydney FC.

It was good to get a glimpse of Karol Kisel in action and on this performance he looks like he will be a handy player. My first impression is that while he is a Slovak international and has played for big clubs in the Czech Republic he looks on par with what is already here. I will wait for the season proper before I make a more pertinent judgement.

Brendan Gan I fear will be played all over the place, during the trial game he was played on the right of midfield; I would like to see him played more in the middle.

Disco Stu Musialik was solid if not spectacular in his customary holding mid field role. Steve Corica was still class and managed to get 90 mins.

Looking at it from the Newcastle Jets angle I hope Ljubo “The Lip” Milicevic stays around as I think he will be one the A-League biggest pantomime villains. As an opposing fan I hate him and like him at the same time.

The Final Frontier

So the defence looks more solid than last season; however it was still the same Sydney FC I was watching. The team would get the ball to the final third and like most A-leagues teams would not know what to do when they got there.

Success in the final third is everything. The amount of time you have on the ball in that area is cut by two thirds compared to amount of time and space you get in other area’s of the pitch.

There was no John Aloisi in this game so let’s wait and see how the Bling lines up for the first game of Season Five when they come up against North Queensland Fury and Robbie “don’t call me god” Fowler.

The action takes place on the Eighth of August in Townsville.

The new season is close, it’s time to train the larynx, get out the scarf and team colours in anticipation of a brand new year in football. Once again we will wear our replica team shirts that are many sizes larger than the fit athletes who wear them.

We will shout very loud instructions to footballers who know much better than us, we will jeer them and abuse them with the most foulest of language and usually in many languages; such is Sydney’s multicultural grasp on swear words.

We will also shower them with praise, thousands will sing their name, songs about there feats will be sung to the melody of other songs; but above all we will share in their glory and ecstasy and suffer the same agony and humiliation.

But we will keep coming back for more and I use the words of Czech writer Milan Kundera, a fellow countryman of Sydney FC boss Viteszlav Lavicka that “Optimism is the opium of the people”

How optimistic are you about the new A-League Season?

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