With what was, at times, a roller-coaster ride of a 2013-2014 A-League campaign having come to an ultimately disappointing end, Sydney FC must now turn their attention to next season. Well, not just next season, but more importantly to the long-term future of the club.
The scenes during and after Sydney’s ill-fated 3-0 loss at home to Adelaide United in Round 18, and a subsequent open letter to the club’s billionaire Russian owner David Traktovenko by high profile supporter group The Cove, clearly showed that the Sky Blues’ hard-core fan base are just about at breaking point when it comes to the perpetual lack of direction and long-term vision of their beloved team.
Sydney chairman Scott Barlow appears to have heeded the frustrated calls for change, at least in part, by last week making the decision to recruit current national technical director Han Berger to the club ahead of next season. Berger, renowned for his propensity for youth development, will help oversee the implementation of the club’s future youth academy and centre of excellence – proposed for construction at Tempe – as well as scouting and appointing players and coaches.
This is the first step for Sydney to ensure that in the years to come they are consistently enjoying levels of success that a club of their size should, but there is still a long, long way to go.
Of more immediate concern though, is what to do with current coach Frank Farina and international marquee Alessandro Del Piero.
Farina has done what could best be described as a solid job since taking over from interim coach Steve Corica in late 2012, following the abrupt resignation of rookie manager Ian Crook a third of the way through the 2012-2013 campaign. There’s no question that ‘solid’ simply won’t cut it going forward for Sydney FC, but is it the best short-term solution?
Before Sydney discards Farina, they need to be certain that the man who will replace him is a cohesive fit for their long-term plan. If they were to hastily toss Farina aside after yet another sub-par season for the club on the playing field, then they would simply be trying to find the best candidate available for the here and now, which could potentially result in another mediocre hire coming in and shaking things up, only to fall short of club expectations, and leaving them in a worse position 18 months or two years down the track.
So, if there is an interested party who the board believe is the right man for the job, and he doesn’t view the Sydney FC coaching position as a stepping stone for a more lucrative gig overseas, then by all means, go ahead and give Farina his marching orders. But if not, then showing stability by giving Farina another year at the helm, while the club conduct a wide search for the right candidate to replace him, certainly wouldn’t be a bad way to go.
As far as Del Piero’s future is concerned, it really depends on what Sydney decide to do coaching wise, as to whether he should be re-signed for a final year. If Farina stays, then so should ADP, but if the club want to bring in a new coach, then he would instantly be compromised by having to centre his style of play – in both attack and defence – around the aging star, who, let’s face it, at 39 is not the most committed off-the-ball player going around.
And whilst his class on the pitch and professionalism off it can’t be questioned, neither can the fact that his persistently niggling injury concerns aren’t going to go away.
It will be interesting to see what happens in the coming weeks (or perhaps even days) as the club decides what direction to take on these matters, but let’s just hope – whatever the decisions are – they are not made short-sightedly.
Have your say: What are some of the things you believe Sydney FC should do to improve in the long-term? And what should be done with Farina and ADP?