Football 2 years ago

A-League coaches too negative: Arnold

  • A-League coaches too negative: Arnold

A-League crowds and TV ratings are down, and Sydney FC mentor Graham Arnold is concerned it's got something to do with some coaches being too negative tactically.

A worrying 98,380 fewer fans have walked through the stadium gates compared to this time last season, and even accounting for one less game played, crowd averages are down more than 2000 spectators per game on the whole of last season.

While Arnold believes factors such as scheduling may be to blame, he also thinks coaches may be too scared to play open, attacking football and instead are more intent on staunch defence.

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"I think the crowds are down a little bit maybe because of the Thursday night games and the Sunday afternoon games and those sorts of things," he said.

"But I think some coaches are setting out not to lose because they don't want to lose their job. In the past you get five or six coaches a year who get sacked and some coaches I think are setting out to not lose.

"I'm definitely not one because I'm not worried. Some I think are a bit negative at the moment."

Sydney have been the second-worst hit club crowd-wise behind Adelaide, with figures dropping from last season's average of 26,435 to 21,958.

Just 12,857 people turned out to Sydney's top-of-the-table clash against Brisbane earlier this month, when Arnold later attacked the "ugly" football trying to stifle his team's creative play.

"Even after the Perth game (last weekend) in that heat it was only one team that looked like they were trying to win the game and we've done that for the past few weeks," he said on Tuesday.

"Teams set up differently against us. Teams aren't coming to beat us, they're coming to stop us. And we've just got to be a little bit better."

Television ratings are also down, with just 153,000 people tuning into Sydney FC's home match against the Roar across two networks, well down on the 495,000 people who watched the Sky Blues' clash with the Newcastle Jets in October on SBS2.

Despite this, Arnold maintains the standard of the competition has not dropped, but does believe it is potentially lacking a marquee import.

"It's not negative football," he said. "From what I've seen at the games this year I think the games are better than last year.

"I think the standard is higher, I think every foreigner that has been brought into the country by the coaches is of a really good quality, and I think the standard is better.

"Maybe we are missing out on that one marquee player, a David Villa who set the tone last year, but maybe it's up to Melbourne City to bring out another."

Sydney's opening-round crowd of 25,525 against Melbourne City in Villa's first A-League match last year was their highest regular-season figure for an out-of-town rival, bolstering their averages for the season.

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