Graham Arnold’s performed an act similar to Will Smith, wiping away everyone’s memory in the Men in Black franchise, pressing reset on the Sydney FC squad.
The former Mariner’s brought a positive vibe into the harbour city club going into season 2014/15 after the negativity that’s hung around the club last term.
Most of the positivity has grown through the pre-season with encouraging signs. There’s been seven wins including FFA cup victories over Melbourne City and Sydney United 58.
The only loss in pre-seasons come against English Premier League side Newcastle United, and the best sign for fans is the form of Corey Gameiro up front scoring a dozen goals in preparation of the new season.
The new manager reshaped the attacking brigade after losing Alessandro Del Piero. He brought in Austrian international Marc Janko and second highest scorer in A-League history Shane Smeltz to feature with the returning Alex Brosque. And with experienced three Corey Gameiro and the on-loan Bernie Ibini-Isei, are set to bring in the exuberance of youth in the Sydney attack.
In the middle of the field, Arnold’s kept the same personnel from last season, bringing back in Nick Carle to partner Milos Dimitrijevic and Terry Antonis in the midfield.
Antonis was a revelation after some injury problems early last season and will be central to Sydney FC making the top six again, and challenging for higher honours this season. Not to mention Ali Abbas, who was recently recalled into the Iraq national team after his impressive late season form including the winning penalty against Western Sydney.
All the attacking prowess won’t help the area Sydney FC need to improve the most – the defence. The back line’s been porous in the last two seasons, conceding 51 and 38 respectively.
Nikola Petkovic and Sasa Ognenovski will provide a stable central partnership that looked positive in pre-season encouraged by the ease Alex Gersbach has settled in at left back providing protection and stable back four for Vedran Janjetovic between the sticks.
If Sydney FC is going to challenge they will need to improve on their travels, last season under Frank Farina the side could only accrue eleven points from a potential twenty six available. As it was an all or nothing approach whilst on the road, it wasn’t until January Sydney FC earned a point in a 2-2 draw against Adelaide United.
The toughest stretch for Graham Arnold’s men will come early on, as they will play three games in nine days including a Sydney derby and their FFA cup quarter final match against Adelaide United.
Prediction: 2014/15 will be an improvement for the Sky Blues after the dismal three seasons they have endured. The goals will flow as they battle with Brisbane and Melbourne for the top positions finishing 3rd overall and making it to the semi-finals.
In: Bernie Ibini-Isei (loan – Shanghai Dongha), Shane Smeltz (Perth Glory), Alex Brosque (Al Ain), Alex Gersbach (AIS) and Marc Janko (Trabzonpor)
Out: Alessandro Del Piero (Delhi Dynamos), Richard Garcia (Perth Glory), Marc Warren, Blake Powell (APIA Leichhardt), Mitch Mallia (Blacktown City FC), Joel Chianese (Sydney United 58), Ranko Despotovic (Alaves), Brett Emerton and Terry McFlynn (Retired)