After a disappointing finish of 7th in the season of 2012/13, Sydney FC have made major alterations to their roster in order to rebuild a squad that was lacking sufficient depth and quality to compete with those at the summit.
Frank Farina was handed the reigns as head coach on a permanent basis at season’s end after spending the last third of the season in a caretaker role.
With Farina locked in at the helm, the hierarchy at the Sky Blues moved to the next item on their agenda: reshaping a bland and lacklustre squad that had the spark without the fire in Italian maestro Alessandro Del Piero.
Del Piero at times was a lone ranger for Sydney FC, carrying the team on several occasions to claiming all three points in matches. He may have used his healthy wage to have a personal chiropractor to add to his own personal trainer with the amount of work he was doing to get his side over the line.
Farina has cleaned out several parts of his squad. The Griffiths brothers, Adam and Joel, have moved on to newer pastures, along with the likes of midfield enforcer Paul Reid and striker Kruno Lovrek to name a few.
The additions that have been made by one of the A-League’s glamour clubs have been impressive and may yet provide the Cove with hope that a third A-League crown is heading to the harbour city.
Former Central Coast Mariners’ right back and championship winner Pedj Bojic has bolstered the wider defensive options. Another former Mariner in 21-year old Marc Warren has also signed on to wipe out the cobwebs of the vacant left back role.
Farina has also solidified the centre of the defensive line, which leaked the most goals out of any team in the last term. Matt Jurman rejoins the club from the Brisbane Roar, where he tasted success winning a championship. Also with Pascal Bosschardt returning from a long term injury, it will be like a brand new signing in itself.
Serbian monster Nikola Petkovic was the last addition to the Sydney FC squad for the upcoming campaign, loaned out from Serbian powerhouse Red Star Belgrade and will add a wealth of experience down back.
With Seb Ryall being one of the shining lights in a rollercoaster campaign last year, his experience will only help him to form better combinations with either Bosschardt or Jurman, whoever Farina opts for.
Attacking midfielder Nick Carle has returned from a loan stint in the UAE and will look to ease the work load and more importantly the pressure cooker situation that Del Piero found himself in all too often. His ability to dart between defenders as well as his slick ball movement will encourage Farina’s endeavours to play a more expansive and attractive of football, week in and week out at the Allianz Stadium.
Farina has also added some handy additions to his strikeforce. Corey Gamiero is undoubtedly talented and has the ability to be a regular match winner for any side that he plays for. Consistency will be the key for him, however a freak accident during a Fox Sports photo shoot for the A-League will keep him sidelined for the first six weeks with a knee injury.
To complement the youthfulness of a Gamiero is the addition of winger and Socceroo Richard Garcia from the Melbourne Heart. Sydney FC having been crying out for someone like that in more recent times and to finally add someone of the calibre will only assist the young players in attack such as Blake Powell and Joel Chianese in their respective developments.
An encouraging six-match tour of Del Piero’s homeland showed that there could be positive signs ahead.
Yet their fortunes on their return haven’t been so fruitful with some heavy defeats to the Glory and the Roar in the last few weeks which have shown some remnants of the last campaign.
Preseason however is a chance for clubs to try out combinations, tactics, formations and give the younger players the chance to prove their worth. That is about as much as you and I should read into it.
On paper, this squad has the potential to contend with the likes of the Victory, Roar, Mariners and Wanderers for both pieces of silverware on offer.
It is up to Farina and new assistant Rado Vidosic to convert paper into reality
Should the potential be fulfilled and this conversion be successful, then the Cove voice may be reverberating well and truly down Sydney Harbour and into the channel of the Parramatta River by season’s end.