Tonight was an absolutely shambolic display from Sydney FC. Ain\’t no doubt about it. It\’s arguably the worst performance the club has produced in the A-League since the 2015 Grand Final.
In lieu of doing my normal format of recapping events, I\’m going to go straight into what we learnt from that terrible performance and what I think is going wrong.
1) Jop is a flop
I\’m a big fan of ball playing central defenders, they\’re a massive part of modern football, and the role was integral to the successes over the last 2 years.
Jop has been a consistent liability to the team, and was at fault for all three goals conceded. Inability to communicate with Zullo and and his goalkeeper were why the first two goals were conceded. He gets so far out of the position Zullo is forced to cover, and then there\’s an acre of room for opposition players.
The third goal also sums up another of his shortcomings – inability to read play or win headers. A centrehalf should not turn to jello when faced with a header – nor should he be caught that far out of position. What makes it worse is he doesn\’t communicate with Redmayne, who is left in a grey zone of whether or not his central defender is going to sweep up the ball or not. All three goals easily preventable.
If he\’s kept on for his ball playing abilities, he\’s failing there too. He lacks confidence on the ball or passing range – which is integral to playing in that sort of role.
I think there\’s no way Aaron Calver could do worse than van der Linden. Up against a very good centre forward in Riera, I have no confidence in him to deal with the aerial threat considering how poor he\’s been in his opening 7 games.
Calver in all honesty must be wondering what he\’d need to do to get that starting spot.
2) There is no hook
Our midfield and attack have no hook in the current formation and tactics. A 4-4-2 is a dated formation, it\’s old news for players and managers. In the current formation, Ninkovic is completely wasted out on the wing. He needs to be central, or else there\’s almost no point having him start.
O\’Neill and Brilliante made many individual mistakes and fumbled around on the ball, I\’d wager neither of them made 60% passing accuracy.
Their decision making has been very off this season – constantly losing out on 50/50s, losing the ball easily in possession.
3) Too… slow… everywhere
From the back four, to the midfield, and attack – they are too slow. Both on the ball, off the ball, but particularly when defending. You don\’t need to be Usain Bolt over 100m to play football but you need to be a bit faster than pedestrian. Jop and Wilkinson are slow players – which is fine – but when you\’re a slow player partnering another slow player it is a recipe for disaster.
Zullo struggled in the FFA Cup against pacy NPL wingers, which is a danger sign in itself – but since the league season has started has struggled to make any impact on the left flank. He was very poor against Mariners last week, and was poor again tonight. Gets forward – cannot track back.
Up front there is very slow decision making. Constantly making the wrong pass or deciding to recycle the ball back to Redmayne. There were several times that Sydney could and should have had goal scoring opportunities but were just too slow, allowing Nix to get their full compliment of players back to defend.
4) The formation needs to be changed
At the moment, the 4-4-2 looks shocking and is a serious step back in style from the previously adequate and successful 4-2-3-1. I\’m sincerely hoping this is the wake up call Corica needed to make him switch formation. Highly ineffective, and teams know how to combat it.
5) The only positive
Siem de Jong. He seemed to make a difference when he came on, allowing us to try something new. Very encouraging 45 from the Dutchman. Must start next week.
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A truly shocking performance from the Sky Blues. I can\’t remember anything quite as bad as that since 2015/16. Next week they must do better. If they cannot get fired up and improve for a derby, there will be serious questions over Corica\’s position. I\’m giving him the benefit of the doubt for a long time, but in January he needs to bolster this team.
Jop needs to be dropped next week, and Brilliante should spend some time on the bench.
Final score: Wellington Phoenix (3) def. Sydney FC (1)
MOTM: Siem de Jong