Before the game against Wellington Pheonix, everyone was talking about Sydney FC hadn’t changed and are still the brutally consistent team they were for the past two years.
They knew that this was the time where they could really get their season going, and maybe even go top of the table. But then Sydney FC’s defence got broken apart.
Not once, not twice but three times when Jop Van Der Linden’s marking cost Sydney conceding. Michael Zullo was doing his best to cover, but he was already narrow enough and he must have thought that if he went any narrower than that would have opened up tons of space for Wellington to attack down.
He was in two minds, but if Van Der Linden hadn’t been dragged to the ball and had been marking his man, it could have been a very different game.
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What has happened to Sydney FC?
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Sydney FC hasn’t got that much worse, it’s just that a lot of league teams have gotten better.
There are no less than six A-league teams that can contest the championship this season, and at the moment pretty much every game in the has A-league is close and contested (excluding three or four games).
So even though Sydney did lose three key players, they haven’t actually gotten a lot worse. One example is last year. Central Coast were almost always beaten, and their squad was nowhere near up to scratch, with Daniel De Silva being the only standout player.
This year, they have a way better squad, having gotten a new captain in Matt Simon, and also have captured Kalifa Cissé on a one-year deal, Tommy Oar on a two-year deal and Ross McCormack on a one-year loan. Yet they still remain around the same spot in the league.
Bruno Fornaroli of City clashes with Kalifa Cisse of the Mariners during the round 2 A-League match between the Central Coast Mariners and Melbourne City at Central Coast Stadium in Gosford, Saturday, October 27, 2018. (AAP Image/Darren Pateman)
It this just plain bad luck, the players underperforming, injuries or the A-league’s standard getting higher? It’s because of the A-league’s standard getting higher, but injuries haven’t exactly helped the Mariners, with Tommy Oar being injured and same with Ross McCormack, and they are two key players on the Mariners side.
Even though it hasn’t been far through the season, the fact that the table is so close (excluding Central Coast Mariners) shows how close the standard of teams are this year, which means it could be a very exciting season.
Last season, Sydney FC won by 14 points, which is a lot, especially considering that there were only 27 matches.
A thing that argues against my theory is that there were 14 points between top and bottom at this time last season, and this season 15 points separate bottom and top, so I could be wrong there.
However, you have to keep in mind that Brisbane (second lowest this season) are on 6 points and Mariners (last) are on two points, so if you were to do it from second last, then only eleven points separate them. Also, Newcastle Jets, Wanderers and Wellington Pheonix are all on eight points, and Sydney FC and Adelaide are tied on eleven points.
Overall, it is true that Sydney FC might not be up to the standard that they were last season, but they could be better than everyone believes.