What Sydney FC need to change for next season

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With the curtains now drawn on a largely underwhelming 2021/22 A-League Men campaign for Sydney FC, it is time to look at how the club can bounce back next season.

For the first time since 2016 and for just the fifth time in their history, the four-time championship winners failed to qualify for the finals.

Instead of competing for the championship like the previous season, a fatigued Sky Blues outfit bowed out of the competition by suffering heavy 4-1 and 3-1 defeats to Melbourne Victory and Brisbane Roar respectively.

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The disappointing end to the club’s season, which was marred by a jam-packed fixture resulting from Omicron and their FFA Cup and AFC Champions League campaigns, left the Sky Blues to finish a staggering eight points outside of the top six.

Collecting just eight wins, seven draws and 11 losses, it was the equal worst finish in their history.

So the question is, what do the Sydneysiders have to do differently next season to get back on the winner’s list?

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Perhaps the most surprising thing about Sydney’s season was that, aside from the final two games, they never once looked completely out of a contest, having lost by more than a two-goal margin on just one other occasion in round 21.

In fact, even in some eventual losses they still looked the better team, indicating that the calibre of players on their roster was more than enough to get the job done on the day.

However, this group of players let themselves down by poor finishing on far too many occasions, namely upon losing to Adelaide United in the final minute despite their five major chances and 16 attempts on goal, which largely contributed to their poor finish on the table.

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Spearheaded by veterans such as Milos Ninkovic and Adam Le Fondre, as well as midfielders Anthony Caceres and Paulo Retre, who are both on the cusp of their 30s, the Sky Blues’ next season will usher in a new era for the club, following the mass exodus of 12 players.

Upon the announcement of the departures, head coach Steve Corica indicated the need to “freshen up the squad” ahead of next season, and has evidently already made room on the roster to do so.

As such, Sydney’s upcoming squad rebuild must rely on the recruitment of young and exciting players, with their pace and energy being used to compliment the invaluable experience of the countless veteran players still in the squad.

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The previous season already unearthed one young star for the Sky Blues, Patrick Yazbek, as the exciting 20-year-old became a regular starter and strong contributor to the Sydney midfield, following his round five debut which was dubbed “outstanding” by Corica.

Filling the attacking void left by the recently departed Bobo, Kosta Barbarouses and Trent Buhagiar with similar young talent will be key to Sydney’s success next season.

However, the daunting task of recruiting players who both fit this description and can help overturn Sydney’s poor execution in front of goal this season, now rests completely in Corica’s hands.

Feature Image Credit: Jaime Castaneda

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Jimmy Alexander
Covering Sydney FC for the 2021/22 A-League season. Studying a Bachelor of Sports Media (Journalism) at Charles Sturt University.

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