Sydney FC thread

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General Giant

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But of an interesting read on how we almost became a Sydney City.




Sydney FC chairman Scott Barlow knows a thing or two about the value of assets and hungry markets.

The property developer made his money capitalising on the city's large appetite for real estate. In 2013, just as he was about to put a Point Piper penthouse up for sale, a group approached Barlow to buy another of his family's assets. The group was perhaps the wealthiest bidder he had ever dealt with and could have let him name his price. However, Barlow had no interest in selling Sydney FC to the City Football Group.

"We weren’t interested," Barlow said. "We were a hundred per cent committed to the club and the strategy we had begun implementing at the time, and we are very proud of what we have achieved since then."

Had he cashed in, the Sydney FC he helped build would no longer exist. The club would have been rebranded "Sydney City", and not in honour of the former National Soccer League club.

The Sky Blues would have fallen in line with Manchester City and its satellite clubs around the world that form the franchise network of City Football Group. The badge would have changed, the kit would have become a replica of the EPL club, and Milos Ninkovic, Graham Arnold and Steve Corica would almost certainly never have had careers in Sydney.

That much is evident from the fate of Melbourne Heart. After missing out on their first A-League target, CFG set its sights on the second team from Melbourne. In the shadows of Melbourne Victory, Heart were ripe for the picking, needing a boost in revenue and profile. CFG offered just that, promising to transform the club after purchasing it for $11.5 million in 2014.

The changes began immediately. They were rebranded Melbourne City. Heart's red and white strip - a homage to the flag of Melbourne - was relegated to an away kit, eventually becoming a third strip, while their home uniform is now a replica of Manchester City's jersey.

City have never had a local coach, are yet to have a player make more than 80 league appearances for the rebranded club and are still searching for a first A-League trophy.

If fans vote with their feet, then it seems they're yet to be won over by the new identity. Attendances remain more than 15 per cent lower than in Heart's final season. As the late journalist Mike Cockerill wrote in December 2015; "wearing a replica Manchester City strip presents them as a feeder club – no more, no less".

According to Sydney FC sources, that was always their fear.

The Abu Dhabi-owned consortium seemed more interested in plucking the best talent out of Australia rather than bringing it to our shores. While its New York franchise began life with Andrea Pirlo, David Villa and Frank Lampard in 2015, Melbourne City were treated to just a four-game guest stint from Villa in their opening season.

Aside from a season of Tim Cahill, City have focused more on developing young talent than winning titles and have saved the core of their investment for their training facility. There's a place for a development club - especially one that's helped the careers of Aaron Mooy and Daniel Arzani - but it goes against the ethos of Sydney FC.

At the time of the approach, Sydney's attack was led by Italian superstar Alessandro Del Piero. Previously, Brazilian international Juninho and former Manchester United striker Dwight Yorke had led the line. A penchant for high-profile stars gave the club the moniker "Bling FC" - a tagline befitting the city's perceived affluence and arrogance.

It was a culture Sydney FC worked to live up to, believing the social pages were just as valuable as the back pages. They sought to be the biggest football brand in the country, not one pegged to an emerging giant in England.

When CFG came calling in 2013, Sydney FC were trying to replace the "bling" with silverware. Since then, they've won six trophies. On Sunday, they could have a seventh at the expense of the club they nearly became.

As Barlow has learnt from real estate, everything has a price - but $20 million wouldn't have been enough to give up the Sydney FC brand.
 

General Giant

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In recent years only two things have remained consistent at the top of the A-League: inconsistency and Sydney FC.
Perth Glory, the 2018-19 premiers, finished this campaign below halfway on the ladder. The 2017-18 grand finalists, Melbourne Victory and Newcastle Jets, both missed this year’s playoffs. Only two clubs are still led by the coach fiddling with magnet boards as recently as round 21 last season, and one of those, Tony Popovic, is reportedly on his way to Greece.
Amidst all this chaos Sydney FC have remained an oasis of calm. In the past six seasons they have only finished below second on the ladder once. On Sunday they are gunning for their third championship in four seasons. They have cracked the code.

There is nothing flash behind this run of success, only more consistency. David Traktovenko has quietly bankrolled the club for years, keeping his profile low and wallet open. Back in 2015 Mike Cockerill described the Russian as “the best owner in the A-League”.

Responsibility for delivering on Traktovenko’s investment over the past three years has been Danny Townsend’s, the model football executive – a figure steeped in the game but with a track-record of success outside it. Townsend’s primary task on inheriting his role was avoiding breaking what predecessor Tony Pignata had fixed. The inability of Sydney’s rivals to manage change shows just how difficult a task that can be in the A-League environment.
Maintaining the status quo was easier with a surfeit of Sky Blue stalwarts in key roles, from football director Terry McFlynn to then assistant coach Steve Corica, both inaugural inductees into the Sydney FC Hall of Fame. There was enough organic culture at the club to run a yoghurt factory.
That meant that when Graham Arnold, the architect of the club’s recent on-field success, ascended to the Socceroos, the decision over who should replace him was in safe hands. “We are looking for someone who will fit into the club’s culture and football philosophy, and who will build on the excellent foundations we have put in place over the last few years,” Townsend said at the time. Corica has done exactly that.

The lure of a high-profile overseas coach must have been strong, but Sydney were a well-oiled machine that required maintaining, not redesigning. “We’ll keep things going in the same direction, but under my charge,” announced Corica at his unveiling.
This may sound simple and straightforward, but the catalogue of A-League failures suggests otherwise. It is too often a competition of short-term cycles of boom and bust with one coach after another bringing in a new philosophy, rendering rosters obsolete and leading to months or years of costly realignment. Not only did Sydney dodge that bullet, they set a template other clubs are now following – albeit in cases perhaps owing as much to Covid-influenced necessity as Sydney’s industry-leading example.


Sydney’s clarity of purpose from top down is reflected in the most remarkably consistent period of list management in the competition’s history. No side has recruited more efficiently since the start of the 2016-17 preseason transfer window that saw the signings of Alex Wilkinson, Michael Zullo, Josh Brillante, Danny Vukovic and Bobô. Sydney have nailed their visa spots – bringing in the likes of Adam le Fondre and Adrian Mierzejewski – turned Andrew Redmayne and Paolo Retre’s potential into performances, and, most crucially, invested in players that have committed to the club for multiple years, allowing for sober long-term succession planning and less involvement in the biannual mutual termination circus.
Unsurprisingly, this clear thinking extends to the pitch. There has been nothing funky about Sydney FC for years: the goalkeeper is first and foremost a shot-stopper, the defenders defend, the midfielders circulate the ball, the forwards create and the No9 scores goals. There is some devilment in the detail, ranging from the visionary brilliance of Miloš Ninković, to the one-touch interplay in the final third, but at its core lies simplicity.

Despite this serene progress from one season to the next, the Sydney machine may finally have its first weakness in years. The base of midfield has not looked as assured since Brandon O’Neill was released in January to further his career in Korea. Neither of the men selected to replace him as Luke Brattan’s partner, be it Retre or Anthony Caceres, have the same ability to screen the back four and busily link defence and attack. When Perth grabbed hold of the second half of their semi-final it was a product of Juande pushing up alongside Neil Kilkenny and the two veterans bossing the centre of the park virtually unopposed.
But this minor flaw is unlikely to lead to widespread panic, that’s not the Sydney way. Their approach has been tried and tested over a number of seasons and in the face of all challenges remained consistent. Their rivals have a simple lesson to learn.
 

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DeadlyAkkuret

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Well mate it might just be you and I here but there’s thousands of us around the world who are absolutely thrilled right now. That finish was unforgettable, and the deniers can please themselves for all I care.

Sydney are the best in the country. That can no longer be disputed.

Watching all the videos now is awesome


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

General Giant

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Apr 12, 2012
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Well mate it might just be you and I here but there’s thousands of us around the world who are absolutely thrilled right now. That finish was unforgettable, and the deniers can please themselves for all I care.

Sydney are the best in the country. That can no longer be disputed.

Watching all the videos now is awesome


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Greatest football club in the history of Australian Football.

They can b*tch, moan, talk about yellows for celebrating (ffs) but it doesn’t change anything.

Now to order my champions can cooler
 

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