A LEAGUE ANALYSIS

Sorry Sydney's sad decline

January 3, 2009
By Jason Dasey
(Archive)

Going into the match at the former home of Sir Donald Bradman, coach John Kosmina joked about his team throwing down some spinners and googlies. But a rare A-League game at the Adelaide Oval turned out to be no laughing matter for struggling Sydney FC.

GettyImagesBloodied and cleaved: Sydney's Beau Busch wears the scars of tough season

A disastrous defeat - their fourth straight in the Hyundai A-League - to table-topping Adelaide United ended the finals' hopes of the one-time glamour club and saw them sink to an all-low.

A change of ownership in March can't come soon enough for the inaugural A-League champions; Coach Kosmina will almost certainly be shown the door and star striker John Aloisi could join him.

Aloisi, who missed the Adelaide game through injury, has become a tragic figure of Shakespearean proportions.

Barely three years after converting the penalty that sent Australia through to the 2006 World Cup, the inspirational icon has become a millionaire marquee muppet, booed by his own fans.

Fellow new recruits Mark Bridge - disappointingly benign up front - and Stuart Musialik haven't done much better. Another man to have worn Australia's colours, Simon Colosimo has missed most of the season through injury.

Tony Popovic's body finally gave way mid-season and fellow national teammate Steve Corica - taking over the captain's armband - also seems to be on his last legs as a professional player.

Sydney have some outstanding juniors coming through but the club - both in a playing sense and off-the-field - are in desperate need of inspiration and direction.

Ever since Dwight Yorke was allowed to head back to England after energising the side in their championship winning first season, Sydney FC have been going backwards.

Indeed, seeing Sydney FC's declining crowds and failure to captivate a notoriously-fickle sporting city, a new western Sydney franchise - likely to enter the competition in 2010 - would fancy their chances of succeeding where the light blues have miserably failed.

Kosmina, Aloisi and defender Iain Fyfe - all born in the South Australian capital - might be secretly admiring the contrasting success story of their hometown club.

Of course, Fyfe will be joining Adelaide United next season, Kosmina is their former head coach and don't be surprised if Aloisi turns up on the books of the Reds down the track if he's cut loose from Sydney FC.

GettyImagesAdelaide's Alemao drops to his knees in celebration in the game against Sydney

'Less is more' could well be the motto for economical Adelaide: they're everything that wasteful Sydney aren't: cohesive, resourceful and successful.

Making the AFC Champions League final and winning two games out of three at last month's FIFA World Club Cup in Japan was a magnificent achievement under the outstanding Aurelio Vidmar, a one-time assistant to Kosmina.

And with an average age of just 24, things will only get better for the Reds if they can hold onto the nucleus of their squad.

Their performance against Sydney in front of a bumper crowd of 23,002 was a long way from their best but smart and clinical Adelaide - perhaps mindful of their seven games in 31 days - still did enough to win comfortably.

Just like 'The Don' more than half a century ago in Adelaide, the Reds are the best in the land and have the runs on the board.

• Australian-born Jason Dasey (www.jasondasey.com) is an international broadcaster and corporate host. He covered the 2006 World Cup and 2007 Asian Cup for ESPN.