Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold spoke to the media this morning, responding to the contract situation on Janko, the team's chances of winning the Premier's Plate and Bernie Ibini's contractual status at his Sven Goran Eriksson-coached Chinese club.
What’s the latest on Marc Janko’s future?
“Marc’s performed exceptionally well and he’s very happy here in Sydney.
“Sydney’s got a budget like all clubs do and we’re very hopeful Marc will accept the deal that’s put forward to him and we move forward for another year.
“I’ve made it clear to Marc that, in my terms anyway, I really want him to stay. He’s fit perfectly into the group. It’s down to Marc and his fiancé to decide what their future is.”
You have a number of players off-contract at the end of the season. Can you keep them all?
“It’s what we can provide them at Sydney FC that’s what will attract them to stay here. It’s a club that’s been the biggest in the country but is also moving forward very well.
“We give them extra things that other clubs can’t give them. With the physios, full-time masseur, the gymnasium. The facilities are fantastic.
“We’ve got a chef that cooks them breakfast and lunch every day and we give them all the one percenters that other clubs don’t give.
“If players are going to accept $15,000 or $20,000 more to go to another club where they don’t get that…well then that’s their decision.
“But we’re confident that the players know what we provide and they want to be at the biggest club so we’re confident they will stay.”
What about Bernie Ibini?
“He’s still owned by the club in China. Fortunately the coach there [Sven Goran Erikssen], I’ve met him quite a few times and they’ve already got their quota of foreigners.
“Bernie’s probably excess to their requirements so we’re hoping we can come to a quick settlement. We know Bernie’s very happy here, his family’s here and we know he wants to stay at Sydney FC.
“It’s just a matter of getting in contact again with them and see if we can work things out.”
You must be happy with Ibini’s form of late?
“Bernie’s been fantastic the whole year. He does so much work in a game that a lot of it goes unnoticed defensively.
“In attack he’s getting better and better. He’s come along exceptionally well this year. His game has gone to another level and the aim is to take it to one more level above that.”
Can you still win the Premiers’ Plate?
“Of course. I think [Melbourne Victory] have one hand on the plate but the other hand is the one with all the pressure.
“To get two hands on the plate and take it, it’s something you’re desperate to keep when you have it in your control. Pressure does funny things to teams and players.
“All we can do is worry about ourselves and make sure our performances are good and achieve our goals.
“I’m very proud of this group of players because we’ve had a tough year in terms of a bad six weeks where we lost four players with long-term injuries and we had to get through that period before we could rebuild the team again in January.
“We’ve had to rebuild nearly totally to get where we are today. The fact that we are where we are and knocking on the door is great testament to what the payers have done.”
There’s a seven-goal difference between you and Victory, can you try and make that up?
“We’re just looking at what we want to do and that’s create history. I gave them [the players] three goals in terms of points, goals for and goals against in clean-sheets.
“Where we then end up is in our hands. If we can achieve our goals we’ll be thereabouts. One of our main goals at the start of the season was to qualify for the Asian Champions League.
What did you make of the Jets’ win over Victory last week?
“[Jets coach] Phil Stubbins has had a tough year but it’s good to see the owner backing him 100 percent and is giving him time.
“What you can see is there’s a lot more fight in that team and there’s a lot more structure. Sometimes when you’re in that position on the table it’s better to play away from home because the pressure is removed.
“[Friday night] they are at home and they haven’t had too many good results at home and we need to make sure that we’re up for one of the toughest games of the season.”
What’s the latest on Mickael Taveres’ fitness?
“He trained fully [on Wednesday}. We’ll see how he’s pulled up [on Thursday] and he’ll do the tactical session and we’ll make a final judgement on him.
“Rhyan Grant last week was fantastic in that role next too Milos [Dimitrijevic]. The good thing is we’ve got depth. Shane Smeltz is back from suspension, Mickael is probably 90 percent ready to go, so we’ve almost got all hands on deck which is a good place to be.
“If you’ve seen the way the boys have trained this week and the last few weeks, I believe we’ve taken our game to another level. The performances have really shown that.“The players are really mentally fresh for this time of the season and they are looking forward to the business end of the season.”