Graham Arnold says he’s “enjoying the challenge” of trying to dig Sydney FC out of their current hole after they equalled a club-record winless streak against Adelaide United on Saturday night.
A lacklustre Sky Blues were beaten 2-0 at Allianz Stadium, managing only one shot on target in a performance of few positives.
With Melbourne Victory beating Wellington earlier in the day, Sydney’s finals hopes were already extinguished and the poor display only added to the gloom amongst the supporters.
But despite now going 11 games without a win and missing out on the top six just 11 months after making a grand final, Arnold is embracing the club’s predicament.
“I’m enjoying the challenge because I haven’t been through this before. This is the first time I’ve been through this type of thing,” the Sky Blues boss said.
“I’ve had three grand finals in four. Out of five years I finished top two four times, so this is a challenge for me and I am enjoying it.
“I’m allowed to enjoy life still and enjoy my job, even if it's tough times. What I’m enjoying is seeing how different characters react to different situations.
“When everything is going well, everyone’s happy. You probably don’t see the true characters. But when you’re having tough times you can see the real characters.”
Arnold made eight changes to his starting side from last week for the clash with the Reds, handing debuts to Alex Mullen and Riley Woodcock.
But it did little to reinvigorate their performance, with Bruce Djite scoring twice in the first half to put the contest to bed before the break.
And the home fans weren’t impressed with what they saw, booing the team off at full-time.
The Sky Blues now have to pick themselves up for a crucial AFC Champions League clash on Tuesday night against Pohang Steelers.
“We still have a lot to play for this year. We’re trying to deliver something to Sydney FC they have never had in their history and that’s getting to the last 16 in Asia,” he said.
“When the Asian Champions league started seven weeks ago, we were in fifth spot [in the A-League] and about four points off the lead.
“It has had an effect. But we’ve still got so much to fight for and so much to play for.
“It’s important we finish this season off well for the fans. We want to make the fans happy, there’s nothing I want more than that.”
Arnold said he hoped five players – Seb Ryall, Rhyan Grant, Matt Simon, David Carney and Matt Jurman – would all be right to play on Tuesday after missing the Reds defeat with niggling injuries.