‘He wasn’t criticised by me’: Corica praises redeemed Retre
Sydney FC coach Steve Corica says he is not surprised by the star turn of recently re-signed Paulo Retre following his match-winning brace against Adelaide United.
Revelling in his preferred midfield role, Retre doubled his all-time Hyundai A-League goals tally with strikes in the 20th and 26th minutes at Nestrata Jubilee Stadium to secure the league-leaders their ninth consecutive win of the campaign
With a raft of first-choice players – including Milos Ninkovic, Rhyan Grant, Michael Zullo and Brandon O’Neill – all absent from the starting line-up, Corica praised the contributions of Retre, who earlier this week penned a two-year contract extension.
“Fantastic, I thought he was,” Corica said.
“Obviously coming up with two goals was outstanding but he is really enjoying playing as a 'six' and having a good run at ‘number six’.
“That’s his position. That’s where he wants to play. He’s filled in for us many times at right back and as a ‘number ten’ as well, but you can see his quality.
“Obviously the finishes were very good today and very important for us.”
Retre’s crucial double against the Reds restored his reputation with the Sky Blues supporter base after his error directly led to the only goal against derby rivals Western Sydney Wanderers in October – that defeat marking the last time Sydney have dropped points in this season’s Championship defence.
However, Corica strongly denied he ever questioned the qualities of the Melbourne-born former Young Socceroo.
“He wasn’t criticised by me,” Corica said of Retre’s error against Wanderers.
He added: “I said that day everyone makes mistakes. He made one mistake, it cost us a goal and it doesn’t matter. We’ve moved on from that.”
“I think he has been very good the whole season. Obviously, he has another contract – a two year contract – and I’m very pleased with the way he is going.”
“He is enjoying his football and playing very well.”
Despite being generally pleased with his side’s showing, Corica acknowledged disappointment in conceding a goal from a set-piece for the second match in a row as the Reds found a first-half lifeline through Riley McGree.
“Two in two weeks is a problem. It’s something we need to look at and we need to make sure it doesn’t happen again next week,” he said.
“It’s not great when you concede off set-pieces because I thought, other than that, we looked very strong defensively and it is disappointing.
“There is obviously still stuff we can work on and get better and that’s the plan. We don’t want to stand still. We want to improve and that is part of it."
Going into the match without the talismanic Ninkovic, who was sidelined with a calf injury, Corica said he anticipates the Serbian will not be sidelined for long.
“It’s pleasing to win without Ninko but he is still a very important member of our squad and hopefully he will be back next week.”
While Corica’s side thrives in the depth of options available to their squad, Reds coach Gertjan Verbeek said despite his side’s strong showing he lacks the resources to chase down the Hyundai A-League’s top team.
“The difference? Money. They have better players,” Verbeek said.
However, the Dutchman said he will not be dipping into the January transfer window to strengthen his squad and suggested the margin between the two sides is not as last large as the 16 points that separate them on the table.
“I think the gap is not so big. I think we had our chances also today, even if they have individual better players,” he explained.
“Our team effort was very good. Physically it was okay until the end of the game and we believed in at least a point.
“I think we showed two times – in the home game and again now – we are a tough opponent for Sydney.”
Newcastle Jets v Sydney FC
Friday, 10 January 2020
McDonald Jones Stadium
Kick off: 7.30pm AEDT