Local knowledge a must for Sydney FC
Sydney FC shouldn't think about pleasing Alessandro Del Piero when they sign their new coach, they simply need the best man for the job.
Frustration doesn't begin to describe the on-field body language of Alessandro del Piero as he struggles to come to terms with what's happening at Sydney FC. Exasperation more like it. There's also an undercurrent of anger.
Del Piero isn't used to losing. Like all great players, he barely tolerates it. In his last season at Juventus, he didn't lose a single game. In his 19 seasons with the 'bianconeri', he 'won' eight Serie A championships (two were subsequently removed as a result of the 'Calciopoli' match-fixing scandal), one Coppa Italia and one UEFA Champions League.
When Juventus were relegated in 2006 for the first and only time in their history because of 'Calciopoli', del Piero could have jumped ship, like a lot of his teammates. Instead he banged in 21 goals as Juventus immediately bounced back to the top flight as champions. With his national team, del Piero is a world champion and a European runner-up. Further evidence, if we needed any, that he's a winner in the purest form.
So after six losses in the first eight rounds of the Hyundai A-League season, we shouldn't be surprised that he's seemingly finding it hard to cope. It's how he copes, and what happens next, which will tell us whether this brave experiment is going to meet the expectations of everyone concerned. Fingers crossed.
Right now, Sydney FC are closing in on a decision about who will be their next coach. Hopefully they'll have someone in place before the next game against Melbourne Heart. They need to.
The first question is whether to go local, or overseas. The second one is how much thinking around the appointment should be based on trying to please 'ADP'. Tempting as it is, that shouldn't be a consideration.
Wherever del Piero chose to go after Juventus (and let's remember he had offers from Brazil, China, Qatar, UAE and the USA aside from elsewhere in Europe) was always going to require a period of adjustment on his part.
When you spend your entire career in one place, especially your own country, the next step is destined to be a challenge.
Off the field, there's the lifestyle change. On the field there's the conditions, the coaching, the tactics. Is the onus on the club, and the team, to make allowances for the arriving star, or the other way around?
The facts are obvious. Football in Australia is not at the same level as football in Italy. Nor are the players, generally, as good as those in the Serie A. None of this should be new to del Piero. His difficulty is that the adjustment period has been exacerbated by coming into a struggling team. Ian Crook's decision to resign has further complicated matters.
That del Piero's own performances have been of such high quality despite the turmoil around him is a tribute to his professionalism. His balancing act is to maintain those standards and motivate teammates of lesser ability to aspire to the same level while maintaining his own composure.
That's not easy for someone who has spent a lifetime surrounded by excellence. But it is what it is. And as the Sky Blues marquee player, and the best-paid player in the competition, creating that environment remains a significant part of his challenge.
Sydney's decision about their next coach, therefore, shouldn't be about trying to get even more out of del Piero. 'ADP' has already demonstrated he doesn't need motivating.
What is important if the Sky Blues are to salvage their season is to get more from the players around him. That's why a local coach, with an intimate knowledge of the Hyundai A-League, and at least a working knowledge of the squad, makes sense.
The views expressed in this article are purely those of the author and do not reflect those of FFA or the Hyundai A-League.