Sebastian Ryall admits the influence of coach Frank Farina can't be understated in Sydney FC's impressive mid-season revival.
Defender Sebastian Ryall admits the influence of coach Frank Farina can't be understated in Sydney's impressive mid-season revival, saying he's instilled the belief to turn their season around.
Farina was brought in two months ago to save the Sky Blues season after they hit rock bottom, losing six of their first eight games under coach Ian Crook and then caretaker boss Steve Corica.
But it's been a steady improvement ever since, with Sydney tasting defeat just three times in their last nine games to surge back into finals contention.
The former Socceroos boss instantly introduced extra training sessions to increase the side's fitness and their performances have improved as a result, as evidenced by Saturday night's 7-1 demolition of Wellington.
"It's a totally different mentality since he's (Farina's) come in," Ryall told reporters on Tuesday.
"Sometimes you can't help a bad pass but there's other things you can control in a game.
"You can always work hard, you can always run, chase down and tackle and that's something we've really applied in our game.
"We're a much fitter team now as well, we've been working really hard and I think it's starting to show.
"I've really enjoyed working with him as a coach and I've got a lot of respect for him to come in and turn it around.
"We were really struggling without a coach and things didn't look bright. You just look at training today and all the boys are happy and are working hard for him.
"Things really seem like they've turned for the better at the moment."
Ryall said Farina's trust in the players had also made a big difference in their revival but the experienced has also been quick to remind the players they've achieved nothing yet.
"You draw confidence from coach's when they give you praise and he's been really happy with us the last few weeks," the 23-year-old said of Farina's message to the squad.
"In saying that he's very much on our back not to slip up and just because we won 7-1 it isn't any different to a 1-0 win, it's still three points.
"If we lose this weekend then a lot of that work will go out the window so we're very focused and definitely up for the match this weekend."
And the Sky Blues will need to be at their best if they are to continue their recent resurgence against the in-form Melbourne Victory.
While Sydney's defence was hardly tested in the Phoenix rout, Ryall knows they will have their hands full on Saturday night trying to stop Marco Rojas and Archie Thompson.
"They're great players and we're going to be wary of them," he said of Victory's dynamic duo.
"But it's not just stopping those two players, it's a team effort. We're not going to pinpoint those two as a way to stop them.
"We're just looking at ourselves ... we've spoken about consistency and it really hasn't been there for us so this is a great opportunity."
Meanwhile, Sky Blues star Alessandro Del Piero has revealed he is teaming with American actor Patrick Dempsey to head-up a new motor racing team.
Dempsey/Del Piero Racing will compete in the annual Le Mans 24-hour endurance race in June as well as America's Le Mans Series, which begins in March.
"I have had a passion for motorsport since I was a young boy growing up in Italy," Del Piero said in a statement on his website.
"I am thrilled at the opportunity to team with Patrick. We expect to compete at a very high level and our central focus will be on winning world championships."