Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold admits his injury-hit side’s confidence is rattled but has urged them to “man-up and move on” to try and save their season from slipping away.
The Sky Blues slumped to their third consecutive home defeat on Boxing Day, losing 3-0 to a clinical Adelaide United at Allianz Stadium.
After going the first eight games unbeaten, Sydney have picked up just one point in the last four matches to be losing track with the top sides and are in danger falling closer to the log-jam around the end of the top six.
So used to success during his time with Central Coast Mariners, Arnold admitted he faces a huge task to help bring his confidence-sapped side out of their slump.
“It’s a new position for me to be in personally but obviously I really look forward to the challenge ahead,” the Sky Blues said.
“We’ve done a lot of work off the field to build a culture at this club and we have to move on with it on the field.
“Everyone knows we’re done on bodies but you can’t use that as an excuse. That team we had out there tonight was the team I put out against Melbourne Victory and performed so well.
“We’ve got to man up and move on.”
The Sky Blues probably shaded the first half but were unable to create any genuine scoring chances, before Adelaide’s class shone through after the break.
Bruce Djite scored a fortunate opener before substitutes Pablo Sanchez and Awer Mabil made it safe inside the last 10 minutes.
But Arnold felt a few key decisions from referee Jared Gillett went against his side.
Reds defender Tarek Elrich was perhaps fortunate to escape with only a yellow card for a foul on Marc Janko 10 minutes before the break, despite being the last man.
“And someone told me that two of their goals were offside as well,” Arnold lamented.
“Referees are controlling who wins games at the moment…it’s not just us but it’s over the whole league.
“But I thought Janko was through one-on-one with the keeper and Elrich was the last defender.”
Marquee man Janko was forced off early in the second half with a quad strain, with Arnold admitting he didn’t want to take any risks with the Austrian with another two games over the next week before a break for the Asian Cup.
“We’ve had a very good start to season and juts fell away the last few weeks,” he said.
“We need to be more consistent. We’ve got two games and we’ve got to try and pick up as much as we can and then hopefully pick up some new players (in January).
The Sky Blues travel to Brisbane Roar next to face the champions on Tuesday night.