Sydney can do what many thought they couldn't

by Sebastian Hassett on Oct 25, 2011

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Did you hear that sound at Hindmarsh Stadium at full time on Saturday night? That’s the noise a bulging pressure valve makes after being released.

If Sydney FC keep playing like they did against Adelaide United, Vitezslav Lavicka has nothing to fear. He won’t, as a vast majority of the football community expect, be given his marching orders before the end of the season.

This was a bold performance from the Sky Blues, one we haven’t seen for a long time. It’s even got claims for being the best match under Lavicka’s reign. How timely.

Whether or not the board were unhappy is difficult to get a read on - majority owner David Traktovenko hand-picked Lavicka himself and spends little time in Sydney - but the fanbase were becoming irritable, to say the least.

My twitter feed was clogged with angry Sydney supporters fed up with the style of play all last season and understandably so. The team was slow, predictable and boring. ‘‘Why can’t we play like Brisbane?’’ was a frequent question-cum-comment.

Then, after going goalless in their first two matches this season - and being outplayed by the Roar in the second of those encounters - the comments in the stands were far more pointed. Players copped plenty but the most abuse was reserved for the Czech. I’m glad he didn’t hear most of it.

He wouldn’t have been sacked had Sydney lost against Adelaide, and nor if he lost this week’s match against Melbourne Heart at AAMI Park. But the pressure would have been on in a huge way. He would have been right on the edge. Instead, he's bought himself some breathing space.

Nobody at Sydney should be naive enough to think they’ve turned the corner after winning their first match of the season, but what I saw on Saturday was a team who can do what many thought they couldn’t.

Sydney can play with pace and aggression. They can break smartly and use width - look at the build-up to Jamie Coyne’s equaliser. They can hold possession. Importantly, they proved they can win after falling behind, a notable issue under Lavicka’s reign.

But most of all for me, this was a 90-minute performance. Sydney didn’t relent from the opening whistle until full-time was blown. How often have we been able to say that?

The first goal they gave away was purely a mistake, one you can put down to the central defenders and goalkeeper Ivan Necevski still getting to know each other. I wouldn't be hanging out Michael Beauchamp to dry either (he was otherwise excellent).

Normally, Sydney would have lost belief, reverted to long-ball tactics and other similarly crude methods. Instead, they kept doing what they had been doing before conceding.

When Nicky Carle’s shot thudded against the bar, it seemed luck was against them. Perhaps it was, but the Sky Blues dug in again. They chipped away until they equalised, never losing faith that they could do it. And then Carle’s magic produced a worthy winner.

It’s not a win that makes them contenders but it can be a platform. If Sydney want to be in the mix this season, they have to maintain this level.

They proved it can be done. The only thing left is for Lavicka to make it happen on a regular basis.