Sky Blues building brilliantly as new era takes shape

Can you hear that? The noise emanating from the Harbour City? It’s the sound of the Sydney FC juggernaut building something big heading towards the new Hyundai A-League season.

After a number false dawns over the last few seasons, the Sky Blues may finally be ready to live up to their reputation among many as the competition’s biggest club.

Sure, the start of the new season is still a month away and you should never read too much into pre-season results.

But the signs blaring out of Moore Park are certainly promising.

Their performances in winning the recent Townsville Football Cup – including beating A-League champions Brisbane Roar and Newcastle Jets – certainly augur well for the new campaign.

While the club has had success in the past – including championship success in 2006 and 2010 – they have lacked one thing all successful clubs and teams need – stability.

The appointment of new coach Graham Arnold may finally just provide that.

Sydney FC have built a reputation in the past as being a transit lounge for coaches.

The club has gone through eight of them in the nine years of the competition so far.

But it’s that challenge and adversity that drew Arnold – a championship-winning coach with Central Coast – to the job.

The former Socceroos mentor is aiming to become the first manager to get the Sky Blues not only playing winning football, but an attractive brand as well.

Sky Blues fans have been crying out for it for the last few seasons and will demand it even more so now Italian legend Alessandro Del Piero has moved on.

It’s something Arnold managed to do effectively at the Mariners and he is, step-by-step, putting the blocks in place for something similar with Sydney.  

With Del Piero gone after two memorable seasons, Arnold has very much a clean slate to work with.
Where Ian Crook and Frank Farina built a team around the sublime – but ageing legs – of Del Piero, Arnold will mold the side the way he wants it.

And he’s certainly wasted little time doing that.

Giant striker Mark Janko, Sky Blues’ favourite son Alex Brosque, former Mariner Bernie Ibini and Kiwi international Shane Smeltz are among his big signings so far and provide plenty of firepower.

Young gun Corey Gamiero looks ready to fulfil his undoubted potential, carving up the pre-season with 11 goals in just eight games.

The likes of Socceroos midfielder Terry Antonis, Hagi Gligor, Ali Abbas, Milos Dimitrijevic and Nicky Carle make-up an industrious and creative midfield.

And the side’s Achilles heel in recent seasons – the defence – now has a more steely and formidable look to it.

It will be built around the grit and power of Sasa Ognenovski and Nikola Petkovic, providing the solid base needed to be successful.

Right-back Pedj Bojic, who battled injury for most of last season, could also get back to his brilliant best under Arnold and his combination with Ibini on that flank is a real weapon.

Of course, all of this is just talk and Arnold and the club will be judged by what happens on the field starting from their A-League season-opener against Melbourne City on October 11.

But for the first time in a long time there is genuine excitement and belief Sydney FC may start to deliver on their potential.

Imagine that? Arnie becoming the first coach to win a Hyundai A-League championship with two different clubs? 

Now that would be something to shout about.