The Sydney ‘mystery’ as Steve Corica throws down gauntlet after unwanted history: ‘We’re not the same team’

Reigning premiers Melbourne City were too good for Sydney in the Isuzu UTE A-League on Friday night.

As Sydney FC head coach Steve Corica sat down for his post-match press conference on Friday night, there was no hiding his disappointment.

The Sky Blues had just lost 2-0 to three-time reigning Isuzu UTE A-League premiers Melbourne City in a result that condemned Sydney to a third consecutive defeat to start a season for the first time in their illustrious history.

Through the opening three rounds, Sydney are yet to score a goal. Their form is perplexing, given they won the Australia Cup a week before the 2023-24 season started.

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It is a situation that has left Corica puzzled.

“I don’t know,” Corica told reporters when asked about his team’s woes. “We obviously had a really good cup run. It was only three weeks ago that we won the cup, so we’re definitely missing something at the moment.

“Winning the trophy hasn’t helped us in this situation. It’s a bit of a mystery.

“If you look at the game, there’s just individual errors. Right before half-time we concede the goal, there was no pressure on the ball. Then straight away as we come out, they score their second.

“You have to fix those mistakes. Especially when things aren’t going your way, you can’t concede chances like that.”

Sydney star Rhyan Grant was honest in his assessment of the match, suggesting complacency may have crept in following the Australia Cup triumph over Brisbane Roar month.

When it was put to Corica, the Sky Blues boss laid down a challenge to his senior figures in the team.

“Something has happened,” the two-time Championship-winning coach said. “Definitely we’re not the same team that won the cup. Something we need to look at and we’ve never had a start like this. It obviously makes it even harder next week.

“We will see the men when they’re ready to stand up and what they’re all about. You need your senior players to stand up and take responsibility on the pitch.

Corica, whose Sydney visit high-flying Adelaide United in Round 4, added: “There is obviously that hangover but we can only fix it with those senior boys stepping up.

“Everyone has to take responsibility. I have to take it as well but the players have to take responsibility too.

“You need to stop the rot and it has to stop this week.”