WITH his side struggling to keep pace with Melbourne Victory from the outset, Sydney FC coach Frank Farina was left dumbfounded why his side left it so late to lift the tempo in Saturday night's 3-1 loss at AAMI Park.
The Sky Blues thumped Wellington Phoenix 7-1 last week in a season-high performance but looked to be suffering a hangover from that game as the Victory were rarely challenged. Sydney created more chances when the home side appeared to take their foot off the pedal, a fact Farina lamented after the match.
''I think we learn more from ourselves each week about what we can do and what we have to do,'' he said. ''Consistency is a big thing for us. I think it was again proved tonight that we had to go two goals and one man down and then we showed this amazing work rate and work ethic. That's what we should be doing from the first minute when we've got 11 men.''
One of the biggest problems for the Sky Blues was the loss of Brett Emerton, who left the field in the first half, but the club was confident it's nothing too serious.
''I think it's neural more than anything,'' Farina said. ''It's coming from his back. It could be a disc or something. Last year he had to have a few cortisones and days off to settle it down. I don't think it's an actual tear at this stage but we'll find that out later in the week.''
Farina said his side was still coming to grips with the way he wanted them to play, commenting that Ange Postecoglou experienced a lot of pain at Brisbane Roar before he could stamp his preferred style on the team.
''Nine times out of 10 when a new coach comes in, it's a roller-coaster ride,'' he said. ''We saw that in Brisbane when Ange took over from me … I was disappointed with the result, but I'm not going to slit my wrists.''
While Sydney could learn several lessons from the way Melbourne retain possession and move the ball around the park, to create both space and opportunities, Farina said he wouldn't reflect in much detail.
''To lose 'Emmo' so early wasn't great and we copped a goal while that process was happening,'' he said. ''Sometimes you can over-analyse things and look at why we started so slow. I didn't think we started that slow - it was probably a normal start to a game like this. I tend not to over-analyse. You can pick the bones out of something but all you do is frustrate yourself and confuse yourself. We lost 3-1 - big deal, we move on and next week is another big game for us.''
The Sky Blues will go into that game without Tiago Calvano and Fabio, who both picked up two yellow cards. However, Farina said his overall disappointment was ''60-40'' in comparing the referee's performance to his players. ''It certainly wasn't a nine-card game,'' he said. ''I just shake my head.''
Postecoglou was most pleased with how his team staved off the physical challenge presented by Sydney and continued playing their natural game.
''We're trying to become the dominant force in this league and days like today are ones where you question whether you're up to it or not but I thought our first half was excellent in our tempo and tone,'' he said. ''We really took the game to the opposition. I was really pleased.''
with Michael Lynch