ADP, welcome to Australia. And just to introduce you properly to our league, we have on offer the one football assignment most antithetical to your long and decorated experience in Serie A – Wellington Phoenix away. What a way to treat a valued guest.
The graveyard of Australian teams seeking success, and also of the beautiful game in a place where the fight is valued more than the ball.
Alessandro Del Piero’s debut was predictably complicated with sporadic moments of class as he came to grips with a different style, and to working with different players.
Ian Crook decided to start the Italian star, rather than spare him for a more open game in the second half. Just as well, too, because he was the only Sky Blues player who looked threatening and capable of unlocking an obdurate Phoenix defence.
His role was to play as a No.9 with the freedom to drop into the second line where Krunoslav Lovrek would rotate into the forward role. However, it didn’t take long for ADP to realise he needed to drop deeper to get involved.
This was for two reasons. Firstly, the early forward runs were too often not seen by his teammates and, worryingly for Sydney, they could gain no control of the game. That meant they failed to gain the kind of field position that would have allowed their star recruit to work in between the lines of attack.
The direct and aerial play of Sydney was not to the Italian’s liking – and it took him only nine minutes to make the point to his teammates, by telling them to play to his feet.
After half an hour, the arms began to be thrown in the air in frustration at poor decision-making and an inability to recognise where their illustrious teammate was positioning himself.
The first Phoenix goal was a perfect example. By midway through the first half, Del Piero was dropping all the way back into No.6, as Dwight Yorke once had to do, to begin the build-up. But having offered himself again, the ball was lost, a counter-attack launched, and the game was over. Del Piero was left clutching his head.
Clearly, it will take all parties time to adjust to each other before we will see the best the Italian has to offer.
When Del Piero did touch the ball, though, it was beautiful. A gorgeous turn was followed by a lovely through ball. A nice nutmeg and feint preceded a shot over the bar; hopefully a sign of things to come.
Each time he came short, the touch was perfect, the awareness too good. The trouble is there was too little movement around him to allow Del Piero to express his magical creative gifts.
Once Lovrek went off, ADP moved to the No.10 role and was able to exert a greater influence, and it would appear most likely that Crook will look to use him in this capacity. This is where his awareness can best be used to direct the game.
In summation, Del Piero’s class was evident and, once the players around him better understand his capabilities, there will be some tremendous quality in store.
In truth, Sydney’s problem was not how to best utilise the Italian, but how to play effectively as a team – and that is far more worrying.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.