I would have to be living on another planet not to be aware of the ‘noise’ in relation to Sydney FC, me and various incidents on the weekend.
I thought it would be useful to say a few things about them, as I find there is never really the chance to do so in the ‘sound bite’ interviews on TV after the game.
Fans and opinions
I don’t have a problem whatsoever in fans making their views known.
As I’ve said before here on this blog and on many other occasions, it’s everyone’s right to have an opinion and members and fans who pay money each year to belong to a club, are more than entitled to make their view known.
I also don’t have a problem with seeing the sign #FarinaOut. It’s an extension of the above.
I learned long ago that managing a football team is not a popularity contest.
I was surprised to learn after the game that the second banner in Russian Cyrillic referred to Scott Barlow and Tony Pignata.
I’ve worked in many clubs and environments in football, and Sydney FC is one of the more professional organisations I’ve experienced. Just as one example: when I was Socceroos coach, there were five Soccer Australia/FFA Chairmen and four CEOs in six years; there was no such thing as a budget as there were no resources; we could only search for training grounds for matches or tournaments by looking on the internet as there was no money to send the team manager to check it out beforehand; all of the backroom staff other than me and the assistant coach were part-time or casual; and players were fortunate to get paid – and if they did, it was less than 5% of the amount national team players are paid today.
At Sydney FC, Scott and Tony are approachable; Sydney FC has a rightfully ambitious strategy; we have quality training facilities; a full-time staff; and players are paid a good salary on time.
Having said that, I am aware that some commentators say I am responsible for signing the bulk of the current squad – a point that is not precisely accurate, not least because of pre-existing contract conditions of individuals. I will not say anything further on this because they are private contractual issues but, suffice to say, no-one who has made this claim has checked the facts with me first.
Likewise, no-one has asked me the rationale behind some of the decisions I take. I have read that, even though I have significant and successful playing and coaching experience at the professional level for more than 30 years, I am “clueless” (that's being polite).
You might disagree with what I do, but one thing I’m not is “clueless” when it comes to football.
I’m happy to talk about what we’re trying to do – not that anyone has actually asked. For example: what I’m looking for in the seemingly defensive midfield position is a deep-lying playmaker who can use space and time on the ball to create moves in multiple ways, not just attacks on goals. Think Pirlo, Xavi, Paul Scholes. With Alessandro del Piero in the side as the club’s marquee player, we don’t need a second number 10.
That’s my opinion.
Regardless of your thoughts – and I would like to thank those of you who have written and tweeted with your support – I’m always happy to talk about these issues at the appropriate time and in the appropriate place.
The two essential ingredients in any football match are players and fans and the fact that fans and members attend matches and care so much about their team is something that, both as a former player and now a coach, is always appreciated and never under-valued.
Look forward to seeing you on Saturday.
It won't make the news to most of you reading this, but the local papers in Townsville and Cairns have reported today on the introduction of the 'Frank Farina Shield' for the North Queensland Derby played in Townsville as part of the National Premier League.
It's really an honour to have been asked to give this award. When Northern Fury Chairman, Rabieh Krayem, approached me about it, I was more than happy to be able to do something to contribute to football in the North Queensland region.
It’s been a long time since I played football there, but it's where I grew up and learned my football and played my first professional game. My wife, Julie, is Cairns born-and-bred; some members of my family (including my mum) still live in North Queensland; and we have strong and continuing links through our broader family connections.
But it is the place of my youth. And while we can make our home anywhere in the world - and I have had the great privilege of doing so through football - North Queensland is the home in my heart.
I know that the rivalry between Townsville and Cairns is fierce - although the cities is about 350km, when they meet in any sport it truly is a a traditional 'derby' atmosphere.
What I really like about the concept behind the 'Frank Farina Shield' is that it's not just about the senior team, but the entire club and how they go on the day. The two clubs - Northern Fury and FNQ Heat - not only have their NPL teams, but also two women's teams and youth teams from U-12 through to U-20s. I think it's fantastic to include the younger teams. Their endeavour is just as important to winning the 'Frank Farina Shield' each year as is the NPL team or the senior women's team.
I hope this also inspires young players from an important growth region to aim for their dreams.
There have been many fine players from North Queensland: Ray Junna, Manis Lamond, Steve Corica, Glenn Gwynne, Graham Ross, Kasey Wehrman, Wayne Srhoj, Shane Steffanuto, Michael Thwaite, Zenon Caravella, Mitch Langerak, Adam Sarota, Kim Carroll and Ashley Spina to name a few.
My advice to those who want to do the same as those great players, who have contributed significantly to football in Australia, is to hold the dream, work hard, respect others, never stop learning and, importantly, remain humble.
Northern Fury and FNQ Heat will meet in Round 1 of the NPL on 1-2 March in Townsville. If you can be there, get along.
I look forward to visiting when my commitments in 'Mexico' permit. :)
I’m not one who’s much into anniversaries – just ask my long-suffering wife – but I’m told it’s a year coming up since I was appointed as coach of Sydney FC.
In a world where people increasingly demand constant success and instant results, I know for some fans it’s been a disappointing year. Unless we’re playing like Barcelona or have the undefeated streak of Bayern Munich, we’re a failure in the eyes of some.
But as I’ve tried to explain in earlier posts on this blog, there’s lots of balls to juggle when managing a football team.
One of the things I keep reading or hearing lately is that Sydney FC has been “lucky”. I don’t agree. My view is you make your luck in a 90-minute game of football.
If you’ve got three things going for you, sooner rather than later, so-called ‘luck’ will fall your way. These three things are talent, effort and desire.
It’s taken as a given that we’ve got the first – talent. If a player didn’t have talent, they wouldn’t be in the squad. But what we also look for is those with a strong work ethic, who keep working as hard in the 92nd minute as they do in the 2nd, and for the hunger to win and to put the team in the best position possible at every opportunity.
Generally speaking, when a team loses 4-0 or more and heads go down early – as happened to us not long ago – they don’t have one or both of ‘effort’ and ‘desire’. It tells us where we need to focus our work. It’s also where a senior player can really add value in training and on the park on match day, helping younger players and pushing them along.
So while commentators might say Sydney FC was “lucky” to win the last three games, I would say we made our luck because we had these three things going for us for the full 90 minutes. And that’s happened because we’ve been working on it - in the sessions on the park, our twice-weekly video analysis, team talks and other activities.
Long may it continue! :)
Hope to see you this Saturday at Allianz Stadium for what should be a cracker of a game against the in-form Newcastle Jets. Kick-off is 7.45pm.
By the way, thanks to all for your comments on the previous blog. I haven’t had a chance to sit down and read them all but will do so when I can.
P.S. Thought I'd throw in some entertainment from the late 1980s also. This was a hit when I left Australia to play for Club Brugge! Makes me feel old.
Note from Frank
It's a game of opinions and I've always thought everyone's entitled to theirs.