I'm of the opinion that all the hardships Sydney have had to deal with this season could very well lead to a second successive championship. This season has been drama filled indeed for a number of teams (Newcastle Jets, Queensland Roar, New Zealand Knights and Sydney FC).
Of all these teams no team this season or in the A-League's brief history has had to endure the list of problems Sydney FC have been dealt this season which includes:
- Persistent rumors of player unrest along with some vocal outbursts;
- Dwight Yorke leaving the club after the first game this season;
- Bernito Carbone's injury cutting short his four game stint;
- A high profile attempt by a certain board member to sack Terry Butcher;
- National duty call ups for the national team and AIS training camps for the under 23 players;
- Injuries to star players for a majority of the season;
- One or more point about to be deducted due to a salary cap violation.
This list of problems would spell a death sentence for most teams championship aspirations, yet despite this Sydney FC are sitting in second place. I'll be the first to admit that Sydney have not played that well this season and as a supporter I have been frustrated by it to the point where I booed the team after their home loss to Melbourne Victory. Yes it was football but not as we liked it.
It's only through the virtues of mental toughness and tanacity by which Sydney have kept their title hopes alive. Yes it's been ugly and a blight to the type of football this country so desperatley wants to achieve. But in terms of defending the title with the litany of problems they've had to deal with I can excuse it.
Melbourne Victory have had a near perfect season and have been playing some aggressive free flowing football that has seen them set a domestic football match attendance record but I don't think the title is theirs. Melbourne Victory has had no problems this season and I think this might be their akilies heal.
Their big test was in front of a record 55333 home crowd against Sydney where they could have sealed the premireship. I feared the worst for Sydney and had fears that they would get spanked 3 - 0 or worse. But as I watched the match my fear subsided to my suprise Sydney took the match to Melbourne early on and were able to choke out the supply lines to Melbourne's prolific strikers. Dare I say it? Melbourne Victory choked. Could this be a omen for the finals series?
When you look at the teams who might make up the numbers in the top four (Central Coast Mariners, Newcastle Jets, Adelaide United and Sydney FC) all of them have either drawn with Melbourne or inflicted rare defeats on them. The other question is wether the extended Christmas break will disrupt their flow.
So Melbourne Victory fans, enjoy the premiership, you've had a great season and are playing some geat SBS endorsed football. But beware, I for one would be concerned about playing a team that has endured all that Sydney FC has endured come finals time.