Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold has fired the first barb before next Saturday’s Sydney derby, declaring it “not the biggest derby” – because of the limited size of Pirtek Stadium.
Although the venue might be the subject of a minor government upgrade – which many believe should be given a far more significant boost – the limited capacity means that thousands of fans, many of them who support Sydney FC, will again miss out on tickets.
Only around 1500 Sky Blues’ fans are ever allocated seats, despite virtually every Wanderers’ fan being able to attend the reverse fixtures at Allianz Stadium. It has given berth to a growing view that that the Wanderers should opt to switch future derbies to ANZ Stadium.
Arnold declared the boutique Parramatta venue was simply “not intimidating” when compared to the Moore Park venue, where the Sky Blues were roared on by a vocal crowd to come back from 2-0 down to win 3-2 when the sides met earlier in the season.
“It’s not the biggest derby, because only 18,000 can fit in, compared to ours, where it’s 43-44,000,” Arnold said. “It’s not that intimidating at all. We’re looking forward to the occasion.”
The Sky Blues go into the derby riding high after their 2-1 win over Melbourne City, a result that keeps them inside the pack of four clubs – along with Adelaide United, Melbourne Victory and table-topping Perth Glory – who have skipped away from the rest of the competition. Arnold said the win was set up in the first half but that the result should have been put to bed well before full-time.
“We spoke after the previous game about slow starts and since I’ve been at the club the starts haven’t been fantastic, but the first half was excellent. We should have probably gone in 3-0 or 4-0 up,” he said. “It would have been game over but the fact we went only 1-0 up kept them in the game and kept them motivated.”
Terry Antonis enjoyed a brilliant match in the midfield after missing the game against Victory last week but it was Marc Janko who gained most of the headlines with a match-winning brace – taking his tally to a respectable three goals in seven games. His availability for the match only came about because he pulled out of representing Austria, whom he captains, against Brazil in a midweek friendly.
“Marc is settling now. We’re still trying to find him at times but we’re doing a lot of work at training with our attacking patterns to get Marc involved and for the players to know where he is,” Arnold said. “He could have had a hat-trick [against City]. He scored two and hit the post and had another good game. Getting him involved in the game is good. Hopefully he’s now settled, because he doesn’t have to go away with the Austrian national team for at least until March. To get him back in is good.”
When asked if he could have fitted Alessandro Del Piero into his current line-up, Arnold joked that he was “enjoying watching him in the Indian Premier League” – where the Italian has struggled to make an impact with the Delhi Dynamos, going scoreless and covering little ground from his attacking midfield role. Arnold said he’d “probably” have fitted Del Piero into his system but added: “Maybe he would have had to work harder.”
Meanwhile, Sydney FC chief executive Tony Pignata has promised to look into an appeal against the red card given to Milos Dimitrijevic for time-wasting before a late corner.
Arnold was sure it was a case of mistaken identity – which would allow the Sky Blues to appeal under the contentious “obvious error” clause.
“Milos goes out for short corners but he doesn’t take them. There were three guys out there, [Alex] Brosque, Janko and Milos,” Arnold said. “Maybe we can appeal for mistaken identity.”
Brosque told ABC Radio on Sunday that it was a comical decision from the referee, one he couldn’t understand.
“For a player to be sent off like that is ridiculous,” he said. “It’s disappointing to lose such a good quality player for the coming weeks for a lack of common sense.”