Glass half full: David Carney of Sydney FC, left. Photo: Quinn Rooney
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Sydney FC’s title challenge has diminished spectacularly over the past few months but David Carney believes the team is only a win or two away from getting their season back on track.
The Sky Blues play host to Wellington Phoenix at home on Saturday evening and with the New Zealand side one of two whose season is already over, Graham Arnold’s side cannot afford anything less than a resounding victory in the race to the finals.
Having gone winless in their past seven A-League games, Sydney have fallen into the bottom four for the first time this season, with the rampaging Perth Glory a point ahead in sixth following their win over the Newcastle Jets.
But Carney doesn’t feel there’s a mood of panic among the players despite recent results.
“We definitely need results, but what’s done is done,” the utility player said before training at Macquarie University on Thursday.
“The performances have been good, so there’s still a lot of positives with the players. Everyone backs everyone and we can beat anyone.
“We’re not nervous but we’ve just got to make sure we start delivering and take it game-by-game. We’ve got five games left, and like Graham Arnold said, it’s a mini-tournament for us now. We’ve got to make sure we win on Saturday and kick on from there.
“We’re at home. It’s a game that we must win, so basically all that [recent results] is out the window. When we play them we’ve just got to concentrate and we really need the points.”
The former Socceroo rejects the idea that Sydney are out of form, and reckons they should have beaten Melbourne City, despite losing 3-0 to their hosts.
“I wouldn’t say we’ve ‘struggled’ – we’ve just had a great win against the Asian champions [Guangzhou Evergande]. The performance against City was good but we just didn’t get that early goal that we deserved,” he said. “We’ve done our analysis of the last few games and there’s a lot to be positive about. We kept the ball really well from Melbourne City.
“We were just really unlucky to concede right at the end of the first half but if anyone deserved to win, looking at that performances, especially in the first half, I think it was us. But we just need to take our chances and hopefully we can do that this week.”
Carney said if there was anything that needed to be improved upon, it was converting early chances.
“Scoring an early goal would be nice, which would then give us the confidence for our performance [in terms of] keeping the ball and possession,” he said. “If you get an early goal, I think we’d win that game comfortably against Melbourne City, who are one of the best in the league. I think it’s just a confidence thing at the minute and a bit of luck. If we can have a bit more luck, we’ll be fine.
“But we showed character against Melbourne Victory in the game before. We were down to ten men and they probably should have won it, but we got a goal back, so that gave us a lift and then we went into the Champions League. Last week was obviously a bit of a hiccup result-wise but the performance was still there, so there’s definitely a lot of positives.”
The pressure is on Carney and the rest of the attacking quartet to find the back of the net having scored just 27 goals in 21 games, a figure even lower than this week’s opponents’ and only one ahead of wooden spooners-in-waiting, the Central Coast Mariners.
They’ll have to do it the hard way against Ernie Merrick’s team, with Matt Simon in doubt due to a rib injury and Alex Brosque out for at least another month with a recurring hamstring problem.
“It’s definitely hard losing those players. Matty Simon is a different player to Brosque, he gives us that physical presence, but we’ve got Shane Smeltz, who is class,” Carney said. “Losing ‘Brosquey’ is hard but hopefully we can get him back for the playoffs. I think any team would be upset at losing Brosque, he’s one of the best players in the A-League, but that’s part of football. We’ve just got to carry on and get in the finals and hopefully he’s back by then.”
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