By VINCE RUGARI
Who now for the Sky Blues?
La Regista called it last week, but the truth is Ian Crook was never the right coach for Sydney FC. In the end, he has become the accidental sacrifice of the Del Piero excess era.
Too nice, too funny, too open, too honest. A-League coaches are not supposed to be like this. Much less the ones at the biggest clubs.
Sydney FC are a club with a personality and ambition, and it takes a certain type of manager with the right type of ego to carry all this emotional baggage.
It is relieving to see them finally accept who they are. Leave stability and consistency to the regional clubs, who run on graft and the whiff of an oily rag. This is Sydney FC. Check your values at the door.
Crook could not handle the hot seat - but should he have had the opportunity in the first place? Why did Sydney hire a coach who was not sure of himself? And is he totally responsible for the Sky Blue mess that has been left behind?
All important questions, those, but they pale in comparison to this one - who is next? Who could possibly be the next coach of Sydney FC?
Another byproduct of the Del Piero coup will be the sheer amount of cover letters and resumes about to flood into Tony Pignata's inbox. Expect a hearty selection of Italians in amongst that batch.
One thing is for sure; whoever steps into Crook's shoes needs to be the right kind of crazy. That is why maybe an impatient, hand-waving, short black-skulling, designer shirt-wearing gaffer from the mezzogiorno feels like the agent of chaos Sydney needs right now.
But do we need to go overseas for that? There are enough on our shores. Frank Farina is a former national team coach. He has his badges and is one of Australia's greatest football minds. He also got fired from his last A-League job for drink driving in the morning. Tick.
Miron Bleiberg has been the coach of two start-up clubs - Queensland Roar and Gold Coast - and while he delivered no silverware, his teams were always strong and played attractive football. If he could deal with Clive Palmer's antics, he can deal with ADP. And he knows how to bring through young players. He also once considered launching his own fashion label and cologne. Tick.
With the burden of expectation that Alessandro Del Piero has brought with him, Sydney FC cannot just hire any old coach. The world is watching. They want drama. Let us help them out.
Today is the first day of the rest of football's life
David Gallop, come on down. Unpack your things. Welcome to football. You have got some work to do.
The former NRL boss starts life as FFA's newest CEO on Monday and it marks the start of a fresh new era for the game.
There is a lot on his plate. The A-League, for instance, is top priority - how can this ADP buzz be channelled into actual growth? Where do the competition's next two, three or four teams come from? And this new TV deal is all well and good - but it has to be followed up with a bigger and better one.
The club owners, as well, seem to be generally seething about something new almost all of the time. Can they be embraced as part of a structure that would see the A-League become independent of the FFA?
What of the Socceroos, the national team that doubles as the federation's cash cow? Australia simply must qualify for Brazil 2014, and must give the 2015 Asian Cup title a good shake. At the same time, a new generation of talent has to be ushered into the green and gold.
Speaking of new talent - there is the small matter of the Australian Premier League. Many football fans do not appreciate just how important the new second tier will be for not only developing players, but also making those at the grassroots actually feel like part of a bigger picture. The APL is huge. If it works, we get closer to the conveyor belt of players we want.
Let us not mince words - Ben Buckley only leaves the game in a good state because of three new marquee players that he had no hand in luring to Australia. He headed a failed World Cup bid that saw two clubs in Queensland stillborn, and then executed when it was too hard to keep them running.
He was not nearly as visible as a CEO of a major sporting code needs to be. He was at odds, at some point, in some way, with almost every stakeholder in the game.
Gallop is a safe pair of hands and an important figure in Australian sporting administration. But his honeymoon period ended the day after he was unveiled. The real stuff starts now.
Quote of the week
"There was no heart in our play... It was probably the worst performance we've seen from this lot in two-and-a-half years. I'm not questioning my ability because I've been at the club for seven years and I've been part of the last few years of our success, the same as the players. I'm hungry, I want to achieve even more. Can they match my hunger?"
As football purists around Australia argue, 'You can't criticise effort or hunger! The difference between a win and a loss is tactics and preparation and technique and world class… blah blah blah!', the coach of arguably the A-League team that tries to play the most purest football has blown that line out of the water.
Brisbane Roar's Rado Vidosic does not strike La Regista as a loose cannon or a man out of his depth, so this verbal attack on his players after the 4-1 loss to Melbourne Heart must have been calculated and justified.
What happens next, we do not know, but that hunger is an issue in the first place suggests the culture of excellence at the Roar may not be all it is cracked up to be.
Player of the Week
To say Shinji Ono has shared the spotlight with Alessandro Del Piero and Emile Heskey is laying it on thick. There has been no spotlight on him. While ADP is a global megastar and Heskey a bonafide cult hero, the reality is Ono is just a good player. A great player, maybe. But no matter how many times we try to build the myth and call him 'Tensai', he is just not a crowd puller. Not yet. That could change.
The Japanese star played his best game so far for Western Sydney in the 2-1 loss to the Jets. His touch, his vision and his class were there for all to see. And it feels like only a matter of time until he takes one game by the scruff of the neck and tears some poor A-League side a new one.
Young Player of the Week
Well done Andrew Nabbout - you have etched your place in the history books of Melbourne Victory. And Ange Postecoglou, you have shown what is possible if you take the right kind of young player and fill them with confidence.
Postecoglou urged the young winger to "make an impact" against Sydney FC when he came off the bench late, and Nabbout repaid that faith with two great goals that turned the game.
Of a little bit of concern is how he has jumped ahead of the likes of Isaka Cernak, Julius Davies and Theo Markelis in the pecking order, and what his rise means for them. But, for the time being, get around him.
ALESSANDRO DEL PIERO MOMENT OF THE WEEK
ADP at the Melbourne Cup? Rubbing shoulders with Harry Kewell in the Lavazza marquee? In what universe would this have even been possible six months ago? A few days later he backed up and made his return for Sydney in the 3-2 loss to Melbourne Victory, although things only went pear shaped for the home side when he headed to the bench.
What he gives to the Sky Blues in terms of structure and direction cannot be understated.
Is he the next coach? Probably not. But given ADP wants to step into the realm of management at some stage, the club hierarchy should be making sure he is the next cab off the rank.