A blunt reality check suggesting disgruntled players could find alternative employment has been the catalyst for Sydney FC’s mid-season revival.
The Sky Blues have picked up four points from six since coach Frank Farina’s arrival at the start of the month, with a top-six spot beckoning if they can knock over cross-town rivals Western Sydney Wanderers on Saturday night.
The straight-shooting Farina delivered a few home truths to his misfiring squad a fortnight ago, basically telling players they could take off if they didn’t want to work hard and fail to appreciate life as a professional footballer.
“Frank keeps saying to us that we have the best jobs in the world and I’d have to agree,” midfielder Jason Culina said.
“It’s not hard to come here and work hard and be disciplined and work towards the weekend’s game.
“We all need a wake-up call at some point. The younger boys starting out don’t have a full understanding of what the job is yet.
“And we older guys do but we can be a bit complacent at times as well and need a kick up the backside.
“Frank’s been great for everyone. His influence has been really good.
“He’s brought a bit of everything…organisation, discipline and the will to want to be on the field and train.”
Sydney have responded to Farina’s twice daily training sessions, none benefitting more than Culina.
Making his way back from a 22-month injury lay-off, the former Socceroo started his first match for the Sky Blues in the win over Wellington last Saturday following forays off the bench.
Culina said: “I’ve now managed 20 minutes, 30 minutes and then 60 against Wellington.
“Whatever I can give to the team in whatever capacity then I’m happy.
“I have been out for a long time but I am slowly building.
“I will keep work hard on it and the fitness will eventually come.
“It’s just great to be playing again.”
Farina is uncertain whether to use Culina from the start in the Sydney derby against the Wanderers on Saturday night or bring him into the game once the heat has subsided.
Superstar Alessandro Del Piero is a doubtful starter as he attempts to overcome a hamstring strain.
The Wanderers are coming off a last-up win over defending champions Brisbane and want revenge following a 1-0 loss to Sydney in the inaugural Harbour City derby.
Culina said: “They are a good team and they’re not going to be easy.
“We’re expecting a tough, typical derby.”