Stats show how Ufuk Talay has turned around Sydney FC

Sydney FC’s rise up the Isuzu UTE A-League ladder has coincided with a new style of play implemented by Ufuk Talay. We examine what has changed for the Sky Blues.

“Our style of play has brought a new identity, a clear identity.”

That is what star midfielder Anthony Caceres said after Sydney FC’s 2-1 win over Adelaide United in the Isuzu UTE A-League last week.

The in-form Sky Blues were relentless in their pressing approach as they extended their unbeaten streak to five matches, despite humid conditions at Allianz Stadium.

It is all part of Sydney’s new-found identity under Ufuk Talay; you only need to look at their high press inside the first two minutes of the showdown with the Reds.

Sydney FC have been pressing with intent

Talay replaced Sky Blues legend Steve Corica in November and they have been a team transformed since, continuing to climb the standings into fifth position – five points behind second-placed Central Coast Mariners.

Sydney lead the league in possession won (52.3), possession won in the final third (7.1), high turnovers forced (12.9) and shots from high turnovers (2.2) per game in the 14 matches following Talay’s arrival, per Opta data.

They have also made 33.6 penalty-area entries per game under Talay, the third-most of any team.

Joe Lolley is the Sky Blues’ top scorer this season

Rain, hail or shine, the Sky Blues won’t stray from Talay’s approach.

“I do have empathy and sympathy at times but not when the game is going on for the players,” the Sky Blues boss told reporters when asked about the warm conditions last week.

“My expectation is, we know it was humid but the boys have got to go and they go as far as they can go.

“If it’s 45, 55, 65 (minutes) and then we make changes and we bring fresh legs on, and go again.

“I think that pressing is part of our identity and it’s how we want to play at Sydney FC.”

Sydney are beginning to see the green shoots of Talay’s appointment.

Over their past nine games, the Sky Blues have won six matches (D2 L1), scoring 24 goals with an expected goals figure of 17.52. If you compare that to the first eight matches, Sydney only managed two wins (L6) with a meagre eight goals scored from an xG of 13.98.

Then if you look at the last five matches amid their unbeaten run, Talay’s Sydney have really clicked into gear.

Talay demands a lot from his side

Sydney, who have the third-youngest squad in the league this season with an average age of 24 years and 76 days, would be equal top of the Isuzu UTE A-League standings from these five outings having collected 11 points.

Over the last 10 games, only defending champions Central Coast (23) have earned more points than the Sky Blues (20).

“We want to be the protagonist every game. Take charge early with our press and energy and put on a good show for our fans,” Caceres told Paramount+ last week.

Match Details

Sydney FC v Melbourne City
Isuzu UTE A-League Round 18
Saturday 24th February 2024
Allianz Stadium, Sydney, NSW
Kick Off: 5:30pm AEDT
Gates Open: 4:30pm AEDT
Broadcast Live: Paramount+ & 10Bold
Tickets: Click Here
Matchday Partner: Under Armour