Talay reflects on first season in charge

We sit down with Uffy to reflect and look ahead

We sat down with Ufuk Talay to take a look back at his first season in charge of Sydney FC and he reveals his plans for next campaign.

Talay arrived in November with the Sky Blues sitting bottom of the Isuzu UTE A-League table and yet to score a goal in the league. Since then he transformed the fortunes of the team, and concluded the season with the most goals scored in the competition – and one match away from another Grand Final appearance.

Looking back, there are plenty of positives to take for the Head Coach.

“It feels like yesterday that I took on the role and now the season has come to an end.

Sydney stunned Adelaide 5-1 in Talay’s opening game in charge

“From where we started to where we got to, we are probably a little bit disappointed with the way it ended – but overall I think the receptiveness of the boys, the willingness to be able to take the information on board and the brand that the club wants to be associated with was very important to us,” Talay said.

“We wanted to play attacking football. We wanted to create a lot of goal scoring opportunities and there were games where we did that very well and games where it wasn’t our best performance but overall with the group that we had and what we produced, I think we should be quite proud of what we achieved.”

Talay also took a moment to thank the outgoing five players who were announced on Wednesday and then began to chat about what the recruitment could look like next season.

“Before the boys went away we did some individual meetings with the players to see where their heads were at and the strategy of the club moving forward.

Robbie Mak was one of five outgoing players

“We want to promote our young players and our youth players but we still have four visa spots available to add value to our team,” he added.

“We want to bring in players that can play our style of football and those boys that have departed, I was very impressed with what they gave us this season, but it’s very important for us to freshen up the squad and bring some new faces in.

“Not just for the fans but for the club, and also for the players in that changeroom,” Talay said.

Joe Lolley will take up one visa spot after he signed a two year contract extension

“The visa players need to be different than our local players. They need to be a point of difference and add value to the team. We want players to be able to sustain the mentality and be able to do what we ask them to do physically and mentally.”

Next season, Sydney FC will be taking part in three competitions, the Isuzu UTE A-League, the Australia Cup and the AFC Champions League 2 which will require midweek travel across Asia.

With these added loads and travels, the Sky Blues will need to lean into their squad more and Talay expects the youth to step up.

“Youth are definitely going to get a lot more opportunities with the three competitions so we certainly need depth within the squad to be able to get through these games and the youngsters will definitely provide that for us.

“It’s always exciting working with young players and seeing the way they mature and grow as we saw with players like Hayden and Corey this season,” he said.

Finally, Talay was asked about his playing style that has become synonymous with Sydney FC this season which doesn’t give the opposition any time to breathe if the press is executed properly.

And fans of that press will be seeing it again next season the Head Coach confirmed.

“Our brand of football looks a certain way and we will continue in that way. We want to be on the front foot. We want to be the protagonist. We want to dictate the terms whether we have the ball or not. This is something we want to build on.

“This season was a good starting point for us and with the players that we bring in, we hope they can take us to the next level.

“The mentality is not going to shift from what we believe is the best way of playing the game and we want to play a brand of football that when you see a group of guys kicking a ball around the park that you know they are Sydney FC players,” he said.

Head Coach Ufuk Talay on the side line demanding a lot from his players

“This period now is probably the busiest time of the season. We will have a short break now to spend with family. I’ve gotta go back and remind my Mrs that she does have a husband so we will enjoy some time together and it won’t be long before we are back.

“I’ll still be on the phone though but before long we will be back straight to work,” he concluded.