Sydney FC will be looking to return to finals football in season 2022/23. (Photo: Sydney FC/Twitter; Design: Will Cuckson)

Having failed to secure finals football for the first time since 2016, the 2021/22 A-League Men season was one for Sydney FC to forget. However, with a new season comes renewed hope, and Steve Corica’s side will be hoping a return to the finals is imminent.

Last season:

Eighth (Eight wins, seven draws, 11 losses)

It was a challenging season for Steve Corica and Sydney FC, and it began with a very slow start which the side seemingly never recovered from.

Sydney found itself winless after four fixtures, and while not all were losses, morale was low. However, the side was able to stabilise to an extent, with two wins in a row to finish off the calendar year.

A poor start to the season was not helped when superstar midfielder Luke Brattan went down with a significant ACL injury, which would see him ruled out of the season.

Suddenly Sydney was on the back foot, and despite attempting to strengthen the midfield with the mid-season signing of Mustafa Amini, the club found itself further back from the pack and struggling to work positively up the table.

Albeit, there were still positives to take out of the season for the Sky Blues, and most of this came through the strong form of winger Anthony Caceres.

Caceres provided a spark for Sydney with exciting run, as well as the ability to provide quality balls that would enable attacking chances. His strong form was rewarded with a joint victory in the Alex Tobin Medal.

Biggest in:

Without doubt, the biggest signing for Sydney FC in the recent transfer window has been the addition of Jack Rodwell, who joined the club from cross-town rivals, the Western Sydney Wanderers.

Rodwell, who has spent time most notably in the English Premier League with the likes of Everton, Manchester City and Sunderland, made big noise when officially making the switch in August.

With a particularly leaky defence, and without a presence in midfield, coupled with the departure of Mustafa Amini, Rodwell will provide a massive focal point wherever head coach Steve Corica chooses to place him, and will be massive for the Sky Blues’ finals charge this upcoming season.

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Biggest out:

Having been with the club since the 2015/16 season, fan favourite Milos Ninkovic produced the unthinkable, making the switch to the Western Sydney Wanderers and sending shockwaves through the competition.

The veteran midfielder has been one of Sydney’s most dangerous attackers in the number 10 role, and last season was to be no exception, putting the side in goal-scoring opportunities on many occasions and causing nightmares for opposition defenders.

Ninkovic scored 35 goals in 181 appearances in his time with Sydney, however, was only able to add three to his total last season.

The move leaves a gaping hole for Sydney, however, it will be hoping the continued improvement from Caceres can leave the team in good stead as he looks to transition into a midfield role, with more development under the belt.

What to expect:

Throughout the pre-season, head coach Steve Corica has undertaken a new formation, adopting a 4-3-3 setup as opposed to the 4-2-2-2 fans saw in 2021/22. Sydney has chosen to adopt a structure of experience, bringing in proven A-League Men players to the side.

The return from injury for Brattan can’t be understated, as well as the experience of Rodwell into the side. We have seen Corica adopt an experienced approach in the past to his transfer strategy, bringing in Amini last season, and it looks to have carried over ahead of this season.

There is no doubt Sydney has a strong starting side, however, if injury is to occur, it is expected the club will look towards the youth setup, which will be an exciting time for fans.

Sydney will be looking to push towards finals football, but it will ultimately depend on the overall health of the starting squad.

Starting XI:

Sydney FC’s predicted starting XI for the 2022/23 season. (Design: Will Cuckson)

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