An unfit and out of sorts Sydney side went up to Suncorp in search of a miracle. Given the mental state of the squad it would’ve taken a miracle to win the match, and none was forthcoming.

These things happen in football. But they are never acceptable.

No coach? No problem. I don’t for a minute buy the argument that we lost because of an inexperienced interim coach in Steve Corica.

Nor do I accept that we were beaten by a side that is intrinsically better. They were clearly, overwhelmingly better than us on the night, and are light years ahead in terms of playing style development, but could not have won the match without our help.

How many one-on-one contests did we win? How many goal scoring opportunities did we create? How many passes did we turn over? How many times did we fail to read potential two-on-one and even three-on one overloads? It was as if a team of strangers took the field wearing our shirts.

Certain players are above criticism. Del Piero was once again magnificent, driving his team on and leading by example with an exquisite brace. Yau was a constant danger, and the victim of some ruthless Brisbane challenges in backplay, including a coward’s shoulder charge by Theo. Bosschaart was all class once again, and Trent McLenahan brought a bit of sorely lacking passion to the side when he came on.

It’s clear that Ale’s signing comes at a very high price. Beyond the $4 million (money well spent and investment recouped) the price is a massive hole in central midfield. The decision to ship off Nicky Carle for a fistful of petrodollars was always fraught with danger, and the consequences are now apparent. Ali Abbas is a poor man’s Carle and whilst a decent player, lacks the quality to distribute from deep or under pressure. Or the courage to consistently win the ball back.

How do we solve this massive dilemma?

Jason Culina at his best is more than a match for Carle, but how far off his best is he? It appears he is finally close to getting his name on the team sheet. Terry Antonis is a potential star but is in and out of Australia. Hopefully he’ll get a decent run in the side now that he is back. These two have the technique to play out from deep, win possession and make late runs into the box.

The third midfielder? In different ways there isn’t a struck match between McFlynn, Reid and Abbas. I would be tempted to look the way of young Hagi Gligor, whose twenty minute cameo at Bluetongue showed that he is ready for higher honours. And Brett Emerton, who has the class to play anywhere.

These three would keep the ball and give us some possession to work with. Would they do the graft and keep their shape when we are without the ball? The young kids certainly would, no one would be more determined to get back to his best than Culina and Emerton’s stamina and fighting spirit are legendary.

With Del Piero pulling the strings at trequartista, that would leave Yau up front, with Joel Chianese, Mitch Mallia, Blake Powell or Dimi Petratos for company.  

And at the back a move for Seb Ryall to rightback would accommodate Adam Griffiths, whose return gives us the height and presence we need on set pieces, at both ends of the park.

That’s all well and good.

It is psychologically, however, that something has got to give. The players are trying hard, of that there is no doubt, but to play without fear requires the absence of a safety net. There is no room for complacency in the Sky Blue shirt, and mere professionalism is no longer good enough.  What will click the boys into top gear defensively?

Last season we may not have been pretty but we were tough, grinding out wins and scraping goals and points. Today we are attempting to play great football but aren’t getting stuck in and winning back possession. And in midfield we are not defending with any structure, getting pulled around all over the field and leaving giant gaps for the opposition to exploit.

On to the new coach. Speculation has been rife as is the norm in the Harbour City, and we’ll find out the identity of the next contender soon enough. One thing is for sure. After the nice guys in Lavicka and Crook, I agree that time has come for a hard-nosed, no-nonsense tough guy to come in and put the wind up the boys and shake out any sense of complacency that may have crept in.

One of the great things about the A-League is the closeness of the competition. The table is tight, and a couple of wins gets you back in the mix. The team must believe that it is as good as any other, which it is, and given a decent, injury free run of games could give the competition a real shake.

But right now, changes must be made. The fans are counting on it.