Sydney FC captain Alex Wilkinson has faith that his side will turn the corner in the Hyundai A-League Finals Series after the Premiers closed the campaign with five straight winless games.
Wilkinson not only led the Sky Blues to tie Melbourne Victory’s tally of four Premiership titles but the 36-year-old became the first individual to claim five Premiership winners medals – three with Sydney and two with the Central Coast Mariners.
The Harbour City club paraded the trophy at Leichhardt Oval after a 2-1 reverse against Western United condemned them to a fifth defeat of the campaign, while the runaway leaders picked up only one win in six games since the competition restart.
Steve Corica’s side recorded 53 total points – the third highest tally in their history – and lead second-placed Melbourne City by nine points, but they have not hit their straps since returning from the enforced four-month lockdown and Wilkinson is fully aware that improvement is needed.
“It’s not ideal obviously. We wanted to go out with a win and lift the trophy with a win,” Wilkinson told FOX Sports.
“It wasn’t to be. We don’t want it to take away from the season we’ve had either. It’s been a fantastic season.
“We fully deserve the Premiership so the boys deserve to be congratulated and enjoy the moment.
“But we’ve got a big game in about 10 days time and we’ve got to be better.”
‘There’s a little bit of everything that we’ve got to improve on’
Besart Berisha opened the scoring for Western United and, after Adam Le Fondre equalised, Steven Lustica grabbed a 90th-minute winner to dampen the Sky Blues’ spirits under the ticker tape and pyro in Sydney’s Inner West.
Sydney have never successfully defended any of their four Championships and, with 10 days to deliberate their poor form, Wilkinson has faith that his teammates will find a solution as they aim to write another page of Hyundai A-League history and become the first team to lift five Championship titles.
“[We’ve got] to get back to what we’re good at,” he added.
“We’ve got to stop copping silly goals. That’s killing us at the moment.
“We’ve got to be a bit better going forward as well. We’re not keeping possession well enough. We’re turning over too many balls.
“That first goal came from a turnover and when we do that in our own half, we’re open and they capitalised on that.
“We’ve got to be better. I think there’s a little bit of everything that we’ve got to improve on but we haven’t lost confidence.
“The group is an experienced one. We’ve been there and done that before and we’re really looking forward to 10 days time.”
Head coach Steve Corica insists Sydney FC's recent form is ‘not good enough’ and believes his team cannot afford to make the same mistakes again in a crunch Semi-Final clash.
“We’ve got a bit of work to do defensively,” said Corica.
“We still have the best defence in the league though so obviously it’s there. They need to recapture that defensive hard work.”
He added: “I still believe this side will win the Grand Final. They are Premiers for a reason.
”We’re still nine points clear and a long way ahead. Full credit to the boys, they deserve what they’ve got so far which is one trophy.
“We want two trophies so if we don’t get to the final, we’ll be disappointed.”