Coach Steve Corica is adamant he’s still got the fire in the belly to pull Sydney FC out of their finals heartbreak and contend again next season.
The Sky Blues’ season was brought to a crashing halt via a 4-0 demolition from Melbourne City on Friday night, which meant they lost their semi-final 5-1 on aggregate.
Corica, who has won two championships and a premiership but hasn’t claimed silverware since 2020, is contracted until the end of next season and appeared to have no plans of moving on.
“It’s obviously a little bit raw still,” he told reporters.
“I still have the passion and the drive. I think I’ve showed that already this season.
“Been under pressure at times, we’ve come through it.
“We were on a great run. It’s just not the way we wanted to finish off.”
The experienced manager pushed through an early-season slump that put him under pressure to lead Sydney to a fifth-placed finish and an elimination final win.
“From the halfway mark we’ve probably been the second-best team. We picked up two points less than City from the halfway mark,” Corica said.
“We’ve had injuries early in the season, to key players (Adam) Le Fondre, (Jack) Rodwell, (Alex) Wilkinson.
“Once we got those players back, Adam scoring goals at the back end of the season, we looked more solid defensively. We were doing really well.
“That’s our first loss in eight games, so it showed how good we were towards the back end of the season.”
Corica was confident he had the foundation of a strong squad.
“There’s a few areas that we need to bring in players for,” he said.
“But there’s a lot of young boys there. They’ve only just come in this season.
“It’s more about developing them, making them better players and the ones that we do have, we still have a lot of experienced players there that can lead the way.”
Skipper Wilkinson, 38, and veteran striker Le Fondre, 36, are both out of contract at season’s end, with decisions looming on their respective futures.
“Wilko hasn’t decided what he’s going to do next season, if he’s going to continue playing or retire,” Corica said.
“If he’s going to retire it would have been nice to get him to a final, he deserves it.
“He’s been fantastic for the club and the other clubs he’s played for.
“Le Fondre, if you look at the amount of goals when he’s played, he’s still banging the goals in.”