The pressure mounting on Sydney FC is “too easy” says Serbian recruit Nikola Petkovic, who feels maybe the current crisis is exactly what the under-siege club needs to galvanise them.
Having spent most of his career playing in the unforgiving European leagues – including Serbia, Germany, Turkey and Russia – fan revolts and bad press are “nothing special” for the defender.
Fans at Allianz Stadium on Saturday unfurled banners calling for coach Frank Farina’s head and that of chairman Scott Barlow and chief executive Tony Pignata.
Dozens of supporters also vocally protested wanting Farina gone as the club slumped to its seventh loss in 10 matches against Adelaide and a record third straight defeat at home.
But Petkovic says having played in front of some very volatile crowds in Europe and during his time at Serbian giants Red Star Belgrade, what he witnessed on Saturday paled in comparison.
“To be honest for me this is nothing special,” he said.
“I come from a country where you have one draw and you’re in trouble with the fans but there it’s different, they attack the players not the coaching staff and the board.”
And it’s the players who Petkovic believes should take responsibility for the team’s situation with the honest 27-year-old saying maybe the heat should be turned up.
“Here is too easy,” he said.
“Everyone says this is pressure, but this is not pressure.
“I think maybe if we have more pressure we will feel the problem.
“The players just need to switch on and think about our job on the field because no one can play for us – not the board or the president or Farina.”
Petkovic said players being banished from first-team training was common practice in Europe and while he had never been in the situation himself he hoped Farina’s decision to send Nick Carle and Matt Thompson home from training on Monday would put others on notice.
“For them it’s not easy but maybe it’s a good reaction for the team. Maybe everyone start to think `what is this now? Maybe I’ll be in the same situation?’,” he said.
“Maybe some players will switch on after this.”
Both Carle and Thompson had been accused of being a “negative influence” on the team but Petkovic denies this saying: “Negative is when we lose every week and when we don’t fight.”
The Sky Blues could climb back into the top six with victory over Perth on Saturday and Petkovic says this tumultuous week could be just what the team needs to spark them into action.
“This is the biggest motivation for us I think,” he said.
“We have the supporters, the newspaper, everything is against us and if this is not motivation then we are not the right players for this team.
“We have to deal with this and we have to keep going to prove ourselves on Saturday night.”