No quick-fix solution for Del Piero to settle in

SEBASTIAN HASSETT
Last updated 11:59 08/10/2012
Wellington Phoenix
CHRIS SKELTON/FAIRFAX NZ
TWO-MAN TANGO: The Phoenix’s Manny Muscat gets tangled up with Sydney FC’s Alessandro Del Piero in Wellington on Saturday.

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While Alessandro Del Piero might have shown flashes of brilliance in his A-League debut on Saturday night, the Italian star concedes it's going to be a slow process for him to get used to his new teammates - and for them to get used to him.

Surprisingly, Del Piero played for 90 minutes but he could not lift the Sky Blues to match an impressive display from Wellington, who thoroughly earned their 2-0 victory.

The 37-year-old offered some genius at times with his vision, touch and passing but was, perhaps, not as involved as he would have liked, a fact he put down to not having enough time to gel with his teammates.

"There's a simple reason. A player like me, I drift around [on the field]. I am from somewhere else and we play together for the first time," he said.

"This is a fact. This is a problem, we have to do more work and we have to improve soon. We need to improve soon because, on Saturday, we have another big match."

However, like his coach Ian Crook, Del Piero was less worried by the scoreline and more concerned about the team's style of play.

"We have to think not for the result but to what we have in mind for the whole year," he said. "We have to go straight for this, and possibly win [next week]."

While some passages of play were inspired - in particular one moment where he jinked past tough-tackling Wellington midfielder Manny Muscat with ease - Del Piero occasionally appeared frustrated with his teammates.

There was clear dissatisfaction about how the ball was played to him and how the build-up from defence often broke down before reaching him.

At one stage, he fiercely gesticulated at fellow forward Joel Chianese for not making the run he expected, though Del Piero later said he was not angry with his teammate.

"It was just a simple [message]. We needed to talk, we had to change something," he said. "I talked with him, Kruno [Lovrek], 'Tezza' [Terry McFlynn] - there's a lot of people I need to talk with in the match. We have to understand each other and we have to build that. If we talk together, we can play better the next day."

Having not played a competitive match since the Coppa Italia final in May, and with only a 70-minute spell in an intra-club match serving as match practice since, Del Piero appeared short of match fitness.

However, the Azzurri icon said the change of scenery and different training regime would make it difficult to gauge how long it would take for him to reach peak condition.

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"I don't know because here, everything is completely new," he said. "The last season and the season before [at Juventus], we would do seven or eight training matches before the start of the season and I would play 60 or 70 minutes in those games. I haven't this time, so it's quite different. I'll need to play those matches."

Del Piero will make his home debut against the Newcastle Jets in front of a packed house at Allianz Stadium next Saturday. He's excited about what promises to be a big night for Australian football.

"[I'm] already waiting for Saturday," he said. "I am waiting for Saturday with a lot of energy, a lot of emotions and joy."

Meanwhile, Sydney midfielder Terry Antonis had to go to hospital after the match following a knock to the head that required him to be substituted in the second half. However, he flew home with the team yesterday morning and is expected to be fit to face Newcastle.

- Sydney Morning Herald

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