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May 14, 2012

Sydney FC big enough to lure names: Crook

Sydney FC may not have a big name at the helm but new head coach Ian Crook is relying on the A-League club's reputation to attract name players.

The Sky Blues on Monday ended their long search for a replacement for Vitezslav Lavicka, announcing Englishman Crook's elevation from youth coach to the senior job on a two-year deal.

Now Sydney can begin their much-needed recruitment of up to seven players with chairman Scott Barlow saying there was enough money at the club, now owned by his father-in-law, Russian billionaire David Traktovenko.

Crook was forced to defend suggestions his appointment would make Sydney a less attractive option.

"No I don't think it will," he said.

"At the end of it my belief is that Sydney FC as a name should be enough to entice players to want to come here."

The club is also able to sign up to three overseas players to bolster the squad but Crook insists the current players are his main focus.

"For me it's about what we've got here at the moment, about improving them," he said

"Obviously a big part of it will be being able to bring people in as well.

"But we have got some ability here, it's not the doom and gloom that a lot of people say.

"But we will certainly need to recruit and recruit well to actually improve what we've already got."

Crook said he planned to get Sydney playing an attractive, high-tempo, possession-based game, learned in his playing days with Tottenham and Norwich, which he hoped would lure more fans to Sky Blues games and away from imminent cross-town rivals west Sydney.

"Very much so (we need to play attractive football to win fans)," he said.

"For us here in Sydney, it's the biggest market, and now we have competition right around the corner (with west Sydney). If we're wanting to get people inside this stadium we need to produce the style of game that will encourage them to come here."

After two disappointing seasons the pressure will be on Crook to restore former glory with Barlow saying the benchmark was to secure an Asian Champions League spot, which requires a top-three finish.

Crook insists he's up to the task.

"I am delighted to have the opportunity to take the club back to where I believe it belongs which is right up the top, challenging the likes of Brisbane Roar and Central Coast for titles, year in, year out," he said.

Crook, 49, has 13 years of coaching experience in Australia, Japan and Britain, including time as a head coach in the old NSL with Newcastle United.

He was the Sky Blues' assistant coach under Pierre Littbarski when Sydney claimed the inaugural A-League title in 2004-05.

Crook becomes Sydney's sixth coach heading into the eighth season of the A-League, following Littbarski, Terry Butcher, Branko Culina, John Kosmina and Lavicka, who has returned to Europe after three seasons in charge.

The Sky Blues had pursued Tony Popovic after their No.1 coaching target, Central Coast's Graham Arnold, made a late decision to remain with the Mariners.

Former Sky Blues player and assistant Popovic could now be poised to take the reins at the new western Sydney franchise after meeting with both clubs last week.

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