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Jan 15, 2008

Sydney FC ugly under Kosmina: Culina

Dumped Sydney FC coach Branko Culina isn't surprised the team is challenging for the A-League minor premiership under John Kosmina but believes they are playing ugly football.

Culina was sacked in October after Sydney managed just two wins in their first nine games of the season.

Kosmina took charge and six wins, four draws and one loss later, Sydney are equal first and enter the final round with a shot at the minor premiership.

Culina, who has taken time away from the game to reflect, said he hadn't found Kosmina's success hard to watch.

He said he was confident the side would be performing just as well if the club had kept faith with him.

"I always kept saying that Sydney would get better, when the players were available," said Culina, who had to cope with a handful of early-season injuries, international commitments and the hangover from the club's Asian Champions League campaign.

"I knew what the players were capable of.

"Once they won a couple of games (under Kosmina), their confidence lifted and in fairness the players' spirit lifted."

The Croatian-born coach noted a change in Sydney's playing style.

"I think they also changed their game. In my time we always tried to play football, never got behind the ball - we wanted to express ourselves," he said.

"I think when John came in, rightly so the result is more important than how you play football, and he decided that they would, for example I watched the game against Queensland (0-0 draw last Sunday) and to me that was ugly. That's ugly football and I could have done that.

"To be honest you look at the way they're playing and you say, what has changed? The crowds certainly haven't improved either and you ask yourself, why not considering the results?"

Culina believes Kosmina is the first Sydney FC coach to be given absolute support from the club.

"When Kosmina came on board (newly appointed chairman) Andrew Kemeny made it pretty well known that no matter what the results, Kossie was going to be there for a while," Culina said.

"Players are smart, they sense that.

"If the players can see that you're not going to be there because of whatever, or there might be some doubt as was the case with (former coaches Pierre) Littbarski, (Terry) Butcher and myself - they respond differently as well.

"Kossie can not lose with Sydney FC because he knows he's got the backing of the people that matter that pay the bills. I didn't have that and the other coaches didn't."

Culina said he was not bitter about his sacking.

"I love the Australian football and I thoroughly enjoyed what I was doing and I'm disappointed that my time was cut a bit more prematurely."

In the meantime, Culina said he was still deciding whether to pursue more work in football or make a career change.

He said Sydney would be dangerous in the A-League finals series but favoured Queensland to win the title.

"With all their players available, they just have that x-factor that the other teams don't," he said of the Roar.