Emerton: Del Piero may need time to adapt
Sydney FC midfielder Brett Emerton has no doubt new team-mate Alessandro Del Piero will be a huge hit in the A-League but has urged fans to be patient and not place unrealistic expectations on the Italian star.
The former Juventus stalwart will arrive in Sydney late next week to begin his two-year deal with the Sky Blues. It will give Del Piero just three weeks of training with his new side before the A-League season-opener away to Wellington on 6 October.
While the 37-year-old played for almost two decades in Serie A and has done it all in the game, Emerton said the standard of the A-League means it's difficult to thrive immediately. The Socceroos midfielder, who returned home to play with Sydney last season after more than a decade in Europe, admits the transition to the Australian game is difficult and the public should give Del Piero time to settle.
"It doesn't matter where you come from, playing your football in Europe is much different to playing here in Australia," Emerton told reporters today. "It will take time to adapt. Hopefully it doesn't, hopefully he hits the ground running. But if he doesn't obviously people need to understand that and give him a little bit of time to adapt to the league."
Asked what advice he would give the FIFA World Cup™-winner about adjusting to the league, Emerton said: "Firstly, you can't underestimate this league. Not enough credit is given to the standard of the league here in Australia. It's a lot better than people give it credit for. You need to come here and if you're not committed 100 per cent and go out there in each and every game and give your best then you're going to get found out."
"The weather conditions can be testing as well. It's hot, the pitches are quite hard and training on hard pitches day in, day out can take a toll on your body when it's not used to it. There's a lot of things to adjust too but he's a seasoned professional and I'm sure he'll be OK."
Sky Blues skipper Terry McFlynn said he had already noticed an improvement in training since news of Del Piero's signing became official and is confident they now have the depth in the squad to be challengers for the title.
He also said he would have no problem relinquishing the captaincy if coach Ian Crook opted to hand the arm-band to the Italian legend. "My main focus is on this football club being successful. Always has, always will be," McFlynn said. "That's (captaincy) the manager's decision.
"If he decides he wants Del Piero to lead this team then I'll support the club, the manager, Del Piero 100 per cent. Irrespective of who the captain is, success is the most important thing for me."
Emerton has just begun full training with the first team squad following off-season surgery and is expected to play at least 30 minutes in Sunday's friendly against Newcastle at Leichhardt Oval.