EXCLUSIVE: SYDNEY FC's Nicky Carle has managed to shelve the disappointment of missing out on the Socceroos' World Cup squad by settling into pre-season life at with the 'professional' Sky Blues.
Carle has joined up with the champions for pre-season and he seemed in good spirits as he is put through his paces by coach Vitezslav Lavicka. FourFourTwo headed down to the morning training session to chat with Carle about why he's been so impressed with the Sydney set-up and how that's helped him get over his Socceroos World Cup snub.
How do you rate the set up at Sydney compared to Crystal Palace and Bristol City?
It's the most professional club I've ever played for. Although Palace and Bristol are both great clubs with brilliant facilities, I'm very impressed with Sydney and that was a big reason for me coming back. I trained with Sydney last season for three weeks to get myself fit for the national team and they really impressed me with their professionalism. It is first class and I'm really enjoying it.
How do you compare Vitezslav Lavicka with Palace coach Neil Warnock?
They're very different coaches aren't they? I thought Neil Warnock was a great guy. He liked to play different football to what I was used to but I can't say a bad word about Warnock. I can't speak more highly of Lavicka either - he's absolutely brilliant. With the players he's got you can see the style of football he wants to play.
How will Sydney do this season?
There are some very good teams in the A-League and with the salary cap you always have competitive games. So it'll be a tough season, especially after Sydney did so well last year. I just want to help as much as I can to keep the level we were at last year and hopefully even go past it. I'm really looking forward to it and hopefully we'll raise the standard a bit more.
Excited about playing in Asia?
Yes, but really looking forward to this season first. Want to concentrate on having a good season in the A-League and then playing in something different. I haven't played in the Asian Champions League before so I'm really looking forward to it.
Did you come back with one eye on going back to Europe?
I came back to enjoy my football again. I've signed a three year deal, but you never say never. I'm very, very happy with my move here. With the last few weeks of pre-season here I've sat down with my wife and said "I've got a smile on me face while training". I'm enjoying it, I really am. Everything about it, the professionalism, the set up, the coach and the way the team plays. This is a team with some brilliant players, I can't speak more highly of them and hopefully I fit into the style our coach wants to play.
Do you feel you came back a better player? A more mature player?
You're never too old to stop learning. I'm 28, I've learnt a fair bit over my career. I've been lucky to have some good coaches where I've learnt quite a bit, so yeah definitely. I have come back a better and mature player with a bit more experience and hopefully I can prove that on the park now.
How do you feel about being left out of the final Socceroos World Cup squad?
I've come out in the public and said I'm very disappointed - that's a given though. There's no bigger feat for a player than representing his country and I've always been one to absolutely love it so I'm very disappointed. But it's happened now so I'm just watching it like the rest of Australia and supporting them as much as I possibly can.
Looking back at the two Socceroos games so far, do you think "I could have made a difference if I was on that pitch?"
That's a tough one, it's always difficult to say. As a player you always think that you could do something if you were a part of the team but ultimately it is the coach's decision. I don't think of it in that way anymore, I just sit back and support Australia as much as I can because they're a brilliant bunch of boys.
Do you think Pim was the right man for the job?
That's not for me to decide - that's not a decision made by us. From a player's point of view, regardless of the coach you have to give 100 per cent and try and get in the squad so that decision wasn't for me. The FFA made the decision and they've stuck by it, supported him the whole way. From a player's point of view you have to support him 100 per cent.