Melbourne City did not lack effort in their 3-0 drubbing at the hands of Sydney FC, rather they lacked the sufficient intent to make their possession count for anything, according to coach Warren Joyce.
Joyce's side looked sluggish on Friday night against a disciplined and clinical Sydney outfit that waited to pounce on mistakes and then punished their opposition with efficient attacking play, with goals coming via former City player Paolo Retre and a double to striker Adam Le Fondre.
Sydney's goals came via a mistake for the first and poor transitional play for the next two, Joyce said, with the coach bemoaning his side's lack of spark.
"It is not [poor] effort when you have got a lot of possession," Joyce said. "I think the intent to close and press could have been better all night. I think the intent to win tackles and win duels could be better, the intent to run in behind could be better.
"It is the intent to do it, but when you have got a lot of the ball you have got to move it quicker, you have got to have intent to get on the ball, work hard … because they [Sydney] didn't really have to press that hard, we give the ball away cheap and then we're chasing them.
"That [intent] is something we addressed this week. The word was used before the game tonight so that makes it disappointing because that was one of the things we talked about in the build up to the game."
Joyce said in training this week he would be on the look out for players who want to "come in and want to fight to get into the team for next weekend".
Young Socceroos like Nathaniel Atkinson should come into contention, as will a player like Rostyn Griffiths, who is yet to start for City with Joyce preferring Kearyn Baccus. Anthony Caceras and Lachie Wales also started on the bench this week and are handy attacking options.
"We will dust ourself down, work hard, come back next week and try and move forward and put in a good performance next weekend," Joyce said.
Opposition coach Steve Corica was delighted with his side's win, especially given it was their third game in seven days after round two's Sydney Derby and Tuesday's FFA Cup final loss to Adelaide United.
"It's been a tough week for them," Corica said. "But a great way to bounce back … perfect they were. Maybe they [City] had one shot on target but other than that they didn't have anything else.
"They were disappointed after the [FFA] cup [final] but they bounced back extremely well. The next day we got them out [of Adelaide] and I spoke to them after the cup game, I thought we were the best team in the cup game."
Corica praised Retre for his assist and a goal and also said La Fondre was proving to be a formidable striker. The coach named an unchanged starting side in all three games played in the seven-day run.
"We are going to get better, it is early in the season so I think as combinations come … we are going to get better. We are not right there at the moment but a great performance tonight and I am very proud of them after a difficult week.
"It's not easy [the packed schedule]. If you look at the Wanderers game it is a little bit emotional as well for the players, it's a derby they give everything … to back it up against Tuesday night in Adelaide away is difficult enough.
"They worked extremely hard, stuck to the gameplan and we got the goals that we deserved."
Sydney play Newcastle at Hunter Stadium on Saturday in round four while Melbourne City play at home to Wellington Phoenix on Friday night.
Anthony is a sport and general news reporter.