Brett Emerton predicted the arrival of Italian superstar Alessandro Del Piero will reduce the pressure on the Australia veteran and make him a better player for the club.
Emerton joined Sydney last season, but never really settled in the team after being moved around a lot by Vitezslav Lavicka in his final year as coach.
The 33-year-old Socceroos star is looking forward to making a much bigger impact this season and says Del Piero's presence will take pressure off him because he will no longer be the only high-profile international player at the Sky Blues.
Emerton speaks to TWG at the A-League season launch:
"Yeah, the pressure does ease," Emerton said. "Without doubt the focus this year will be on Alessandro and his performances, so it will take the attention away from myself and that will hopefully enable me to play well.
"But I think the pressure as a player really comes from yourself. You put expectations on yourself to perform well week in and week out, and it's going to be no different this season.
"I want to go out and do the best I can for myself and my team."
Emerton's view was supported by Sydney FC coach Ian Crook, who said that after Emerton - along with Harry Kewell, who played for Melbourne Victory - was the subject of a whirlwind of publicity last season, there would be less concentration on him now and that would help his game.
"I do know the media expectations on him and all the stuff off the field were so high last season," Crook said. "There was a lot of pressure on Brett. There was huge expectation on him and Harry, with them coming back to Australia to play, and now he can relax and play the type of football he's played all of his career.
"There will always be a spotlight on him because he's 'Emmo', but maybe a bit less now, with Del Piero coming. Hopefully, they can share the responsibilities. I think Del Piero arriving has been great for Brett."
Emerton said he expected to form a strong combination with Del Piero, who will play either up front or just behind the front man.
"He's an intelligent player, so to have the likes of him leading our line it enables the players in and around him to link up and hopefully form some good combinations," Emerton said. "He's only been here a couple of weeks, but by watching someone like him in training I can still learn off him.
"So if I can learn, imagine what he's doing for some of the young boys in the team."
Emerton said his versatility meant he still might be moved around a bit early in the season, but that he expected to soon find a regular position.
"In the pre-season I haven't played too many games because I was recovering from injury, but 'Crookie' has toyed with me in a couple of positions," he said. "I think once he finds the right one I won't chop and change too much this season, I think he'll get set on the one formation and stick with it.
"I'm quite lucky I'm quite versatile, so I may play the odd game in a different position."
Crook said he had set team goals, but wanted to keep them close to his chest. Emerton, on the other hand, was more open about how high Sydney should aim.
"I think, realistically, we can look at winning the league," Emerton said. "We're a big cub and I think that should be our aim at the start of each and every season."
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