• Managing expectations ... Sydney FC CEO Tony Pignata (Getty)
Sydney FC CEO Tony Pignata says the club's board is "pragmatic" about its finals prospects but has called on the players to rally around talisman Alessandro Del Piero in the final four rounds of the regular season.
By
Dave Lewis

8 Mar 2013 - 6:38 PM  UPDATED 9 Mar 2013 - 12:07 AM

The Sky Blues sit a point out of the play-off places in ninth spot on the A-League ladder going into Saturday's vital duel against second-placed Central Coast at Allianz Stadium.

Its final three games of the campaign are equally daunting - Melbourne Victory (home), Western Sydney Wanderers (away) and Brisbane (away).

And Pignata, who played a huge role in bringing Italian legend Del Piero to Sydney, is looking for one last lunge at the finishing line from a club in danger of under-achieving again this season.

"Every team starts the season thinking, and expecting, to make the play-offs and we were no different," he said.

"Our main problem was that we got off to a poor start and in many ways we have being playing catch-up for most of the season.

"Things happen throughout the season, such as injuries, suspensions - and in our case also a change of coaches - and that affects results to some degree.

"It's been a bit of a rollercoaster ride - but you have to cop the knocks when they come along and in sport and deal with it.

"When you look at the run-in we have it's tough but the board is pragmatic about things and the challenges we have faced this year.

"There has been no added pressure from above (to finish in the top six).

"But the desire and belief is there throughout the club to make this season a success and everything is still in our own hands going into the last four rounds."

Piganta is not yet looking beyond this season, adding: "We will sit down and talk about that when the time is right.

"The focus from the board right now is on us giving it everything we have to make the play-offs and we hope the boys will rally round Del Piero and make it happen.

"He has been superb for us. A lot of people said at the start of the season he was too old, too slow and injury prone but he's been immense for the club and also the competition as a whole."

Pignata admits Sydney's away record - it has picked up just eight points on the road out of a possible 39 - has been its undoing, explaining: "It has been pretty poor really and that has made things difficult.

"But we remain positive that the team can produce at the tail end of the season. We are a big club and we have a lot of quality on the field.

"Frank Farina is doing a good job and if we are any good we will go on now and show it. It’s a good test for the players to prove what they can do.

"The expectation from the media and from the fans to deliver is high - and we are always aware of that.

"People expect us to be in the finals every season."