We need to lock them down earlier rather than later. Macarthur come in next season and will be looking to raid teams, especially the NSW ones. It will also make the league weaker with twenty-three extra players getting contracts.The fourth year was added very early in the piece iirc, so that leaves four others to get locked down before Christmas, just to provide some stability and rule out another team gazumping us.
From what I remember of the (one and only) fans forum when questions were asked about players and MIllar in particular.We need to lock them down earlier rather than later. Macarthur come in next season and will be looking to raid teams, especially the NSW ones. It will also make the league weaker with twenty-three extra players getting contracts.
If we can do that we will also have some cash with higher paid players coming off contract that we will unlikely renew.
Some smart wheeling dealing and dealing and we could be in even stronger shape next season.
Just the player we want and need.From Tottenham to Swansea to ... England's fifth tier: An Oz football story of persistence
Central Coast Mariners midfielder Giancarlo Gallifuoco shared a dressing room with Harry Kane at Spurs, Daniel James at Swansea and was in Andre Villas-Boas' first team plans. How, then, did he find himself climbing back up the rungs from England's fifth tier?
By David Weiner, Optus Sport Editor
7th Nov 2019, 06:06 AM
“There’s no way this is how it ends. That I work in a café and go ‘what could have been’.”
Not every journey pans out the way you expect it to. Just ask Giancarlo Gallifuoco.
The 25-year-old central midfielder is, finally, fit, and playing regular first team football – but it has been one hell of a detour to his current life in the heart of Alen Stajcic’s Central Coast XI in the A-League.
When Gallifuoco was sharing a dressing room with Harry Kane, taken under the wing of Andre Villas-Boas, or wearing the armband in junior Australia national teams, Sunday night upset wins over Perth Glory in stinking heat probably wasn’t where he envisaged being.
But when you’ve been on this detour, you relish every single minute, because, really, it is a journey that could have seen him end up on the conveyer belt of ‘what could have beens’.
“I wanted to be successful in football more than anything else. I just wanted so bad to make sure this worked,” he says, when reflecting on his eclectic path over the last six to seven years, one with enough setbacks to deter more than most.
From training in “football Disneyland” at Spurs HQ, to the travails of the transfer market, to an ill-fated return home to play for Melbourne Victory, to taking the plunge working up the rungs in England's lower tiers, this is a story perseverance that Gallifuoco shared with Optus Sport.
'Kane went on loan, I stayed because Villas-Boas liked me’
Gallifuoco landed in north London to play alongside compatriot Massimo Luongo in a Tottenham set-up that featured the likes of Andros Townsend, Josh Onomah, Alex Pritchard, Tom Carroll, Nabil Bentaleb, Ryan Mason, Jake Livermore and Tom Huddlestone.
He saw Townsend go on loan and come back.
He saw Kane go down to League One and thought ‘What are you doing?’
“In my second year Villas-Boas was my coach and he took me straight to the first team," Gallifuoco recalls.
"Rightly or wrongly I was star eyed and wanted to listen to everything he told me to do.
“I just said to my agent and dad ‘whatever he says goes’.
“Then he got sacked.”
It was a tough lesson, and turning point, in the fickle world of football.
In came Tim Sherwood, but instead of that benefiting the Australian, he learnt the hard way.
“In the end they (Kane, Townsend, etc) were racking up this CV and all of a sudden the first team coach at Spurs thinks: ‘ok, I’ve seen him’.
“Whereas for me, I was 19th man at White Hart Lane about 20 million times but I never got to sit on the bench. He probably thought ‘Mmmm. It is too much of a gamble, he is unproven’.
“In hindsight, I wish I got the right advice and went out on loan and built my way up.”
Inside a dressing room of future superstars
He recalls: “The training ground was Disneyland for footballers – I had everything I could’ve wanted, twice over.
“It was a hard change room coming into; this guy’s belt cost more than your car! They’re arrogant – I don’t say that in a negative way. You just have to be. For the first two months I don’t think I spoke.
“After the first training session I called my dad crying saying ‘these guys are way better than me, what have I signed up for’. They were so confident and strong … but – and I know he knows this because I have told him - I owe a lot to Massimo, he helped me so much when I first came.
“Straight away you’ve got a friend, he showed me everywhere, gave me confidence, and you have a midfielder who helped me and wanted to pass me the ball. I think I survived that experience because of him … you used to see triallists come, some from Australia too, you would see the horns come out when the triallist was there. You’re there to take money off them; (the mentality is that this is) another player in my way of the first team. All of a sudden this young boy comes in for a passing drill and the guy is (smashing) the ball into him to show his touch is bad. It was horrible for me to see but I got away with it because I had Mass.”
If you ever need to see the fine margins at this level, Gallifuoco’s memories are illustrative.
He recalls Ryan Mason as the “freak” (Mason had to retire due to a brutal skull injury); Dean Parrot, now at Stevenage in League Two, as a standout and Christian Ceballas, signed from Barcelona, now at Al-Wakrah Sports Club at 26, as someone “I thought would be a superstar”.
Memories of Kane?
"This little, chubby slow striker”.
But, he adds: “He used to stay every day with a bag of balls and shoot after training.
“Three or four years later he’s … Harry Kane.
“Even Andros Townsend was ridiculous but he had attitude problems. Harry Kane was the biggest surprise."
A move to Swansea in 2015 was supposed to provide a graduation of sorts. He captained their side to the Development League Two title in 2014-15, but the prospect of that elusive first team contract, despite training with them, kept getting dangled, without progress.
When it did, he didn't know about it. He later learnt his agent had stonewalled the club to get more money; a gamble that backfired.
It is here where a paradox sets in – a challenge plenty of young Australians have to consider: stay in the Premier League system, or chase first team opportunities?
“(All that matters) is the amount of games on your CV. As much as I thought the power of the club I had come from was important, they (coaches) ask: how do I know you can last in men’s football?”
With that formula in mind, and the prospect of first team football too compelling, he answered a call from Kevin Muscat and took the plunge to return home, to play with Melbourne Victory.
It did not work out.
“Everyone in the UK thought ‘you went there and played three games.’”
You’ve been at three very good clubs but you’ve played six games!
‘There’s no way this is how it ends’
Gallifuoco thinks deeply about the game. Speaks eloquently. Oozes passion. Is desperate to succeed.
Yet there he was, at 23, and he knew things were not where he wanted them to be, his mind thinking through all the possibilities.
“I’ve only prolonged the situation I thought I was sacrificing for; I thought I was coming here to jump start. But another year has gone by!”
“That was the moment I was thinking ‘what am I doing wrong’?.
“I always believed you have to be right with your work ethic, your attitude; I thought I was ticking all the boxes … that was probably the hardest moment.
“Nobody was calling. I was just sitting there calling my agent every day and he said 'nobody is calling. Nobody knows you.' That was hard.”
Back to the bottom of the food chain
Coming home, and failing, can be the equivalent of football’s Bermuda Triangle.
So, what do you do?
Your agent says to you: “A team in the fifth tier in England.
“20% of your wage.
“You’ll trial first.
“Live in a town of 30, 000 people.
“The pitches will be crap.”
“You’re going to play 45 games in a season.”
Gallifuoco was literally working his way back up the football pyramid, and made 108 starts over a period that included spells at Torquay United, Dover Athletic, and then Rieti, in Italy’s Serie C.
Scarred by previous experience, despite enjoying his time at Torquay, he jumped at Dover’s offer when it came.
“It felt like I had signed for Real Madrid.
“I speak about Dover like it was paradise. It wasn’t great football or great money – in hindsight I have no idea how we made ends meet - but from where we were it was such a great time.”
The next challenge …
When the opportunity to move to Serie C, the move just seemed logical.
Gallifuoco’s family are Italian, he speaks the language fluently, and he even wore the captains’ armband at times.
“I hit the ground running,” he says.
But then, the club hit financial problems.
“Pay started not turning up, promises started being broken.
“I went home without a plan, I was so frustrated.”
But then, luck finally turned, via a call from his former mentor at the NSW Institute of Sport – Western Sydney assistant Jean-Paul de Marigny, an opportunity he is “extremely grateful for”.
Stereotyped as a central defender, the Wanderers moved him back to his preferred position in central midfield. One display, a match changing cameo in the Sydney Derby, especially put him in the shop window.
The security of a two-year deal in Gosford was just the stability he yearned for.
But even this season has thrown up a curveball already, with a debilitating hip injury forcing him onto the rehab tables for the last two months of pre-season. A month into the season he is now in a position to play 90 minutes, part of a Mariners team he promises will continue to “surprise”.
“I’d like to show that I can lead,” he adds.
“If there is any reason for things to happen that is why my career went the way it did because all the lessons I have learnt is because on the field and off it I can react the way I do.”
Gallifuoco looks at the likes of Aaron Mooy – who also had to come home to re-build his career, Mile Jedinak – a late bloomer, and former Italy marksman Luca Toni as examples that “not everybody cracks it at 16”.
Having revived his first team dreams, that is just the start of the midfielder's aspirations.
“The thing that I obsess over, again and again, is the national team.
“I have played every single level.
"I want to finish at 37 and for someone to say he did everything possible to play for the national, or he played for the national team.”