Former Sydney FC captain Mark Rudan believes a distinct lack of leadership is the major factor to the club's downfall this season.
The 2005/06 championship skipper has cautioned some of his old teammates by saying that if an improvement in the leadership side of things does not occur, then the reigning champs are in for a tough year.
"The club is lacking real leaders at the moment, somebody who can take the game by the scruff of the neck and provide a bit of inspiration," he told The World Game.
"The players have the lost that aura about them. Opponents used to fear coming to Sydney but now they look at them and say to themselves 'we can do a job here'. There is nobody they are really scared of.
"Sydney needs somebody to lift the intensity and to get more out of the team. They are too nice to each other. Sometimes you need people having a go at each other and that's not the case with Sydney. There aren't enough talkers at the club.
"People like Liam Reddy are usually very vocal but he seems to have gone into a bit of a hole, maybe because he hasn't lived up to his own expectations."
Rudan targeted current captain Terry McFlynn and also said some key departures had made life difficult for the Sky Blues.
"He is a leader for a reason and he's the heart and soul of the club but right now maybe he's a little afraid to be controversial and to give team-mates a dressing down," he added.
"He should not be afraid to hand out some verbal floggings and the players shouldn't hesitate at having a go at him either if the situation warrants it. Right now it is all too matey.
"Sydney had that aura last year with experienced players like Simon Colosimo and Clint Bolton, John Aloisi and Karol Kisel and their departures for whatever reason has left a massive hole, as has the retirement Steve Corica."