Italian superstar Alessandro Del Piero needs more time to gel with his new Australian teammates after being on the losing side in his A-League debut with Sydney FC, reports said Monday.
Del Piero played for the full 90 minutes but could not lift his new club as they slumped to a 2-0 defeat to Wellington Phoenix in New Zealand on Saturday.
The 37-year-old Juventus legend at times looked a class apart with his vision, touch and passing but he could not get into the game, a fact he put down to not having enough training time with his teammates.
"There's a simple reason. A player like me, I drift around (on the field)," Del Piero told The Sydney Morning Herald.
"I am from somewhere else and we play together for the first time.
"This is a fact. This is a problem, we have to do more work and we have to improve soon. We need to improve soon because, on Saturday, we have another big match (against Newcastle Jets)."
The Australian newspaper said Del Piero played almost single-handedly against the Phoenix defence.
"He showed all the class you would expect of a player of his calibre, nut-megging opponents, running around a couple and finding space to fire off a shot or two," the newspaper said.
"But, with just a couple of weeks of training under his belt, it was too much to ask him to fight what was almost a lone battle."
Del Piero said he was less worried by the defeat and more concerned about his team's style of play.
"We have to think not for the result but to what we have in mind for the whole year," he said. "We have to go straight for this, and possibly win (next week)."
It was Del Piero's first competitive match since the Coppa Italia final in May, and with only a 70-minute spell in a training game since, Del Piero appeared short of match fitness.
He said the new environment and different training regime would make it difficult to gauge how long it would take for him to reach peak condition.
"I don't know because here everything is completely new," he said.
"The last season and the season before (at Juventus), we would do seven or eight training matches before the start of the season and I would play 60 or 70 minutes in those games.
"I haven't this time, so it's quite different. I'll need to play those matches."
Del Piero will make his home debut on Saturday against the Newcastle Jets, who have former England international Emile Heskey leading their attack.