After a 10-1 win in first game since Kim Do-hoon's exit, have Lion City Sailors steadied the ship?

Lion City Sailors handed interim coach Luka Lalic a perfect start on Saturday with a stunning 10-1 win over Young Lions in the Singapore Premier League. Lion City Sailors FC

Last Thursday, Singapore Premier League champions Lion City Sailors announced their abrupt parting of ways with title-winning coach Kim Do-hoon.

Given the success he had achieved in just a year after taking the job, the separation was a major surprise although it did come in the immediate aftermath of him being found guilty of violent conduct -- in a recent touchline fracas -- and subsequently receiving a three-match suspension.

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Just two days after Kim's departure, the Sailors were back in action. How did they respond?

In undeniably emphatic fashion, with Saturday's 10-1 demolition of Young Lions a club record while also equalling the biggest winning margin in SPL history.

So with interim coach Luka Lalic -- who was elevated as Kim's replacement from his role as the club's academy technical director -- making such a dominant start at the helm, are things smooth sailing once more with the Sailors?

Firstly, there should not be too much emphasis placed on the manner of their most recent victory, even if the Sailors do deserve credit for the intent they displayed immediately after a difficult moment.

After all, the nine-goal win came against a Young Lions outfit who, in their previous outing, had been similarly humbled by a 7-1 thrashing at the hands of Albirex Niigata (S).

This is the same Young Lions outfit that have lost 16 of their 19 games so far in the 2022 season, conceding a whopping 65 goals with a negative goal difference of 42 and just seven points to their names.

A Young Lions outfit who -- for all intents and purposes -- are a developmental side for the Singapore national team, that not only are the figurative whipping boys of the competition but literally field some boys in the form of 16 and 17-year-olds.

Of course, it is not the Sailors' fault that they were coming up against Young Lions in their first game since Kim's departure. They could only defeat whoever was in front of them -- and they did so with aplomb.

But the fact that sterner tests lie ahead was not lost on Lalic, who admitted after the match: "This is not a realistic picture of the league and opponents that we're going to face.

"Maybe for some players, they would have enjoyed this. But for me, I don't really look at this result.

"There are several things that can be improved and need to be improved. I always look at things from a negative standpoint first and I'm putting my focus on the areas that can be worked on from next week onwards."

Lalic's grounded response is a sensible one, considering there has to be minor issues that LCS are hoping to resolve.

While Kim's departure was officially announced as "a mutual agreement to part ways", there must have been areas where the club's hierarchy was not completely satisfied with -- be it in the team's performances on the field or his behaviour on the touchline -- for them to willingly bid farewell to a coach who has brought them much success.

After all, he was a tactician whose capture was hailed as a real coup for the ambitious Singaporean outfit, as he arrived as an AFC Champions League-winning coach from 2020 with South Korea giants Ulsan Hyundai.

Within a year, he had landed the Sailors' maiden SPL crown as well as guiding them to two victories in their maiden ACL voyage against Daegu and Shandong Taishan earlier this year.

It remains to be seen who his long-term successor will be but expectations will be high, given both Kim and his own predecessor Aurelio Vidmar arrived with big reputations and creditable resumes.

For now, it is Lalic at the helm with a glistening array of talent at his disposal but also aware that there is plenty of work ahead.

At present, the Sailors still sit atop the SPL but with only a narrow three-point lead over Albirex and just eight games remaining.

Next up for them? A game against third-placed Tanjong Pagar United, who have been flying high all season long and made a habit of upsetting some of the traditional heavyweights.

With a successful defence of their SPL crown a minimum requirement, it will not take long to find out if the ship has indeed been steadied at LCS.