Ruben Zadkovich is backing his Glory squad to take another step in the right direction when they lock horns with Newcastle Jets at HBF Park on Wednesday evening (kick-off at 6.40pm, tickets HERE).
View today’s media conference in full HERE.
Only a stoppage-time goal prevented the club’s new Head Coach from claiming a battling away point in what was his first game in charge against Wellington Phoenix last weekend, despite Glory being reduced to ten men with more than half-an-hour still to play.
And Zadkovich was heartened by much of what he saw at Leichardt Oval.
“I asked for two things; effort and mentality,” he said.
“Not because I don’t want to work on the intricacies of how we want to play, we did a little bit of that last week, but more to the point, I’m really conscious of the position that the club’s in and how much people are hurting; Members and fans first and foremost.
“At least in that game, they [the players] showed the resolve and the fight and the mentality to go and want to win the game.
“If you want to look at where our goal came from and how the boys celebrated the goal, you could see that it meant a lot to them, that the game meant a lot to them.
“Even with ten men they defended valiantly and for me, that’s enough right now.
“Even with ten men, we still had moments where players were going to try and win the game, so I told the boys I was extremely proud of them.
“There wasn’t a person in that dressing room that didn’t want to get something out of that game and obviously we were gutted for the boys.
“So we keep moving forward and we go again against Newcastle.”
Zadkovich went on to confirm that there will again be a number of notable absentees for Glory when they face the Jets, including Osama Malik and Mitch Oxborrow (both suspended), Bruno Fornaroli (international duty) and Daniel Sturridge, Kosuke Ota, Brandon O’Neill, Brad Jones and Luke Bodnar who are all injured.
But he is relishing the challenge of assembling a team he believes can drive the club back into the winners’ circle.
“We can expect changes in the squad [for Wednesday],” he said.
“I know the enormity of the task at hand with the squad I’ve got, what I’ve inherited and the position we’re in.
“I know how big the task is and I’m going to roll my sleeves up and keep putting faith in young guys and letting them put their best foot forward because the reality of the situation is that we’re missing Brandon O’Neill, he’s a dual Premiership-Championship-winning player, Bruno Fornaroli, a two-time MVP and leading goalscorer of our club, Brad Jones, Sturridge, Ota.
“I can name ten or 11 players; Luke Bodnar, Carlo Armiento… there are so many good players out that what we’re left with isn’t enough to just stick with the same team and keep working with the same team for the rest of the season.
“We’re going to have to keep making changes, we’re going to have to be flexible and adapt and for me, that’s a challenge that I embrace.
“I’m not one to make excuses; I’m just going to focus on what we’ve got.
“Me and Coyney [Assistant Coach Chris Coyne] talk about it a lot and we’re positive people who don’t take a backward step, so we’ll pick a team irrelevant of age and experience that we think can win the game.”
The Head Coach does, of course, have a close association with Glory’s midweek opponents for whom he made over 100 appearances in all competitions during his playing days.
But he will be putting all sentiment aside this week.
“Newcastle are a different beast altogether to Wellington,” he said.
“There are a few things we’ve got to try and work on in a really short period of time again.
“So we’ll go on the grass today and work on a few of those things.
“They’re a team that keeps the ball really well and so we need to be setup defensively really well, first and foremost.
“Again though, we’re at home and there are some things that are non-negotiable for me and I’ll make the boys aware of what those things are.
“Newcastle is fantastic place and I have a lot of close friends and family there.
“It’s a great club that’s very close to my heart, but certainly not closer than Perth Glory is right now because I always take a lot of pride in the jersey and the badge that I’m wearing and I hope we send them home unhappy on the long flight.”
Having been inconsistent for much of the campaign to date, the Jets will be heading to HBF Park looking to secure a third successive victory after accounting for Wellington and Sydney FC in the last two weeks and keeping two clean sheets in the process.
The combination of Brazilian Daniel Penha and Georgian international Beka Mikeltadze has provided much of the attacking thrust for the Jets this term, with the former contributing a league-best ten assists and the latter bagging nine goals in what is his maiden A-League campaign.
Angus Thurgate has also enjoyed an impressive campaign, scoring five goals from midfield and Cameroonian import Olivier Boumal has been similarly influential at times.
The Jets, however, have beaten Glory just nine times in the 48 overall meetings between the two clubs and have not tasted victory at HBF Park since December 2017.