Popovic outlines Spiranovic’s growing role in tilt for title

-

Slowly but surely, Matthew Spiranovic is becoming increasingly important to Perth Glory’s pursuit of a maiden A-League Championship.

Since lasting only half an hour due to injury in his much-anticipated return for against Melbourne City in round 7, the road back to regular first team minutes has been slowly travelled by Glory’s star centre back.

But under the watchful eye of Tony Popovic the 30-year-old has made a return to the fray under a restrictive minutes regime designed to carefully bring him back to his best.

And with another 90 minutes and a second consecutive clean sheet under his belt the assured, composed defender is beginning to impress in every opportunity he gets, but Popovic says he’s only beginning to get better.

“I think he’s way off his best but that’s natural, that’s normal if you consider someone hasn’t played for the amount of time that he has,” Popovic said.

Embed from Getty Images

Spiranovic arrived in Perth in the lead up to the 2018/19 season still recovering from a hip injury which kept him out of competitive action since October 2017. Under the care of Popovic, the coach who lead Spiranovic and Western Sydney Wanderers to become Asian Cup Champions in 2014, the Socceroo has undergone a tentative return to action this season.

“He’s still finding his feet in terms of games and training loads,” Popovic said.

“He hasn’t trained regularly for a very long time, we’re trying to manage him as best we can.

“He’s obviously appreciating that, and when he’s playing he’s certainly contributing.”

Since recovering from his injury setback in early December Popovic has given Spiranovic a full 90 minutes every second game over the last seven rounds.

In the four games he’s played this season Glory earned three wins and one draw, conceding just two goals while keeping two clean sheets; one away Melbourne City in a 0-0 draw and the other in the 2-0 win over Newcastle on Sunday evening.

Embed from Getty Images

After keeping only three clean sheets in their first 13 games Glory have now kept three in a row and Spiranovic was at the heart of two of them, which offers an ominous warning to the rest of the league that the so-far scintillating Glory could be getting even better.

But after his imposing performance in a Glory defence which gave next to nothing away to Newcastle over 90 minutes, Popovic insisted Spiranovic still has a way to go to become the player he was before his cruel run of injuries.

“I think he played very well against Sydney, Melbourne City and then today,” Popovic said.

“We’ll do the same again – see how he recovers and manage him – and we’ll make the best decision first and foremost for the player, and then for the team.

“The second half of the year hopefully we will see Spiranovic continue to improve and evolve, and stamp his authority on games.”

Enjoy this content? Support The Football Sack

Due in part to COVID and lack of current sponsorship we are at risk of not having the funds to continue running The Football Sack. If you enjoy our content and support our work in training talented young writers, please support us with a donation. If every reader contributed just $3, our funding would be covered for over ten years.

DONATE

Learn with us

Matthew Comito
Matthew Comito
Football nut, student journalist and firm believer that Berisha dived in the 2012 A-League Grand Final. Covering Perth Glory for the 2018/19 season.

Latest Articles

Love your football?
Subscribe to our weekly football wrap. During the season we'll send you all the week's football action straight to your inbox.
* indicates required