Tony Popovic has his eyes on bigger things at Melbourne Victory

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After two consecutive seasons sitting at or near the bottom of the table, Melbourne Victory are once again on top of the A-League Men.

Being the only side with two wins to their name, you’d be forgiven for thinking coach Tony Popovic would be satisfied with the way his charges have performed thus far. But, even in the wake of a resounding 3-0 win over Brisbane Roar, Popovic hastened to note that there is more work to do.

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“I liked the result obviously, but I didn’t think we started to well,” he said.

“We were anxious and nervous with the ball in the early stages, and we kept forcing the play.”

He was, however, full of praise for the team’s performance throughout the middle portion of the match. He found a notable progression and development of the side’s play even within the space of one half.

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Popovic added that his new group of players are still very much a work in progress in building a cohesive unit, and that he expects it will take time for the side to gel.

“The more time these guys spend together in training and in matches, the better they’ll perform,” he said.

“We want our play to get better, and we’ll keep trying to improve it each week.”

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A key point of emphasis was Victory’s press, which forced Brisbane into some major errors, including one which set up a Nick D’Agostino goal in the 31st minute.

Popovic praised his men’s performance in that area of the ground, but once again tempered his response by noting the slip-ups that resulted from that style of play.

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“I thought as a team we pressed very well,” he said.

“At times we left ourselves vulnerable to one-on-ones out the back, but overall, I think we did well in that area.”

Being the hardened taskmaster that he is, Popovic even used the two biggest highlights of the match for his side as fuel for further development.

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“It’s nice to see those moments you practice for come out in a game, but now we want those actions to happen more often,” he said.

He also expressed delight at Ben Folami’s clinical finish with his head, observing that it’s a style of finish he doesn’t often utilise.

“We’re all very happy for him, and he himself should be happy with his effort,” he said.

Melbourne Victory are not used to being a second-rate squad. After multiple seasons of poor performances, their loyal fans are certain to be looking for something more.

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However, Popovic made it clear that neither the coaching staff nor the playing group was feeling any external stress, and that any pressure to perform at a high level was purely internal.

“We’re all excited and embrace the fact that we’re at home and in front of fans, but I don’t think there was any extra pressure, we always put pressure on ourselves to try and improve our performance,” Popovic said.

If anyone has the drive, discipline and dedication to fulfil that ambition it’s Popovic, and he’s talking the talk and walking the walk so far this season.

Feature Image Credit: Ngau Kai Yan

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Mitchell Turner
Mitchell Turner
Third Year Undergraduate Arts Student at Monash University (Journalism Major). Generic sports tragic living out my failed dreams of going pro vicariously through other people.

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