Under the radar, above the radar – it doesn’t matter a great deal to Western Sydney Wanderers coach Tony Popovic.
The Western Sydney franchise surpassed all expectations with a stunning debut A-League season in 2012-13 to finish runners-up.
They recovered from a rocky start to blitz home with 11 wins and one draw in their last 12 games to claim the minor premiership.
And while it could be argued they will no longer have the element of surprise in the season ahead, coach Tony Popovic dismissed it as an advantage in the first place.
“We have our own expectations,” the 2012-13 A-League coach of the year said.
“Whether we’re under the radar, or on top of the radar, it won’t change what we do. We’ll go about our business the same way.”
Many players from the Wanderers 2012-13 campaign – including Japanese superstar Shinji Ono – played their first minutes in over three months in their 3-1 win over Canberra Olympic at the AIS on Wednesday night.
Cobwebs were aplenty – as were ignited flares from 200 of their diehard supporters watching on.
Yet Popovic expressed pleasure at the performance post-hitout.
“We’ve got some new players here which will need time to adapt to how we play,” he said.
“So it’s good experience for the young boys.”
He declined to talk about the team’s goals when the A-League season kicks off on October 11, the most obvious of which is to go one step further and claim the championship.
“We haven’t spoken about that. We’re just in the pre-season phase trying to get all the players fit,” Popovic said.
“We’ll get them through that and then worry about where we’re going and what we want to do when the season starts.
“We’re just trying to be better. Just trying to play our game at a better level than year.”