Glory skipper Rostyn Griffiths is hoping experience and power can overcome the rejuvenated Mariners when the two teams meet to open their Hyundai A-League seasons this Saturday in WA.
While Glory will start red-hot favourites at Perth's nib Stadium, Griffiths is wary of a Mariners side with an ambitious coach in Paul Okon and a much stronger squad than last season.
“The Mariners will be a whole different kettle of fish with a new coach and things are totally different up there now,” the ex-Blackburn and Mariners player told www.a-league.com.au .
“They have some good young players who are always exuberant so if we can minimise that and get on top early it will hopefully crush their confidence and we can capitalise.
“It’s a good starting point for us back in front of our home fans and it’s important to start with a win," the 28-year-old English born midfielder said.
And he is banking on the local flavour in Perth Glory’s squad being able to propel the club to a maiden Hyundai A-League crown.
The midfielder, who grew up in WA, is one of 14 local products in Kenny Lowe’s squad heading into Saturday night’s 2016/17 season-opener against Central Coast Mariners.
It was a major contributing factor in Griffiths deciding to return to the club after a season away playing with Roda JC in the Eredivisie.
“I’m over the moon to be back really and having so many Perth boys as well is really good,” Griffiths said.
“They are boys I grew up with as well so it played a big part in why I came back.
“We really want to challenge for something. It really is a Perth team mixed in with some exceptional foreign quality as well.
“Having the locals always brings something extra. They want to play for their home town and people want to come out and watch them as well.”
It was in the second half of last season that Glory really gave their fans a reason to turn up, playing some exquisite football as they surged into the Finals Series.
Kenny Lowe’s troops were eliminated in the first week of the play-offs by a Bruno Fornaroli-inspired Melbourne City.
Griffiths believes with a big turnover of players it can sometimes be hard to carry on that momentum into the new season but the quality of their recruits gives him cause for optimism.
Caltex Socceroos Rhys Williams and Adam Taggart are on board, while Milan Smiljanic has joined and Johnny Warren Medallist Diego Castro is back for another season.
It gives Glory’s squad an imposing look and plenty of depth as they aim to win the Hyundai A-League title in the club’s 20th season.
“If you’re going to win anything in this league, you’re not going to do it with 11 players, you need the full squad,” Griffiths said.
“Across the park in almost every position we have at least two players…and that depends on what formation Kenny wants to play.
“We’ve got options and we’ve worked on a couple of things this pre-season and once we get going hopefully it all comes into play.
“We’ve worked on a lot of things both on and off the field this off-season because of the quality of player that’s been brought in.
“In a morale sense Kenny has tried to carry on [momentum from last season] because we finished so positively and with an attacking brand of football. That’s how we want to start.”