Home Comforts

Despite a tough-looking away fixture list this season, Perth Glory star recruit MILE STERJOVSKI says he just can’t wait to get out in front of the team’s home fans

Despite a tough-looking away fixture list this season, Perth Glory star recruit MILE STERJOVSKI says he just can-t wait to get out in front of the team-s home fans

There are no easy away trips for Perth; it-s a geographical burden the team cannot avoid. However, it-s been an especially trying start to the Hyundai A-League 2009/10 season for the Glory with back-to-back away assignments in Adelaide and Wellington. This week, however, it-s different. Newcastle Jets provide the opposition for a game marquee man Mile Sterjovski can-t wait for.

“It-s what we-ve been looking forward to most,” Sterjovski tells AFW ahead of the first home game. “There are no easy games in the A-League, but we-re looking forward to putting on a good performance and getting three points and carrying on from there.”

It-ll make a nice change from the kilometre-clocking Sterjovski and his team have endured in the first two rounds of the season.

“It-s definitely a disadvantage,” Sterjovski says of the geographical conundrum the team face. “We-ve got more away games than home games (this season) and some of the longest away trips, like to Wellington, we-re doing twice.

“But we can-t use that as an excuse, we have to overcome those problems and put on good performances.”

And things didn-t go quite to plan in Sterjovski-s debut away to Adelaide, where a Travis Dodd penalty saw Perth leave South Australia with a narrow defeat. It was still a good learning experience for the attacker and his team, though. “It didn-t go too well for us, but the players are willing to get ourselves out of it and work hard to improve,” he says. “That-s the biggest positive we took out of that game and that-s a good thing.”

Perhaps surprisingly, manager Dave Mitchell was forced to defend his star player after that first game after certain sections of the media questioned his performance. This extra scrutiny, while perhaps new for the player, isn-t unexpected, given the exposure of this experienced Socceroo-s return to these shores after nine years abroad.

“I expected it, so it-s not a surprise and it doesn-t worry me,” he says bluntly. “As long as the team-s performing that-s the main thing for me.”

The improvement will surely come and it could be that the tough away double-header might prove to be the catalyst for long-lasting improvement. “It-s good for our mental strength,” Sterjovski says. “And as long as we get things working on the park, we-re going to improve and get better. The new players need time to gel.

“When you see it on paper, we-ve got a great team, but what it looks like on paper doesn-t mean a thing - so we-re working hard in training to improve the way we play and I-m really looking forward to the upcoming games and getting the results we deserve.”

Expectation is certainly surrounding the team, perhaps for the first time since the inception of the A-League; Perth are considered - again, perhaps for the first time - as genuine finals contenders. This week-s game may be an indication to the strength of such credentials.

“Perth was always so successful in the previous years (of the NSL) and now we-re trying to get it back to where it was,” Sterjovski says. “We-re doing our best and we-ve got a very good squad, which has brought a lot of attention to the club, so we have to get the right results and that-s what we-re focusing on.

“Hopefully we can do our talking on the pitch.”

Away from the pitch, Sterjovski has been impressed with what he-s seen. “What-s impressed me most is the players- willingness to work hard and improve our game - the set-up is good, but it needs improving,” he says. “In saying that, the standard of the league is probably not as quick as it is in Europe, but technically it-s up there and there are going to be some very difficult games.”

But, for now, the team can look forward to running out in front of an expectant, and buoyant, Members Equity faithful.

TRAVEL BUG

Just how many kilometres will the team clock up this season?

Total away games: 14 *kilometres for return travel from Perth

Adelaide: 4264 Wellington: 10,314 Canberra (for match against Mariners): 7810 Brisbane: 8714 Newcastle: 6920 Gold Coast: 7254 North Queensland: 6782 Wellington: 10,314 Central Coast: 6734 North Queensland: 6782 Gold Coast: 7254 Melbourne: 6876 Adelaide: 4264 Sydney: 6582

Total kilometres travelled: 100,564