Kurz believes 'ready to start' Hoogland will stabilise Victory defence

Melbourne Victory boss Marco Kurz has tipped Tim Hoogland to make his first Hyundai A-League start in Saturday's derby with Melbourne City. 

Hoogland, 34, was signed from VfL Bochum in August and missed the first six rounds of the season after injuring his quad on the eve of Round 1's derby.

He made his first appearance off the bench in Victory's 3-1 defeat against Adelaide United a month ago but has not been deemed fit enough to feature again. 

However, Kurz revealed the fit-again German is primed for his first start for the struggling four-time Champions.

“We signed him as a leader at the back and that’s what he can do," Kurz said. 

"He can organise, he is for sure not fully fit as when a played a couple of games in a row but he will stabilise our defence and it’s good for our game.

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“One of his strengths is his organisation. He’s very good at organising the team from the back position.

“He trained with the team for I think two weeks, that means he’s ready.

"He’s not as ready as when he played friendly games at the start of the season but he’s ready to start.”

It is expected that Hoogland will be moved straight into central defence for Saturdays' derby, where his main challenge will be silencing in-form City striker Jamie Maclaren, who has scored 10 goals in just six matches. 

Victory have conceded 14 goals from 10 games this season - the club's worst ever start to a Hyundai A-league campaign.

Tim Hoogland
Tim Hoogland is tipped to make his first Hyundai A-League start for Victory on Saturday

‘We expect a reaction’: Popovic wary of smarting Jets

Tony Popovic is preparing for a stern challenge when Newcastle Jets travel to face his Perth Glory outfit at HBF Park on Saturday night.

The travelling Jets were humbled 4-0 by Melbourne City last time out and Glory boss Popovic is under no illusions that Ernie Merrick's men will be desperate to make amends. 

“We expect a reaction from Newcastle to last week’s result,” Popovic said.

“They’re a very dangerous team, and I’m sure everyone that has played against them thus far will agree with that.

“Going forward they’re always a threat so I don’t think that will change this week, but I’m sure they’ll be very determined to put last week’s result right.

“We have to prepare for a team that will show a lot of desperation in this match.”

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The Glory are on a two-game winning streak in which they have scored five goals and conceded none; it’s the kind of form which won Perth the Premiership last season, but Popovic says there’s still a long way to go until his side are back to their very best.

“It’s always pleasing to get clean sheets,” he said.

 “To get them in consecutive games is a real positive for us, and something we want to build on.

“(The players) are getting better and better as it goes along, nothing tactically has changed but I think the players are becoming more confident in themselves and where they’re at physically and understanding their roles.

“With that comes better understanding of each other, and the new players are starting to settle in a lot better.

“I’m sure it will keep improving, we’re certainly not the finished article and we still have a lot of work to do, but we feel we’re on the right track."

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‘I’m a good listener’: Merrick and the Jets use honest discussions to inspire form lift

Newcastle Jets boss Ernie Merrick says both he and his players have engaged in honest and open discussions about what went wrong in their horrid 4-0 loss to City at McDonald Jones Stadium last weekend.

The Jets have played some good football through the start of the 2019/20 campaign but find themselves tenth on the Hyundai A-League table.

In desperate need of an uplift after their dismal defeat at the hands of City, Merrick held little back as he outlined exactly what went wrong last weekend to his players, and what they need to fix ahead of their journey to Perth this weekend.

“There’s got to be clarity in a football review of performance,” Merrick said.

“If you aren’t clear exactly what the problem was you can’t fix it.

Ernie Merrick
Merrick and the Jets underwent gruelling self reflection after their 4-0 loss to City

“It’s good to not only make it fundamentally simple in defence and attack but have buy in from the players and we got that pretty well.

“They had an opportunity to speak, I’m a good listener and we had good discussions

“As always the key players spoke up, I’d like to hear some of the less experienced players speaking up but that doesn’t happen in football clubs very often.

“I clarified a couple of the points and we went through it on the training field in the defensive third.

“The standard of play in both defence and attack was very poor,

“We have a good structure but the boys have still got to understand when you’re in the structure you’ve got a job to do.

“The structure doesn’t do the job; it just puts you in the right position to start your job - we didn’t get that right.

“In possession we didn’t keep the ball enough to create chances up front.

“Perth will be a challenge, especially over there; it’s always a tough trip."

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‘At the moment it’s just really fun’: Sky Blues lifestyle a perfect fit for Baumjohann

German midfielder Alex Baumjohann couldn’t be happier with his current situation at Sydney FC.

Making the off-season switch from Western Sydney Wanderers to the Sky Blues was an daring move for Baumjohann, but he’s found form of late as his side sit atop of the Hyundai A-League table on the back of a six-game winning streak.

The Sky Blues face a stern test against Wellington Phoenix this Saturday who are undefeated in five games themselves, but Baumjohann is confident his side will get the job done.

“I think we are doing really well at the moment,” Baumjohann said.

Alex Baumjohann
Baumjohann is hitting his straps in Sky Blue

“We’ve won six games in a row and hopefully we can continue this.

“Now it’s another tough game in Wellington, it’s always hard to play there with the travel, but we are really looking forward to this and want to continue this winning streak.”

For Baumjohann, the key to the Sky Blues’ early season success has been the chemistry around the club, and the confidence that breeds.

“The confidence was always high, I think it just grows with every win,” Baumjohann said.

“At the moment it’s just really fun, everyone’s enjoying it.

“I always said I think it could be a big season for us as players and also for the club and hopefully we can really continue this.”

Taylor says superhuman performance is required to shock the Sky Blues

Wellington Phoenix come into their clash with Sydney FC unbeaten in five and riding a wave of confidence, but Steven Taylor says they’ll need to lift their already high standards if they are to compete with the league leaders.

“It’s a good time I think for us, we’re in form but we’re against the league leaders who have been fantastic this season,” Taylor said.

“We’re going to relish the opportunity.

“The boys will have to play out of their skins to get the result we need.

Steven Taylor
Wellington will hope to extend their unbeaten run to six against the Sky Blues

“They’re a top team in the A-League.

“We played well to start the season but we weren’t getting results.

“That’s part and parcel of football, it’s like a rollercoaster; you’ve got to enjoy the highs and hope there’s not too many lows.

“Recently we’ve been playing some good football and getting some good results, and long may that continue.”

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