John van ‘t Schip says marquee man Robert Koren will become even more influential for Melbourne City after his stunning hat-trick in the demolition of Newcastle Jets on Tuesday.
Starting his first match for City, the Slovenian international put on a master-class of finishing scoring in the ninth, 63rd and 74th minutes of the 5-2 win at Hunter Stadium.
After missing the first 11 rounds through injury, Koren showed just what impact he can have in the Hyundai A-League as City continued their purple match with a third win in four games.
“He’s an important player. That’s why we brought him in,” van ‘t Schip said of Koren.
“He’s a threat if he plays more in the midfield, he can set up more and give the team more control in ball possession which is still something we have to improve more.
“We were very dangerous going forward and being direct but in the moments when we want to keep possession and switch play we have to be better.
“Robi is important in that, a player that can hold the ball and as a player next to you to give you that extra moment to make a better decision. “We’re happy he’s back and in the break we will work more with him and on the team and make sure he’s even better after the break.”
City’s easy win means they will end 2014 in the top six and as one of the form sides of the competition.
With Socceroo striker Josh Kennedy to be available following the Asian Cup break, there is a feeling the squad is building nicely for a title challenge in the new year.
“Let’s just stay with both feet on the ground,” a cautious van ‘t Schip said.
“We had a good win but it was 3-0 within half hour which makes it easy. We have to learn and get better at a lot of other things.
“I’m happy about the effort they put in, the attitude the boys have and we’re hard to beat at the moment.
“The way we’re going onto the pitch and the structure and going forward we look dangerous but have to keep working at those moments and make them even better.
“It’s only four games, we’ve got a difficult one coming up against Central Coast and now it’s up to us to show we can take the next step by performing up there.”
The poor state of the Hunter Stadium pitch was another talking point of the match, especially with the venue to host some big games during January’s Asian Cup.
“It’s in bad condition, its poor and not to the level a club like Newcastle and the A-League deserves,” the City boss said.
“It’s the only thing I can say. If you compare it to AAMI Park, AAMI Park is a 10 and this - a new pitch - and it’s a four. You have to deal with it but it’s not a good pitch.”