Now or never for GCU

Gold Coast United boss Miron Bleiberg admits that Sunday's Boxing Day derby against the Brisbane Roar at Suncorp Stadium is an absolute must-win if his side are to eventually dethrone their cross-town rivals as the Hyundai A-League's top team this season.

Gold Coast United boss Miron Bleiberg admits that Sunday's Boxing Day derby against the Brisbane Roar at Suncorp Stadium is an absolute must-win if his side are to eventually dethrone their cross-town rivals as the Hyundai A-League's top team this season.

The gap between the table-topping Roar (47 points) and equal third-placed United (33) grows larger with every extension to Brisbane's record 17-game undefeated streak, but Gold Coast have an ace up their sleeve with three games in hand over their arch-rivals.

But with a packed January and February schedule coming up, Bleiberg is well aware that it is now or never for his side if they wish to keep their ambitions higher than a scrap for second place with Adelaide and Central Coast.

"If we want to make a charge for top spot this is a must-win," Bleiberg said.

"The Roar know themselves, they have the game against us and then their next game is against Adelaide. If they win these two then they will deserve to be crowned as champions. If they don't then anything can happen."

"A win against the Roar will maybe open some doors for us. If we don't win, God forbid - life goes on and we'll have to fight for second and the Roar will go their own way. If we do, maybe there's some light at the end of the tunnel."

United will go into the match fresh in both body and mind, with James Brown the only regular ruled out of selection and last weekend's washout against the Mariners leaving them with a mental "clean sheet".

"Hopefully (the abandoned game) made them hungrier and fresher. We played last Wednesday against Newcastle as well so there's nothing wrong with our preparation," Bleiberg said.

"We could be going into this game with a win, which would have been very satisfying, or a draw which would be less, or a loss. At the moment we're going in with a clean sheet mentally, which is a good feeling."

"We have another game which leaves us with a bit more hope but it wasn't disappointment against the Mariners - it was a good atmosphere and the crowd came and enjoyed it and overall it was a good day for the club."

Though a derby day win will cure even the worst Christmas Day hangover for Gold Coast United fans, Bleiberg admits the ill feeling that used to fuel his animosity with his former club is now all but gone and replaced with praise for the team dubbed 'Roarcelona'.

"It's dropped quite a lot on the scale of importance actually - it used to be with the people that replaced me and hurt me so that was the main issue and now it's a new era," he said.

"Under the circumstances they deserve to be first but I wish the Roar to finish second and they wish us to finish second so it's not such a bad feeling."