'Ultimate optimist' Popovic believes Glory can get even better
Perth Glory boss Tony Popovic says there is still more to come from his side after posting their club-record equalling fifth straight win on Saturday evening.
The defending Hyundai A-League Premiers were at their clinical best against Adelaide United at HBF Park in a dominant 3-0 win to move within two points of second place on the competition table.
Popovic’s men took a two goal lead on the back of a stellar first-half through goals to Joel Chianese and Bruno Fornaroli, before wrapping up the points in the second stanza via substitute Chris Ikonomidis.
The Glory’s run of wins - which equals their high water mark from last season's Premiership winning campaign - have been highlighted with four clean sheets in their five-match winning run and a combined winning margin of 17-2 over their opponents since the start of December.
However, speaking to Fox Sports, Popovic said he feels his side are as yet not at the level of the team that reached lsat year's Grand Final.
“It would discredit the players here if I said we weren’t at a very good level but I still feel we are building,” Popovic explained.
“We finished the season last year on a real high and we were really at the top of our game but I I don’t feel that we are there quite yet.
“I feel we are a little bit under the levels that we had last year but you can see clearly that the improvements are there.
“The players are getting fitter – it was still difficult today in very hot conditions – but I felt that when we were under pressure today we didn’t give away any clear chances.
“That is maybe something that we have improved and then obviously, going forward, our front three have been dynamic in recent times and always look a threat to score.”
Despite a bumpy start to the season that saw his side win just once from their first seven outings, Popovic said he knew the turnaround in fortunes would just be a matter of time.
“You always believe and I have never been a non-believer – so I am always an ultimate optimist,” he explained.
“We always saw enough in the games early in the year. We had glimpses, we didn’t have long period, we had 20 and 30 minutes in each half in a lot of games where we dominated where we couldn’t put teams away.
“That gave us confidence that if we build a strong foundation that it would come together. I feel there is still a lot of work to do but certainly we are on the right track now,” he concluded.
Substitute Ikonomidis proved a revelation in his role off the bench for the Glory with an energetic performance capped off with his second goal of the season.
Last year’s Hyundai A-League Young Footballer of the Year said he is determined to continue pushing on and challenge for a place in the starting line-up over the remainder of the season.
“I’m happy to get the goal and it has been a few weeks since I have scored,” Ikonomidis said.
“The team has looked strong for the last five to six weeks now, so we’re going to be looking to take this definitely forward.”
The Socceroos attacker added: “Fantastic performance from the team from start to finish, I thought.”
“The first 15 minutes we found it a bit tough to keep the ball, but after 15 minutes of grafting it out we got control of the game and we didn’t look back from there.”
The next challenge for the Glory will come on the road with back-to-back away games against Western Sydney Wanderers and Melbourne City in coming weeks.
Western Sydney Wanderers v Perth Glory
Sunday, 19 January 2020
Kick off: 6.30pm AEDT