Ange Postecoglou says his champion Brisbane side can still improve.
Brisbane Roar have already broken records but this weekend they could do what no other Hyundai A-League team has done - and win back-to-back grand finals.
Despite the protestations of Graham Arnold and the purists- arguments that the league winners are the true champions, the grand final is the biggest prize of the season.
Consistency is hard to come by in a competition as evenly balanced as the A-League. Melbourne Victory have arguably come closest two it, but even at their peak, they were unable to find the formula to back it up the next season.
Roar missed the Premiers- Plate by just two points this year, and that-s not good enough for Ange Postecoglou.
“We-re under no illusions that we-re the finished product,” the Roar coach says. “You never are. I don-t think we need to change; you just identify area you need to improve.”
Despite creating arguably the best team in the history of the Australian football, Postecoglou isn-t satisfied.
There was that point at the start of season 2011/12, after the 7-1 thrashing of Adelaide United, where it looked like Roar simply could not be stopped. That record-breaking run did eventually come to an end - but it didn-t signal the end of Brisbane success; more just another chapter.
Their mid-season slump cost them the two points and the Premiers- Plate but it gave Postecoglou-s squad a lot more, lessons in desire, determination and motivation.
“We travelled down to the Mariners and we were 11 points behind them at the time,” Postecoglou says.
“Looking at the draw we had to play Central Coast away, Perth away, Sydney away, Wellington away, Newcastle away - I thought we better start finding some good form or we could easily find ourselves in fourth or fifth because we-d fallen behind the pack.
“But that game against Central Coast, we beat them quite convincingly that day (2-0, week 18) and got some momentum. We had to turn it around. The players stuck to our belief and got their confidence back. Since that time our form has been as good as it has been.”
Regardless of results, Roar-s philosophy and style have set a new benchmark for the domestic game. And while it-s one thing to give the players a kick up the backside when they-re battling poor results, how do you motivate a squad that is consistently excellent?
“It is a bit tricky,” Postecoglou admits. “It-s a lot easier to keep pushing people when things are unsuccessful because they-re looking for it, but when you-re successful there can be a tendency to sit still and say, ‘We-re doing things well the way we are, let-s not change it.-
“But the key to success and staying at the top is constantly pushing yourself regardless of where you are on the ladder. That-s always been our prime motivator and I keep saying it to the players - we need to keep improving each week, ignore the ladder and the results and just look to improve.
“We know we can certainly do that, you just have to flick on the telly at any time of the day and watch football from overseas and know that things can be done a lot better.”
There it is again, that drive to improve, the philosophy to continually evolve. It-s the mentality that has made Postecoglou the most sought-after coach in the competition. And whatever the rumours about his future with the Roar, all that matters to him this weekend is driving his team to yet another success.
Perth Glory go into the Grand Final on a red-hot run of form but still the underdogs, as is every team against Brisbane these days. Not that Postecoglou is taking his team-s standards - or Perth-s ability - for granted but the belief in his players to control the game is as strong as ever.
“People understand we won-t change what we do too much. It-ll be the type of game where we-ll have the majority of possession and we-ll play in their half; our build-up play has been really good the last few weeks, getting in behind teams and creating opportunities.
“That-s the area we can really put some pressure on Perth. They-ve been very solid as a unit and work real hard but if we can get an early goal and put them under pressure that might mean they have to open up a little bit.
"You have to respect the likes of Miller and Smeltz can score a goal out of anywhere, but we-ll try to impose ourselves early and get that first goal.”
“I think it-ll be an even contest. When we-ve played well we-ve shown that we can beat them but they-re playing as close to their best as they have all year right now, and we-re getting close to our best as well.”
Close to their best? If there is still some room for improvement, that-s a worrying through for Perth Glory.