Sterjovski focused on Glory

Perth Glory marquee man Mile Sterjovski is banishing thoughts of the 2010 World Cup finals from his head as he focuses his complete attention on lifting the Glory up the Hyundai A-League table.

Perth Glory marquee man Mile Sterjovski is banishing thoughts of the 2010 World Cup finals from his head as he focuses his complete attention on lifting the Glory up the Hyundai A-League table.

Despite some promising signs over the new competition's first four years, Perth has never quite played enough consistent football to qualify for the top four. But Sterjovski believes that's all about to change as the Glory approach season five with a squad envied by most clubs across the land.

After finishing seventh last season, coach Dave Mitchell has completed one of the biggest off-season recruiting drives ever seen in Australia, netting three Qantas Socceroos in Sterjovski, Jacob Burns and most recently Chris Coyne, along with former Blackburn Rovers captain Andy Todd and Bundesliga striker Branko Jelic.

But despite some promising signs from the Glory in their 1-0 pre-season loss to the Premier League bound Wolverhampton last week, Sterjovski knows there's still plenty of work needed to get the squad gelling effectively as a team.

"On paper we've got a great team, a great squad but its different having it on paper and making it work on the park," Sterjovski said.

"I think that's the most important thing that we have to do in the next few weeks, get it all right."

"We don't have much time, but we're going to have to work hard and try and get the right formation and the right combinations working on the pitch and get the play going."

"That's the important thing for the moment and then if everything's working on the park, everything else should work out off the park in regards to the World Cup and those sorts of things."

Previously coached by Mitchell at Parramatta and Sydney United in the old National Soccer League (NSL), Sterjovski helped his gaffer win the title with Sydney in 1999, earning a transfer to French Ligue One side Lille in the process.

Despite being played as midfielder throughout much of his career at Lille, Basel, Turkey's Genclirbirligi and most recently Derby County in the English Premiership and Championship, Mitchell is keen to take Sterjovski back to his youthful striker days, seeing him as the perfect attacking weapon to replace the departed Nikita Rukavytsya.

"He was top scorer in the league as a striker when I won the league with Sydney," Mitchell said.

"He wants to play as a striker but he keeps getting played wide right because he's very quick and they use him in that role."

"(But) to have Mile's like Nikita, only he's seven years more developed and he's been in Europe so is more refined and just as quick and quite lethal when he plays up front."

Sterjovski said his previous connection with Mitchell was essential to him choosing Perth over other Hyundai A-League suitors.

"I've known Mitch for a long time and he was the one that gave me my breakthrough when I was young," Sterjovski said.

"(So) it was a factor in me signing here (along with) the fact that Jacob Burns has signed and Andy Todd, players that I've known and I respect."

"I think those factors played a big part in me signing here and I can see that the teams going to be strong and competitive."

Having endured a difficult period when frozen out of the Derby County first-team squad by former manager Paul Jewell, Sterjovski returned to the side when Nigel Clough took over the reins at Pride Park. His efforts helped Derby survive an intense relegation battle in the Championship but the 30-year-old was still given Clough's blessing to look at other options.

Despite being the Glory's star signing, Sterjovski knows if he doesn't perform there still isn't any guarantee of playing first-team football for Perth. But having known Mitchell for so long, he's happy not to be dealing with club politics, a situation which will allow him to concentrate on playing football.

"The chances (of playing every week) are much better here and it does feel good to be able to come back to Australia," he said.

"I've always wanted to give something back to the game here because this is where I started at the Institute (AIS) and even in the old NSL. So it's good to be coming back and, the quality is just getting better each season."

"There's already good players here in the Hyundai A-league but it's getting some quality players coming to the League is always promising, it's always going to lift the standard."

"Obviously in Europe it is better, but slowly, slowly we're getting there in Australia and in the future, it's going to compete with Europe."